The Garden Tapes

A study of the Led Zeppelin film and album The Song Remains The Same
by Eddie Edwards

The Garden Tapes » The Song Remains The Same » Moby Dick


Moby Dick

Those who think that Bonzo's showpiece, at least in recorded form, is simply too long, are in good company. His own guitarist and producer allowed less than half of the original performance to make it onto the album. But the drum solo is a spectacular visual event, so the version in the film is more complete, right? Wrong - there's even less of it in the film!

The version performed on the 28th was a typical marathon, giving Dazed and Confused a run for its money at 27 minutes and 49 seconds. This version alone was used for the original album, but it was trimmed down to 12:25 with a total of eleven cuts. Here are the locations of the cuts (CD timings), along with the length of each section that has been removed:

Robert's introduction that night was "Our percussionist, a man I've known most of my life, on drums, John Bonham, Moby Dick." On the album, we just hear the last four words, followed by a repeated echo that is not audible on either the soundboard or audience bootleg recordings. Pagey may have created that in the studio. At the end, we only hear the first five words of "John Bonham. John Henry Bonham. Your appreciation. John Bonham. Take a bow, take a bow."

The original film also includes some of the 28th version, but three quarters of the material used in the film is from the 27th. We get more of the 28th introduction, although it's still edited; "Our percussionist ... on drums, John Bonham, Moby Dick." But as Bonzo fires his opening shots, we've been magically transported to the previous night. This version makes it to a mere 10:39 and is made up as follows:

  1. NTSC 1:39:35-1:40:33, PAL 1:35:36-1:36:31 - 27th. The opening section with the band is from the first night, apart from the last second or two. The edit here is clean, but clearly noticeable because of the change of sound.
  2. NTSC 1:40:33-1:43:05, PAL 1:36:31-1:38:58 - 28th. The last two guitar notes (F to D) and the first part of the drum solo, up to the crash just before the hands section, are from the second night. This is the same section as used on the album and it's even more heavily edited although, just to keep things interesting, there are actually some fragments included here that are not on the album. This section has been cut down from an original length of 10:05 to just 2:32.
  3. NTSC 1:43:05-1:44:23, PAL 1:38:58-1:40:13 - 27th. Most of the part where Bonzo is playing with his hands is from the first night. This section ran for 4:12, but only 1:19 of it is included here.
  4. NTSC 1:44:23-1:44:36, PAL 1:40:13-1:40:25 - 28th. A short 12 second extract from the second night - the thunderous ending to the hands section and the few beats that bridge to the timpani.
  5. NTSC 1:44:36-1:50:14, PAL 1:40:25-1:45:50 - 27th. Back to the first night for the timpani section, and we stay with that version to the end. Plenty more cuts, of course - the timpani workout has been reduced from 4:36 to 1:42 and the remainder of the solo from 3:34 to 2:46. The return of the band and the ending are intact, and the closing "John Bonham" fanfares from Robert and Jimmy and the "130 pounds of glory, John Bonham" are from the 27th as well.

On the new DVD, the first minute of the track is made up of a mixture of material from the 27th and 28th, but from the point where the drum solo itself begins this version is the same as the one in the original film. Apart from the absence of the "130 pounds" remark at the end, the new CD contains the same version as the new DVD, so the easiest way to deal with this one is to run through the version on the new CD, listing the timings of the edits, cuts and splices.

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