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 » Whole Lotta Love


Whole Lotta Love

The last verse of Heartbreaker was never played on the 1973 American tour. Instead, after the fast instrumental section, Bonzo would ease down the tempo and crank up the swing for a 4-bar segue into Whole Lotta Love.

In the original film, this sequence is presented intact from the 27th, and Whole Lotta Love is entirely from that night. Shortly after the opening verses, just as the funky interlude that hints at The Crunge is starting - "Do it, do it, do it, all right, all right, all right" - there's a very obvious cut at NTSC 1:56:17, PAL 1:51:38, where 1 minute 14 seconds has been removed.

On the original album there's no Heartbreaker, of course, and a strange, fake lead-in of rhythmic audience clapping replaces the drum segue. The instrumental introduction, from 00:08 to 00:18 on the CD, is from the 29th, but as soon as the vocals enter we're back with the same version as is used in the film, the 27th. It's much more complete here, with the fantastic "tryin' to find the bridge" section thankfully intact. There are a couple of very small cuts, though; a cry of "Ah" just before "One night" at 06:41 has been removed, and later in the build-up to the Boogie, at 07:42, Robert's shout of "Hey man!" (or "Hangman"?) and the gentle guitar notes that echo it have been taken out. This shout survives in the film and it comes as quite a jolt if you're used to the album version.

On the new DVD, the drum segue from the 27th is used, as in the original film, but for some reason it's lost half a beat from its first bar! The resulting 7/8 bar throws the rhythm completely off-track, kills the groovy, swinging feel stone dead and causes the Whole Lotta Love riff to enter half a beat earlier than the listener expects. As the song itself begins, the version from the 27th continues, but the guitar riffs in the first four bars, which featured a few fumbles and missed notes, have been replaced with much cleaner ones, copied from a few seconds further into the song.

The cut at the beginning of the Crunge section is still there, although it's been done very differently, and in an elaborate way that's quite difficult to describe! Around the point where the cut occurs in the original film, a brief guitar drone from later in the song has been added to the mix. The funky riffs then continue for four bars, with the tempo slowed down a little and with minor alterations to the guitar part. This is followed by a couple of heavier chords borrowed from elsewhere, before the song resumes just before the theremin section begins. The first theremin howl has been extended to provide a slightly longer pause before the rhythm section kicks back in. This is all very disorientating for listeners who are used to hearing the proper sequence of events as preserved on the original CD, or indeed the simple, clumsy edit in the original film. It's a valiant attempt at maintaining the flow, but it doesn't really cohere all that well.

In the Boogie build-up, the timing of the word "talkin'" in "I hear'd my mam'n papa talkin'" has been strangely altered, so that there's a pause in the middle of the word instead of before it. Near the end of the Boogie, during the crescendo before "Woman", there's yet another missing half-beat, which, once again, we can only assume is for visual synchronisation purposes.

The version on the new CD is the same as on the new DVD. This is not unexpected, given what's gone before, but it is nonetheless an appalling tragedy. Allowances can be made where the DVD soundtrack is concerned, as fitting remastered audio to the existing, unalterable visuals was clearly a tricky business, but this butchered version should never have been allowed anywhere near the CD.

After thirty-odd years of listening with undiminished awe to "Led Zeppelin - The Song Remains The Same", I would never have believed that I would be slipping a CD of that title into my player and hearing, in this track alone, an embarrassingly off-time segue, a bizarre edit that makes the band sound completely lost and needlessly cuts out over a minute of sheer brilliance, and a further timing fault which, although not as glaringly obvious as the other horrors just mentioned, makes a mess of the most beautifully constructed and wickedly syncopated 12 bars you could ever hope to hear in a 12 bar boogie.

Although I've discussed the drum segue in this Whole Lotta Love chapter, it's actually part of the Heartbreaker track on the new CD, and the missing half-beat is at 06:12. Here are the other times to note:

On all formats, old and new, Robert's farewell of "New York, Goodnight" is from the 27th, but the original album is the only release to preserve the genuine six second gap between the end of the song and these words. The original film, new DVD and new CD all keep us waiting an additional eight seconds to hear them.

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