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 » Rain Song
It brings a tinge of sadness to reflect that the title track and its old friend were separated after May 1975, never to be reunited. Both were played in later years, and in 1979 they both made the setlist but, after Earls Court, the wonderful segue, Robert's sustained cry fading into the Šther as Jimmy slips deftly from twelve strings to six for that slushy arpeggio, was heard no more. It's a comforting consolation that the versions preserved for eternity in The Song Remains The Same are a genuine pairing.
Rain Song on the original album is from the 28th. That's it - no more to report! How I wish I could say the same about the film. The version here is indeed the same one, but at NTSC 0:54:12, PAL 0:52:02, just as the heavy part begins and the blonde lady appears among the candles, two bars are removed. WHY?? Although it's cleanly executed, there's little or no timing problem and only seven seconds are lost, I hate this cut more than any other in the film. It sounds terrible and hits the unsuspecting listener, who has contentedly drifted off into the world depicted by the beautiful scenes of Robert's fantasy, with an unceremonious jolt back to reality. As with "No Quarter", it may have had something to do with fitting in the music around the footage. But seven seconds? Was it really necessary? Could we not have put up with looking at that blonde for a few more seconds, for the sake of avoiding the cut in the music?
As it was not possible to add in a few extra seconds of visuals, the cut still has to be there on the new DVD, but it's pleasing to be able to report that it doesn't sound quite as bad. The worst thing about the original cut was the sudden jump from A to D on the bass pedals on the second beat of the bar, but this doesn't happen on the new DVD because the bass has been allowed to run on a few seconds longer than the guitar before being cut. A clever trick which certainly reduces the disruption to the flow of the song. There's just one other alteration, after the first verse, where one of Robert's "aah-oh" ad libs has been removed from the mix.
We're resigned by now to the fact that the new CD will have the same audio as the new DVD, so we brace ourselves for the worst as Bonzo snaps on the snare at 05:09. But what do you know? There's Robert wailing "Talk, talk to me, talk to me" and everything is just as it should be. What a nice surprise! Furthermore, the vocals here have even had a little work done on them, the first of the three "talks" being given the echo treatment (perhaps as a tribute to 80s synthpop icons Talk Talk - or maybe not), and the last of them being replaced by the same word from the 29th. Apart from these vocal adjustments, and that previously mentioned mixed-out vocal ad lib, which is at 01:16, this song is exactly as it was on the original album.
The question has to be asked, if the cut in Rain Song was recognised as the abomination it was, and the song was restored to its full glory for the new CD, what did Black Dog and No Quarter do, that they should not be treated with the same respect?
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