Between 2014 and 2015, Led Zeppelin’s back-catalogue was remastered and reissued. It was without doubt, one of the most extensive reissue program of recent years. 

Led Zeppelin’s extensive and lovingly curated reissue program began in 2014, with albums being released in chronological order. This began with Led Zeppelin which released in January 1969, and included every album released during the band’s career. This included the 1976 live album The Song Remains The Same, and 1979s In Through The Out Door, which was the Led Zeppelin’s final album of original material. The final reissue was Coda, which was released in November 1982, two years after the tragic death of drummer John Bonham. His death spelt the end of Led Zeppelin. However, the ten albums that had been reissued were a reminder of one of the greatest rock bands ever, Led Zeppelin.

Their albums were reissued over the course of a two year period. During that period, every album released during Led Zeppelin’s career was remastered, and was released in multiple formats. This included everything from heavyweight vinyl and CD to luxurious multi-format box sets and even digital downloads. There was something for everyone, including a veritable feast of bonus tracks on the second disc in the Deluxe CD editions.

Many of these track had never been released before. Many record buyers are only interested in the album, and may only listen to the bonus tracks once. After all, many of the bonus tracks were alternate takes band demos. However, for collectors and completists, the bonus tracks meant they had to have the new reissues. It didn’t matter that they multiple copies of the album. They didn’t have these particular track. So they dug deep and bought the new reissues. Now they’re going to have to dig deep one more time, and buy The Complete BBC Sessions, which were recently released by Atlantic Records as a three disc box set.

There will be many people who are thinking that The Complete BBC Sessions rings a bell? Almost, but not quite. Back in 1997, Atlantic Records released a two CD compilation BBC Sessions. It was a two CD set that featured twenty-four songs. They were  recorded in London between 1969 and 1971. However, these songs weren’t The Complete BBC Sessions.

Not at all. The Complete BBC Sessions which was recently released by Atlantic Records, has been expanded to a three CD set that now, features thirty-three songs. The previously unreleased songs feature on the third disc. Hence the change of title to The Complete BBC Sessions. It’s a welcome, if belated addition to Led Zeppelin’s back-catalogue.

Forty-five years after Led Zeppelin’s final recording for the BBC, The Complete BBC Sessions have been released. Jimmy Page produced The Complete BBC Sessions and oversaw the remastering. The Complete BBC Sessions was then reissued in various formats. It’s a reminder of the early years of Led Zeppelin’s career, as they went from debutantes to rock royalty. 

Like many new up-and-coming rock bands in the late sixties and early seventies, Led Zeppelin were asked to record sessions for the BBC, the national television and radio company, This was a signal that a band’s star was in the ascendancy.That was the case with Led Zeppelin.

Between 1969 and 1971, the recording engineers used by the BBC to record live sessions like those on The Complete BBC Sessions, were some of the best trained in Britain. They were trained to be able to record everything from an orchestra to a a jazz trio or a rock band like Led Zeppelin. The engineers were 

also determined to capture the best performance by a band. This they regularly managed to do. In the case of Led Zeppelin,  six sessions were recorded at various venues in London and Paris. These six recording sessions that took place between 1969 and 1971. 

Sadly, after 1971 Led Zeppelin’s relationship with the BBC became strained, and no further sessions were recorded. By then, Led Zeppelin were one of the biggest bands on planet rock, and were locked into a gruelling schedule of recording and touring. However, in the early days, thing were very different. In 1969, Led Zeppelin’s career was in its infancy. Soon, they were enjoying commercial success on both sides of the Atlantic. Still, they recorded six sessions for the BBC, where they honed their live sound. The Complete BBC Sessions is a reminder of Zeppelin early days.

Disc One.

There’s a total of fourteen songs on disc one of The Complete BBC Sessions. Unfortunately, the songs aren’t in chronological order, which would’ve allowed the listener to hear how Led Zeppelin developed and matured as a band. That’s just a minor gripe. What matters is the music, which on disc one, was released during 1969

The earliest recordings took place on 3rd March 1969, just two months after the release of Led Zeppelin in January 1969, At

the Playhouse Theatre, Led Zeppelin recorded four songs, including You Shook Me, I Can’t Quit You Baby and Dazed and Confused for the Top Gear radio show. This was the perfect showcase for Led Zeppelin, who were more popular in America, than Britain. Having their music played on the BBC allowed Led Zeppelin’s music to be heard by a huge audience. So Led Zeppelin returned throughout 1969 to recorded further sessions for the BBC.

This included a session at The Aeollian Theatre, on 16th June 1969 for the Tasty Pop Sundae radio show. That night, Led Zeppelin recorded another four more tracks, including The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair. Communication Breakdown and a cover of Eddie Cochran’s Somethin’ Else. It’s reinvented by Somethin’ Else Led Zeppelin during two magical minutes. Already, Led Zeppelin were a tight, talented and inventive band. They had the ability to think on their feet, and reinvent a song. This would be the case throughout their career.

Later in June, on the 24th, Led Zeppelin made their way Maida Vale Studio 4, where they were scheduled to record a session for Top Gear. That night, Led Zeppelin hit the ground running, opening their set with Whole Lotta Love, before moving onto Communication Breakdown. After back to back classics, Led Zeppelin dropped the tempo on the Page and Plant penned What Is and What Should Never Be. The final track was Page and Plant’s rework of Robert Johnson’s Travelling Riverside Blues. It was a masterful performance for what was a relatively new band. They were booked to record another sessions just four days layer.

Led Zeppelin made a return to the Playhouse Theatre, in London on 27th June 1969. They took to the state at 7.00pm and rehearsed their set. Then at 8.45pm, Led Zeppelin took to the stage and ran through a six song set. It opened with Communication Breakdown, which set the bar high. From there, Led Zeppelin moved onto I Can’t Quit You Baby and later, You Shook Me. Closing their set was How Many More Times. At 10.15pm, Led Zeppelin closed what was the finest and final session they recorded for the BBC during 1969.

Disc Two.

Just over two years after making their debut for the BBC, Led Zeppelin were one of the biggest rock bands in the world. In America, where they were most popular, Led Zeppelin were playing to 20,000 sellout shows. Despite this, Led Zeppelin agreed to record a show for the BBC.

It was recorded not in at the Paris Cinema, in Regent Street, London, on the 1st of April 1971. This was a hugely important gig for Led Zeppelin. Although they were popular in Britain, Led Zeppelin were much more popular in America. This irked. It seemed that British audience hadn’t embraced the band’s music as much as the same way as in America. The show at the Paris Cinema was a chance for Led Zeppelin to showcase their considerable skills.

Determined to win over a new audience, Led Zeppelin headed to the Paris Cinema at 3pm to rehearse. Six hours later, Led Zeppelin returned and delivered a barnstorming performance  between 9pm and 10.45pm.

Having opened the show with Immigrant Song, they moved onto Heartbreaker and Since I’ve Been Loving You. From there, Led Zeppelin then moved on to a trio of stonewall classics, Black Dog, Dazed and Confused and Stairway To Heaven. Led Zeppelin had matured as a band during the last two years. They unleashed a masterful performance, as Going To California gave way to That’s The Way and later, Thank You. Just two songs later, Led Zeppelin bid their farewell. 

Three nights later, a huge audience would hear Led Zeppelin live in concert. It was aired between 7pm and 8pm on BBC Radio 1’s In Concert program. Little did anyone realise that never again, would Led Zeppelin record another session for the BBC. It was the end of an era

Disc Three.

Disc there features tracks from the various sessions recorded between 1969 and 1971. The earliest recording took place on March 1969 at the Playhouse Theatre, London. That night, Led Zeppelin recorded four tracks for the Top Gear radio show.  This included a barnstorming version of their future classic, Communication Breakdown. Less than two weeks later, Led Zeppelin were back at the BBC.

This time, they were at the BBC’s own studios in Maida Vale. In Studio 4, Led Zeppelin would record three songs that would feature on a show for BBC World Service, Blues Is Where You Hear It. Given the importance blues music played in Led Zeppelin’s music, they were the perfect guest on the show. Their love of the blues shines through. Having opened their set with one of their own songs, Sunshine Woman, Led Zeppelin followed this with a cover of Willie Dixon’s blues Can’t Quit You Baby. Closing their three song set was a cover Willie Dixon and J.B. Lenoir’s You Shook Me, which Led Zeppelin reinvented. When Blues Is Where You Hear It was eventually, broadcast, Led Zeppelin were heard in the four corners of the globe. It was good publicity for them, as their career blossomed. 

Led Zeppelin headed The Aeollian Theatre, on 16th June 1969 where they recorded four songs for the Tasty Pop Sundae radio show. This included the Page and Plant composition What Is and What Should Never Be. This is one of their early songs. However, it was a partnership that would flourish over the next seven years.

 On 27th June 1969, Led Zeppelin returned to the Playhouse Theatre, in London. Rehearsals began at 7.00pm, with the show beginning at 8.45pm. That night, Led Zeppelin  ran through a six song set, which included Dazed and Confused and White Summer. Led Zeppelin were firing on all cylinders, and left the stage at 10.15pm. They came and conquered during what had been one of their finest sets for the BBC.

Two years later, Led Zeppelin returned to the Paris Cinema, in Regent Street, London, on the 1st of April 1971. By then, Led Zeppelin were one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Still, though, they agreed to record a concert for BBC Radio 1’s In Concert series.

For Led Zeppelin, the day started at 3pm at the Paris Cinema, when they rehearsed their set. Six hours later, Led Zeppelin returned and between 9pm and 10.45pm, worked their way through twelve songs. This included What Is and What Should Never Be and Communication Breakdown.That night, Led Zeppelin won over the audience with a barnstorming performance. It was Led Zeppelin’s BBC swan-song.

Sadly, the Paris Cinema concert was the last session Led Zeppelin record another session for the BBC. The relationship between the Led Zeppelin and the BBC became strained. That’s why Led Zeppelin never recorded another sessions for the BBC.

By the Paris Cinema sessions, Led Zeppelin had only recorded thirty-twoThe Complete BBC Sessions

The only sessions Led Zeppelin recorded for the BBC, feature on The Complete BBC Sessions. It’s a three CD set, which was recently reissued by Atlantic Records. It features Led Zeppelin between 1969 and 1971, when they made the step from rock debutantes to superstars.

This journey only took two years. During that period, Led Zeppelin’s first three album sold in vast quantities. Eventually, the three albums sold twenty-six million copies. Led Zeppelin II and Led Zeppelin III both topped the charts in Britain and America. That was the case across Europe, Canada and Australia. Across the globe, Led Zeppelin’s first three albums reached the upper reaches of the charts. Commercial success and critical acclaim came Led Zeppelin’s way from their eponymous debut album. It was a similar case when they played live.

During lengthy and gruelling tours, Led Zeppelin proved a popular draw. By then, they were a tight, talented band who each night, could reinvent a song. Often, Led Zeppelin never played the same song two nights running. Instead, they reinvented the song, taking it in new and unexpected directions. That’s the case on The Complete BBC Sessions where some songs feature two or three times. This allows listeners to compare and contrast songs, as Led Zeppelin improvise and reinvent familiar songs. This they continued to do throughout their career. Sadly, only the first three years of Led Zeppelin’s career was documented by the BBC.

It’s just shame that relations between Led Zeppelin and the BBC became strained, as it would’ve been interesting if they had documented the band’s career. Alas, that wasn’t the case. At least, the BBC documented Led Zeppelin’s formative years between 1969 and 1971. 

The rise and rise of Led Zeppelin came almost overnight. Suddenly, they were one of the most successful bands of the late sixties and early seventies. Led Zeppelin’s brand of blues and rock had transformed the lives of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Bonham and John Paul Jones. In the space of just two years, Led Zeppelin became one of the biggest bands in planet rock. The rise and rise of Led Zeppelin is documented on The Complete BBC Sessions.




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