“Yeah, yeah, yeah. But then you couldn’t really do a companion disc with just one and a second track that was sort of crappy. But I wasn’t going to fold on the first hurdle. It was like, ‘What’s going to happen next?’ And I had heard, in a bootleg shop in Japan, the Paris concert [included on the companion disc for Led Zeppelin’s debut album], and I went, ‘What’s this?’ And it had turned out to be a Paris show [from 1969] that had been re-broadcast at around the time that we did the O2 concert in 2007. Apparently – you can’t always believe bootleggers.”
But it sounds amazing.
“Yeah, it’s better than the bootleg. Everything else is analogue. Apart from that, which was the digital files they sent from Europe 1, the French radio station. I think it was called RTL or something to begin with; now it’s called Europe 1. It was gobbled up. [Laughs] But anyway, that’s what they sent and that’s what I had to work with.”
For the second album, and especially on the third album, the alternate versions are really revelatory.
As the producer who was also in the room, what do you remember? What sparks off when you hear those things?
“I’ve got different memories for each song. That’s the whole thing, and I haven’t sort of laid all of that down. Do you know what I mean? It’s not documented. With the second album, on the first set of recordings, we rehearsed it at my house, the first few numbers. Basically, it’s Whole Lotta Love and What Is And What Should Never Be – we recorded in London, and that’s the sum total of that sort of recording at that time. It was only a couple of days that we would go in there. There were more overdubs on What Is And What Should Never Be. The whole complete package is on there, the solos and everything. The vocal is slightly different from the final one – yeah, it is.
“But Whole Lotta Love, that’s really superb. The way that it was laced in for you to hear it [at the listening session], even that was done with a sort of plan in mind.”
You produced it for me. [Laughs]
“Yeah, yeah. And you can hear Heartbreaker – well, that’s interesting, ‘cause it is different from the final one. You’ve got the guitar in the middle section, which is the original from when we were all playing together; that’s the original break that’s in there. And it’s got a few guitar overdubs. But nonetheless, it’s different from the final one. That’s what you heard. But when it comes to Whole Lotta Love, you see, it’s got you kind of set up. You’re going to hear it and go, ‘Well, it’s different.’ The vocal might be different against the chorus. You know what to expect, but then there’s nothing there; there’s just this voodoo rhythm going.
“That’s how I approached the whole thing. I always did, all the way through, but now it’s going to be apparent is what was going on during those times.”