“But I had a real vision of where I wanted to take this project. Remastering them wasn’t going to be enough – I mean, everyone is doing that. So I thought, ‘Let’s do something to make this really special.’ So, for instance, the numbers from Led Zeppelin III are substantially different, but it gives you a window – I’ve said this before – it’s like a portal into when each album was recorded, and that’s how it will be right through to Coda.”
It was interesting hearing the first three albums back to back. Each one has a different sound from the others. Can you talk about going from using a Tele with a Supro to your ’59 Les Paul and then to the Harmony-based acoustic sound on Zeppelin III?
“Well, everything was supposed to sound different, all the way through, from the beginning to the end of all the albums. So I tried all different styles of guitar, you know – acoustics, 12-strings. I was always looking for new sounds, but we all were. As you can hear now better than ever. Each one of us was a master at what we did. I mean, just listen to Robert on the companion discs. He was at the top of his game all the time, wasn’t he?”
Absolutely. Do you think these companion discs will have people assessing Led Zeppelin any differently?
“Well, obviously the versions on the original albums, which do sound better than ever, were always going to be the best versions of the songs. But the versions on the companion discs are fascinating, and they have an intrinsic and historical value. I was trying to match the running order on the companion discs, so, for instance, on Zeppelin III, which ends with Hats Off To Harper, I was trying to match up the running order, and the version of Keys To The Highway was on the same reel. We’d gone in the studio one night and – very unlike us – we’d had a ‘blues’ night. And there was just the one take on there, but that also helped shape things.
“But really, we did this so that our catalogue can now be out there in whatever format people are listening to music on, and I’ve also done super-high resolution versions for whatever comes next. And in the process I found I could hear things that I hadn’t heard in years – and certainly not on previous versions. I mean, the best way to hear these would be for you to hear the original master tapes, but I can’t have everyone round to my house to hear them. So I think this is as good as it gets and that the fans will be really happy with these first three albums… and what’s to come.”
To pre-order the Deluxe Editions of Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II and Led Zeppelin III (Super Deluxe Edition box sets are also available), visit the official Led Zeppelin website.