REVIEW: Led Zeppelin – Boxed Set 2 (1993)

LED ZEPPELIN – Boxed Set 2 (1993 Atlantic)

Take a trip back to September, 1993. Led Zeppelin had no greatest hits albums available and just three years previous, the monstrous Led Zeppelin box set was a smash hit. I believe it was the most successful box set ever at the time!

It was, however, just a sampling of Zeppelin’s catalogue. A generous sampling, but a sampling nevertheless.  31 album tracks were missing, as it was just a four disc set. The missing tracks are not throwaways though.  How could you say that about “Good Times, Bad Times”, “Living Loving Maid”, “Out On The Tiles”, “The Rover”?

So, predictably, three years later came Box Set 2 with all those tracks plus the recently discovered “Baby Come On Home”. The result is a complementary set; you really can’t have one without the other.  Having both sets is how I originally heard the Zeppelin catalogue, and I do have a certain nostalgia for these sets.

IMG_00001123Much like the first box, this set was lovingly sequenced and remastered by Jimmy Page himself. As such, the track order takes you on a journey of sorts. Unfortunately it’s just not as epic a journey as the first box. How can there be? With no “Kashmir” or “Stairway” available, it could never be as monumental. Still, it’s a pretty cool trip. Starting you off on disc one with “Good Times, Bad Times” and closing disc 2 with the melancholy “Tea For One”, this tracklist does what it was meant to do. Sandwiched between there are some of the best Zeppelin album cuts of all time.

I don’t think I need to go over highlights.  I do?  Alright.  “Down By the Seaside” is simply gorgeous, one of my personal favourite Zeppelin songs.  It’s in my top five for sure.  Although it’s a bit silly, I dig the country hoe-down of “Hot Dog”.  It’s certainly the heaviest country music I ever heard.  With John Bonham on drums, how could it not be?   “That’s the Way” is another beauty, acoustic and pretty.  It’s “Carouselambra” that throws me the most, a complex swirl of synthesizers and howling Plant vocals.

The sound quality was great for its time, but technology, tastes and standards change.  The songs have been remastered since, and will be again.  Personally I have no qualms with the sound and I still enjoy this box to this day, even though I own the massive 10-disc Complete Studio Recordings as well. Really, my only issue was the inclusion of just one previously unreleased song.  “Baby Come On Home” is a wonderful slice of soul, a young Plant belting about a cheating woman while Pagey plays some elegant notes behind him. Yet, as we saw later with the release of the BBC Sessions, there was more in the vaults. Why couldn’t “The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair” or “Something Else” be included here much like “Traveling Riverside Blues” was included on the first box set?  We know Jimmy has dug up more rarities since.

It is what it is. Maybe it was a bit shameful to bait die-hard fans with one new song, but the remastering of the set was also considered a major selling feature.  The set, being only a 2 disc set, is physically much smaller than the original, and contains one new essay, by David Fricke. The packaging is quite beautiful, and everything from the cover art to the layout echoes the first box. Clearly, you are meant to have both.

4/5 stars

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30 comments

  1. Yeah man I bought this right away as well. You knew it was coming as like u said 31 tracks were left off the 1990 box set…ol Pagey is a smart businessman keep em wanting more!
    It was a good time to be a Zep fan I mean these guys broke up when I was 13 so to hear there music even now it’s timeless….I buy all there stuff that’s released domestically.

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    1. That’s one thing I don’t like about these sets. You want all the good stuff, but they leave the best songs off of the album, just so you have to buy the next one with more ‘greatest hits’.

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      1. Yeah. Valid point. Unless you’re a one-hit wonder kind of band and get everything you want on one compilation. Or an artist you don’t follow consistently.

        I have a single disc Kenny Rogers set that has everything I want: Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In) and Gambler.

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  2. I never got these. Just stuck with the albums. Totally agree with you about Down By the Seaside! That’s a beautiful song. And much as I don’t listen to Zep much now I agree that there is little throwaway stuff in the catalogue. They’re on of those bands where on person’s filler is another’s favourite.

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    1. I can always come back to Zep. I hear enough of their stuff on the radio that I never really crave hearing Zep, but when I do, it’s always a great experience.

      Nothing wrong with sticking with the albums. I didn’t have ’em yet so this was a slam dunk.

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      1. The most frequent answers are ‘Taylor Swift’ and ‘Eminem’ which isn’t altogether surprising I suppose.

        However there’s a growing number of students who don’t just tell me the song, they’ll say ‘abbey road’ or ‘zeppelin IV’ which is definitely encouraging!

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  3. Dude, I just put away my orange boxed set on the shelf (cassette version, mind you!). I also have a remastered 3-disc Led Zep boxed set I got used at Dr. Disc in London (ever been there?). That one was released shortly after the orange box. I’ll have to dig it out and have a look at it…but it’s a long booklet-type set, same styling and font as the others, black with psychedelic zeppelins on the cover. Quite good, and was really because I couldn’t afford the orange box on CD…

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        1. That’s a good set to have for the interview disc alone. That’s out of print now. In fact I don’t think I have it myself. I pondered buying another Zeppelin set just for an interview but I couldn’t do it.

          On the other hand I have a 3 CD version of the Zeppelin BBC sessions and that too comes with an interview disc.

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  4. I have this! I bought both boxes, and you’ve heard this hoary old tale before. I like them A LOT. I just get messed up by the track listing, it’s not totally satisfying to me. Yes I’m weird. One of these days, when I am flush with cash (haha) I will also just replace the albums. I have a few on vinyl already… I’d keep these boxes though. They sound good and the extra tracks are nice to have. Travelling Riverside Blues is essential to the listening experience now, for example.

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  5. Perfect write-up on a collection that’s not needed by anyone other than die-hards now. When it came out, though, it was great to have all of these songs remastered. Zeppelin has been my favorite band since I was 12 (that’s 35 years & counting) and I only ever listen to their full albums, but until those were remastered this was the best way to hear their music…even though it was strange to hear them out of sequence. Packaging is really nice, which you’ve done a wonderful job of displaying.

    Now we can begin the countdown to those deluxe box sets dedicated to each studio album. My wife already knows that we’ll be taking out a second mortgage for those.

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    1. Rich you look younger than your years. I think there’s a certainly agelessness when one chooses to go hairless. Good going!

      I have to assume it’ll be 2014 before we see the deluxe box sets. And all we can really do is conjecture about the content until then.

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      1. Thanks for the compliment, Mike. I’ve been shaving my head for nearly 20 years so I pretty much look the same as I did then…with a few more wrinkles to prove I’ve been aging.

        Yep, there won’t be any Zeppelin box sets until at least next year. We would know about it by now if anything was coming out this year. I can wait, but whenever they’re announced I’ll be preordering regardless of price (don’t tell Atlantic I said that). I’m proud to say that I own all of their albums on a clean set of LPs, the replica-LP-sleeve CDs, the “Complete Albums” box set and the two original Remasters box sets. I don’t do that with many bands (Big Country may be the only other band where I’ve got LPs & multiple CDs), but I would never get rid of any of those. I also have at least one bootleg CD or LP from every tour they did. I feel proud that the band I latched onto as my favorite 35 years ago is still my favorite all these years later, even though I’ve expanded my musical horizons a lot in the intervening years.

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        1. For me that band would be Kiss, and I’d be at…well, getting close to 30 years with Kiss now.

          It sounds like Zeppelin owe you a lot of thanks for that collection! I love their LPs and what they did with vinyl packaging. Truthfully I think they surpass Kiss in this regard.

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        2. I’m sure that’s true. While Zeppelin were an influence, early’s Kiss’s influence went back earlier to Cream and the Who, primarily. But the Zeppelin influences were much more pronounced after Eric Carr joined the band. In terms of drumming and even songwriting he brought a lot of Zeppelin influence in, particularly in “All Hell’s Breaking Loose”.

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        3. I’m with you, Rich. I’ve been shaving my head since 1993. Bought a $20 pair of clippers and do it myself – haven’t paid for a haircut in 20 years! And hey Mike, if it makes a man look younger, I’ll take it. I do think it takes some confidence though, a lot of people have insecurities and hide behind their hair. Me, I say get rid of it. Less hassle! No hat-head! No bed-head! No shampoo! The ultimate lazy-man’s haircut.

          You guys are lucky to have KISS and Zep to collect. Me, I latched onto Guided By Voices and the endless side projects, and their discography is HUGE. There’s an entire web site devoted to trying to track it all (and it’s not complete, surely). I’m sure even Mr. pollard doesn’t know them all, anymore. And for the countless CDs, there are just as many vinyl-only releases. Many things I have were 100 or 500 copies only, then OOP. It’s crazy. And you might think surely a lot of it it is crap, but no! If you like the sound, all of it is good. I never give a new release a miss, because I know it’ll rock. It’s kind of a feeling of being trapped, and there never seems to not be a new CD coming, but it’s all to the good.

          I will be buying the Zep albums again. Right now all I have are those two boxes, for CD. But on vinyl I have 2 copies of II (the brown bomber), III, In Through The Out Door and Physical Graffiti. None of them are beautiful copies overall, but the vinyls were close to perfect and that’s all that really mattered to me. In fact, ITTOD and PG I think I got for $0.10 each at the local Sally Anne.

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      1. Phillip, I’ve been reading articles like that for years. Page definitely made some mistakes regarding songwriting credits, but I often wonder if it was deliberate or merely the result of bad business advisors. Musicians, especially back then, were not known for their business acumen, so it’s possible that the credits were the result of their manager’s or publisher’s decisions. Just about every band was “borrowing” old blues tunes and licks & riffs from contemporary artists. The only difference here is that Zeppelin didn’t initially give proper credit for the source material. For some people that negates everything they accomplished, but I don’t see it that way. I don’t want to come across as a Zeppelin apologist although that’s probably what I am, but the fact is that the majority of Zeppelin’s music was groundbreaking & hugely influential, and even the songs that were allegedly “stolen” (mostly on their first few albums) used the source material as launching pads for their own amazing original creations.

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