Monday, January 14, 2008

Highly Recommended Classics: The BBC Sessions, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Yardbirds, Jimi Hendrix

The BBC Sessions are a series of albums released from 1997-2000, consisting of never before released, but often bootlegged live tracks, from these four giants of rock. They make for some pretty amazing listening !

The Led Zeppelin album was the first live set since The Song Remains the Same more than twenty years prior, consisting of music from 3 live events recorded for the BBC. It includes standards like Heartbreaker, Black Dog and the Immigrant Song but the most interesting tracks are those that had never before been heard. The full version of Robert Johnson's Travellin Riverside blues is an example, freed from the contraints of the Lemon Song with the most excellent slide guitar. Eddie Cochran's Something Else also features, with a total of 24 tracks on the double album. This is almost as good as the other live set released after the break-up of Led Zep: No Quarter, Plant and Page Unledded. Check out the magical acoustic version of Kashmir on this album, complete with Plant's Bedouin pals. One of the most glorious 12 minutes of live music ever.

The Yardbirds album has 26 tracks recorded between 1966-68, just after Clapton left the band, with the line up including Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. Again you hear all the standards but also covers of the beach Boys, Dylan and Chuck Berry. There are also 26 tracks on the Who album, including Shakin All Over, Good Lovin and Dancing in the Streets.

The ultimate of these four albums, however, is the Hendrix one, including recordings from Top of the Pops and live radio. The legend Alexis Korner provides an introduction, there is Stevie Wonder on drums and a revelation, The Beatles Day Tripper. You can also hear two tracks that formed part of Hendrix's early repetoire, Howlin' Wolf's Killing Floor and Dylan's Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window.

These albums provide a remarkable glimpse into what it might have been to hear these four incredible bands live: they are less produced than their other live albums, sound more spontanious and bring new life into tracks we thought we had heard before.

Image: Courtesy MCA

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