A study of the Led Zeppelin film and album The Song Remains The Same
by Eddie Edwards
The Garden Tapes » The Song Remains The Same » Over The Hills and Far Away
Although Over The Hills did not feature in the original film or on the album, the new Song Remains The Same releases were not quite the first official taste that we'd had of a 1973 New York performance of this song, as an abridged version was used as a musical backdrop to the Knebworth 'Intro' featurette on Led Zeppelin DVD. The very good news is that we can now hear the whole song on the new CD.
The mellow opening section is from the 28th with one little guitar fix at 00:24, where an accidentally muted note has been replaced by one, possibly from the corresponding moment on the 29th, that rings with perfect sustain on the open G string.
The entry of Bonzo and Jonesey at 01:28 signals a switch to what has to be assumed is the 27th, as the guitar riffing behind and around the first three verses contains some little variations that are not present on the 28th or 29th. Without the 27th recording for reference, we can't be sure whether all of the vocals in this section are genuinely from this night, but most of them are, and I tend to think that they all are.
At 02:19, just after "pocketful of gold", we switch back to the 28th, with which night we remain until the end of the song. There's a little guitar fix at 02:26 and, in the final verses after the guitar solo, the words "who knows what he's been missing" and "that only leaves you guessing" have been replaced using the vocal track from the 29th. There were no cracks in those vocal parts on the 28th but Robert sang them higher and more powerfully on the 29th, hence the substitutions.
You might have spotted that, for this song, we've started by discussing the version on the new CD, rather than the one included as a bonus feature on disc two of the new DVD. But it doesn't really matter, does it, because we've established by now, haven't we, that the audio is going to be the same on both formats? Wrong! They're not quite the same this time, and I'm not just talking about the fact that Robert's introductory speech from the 28th is included on the DVD. In the guitar solo, there are three separate short cuts on the DVD, resulting in a loss of eight bars of music, just under 20 seconds. The cuts, presumably necessary to help fit the audio to the available visuals, are perfectly executed and unnoticeable without careful comparison.
Here are the timings of the bits you can hear on the CD but not on the DVD:
So here we have a situation where cuts were necessary on the DVD, but the opportunity was taken to use a complete, uncut version on the CD, where there were no visuals to worry about. Seems like an excellent decision to me; exactly the sort of decision, in fact, that helped to make the original album such a beautiful masterpiece. But if you're now even more puzzled than you were before as to why the incomplete Black Dog was used on the CD, I can assure you that you're not alone.
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