The Garden Tapes

A study of the Led Zeppelin film and album The Song Remains The Same
by Eddie Edwards

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The Song Remains The Same

"Good evening. Thank you. In between last time we came and this time, we managed to get an album out called Houses Of The Holy and ... this is something that we decided was an apt title for a thing that's called The Song Remains The Same."

Anybody have trouble following the gist of this rambling speech? Well, don't blame Robert, at least not entirely, because it wasn't only the songs themselves that came under the knife. The first part of it doesn't appear on any bootleg tape, so is presumably from the first night, the 27th, and almost certainly belongs at a much earlier point in the proceedings introducing Over The Hills and Far Away. The second part comes from the third night, the 29th: "So this new album took us quite a while, to get it together, to find a title and things like that - and we were travelling quite a bit - we made a few sort of gestures in the East, and a few gestures in the West, and then we got thrown out because of our gestures - this is something that we decided was an apt title for a thing that's called The Song Remains The Same." The splicing of two separate bits of chat produces a sentence that forms a link on the album between Celebration Day and The Song Remains The Same, but makes very little sense. In the film, by contrast, we just hear the simple "This is called The Song Remains The Same", which is from the 28th, by the way, and is just the last few words of yet another long speech, but enough of that!

If even the introductory speech on the album was a multi-night creation, what can we expect from the title track itself? The unexpected, of course. What we have here is the complete version from the 28th, with just one small alteration. Between 3:49 and 3:54, as Robert sings "...the same, ooh yeah!", a little cracking and wavering has been neatly fixed by mixing in a replacement studio-recorded vocal track.

No differences between the original album and film versions on this occasion. The song remains the same! Sorry, couldn't resist that. It does seem strangely appropriate, though, that this should be the only song that was exactly the same on both of the original formats.

The new DVD features the same version again, but with some further adjustments to the vocals. After the first verses, as the fast tempo re-enters, we hear Robert's familiar, "And it always grows, push, push, yeah," but the "aah, ah-oh" that follows has been almost completely faded out. The line that was patched on the original releases has been fixed again, but in a slightly different way; "...the same..." seems to have been altered to sound higher and more stable by means of digital processing rather than actually overdubbed or replaced, and "...oh yeah!" is actually the genuine 28th vocal, although very slightly trimmed and tidied. This is a clear improvement, with the overall effect being much smoother and more natural than the original, somewhat heavy-handed overdub. But 40 seconds on, Robert's "Ah, dig it, dig it" has been removed completely from the mix, as has his "Keep on" a further 35 seconds later. And at the end of the final verse there are further vocal casualties as "here we go", "come on" and the second "push" of five, all fall victim to the ruthless fader. These ad libs, although not always perfectly sung, added energy and character to the closing stages of the song and their removal leaves a slightly empty feeling.

The new CD is the same as the new DVD:

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