Led Zeppelin-How the West Was Won (DVD-Audio) (1972) (NTSC)

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Released 26-Nov-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music None
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 1972
Running Time 150:01
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Jimmy Page
Robert Plant
John Paul Jones
John Bonham
Case ?
RPI ? Music Led Zeppelin


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English MLP 48/24 5.1
English MLP 48/24 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The release of How The West Was Won as a triple CD set coincided with that of the Led Zeppelin DVD earlier this year, and marked an outpouring of joy from Led Zeppelin fans the world over. Months later we have been treated once again with this - a double disc DVD-Audio release of How The West Was Won that features an audio mix of a similarly brilliant standard to that of the Led Zeppelin DVD. There is no doubt that fans with surround capability who enjoyed the superb audio aspects of the Led Zeppelin DVD will also appreciate this ideal companion to the live Zeppelin experience.

    This stunning live concert is in fact culled from two shows that were originally recorded back in 1972. The two concerts were only separated by one day and the setlists for each show would have been virtually identical, however it is not revealed exactly which tracks are from each date. The first date to be recorded was at the Los Angeles Forum on June 25th and later the Long Beach Arena show on June 27th was also committed to tape. Needless to say, the entire two disc package is edited very well so that songs flow seamlessly into one another as though the listener was experiencing an uninterrupted concert.

    At this stage the band were touring to promote their soon-to-be-released fifth album, Houses Of The Holy, which to many people marked the peak of Zeppelin's creativity and musicianship. This is an era of the band that was only briefly touched upon during the extensive DVD set, and shows a much more relaxed and improvised performance than the Madison Square Garden footage that was filmed the following year for The Song Remains The Same.

    Song arrangements in this live performance loosely follow the album versions most of the time, while many tracks spin off into bluesy jams and spontaneous, magic renditions of classic standards. This is the case most of all during Whole Lotta Love, a staggering twenty-three minutes of jamming, the band members constantly bouncing off one another and bringing to life an excellent medley that features Hello, Mary-Lou and the Elvis Presley classic Party.

    The opening track Immigrant Song also opened the second disc of the Led Zeppelin DVD and was used to accompany film footage of the band performing in Australia. The audio mix on the DVD release is almost identical to that of the DVD-Audio, so if you are interested in a taster of what this DVD-Audio release is like, that is one song you should most definitely check out.

    After experiencing this great live concert in DVD-Audio I can't help but wonder if we'll ever see the catalogue of Zeppelin's albums transferred to this great format. I for one can't wait!

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Track Listing

1. L.A.Drone (0:14)
2. Immigrant Song (3:41)
3. Heartbreaker (7:23)
4. Black Dog (5:40)
5. Over The Hills And Far Away (5:07)
6. Since I've Been Lovin' You (8:01)
7. Stairway To Heaven (9:36)
8. Going To California (5:36)
9. That's The Way (5:53)
10. Bron Yr Aur Stomp (4:43)
11. Dazed And Confused (25:27)
12. What Is, What Should Never Be(4:49)
13. Dancing Days (3:41)
14. Moby Dick (19:06)
15. Whole Lotta Love (22:59)
16. Rock And Roll (3:55)
17. The Ocean (4:19)
18. Bring It On Home (9:33)

Transfer Quality

Video

    There is absolutely no video content included in this package, however the audio is accompanied by various still photos of the band on stage doing their thing. The stills are of varying quality and some have a little grain, but altogether these don't pose any real problems.

Audio

    There are four audio options to choose from on this release, and after the glorious dts effort that came with the Led Zeppelin DVD I was a little surprised not to find a dts stream among the audio options here. The 5.1 mix is default on both the DVD-Video and DVD-Audio portions of the discs.

    I should first mention that I encountered a glitch of sorts concerning the Dolby Digital 5.1 stream on disc two. I was quite puzzled by this initially, but I've now come to the conclusion that somehow the front left and rear left channels have been swapped around. As you would expect, the mix sounds very odd indeed with the rear left channel firing with all cannons while the front left is spilling out atmospherics and the like. I was initially so disturbed by this error that I had to check the calibration of my system! You can rest assured that the 5.1 DVD-A mix on disc two is as it should be, and doesn't suffer from these problems. This means that only people who use DVD-Video players will be affected.

    Those using DVD-Video players can choose from either Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) or Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 Kb/s) tracks, while people bestowed with DVD-Audio hardware can access MLP 5.1 and MLP 2.0 tracks, both of which are sampled at 48Khz / 24bit. I was feeling adventurous, so I had my own private Zepstock (like Woodstock, only without the mud) while listening to all four audio tracks in their entirety, beginning with the Dolby Digital 5.1 track.

    From the very outset of this 5.1 mix the surround channels are buzzing with activity. From the rears spill echoes and crowd noise, pieces of guitar feedback and cymbal rings, while the frontal soundstage pounds away with a wall of guitar, bass and drums. Jimmy Page's guitar is primarily situated on the right, and occasionally strays around the room, adding colour to the already vibrant mix. John Paul Jones' bass emanates from the left of the frontal soundfield, while John Bonham's kit is spread evenly between the front left and right channels and features some great panning when it comes to his use of the toms. Robert Plant's vocals are dedicated to the front centre channel most of the time and occasionally wander about the mix in a similar fashion to the guitar.

    The utilisation of the surround channels is certainly comparable to the Led Zeppelin DVD, with familiar vocal echoes appearing in the rear channels during Immigrant Song. John Paul Jones sits at the organ for Since I've Been Lovin' You, which is panned interestingly to the rear left speaker and spills slightly to the front left channel. Dazed And Confused contains the most stunning surround usage however, featuring some disorienting guitar feedback that pulses in a clockwise direction around the listener - an absolutely amazing effect. The vocals also receive special treatment, swaying from front to rear and back again many times over, as Plant moans and steadily builds to an almighty scream in unison with Page's bow-work on the guitar.

    The subwoofer was used very nicely, adding strong bottom end to the kick drum and bass guitar. I was also surprised to hear the subwoofer kick in to aid the Hammond organ as Jones was replicating his bass melodies on keyboard.

    Listening to the Dolby Digital stereo track was a bit of a chore after experiencing the impressive surround mix, and altogether felt very busy and restricted by two channels. Considering that this recording consists of merely three instruments and a vocal, this reaffirmed to me the fact that any music can sound great in a surround mix if it is done properly. There was certainly plenty of panning from left to right in the stereo mix, but in general I was amazed at the benefits this experience gained from the use of six channels.

    On to the DVD-A content of the disc, and all I can say is wow! The extra depth and brightness that is evident in Page's guitar tone and particularly Bonham's cymbals and hi-hats is undeniable. However, the portion of the concert in which I most appreciated the higher resolution of DVD-Audio is the acoustic set. Beginning with Going To California, Page's acoustic guitar tone is sublime, with every ringing note a pleasure to hear. Jones gets out his mandolin for the same song, which also benefits greatly from the increased resolution of this audio track. This is followed by That's The Way, in which Page uses his 12-string acoustic guitar, also reproduced with wonderful depth and clarity.

    As far as vocal delivery is concerned, Robert Plant's style is second to none, although as with any live performance there is the odd enunciation issue, but I had no real problems with the vocal delivery or its placement in the mix. I noted a few occasions where emphasized "s" words were a little distorted, but taking into consideration the age of this recording and the equipment that was used back then this didn't surprise me.

    The MLP 2.0 track suffers from similar drawbacks to those which applied to the Dolby Digital 2.0 track, feeling quite claustrophobic and overly busy. As you would expect, the MLP track is miles ahead of the Dolby stereo option in most respects, particularly in the level of brightness from cymbals and the like.

    Overall, although I'm a bit disappointed by the glitch that is inherent in the Dolby Digital 5.1 track of disc two, I've found this release to be everything I was hoping for sound-wise. I'd have to say without hesitation that the MLP 5.1 track is my preferred of the four options.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are none, not even lyrics - but after the brilliant Led Zeppelin DVD what more could you ask for? In this case, extras aren't missed in my opinion.

Menu

    All menus are static and silent. The only advantage in navigation for DVD-Audio users is the ability to skip to the track listing during playback.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    DVD-Audio releases are commonly identical across all regions, however I would be most interested to hear from anyone who has imported this title to establish if the aforementioned Dolby Digital glitch is isolated to Region 4 pressings of disc 2.

Summary

    Led Zeppelin remain an astonishing rock act and this year of nostalgic releases has been nothing short of a godsend for fans. If you enjoyed the excellent audio quality of the Led Zeppelin DVD, this DVD-Audio release of How The West Was Won makes an ideal companion to the whole experience, and certainly belongs in the collection of any rock fan.

    The audio mix is excellent, matching the high standards of the Led Zeppelin DVD and raising the bar even higher with superb high resolution audio. Turn it up loud, close your eyes and imagine you're there.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using S-Video output
DisplayPanasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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