The first time I listened to Led Zeppelin I was sat in a car park in my mother's car. I remember the moment like it was yesterday. It wasn't the epiphany I'd told it would be. It was, well, disappointing.
In my early teenage years I'd first heard rumours about a British group who were 'better than the Beatles' and 'world's greatest rock band.' By the age of 15 the desire to live the rock 'n' roll dream had formed in my mind and I'd build the courage (and enough cash) to visit my local Our Price to blow my hard-earned savings, from kitchen portering, on my first Led Zeppelin cassette.
The long-haired Our Price (for those who haven't heard of this shop it's the old fashioned version of iTunes, but with real people) assistant laughed when I asked for a recommendation of which Led Zep album I should go for. He thrust a pale green coloured cassette tape featuring a hunched over old man holding a stack of sticks on his back into my hand and assured me it would do the trick. I thought the assistant was such a smart arse then, but I miss that kind of learned musical advice now.
As I walked back to the car park where I agreed to meet my mum I unwrapped the tape from it's clear plastic cover and eyed the four symbols which represented each band member in wonder.
Shortly after I shoved the tape in the cassette player, almost salivating at the prospect of hearing Black Dog for the first time. I regret to say that I still can't quite describe the feeling of epic anti-climax on hearing it. Black Dog, with its weird timing, construction and really, really difficult to keep up with drums. I didn't get it. Thankfully, that soon changed. I soon got Led Zeppelin.
It seems remarkable that almost 25 years later I found myself sitting in the old Olympic Studios where the band recorded a load of their classic records. In front of me was a grey-haired Jimmy Page, the composer who so let me down on the first hearing, but whose body of work has inspired me through my entire adult life.
Digitally remastered versions of the 1971 Led Zep IV and 1973 Houses of the Holy go on the market later this month and I was one of the lucky few journalists to get a listen alongside Mr Page.
The years following that first listen unfortunately resulted a decline in living standards for my poor little sister. I developed a habit for drumming on everything. For that I blame John Bonham, the band's iconic drummer. The bad news for my sister is that these remastered versions act as an informal tribute to Bonzo. The quality of the drums is massive. As I tweeted during the listening:
Another outstanding feature of these remastered classics is the heart thumping, ground shaking quality of the base provided by John Paul Jones. There's a certain reassuring warmth in knowing quality is timeless.
Unfortunately Page admitted under very polite questioning after the listening that getting the group together for another show was not on the cards, but he did hint at forming a new group - yet unnamed - of unknowns to perform classics from his career. In lieu of a reformed band these remastered albums keep Zeppelin relevant, but seeing them live, just once more, would be a sight for sore eyes.Suggest a correction