The exact city has faded, but the isolated moment is still clear. Somewhere on the East Coast during Led Zeppelin's most recent tour of America, Jimmy Page, John Bonham, John Paul Jones and Robert Plant were speeding from the stage to their touring plane. Now, heading down the runway to the next stop, they collapsed in exhausted heaps around the on-board video tape machine.
Little Richard was on the screen, bashing his piano keys, rocking the bandstand and howling "Tutti Frutti" in the 1957 classic film The Girl Can't Help It. Page watched, took a weary slug of Jack Daniels and began to grin. "You know somthing?", he toasted. "No escaping our roots."
Three years later, with that credo very much in mind, Led Zeppelin have released a feature film of their own. The Song Remains The Same captures all the power and force of a Led Zeppelin concert from the ultimate vantage point. The view is from the second row, the sound as if the viewer were on stage. A multiple track playback sends the music from every direction of the theatre.
The tension takes hold immediately. The opening moments of The Song Remains The Same show the band gather in Britain, fly to the States, and pile into cars that will take them to a long-packed Madison Square Garden in the heart of New York City. The pace accelerates; there is no chance to rest. They hurtle down the freeways; and then Zeppelin is on stage, tearing into the music, from "Rock And Roll" to " Whole Lotta Love"; it is some of their most blazing live material. Peter Clifton and Joe Massot have admirably captured the total event on celluloid. For the first time, a Led Zeppelin performance is not just a memory. The film as well as this soundtrack, can be experienced again and again.
The film, is much more than a movie of Led Zeppelin in concert; it is a rare series of glimpses into the visions and symbolism of the men who make the music. Fulfilling a long-held desire to express themselves in a cinematic setting, each band member and manager Peter Grant, have contributed their own "fantasy sequence". For the first time, one can view the images in Page's mind during "Dazed And Confused", see life breathed into "Stairway To Heaven"... It would be impossible to detail those sequences here. The band has never really discussed their concepts or reasons. Now it's easy to see why.
It's been quite a ride since that first album was released in late '68, inventing a new repertoire, raw and brimming with fresh ideas and explorations into rock. Since then, Zeppelin's made six more albums, resulting in an ever-increasing legion of followers, whose loyalty can only be described as staggering, whilst the group record and live their music from L.A. to Kasmir. Now, their first adventure into cinema, The Song Remains The Same, is cinematic proof that amidst it all, while living the reflections of their music, they have neither forgotten nor denied that original premise - The Roots.