RECORDS / New Releases: Led Zeppelin: The Complete Studio Recordings (Atlantic, 10 CDs, out tomorrow)

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The Independent Culture
If you were one of the million or so people who bought the original four-disc remastered boxed set in 1990, you might be a bit unhappy about this. The temptation to sell children and pets into slavery to get your hands on it will still be considerable. Not just a mighty musical monolith but also a landmark in crazed CD opulence, this chunky box contains all nine of Led Zeppelin's studio releases, packed back to back in five spined picture books, which are stacked in a grooved rack like used lunch trays in a canteen. No strangers to conspicuous consumption in life, the band's legend is well served by such an absurdly lavish monument.

Whether you see Led Zeppelin as rank defilers of the blues or noble guardians of the holy flame of heaviosity, there is no denying how great they sound here. Journey with them - from the electrifying edginess of a poorly received but enduring debut, to the bulging codpiece of Led Zeppelin II and the blissful folkways of III. The shockingly funky Houses of the Holy and the epic Physical Graffiti are in good shape too, and if Presence marks the start of a downslope, well that just shows that the road of excess does not lead to the palace of wisdom.

By In Through the Out Door, Robert Plant is showing a previously unremarked vocal resemblance to Loz from Kingmaker. Earlier on, his two voices - folk angel and rutting bison - have marked out a rocky high ground all of their own; Page's guitar playing has been simultaneously frazzled and elegant, and John Bonham's drumming has rearranged your neighbour's furniture. This is a collection that you not only could listen to all day, but might actually want to. Those with a sense of fiscal decency should either wait till next year when the discs will be released individually, or, preferably, buy a second-hand copy of Led Zeppelin III and listen to it over and over again.

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