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Want to know why some Led Zeppelin vinyl LPs sounded better than most other rock LPs? It is received wisdom that the earliest Led Zep UK pressings – with a plum and red label, rather than the later green and yellow label – are the ones to have. But received wisdom, I have discovered, is not always correct.When I first started building up my record collection again, my local record shop, Leigh Records, had a £40 UK plum labelled copy of Led Zep III and a US pressing for £7.50 in the same condition. This wasn’t because I have some sort of maverick vision or second sight as a record investor.This felt downright sinful, but a sacrifice had to be made.As soon as we got home from tour I started hacking away.To date it’s probably the proudest I have ever been in regards to a custom vinyl creation I've made.
Still a first pressing, but without the “Living Loving Wreck” mis-print is a £60 copy in mint condition which lists “The Lemon Song”, crediting the writers as Plant and Page on the label.
Later copies are c£40 and call this song “Killing Floor” with a credit to Willie Dixon – which if you have ever heard Willie Dixon’s song you will have some sympathy for. It’s hellishly tricky – until you realise Page uses an alternative tuning (it’s an open-G tuning, the same one that Keith Richards uses to play “Rocks Off” or “Start Me Up” -and pretty much all of his songs) and then you just learn a few basic chord shapes and Bob’s your uncle (or should that be Jimmy’s your uncle? (Whilst we’re on the subject, “The Rain Song” from “Houses of the Holy” is another not-as-tricky-as-you-think song to learn – with an alternative tuning from low to high DGCGCD – that just sounds beautiful as you play it).
Look also for a light brown sleeve with a blurry green edge. , which led to much apparently serious speculation as to whether Page, Plant, Bonham and Jones had sold their souls to the devil.
However, whichever copy you look for, finding Led Zep II in great condition is harder work than listening to Depeche Mode’s third album. Which just goes to show how gullible people were in the seventies…
With all of these albums, you can buy cheaper copies by targeting the eighties reissues on green Atlantic labels.