From the point of view of trying to influence the potential consumer, writing a review of the new Led Zeppelin DVD is pretty pointless: if you're a fan of the group, you already own the DVD. And if you're not, no amount of praise on my part is going to convince you to buy it.
Still with me?
Great, because we can explore what makes this two DVD set so impressive--and why Zeppelin themselves were so exciting.
In the mid-1980s, Jimmy Page took to the road with The Firm, musicians (not the least of which was the otherwise great Paul Rodgers) less compatible with his playing style than Led Zeppelin was. Additionally, his chops were suffering from a long self-imposed layoff from not playing, as he mourned the 1980 death of drummer John Bonham. As a result, Page's reputation certainly took a nosedive. The new Led Zeppelin DVD should successfully allow Jimmy Page to recapture his legend as a guitar hero who, at his best, is worthy of mention in the same breath as Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. Two DVDs worth of stunt playing, furious power chording, filigreed funk and just about every other technique imaginable on the electric guitar remind the world that at the peak of his powers (and even a little after that peak, as the Knebworth concerts surely were), he was a monster player.
Perhaps one of the reasons why the luster was a bit worn off of Page's reputation in the 1980s was how much the musicians in Zeppelin complemented him. Like fellow ex-Yardbirder Eric Clapton in Cream, Page was a guitar hero smart enough to surround himself with a drummer and bassist who were even better players than he was. Unlike Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, Zeppelin kept its internal power struggles and battling egos to a minimum.
While Page was clearly the band's producer and leader, Zeppelin was a band, not a superstar guitarist and his sidemen. Maybe that's one reason why none of the three surviving members of the band have created much that will last the test of time the way Zeppelin's original output has: the men under their employ in the 1980s and '90s weren't in a position to argue with them, or suggest alternatives, the way that the individual members of Zeppelin could. Jones could do wonders arranging Page's riffs. Bonham's drums could add the perfect color. Plant's scat singing and fearlessness with his vocals helped kept the band from becoming nothing but verses, choruses and guitar solos.