Monday, November 19, 2007

Led Zeppelin covers all bases with revamped official Web site

Almost as long as the Web has existed, fans of Led Zeppelin have created their own Web sites and forums dedicated to the band. In absence of an authoritative site with the stamp of approval from the band, the story has been told and retold on the Internet by concert goers and those from the next generation of fandom.

For the first time ever, today marked the launch of an official Web site that does many of the things fan sites have attempted in the past. Its user-friendly layout, stylized after the In Through the Out Door album artwork, boasts of a complete, detailed timeline of the band's historical live performances along with photographs, tour and concert memorabilia, and other information corresponding to those shows.

Concert set lists are printed wherever known, with single sentences inserted to denote remarkable happenings at the shows -- such as for June 23, 1977: "Keith Moon joining the group onstage during Moby Dick and the encores." (The fact is also evident by a shot of the Who drummer sharing a microphone at center stage with Robert Plant.)

Other dates have entire newspaper clippings to herald the concerts, such as a review of the show two nights earlier, and a Denver newspaper's review of the band's North American debut concert on Dec. 26, 1968.

The site also contains a forum for discussion among fans and, through a partnership with the online store Bravado, a venue for the purchase of officially licensed Led Zeppelin clothing, accessories, buttons, stickers ... and, of course, official video and audio releases.

Among the shirts available are black shirts with the Mothership design, an already recognizable icon one week after the release of the newly remastered two-CD sampler of the band's studio work.

The site's webmaster is Sam Rapallo, who has for a decade been behind the now-closing Electric Magic fan site and, for more than three years, the official site of John Paul Jones. The Led Zeppelin site calls for fans to contribute their concert memories or any corrections or updates they see fit.

Its debut coincides with the release of The Song Remains the Same both on a superior-audio DVD and as an expanded CD soundtrack. The new packages were released Nov. 19 in the United Kingdom and will be available Nov. 20 in the United States. The release concludes a month of anticipated sets from the band, which played its last note in 1980, less than three months before the death of drummer John Bonham.

The existence of a news section and, more to the point, a section marked "Reunion" makes for an interesting point. It suggests that if a more permanent reunion is to exist beyond a single concert held in London on Dec. 10, a section of the Web site is already dedicated to covering it.

A page exists for the reunion show next month at the O2 arena. Interestingly, the concert timeline ignores the previous reunions the band played.

Coincidentally, a new BBC interview filmed at Jimmy Page's house sees the guitarist explaining why he did not enjoy either the reunion concert at Philadelphia's Live Aid in 1985 or the Madison Square Garden performance in 1988 for Atlantic Records' 40th birthday celebration.

To mark the release of the new version of The Song Remains the Same, a promotional screening of the film was held in London, as covered by Tight But Loose fanzine author Dave Lewis on his diary connected with TBL/Web.

"It's not just a great time to be a Led Zeppelin fan right now," Lewis writes. "It's f***ing fantastic."

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