More of the Music of Led Zeppelin
Letters and Commentaries for Led Zeppelin III
A classic example of Live and Learn.
In 2008 we simply had not done our homework well enough. I had been an audiophile for at least 33 years by then, and a professional audiophile record dealer for 21.
Sure, by 2008 we had auditioned plenty of the pressings that we thought were the most likely to sound good: the original and later domestic pressings, the early and later British LPs, some early and later German pressings, maybe a Japanese import or two. In other words, the usual suspects.
We already knew the Classic Records Heavy Vinyl was unbelievably bad; no need to put that in a shootout. It earned an “F” right out of the gate for its bright and harsh sound.
The result? We were roughly in the same position as the vast majority of audiophiles. We had auditioned a number pressings of the album and thought we knew enough about the sound of the album to pick a clear winner. We thought the best original British Plum and Orange label pressings had the goods the no other copies could or would have. (Years later we would get hold of another one, clean it up and put it in a shootout.)
But of course, like most audiophiles who judge records with an insufficiently large sample size, we turned out to be completely wrong.
Logic hadn’t worked. None of the originals would end up winning another shootout once we’d discovered the right reissues.
But in 2008, we hadn’t stumbled upon the best pressings because we hadn’t put enough effort into the only approach that actually works.
What approach is that? It’s trial and error. Trial and error would eventually put us on the path to success. We had simply not conducted enough trials and made enough errors by 2008 to find out what we know now.
We hadn’t made the breakthrough we needed to make in order to know just how good the album could sound.
We reproduce below the commentary for the 2008 listing that gets it wrong.
The best British originals are good records, but none of them would win a shootout these days up against the superior import pressings we discovered around 2015 or so.