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Revisiting the long “lost” Led Zeppelin song

Earlier this week, Robert Plant spoke about a crate of old tapes that he will allow to be released after his passing. The frontman stated: “[The crate contained] all the adventures I’ve ever had with music, tours, album releases, projects that didn’t actually get finished or whatever it is, I just put them, itemised them all and put everything into some semblance of order.”

Adding that, “I told the kids that when I kick the bucket, open it to the public – free of charge – just to see how many silly things there were down the line from 1966 to now: the journey.”

The fact that none of the tapes were unleashed publicly at the time they were made is indicative of the tight control over creativity that the frontman operates on, and his time with Led Zeppelin was no different. The band had the final say on every studio record ensure pristine quality and a slew of outtakes to boot. 

Following the release of a BBC Sessions LP in 1997, Jimmy Page began hearing a bootleg of a track that had never been attempted on an album doing the rounds in the rare records circuit. He investigated further and discovered that it was from a BBC Session in 1969. He liked what he heard but the BBC was no longer in possession of the master tape, thus he had to think outside the box. 

Ultimately, he managed to find someone who had taped it off the radio during the session. “From what I’m led to believe, it was recorded off the radio by someone in Eastern Europe,” Page told Rolling Stone of the set. “It managed to travel around.” And somehow it made its way to Page.

The song is Led Zeppelin at their rhythmic blues best, jamming along on a heavy riff with the nuanced touches that gave them an edge. Regarding the track, known as ‘Sunshine Woman’ which came out of March ’69 Session for the BBC World Service, Page added, “We did something that we made up on the spot, from a guitar riff. It was done, I guess, for amusement really — although we were playing very seriously.”

This fun-filled improvisation coupled with the bludgeoning quality of serious musicianship results in a masterful piece of music that seems to have been almost mystically saved from the ash heap of history. And what’s more, you can listen to it in its fully restored glory from 2016’s The Complete BBC Sessions release below. 

Enjoy.

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