In 1975, when Led Zeppelin were prepping what would become their sixth studio album, Physical Graffiti, they decided to make it a double album by including unreleased songs originally recorded for previous albums. But while the regular version of this reissue (CD, vinyl, digital) presents this classic album with amazing sound, most of the new outtakes included on extra disc of the deluxe edition (also available on CD, vinyl, and digitally) don’t live up to this album’s legacy.
As with the previous reissues of Led Zeppelin’s eponymous debut, II, III, their symbolically-titled fourth album, and Houses Of The Holy, this new version of Physical Graffiti has been meticulously remastered by guitarist Jimmy Page. Which is why, like those previous reissues, this new this new version of Physical Graffiti sounds crisp, clear, and just plain better than previous edition, enough so that it’s totally worth getting even if you own this album already. Well, if you own a good stereo to play it on.
But as with the previous deluxe editions of their symbolically-titled fourth album and Houses Of The Holy, the deluxe version of Physical Graffiti doesn’t add any totally new songs, just alternate versions of songs from the album…most of which aren’t all that alternate. “Houses Of The Holy (Rough Mix With Overdubs)” just sounds like a rougher version of that song, (albeit with some odd harmonizing vocals), while the same can be said about “Brandy & Coke,” a.k.a. “Trampled Under Foot (Initial Rough Mix).” And “In My Time Of Dying (Initial Rough Mix).” And “Boogie With Stu (Sunset Sound Mix).” And, yes, the alternate version of “Kashmir,” here called “Driving Through Kashmir (Rough Orchestral Mix).”
The deluxe version of Physical Graffiti also has a really raw version of “Sick Again” called “Sick Again (Early Version).” But while the rough music makes it interesting, the unfortunate lack of vocals makes it sound more like a fragment of a song than a song itself.
Not all is for naught, though, as the deluxe version of Physical Graffiti does, thankfully, include “Everybody Makes It Through,” a radically different version of “In The Light” that’s circulated for years among collectors as “In The Morning.” But while this is actually a very different version of the song, it’s more importantly a cool tune unto itself, one you’ll want to listen to as more than just a curiosity.
As disappointing as the extra disc in the deluxe version of Physical Graffiti may be — and yes, I get that Page designed it to be a companion disc to the album, not a Coda-like collection — it’s still annoying that there are other songs that could’ve been included, but weren’t. Most notably, the instrumental “Swan Song.” Though as long as we’re wishing, I also wish this collection include an uncut and unedited live show from the band’s 1975 tour, and that this had come in a plastic jewel case instead of a cardboard sleeve that’s already started to show wear and tear even though I’ve only had the album for a couple hours.
In the end, the regular reissue of Physical Graffiti is for everyone while the deluxe edition is only worth springing for if you want that alternate version of “In The Light” and want to listen to the other outtakes once for curiosity’s sake. That there wasn’t more to this is just a shame.
regular edition: 9.5/10
III (deluxe edition): 8.0/10