How The West Was Won is a live album by Led Zeppelin from gigs in June 1972 at the LA Forum and Long Beach Arena in the USA.
The world waited for a long time for a Led Zeppelin live album and when it did appear, The Song Remains The Same received a disappointing reception although it’s been improved with the extended reissue.
How The West Was Won was released in 2003 and was immediately acclaimed as the real sound of Led Zeppelin live.
Led Zeppelin How The West Was Won Overall rating – 25/30
How The West Was Won Set List rating – 8/10
- LA Drone – 0:14 (first appearance on a Zeppelin record, usually about a minute longer)
- Immigrant Song – 3:42 (originally on Led Zeppelin III)
- Heartbreaker – 7:25 (Led Zeppelin II)
- Black Dog – 5:41 (Led Zeppelin IV)
- Over the Hills and Far Away – 5:08 (Houses Of The Holy)
- Since I’ve Been Loving You – 8:02 (Led Zeppelin III)
- Stairway to Heaven – 9:38 (Led Zeppelin IV)
- Going to California – 5:37 (Led Zeppelin IV)
- That’s the Way – 5:54 (Led Zeppelin III)
- Bron-Y-Aur Stomp – 4:55 (Led Zeppelin III)
- Dazed and Confused – 25:25 (Led Zeppelin)
- What Is and What Should Never Be – 4:41 (Led Zeppelin II)
- Dancing Days – 3:42 (Houses Of The Holy)
- Moby Dick – 19:20 (Led Zeppelin II) – drum solo
- Whole Lotta Love – 23:08 (Led Zeppelin II)
- Rock and Roll – 3:56 (Led Zeppelin IV)
- The Ocean – 4:21 (Houses Of The Holy)
- Bring It On Home – 9:30 (Led Zeppelin II)
This is a very nicely balanced set across the first five Zeppelin studio albums and it’s not dominated by the Houses Of The Holy album like the original version of The Song Remains The Same.
I give this set list 8/10. Ideally I’d prefer a Zeppelin live album from 1975 or 76 with songs like Kashmir and Trampled Under Foot.
I know I can’t say this and retain much credibility but I find the individual songs are better than the studio albums. Whilst I’ve owned them all (except for Coda), only Physical Graffiti has been played regularly.
Performance rating – 9/10
The performance impresses Zeppelin guitar legend Jimmy Page and is the time he considers the peak for the group.
It smacks of excess in places, especially on CD2 – the elongated Dazed & Confused with the guitar histrionics with the bow and the long drum solo in Moby Dick.
I like the way the group use Whole Lotta Love as a base for creating medleys because it really distinguishes these songs from the studio versions. I think it works for Whole Lotta Love because it has such a terrific and distinctive riff to return to – how could I not love the theme tune to the UK TV programme Top Of The Pops!
Zeppelin carry a real punch and I like the intensity of the shorter numbers. The sound is much tougher than their studio albums from Led Zep III onwards suggest.
Here is a video of Led Zeppelin performing live in concert in 1972 to give you a chance to experience the sight and sound.
Atmosphere & Authenticity rating – 8/10
The album was recorded when Zeppelin were fighting for the title of the best rock band in the world with The Who, The Rolling Stones, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath – all in or very close to their prime.
The Who were between Who’s Next and Quadrophenia, The Rolling Stones had released Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main St, Deep Purple had In Rock and Machine Head and Black Sabbath had released their first four albums that define heavy metal for many people.
This competition pushed Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and the others hard. Zeppelin were hot and they knew it.
The sound is a bit too overwhelming for me. A little Zeppelin at full pelt and volume goes a long way.
Total Rating For How The West was Won by Led Zeppelin – 25/30
This is a much better album than The Song Remains The Same even in its extended form.
I can understand why Zeppelin fans like it so much.
The albums I turn to most regularly when I want a blast of Led Zeppelin are this one, the BBC Sessions for the terrific 1971 In Concert recording and Physical Graffiti.
The only problem with How The West Was Won is that I find I take it off after about an hour. It’s an enjoyable 60 minutes but I need a break.
If you’re new to Zeppelin this makes a great place to start and for me, is much more attractive than the compilation albums.
What Others Say About How The West Was Won
This album regularly appears in the lists of best live albums ever.
Classic Rock – 4th
Guitar World – 7th
Chordstrike.com – 8th
Stylus – 8
Q – 2006 – 11
Slate Readers Poll – 13
Planet Rock – 25
Rolling Stone – Top 25
I don’t rate it that highly.
Reviews on Amazon are very positive and very plentiful.
Buying How The West Was Won
To help you to find the album quickly and easily, I’ve given you the following links::
What Do You Think About This Album?
Do you think How The West Was Won is much better than the improved version of The Song Remains The Same? Why?
What Is The Best Led Zeppelin Live Album?
I have created a readers poll to answer the question what is the best Led Zeppelin live album?
Please click on the link to vote and see the results so far.
What Are the Best Live Albums Ever?
How The West Was Won is nominated in two other readers polls:
Because there are so many great hard rock live albums, I have a second division poll where you may find some more of your favourites.
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