Jimmy Page has confirmed that “all manner of surprises” will be released in 2018 to mark 50 years since Led Zeppelin was formed.
Page said in an interview with the Academy of Achievement that “there’ll be Led Zeppelin product coming out, for sure, that people haven’t heard because I’m working on that. Next year will be the fiftieth year so there’s all manner of surprises coming out.”
But what surprises could Page mean? We decided to take a look at some likely options for what’s on the way in 2018, as well as some more outlandish theories. To be clear: We don’t know what’s coming. But it’s fun to guess.
Live material from Led Zeppelin’s 1971 Japan tour
Realistically, we’re probably not going to see any more previously unheard studio material from Led Zeppelin. Page’s remasters series plundered the vaults for the companion discs. Page confirmed as much in a press conference to promote the final remasters in 2015. “As far as the studio side of things, this is it,” he reportedly said.
So, let’s look to the live material. Led Zeppelin’s five-date tour of Japan in 1971 has been widely bootlegged, but it’s seen as a pinnacle of the band’s career in terms of live performances.
It’s widely believed that Page has the soundboard recordings of the 1971 Japanese tour, so it would make sense that he could edit together a supercut of the five shows into one live album, similar to what he did with “How The West Was Won.”
Southampton University 1973
The recording of this small scale Led Zeppelin performance was reportedly considered for an official release in the past but was seemingly abandoned. It’s not clear if that’s because the tapes were considered inferior in quality, or if other material was deemed to be more worthy.
Led Zeppelin’s Southampton University show from January 22, 1973 is a live highlight of the band’s career and has circulated as a bootleg for years. In fact, one bootleg of the performance is titled “The Great Lost Live Album.” Maybe it’s time for Page to find it.
Restoring the Bath Festival video
Led Zeppelin performed at the Bath Festival on June 28, 1970 and the performance was professionally filmed by director Peter Whitehead. However, it was believed for many years that the footage was unusable as it was too dark.
However, earlier this year we reported that the film of this show does exist, and is apparently “perfectly fine.” Professor Steve Chibnall from De Montfort University, who has access to the footage, said that “there’s 20 to 30 minutes and a lot of it is backstage. I’ve only seen the footage, I haven’t seen it with sound … it is usable because, I mean, it can be, it can be restored now. So you can raise those lighting levels, you can see more digitally.”
Earl’s Court 1975
Led Zeppelin performed five shows at Earl’s Court in London in 1975 and recorded each of the shows for posterity. However, there has never been a full, official release of the audio and video recorded from the shows. Six songs were included on the “DVD” release, but it’s likely that there’s more in the vaults that could be restored and released for the fiftieth anniversary.
A photo book
Page’s comment that “all manner of surprises” are planned for 2018 could mean more than just audio and video — maybe a book is in the works. Led Zeppelin were shot by many photographers both on-stage and off-stage, and eager fans would snap up an expensive, official hardback book that includes previously unseen photographs.
Jimmy Page has a connection here that would come in handy — he has a longstanding relationship with Genesis Publications in London. That’s the publishing house that released his limited edition photographic autobiography in 2010, and then a wider release of the book in 2014.
An official documentary
Surprisingly, there has never been a definitive documentary that covers Led Zeppelin’s career from a small band in London in 1968 to the sell-out O2 reunion performance in 2007.
There’s a wealth of video footage that could be used, and Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones would likely be happy to be interviewed for it. Filmmakers could also speak to former road manager Richard Cole, Jason Bonham, and musician Roy Harper who also joined the band on tour.
A new greatest hits compilation
This one seems like a no-brainer. Led Zeppelin last released a greatest hits album in 2007 with the “Mothership” compilation. Since then, Jimmy Page has overseen the remastering of all of the studio tracks, so it would make sense that Warner Music Group could release an updated greatest hits album featuring the remastered studio tracks.
In 2003 Led Zeppelin released “DVD,” a box set of footage of live performances by the band that was the biggest load of official footage ever released.
But that was 2003, and video quality has moved on since then. It should be relatively easy to upscale or rescan the footage used for “DVD” and release a high-definition version for digital download or a physical release on Blu-ray.
Jimmy Page has shown an awareness of high-definition formats with the Led Zeppelin remasters — the super deluxe box sets included cards with codes to download the albums in high-definition. “I thought the most sensible thing to do was be prepared with super-high-resolution files for whatever may come,” Page told The Telegraph. Perhaps it’s time for video to get the same treatment as audio?
A limited edition vinyl release for Record Store Day
Jimmy Page has repeatedly mentioned the idea of releasing some previously unreleased studio material on vinyl for Record Store Day.
Page said in an interview with Tight But Loose magazine in 2015 that he could release studio material on Record Store Day “in five year’s time.”
And in the press conference for the final Led Zeppelin remasters around the same time, Page reportedly said “as far as the studio side of things, this is it, unless something might pop up on international Record Day or something like that. But it will be a long way off.”