The Story Behind Led Zeppelin’s “Travelling Riverside Blues”

Traveling Riverside BluesWhen Led Zeppelin released their four CD Box Set Led Zeppelin on September 9 1990, Led Zeppelin fans were treated with two Led Zeppelin recordings that had never been released before. One was a studio recording entitled “Travelling Riverside Blues.” The other was a live performance of “White Summer/Black Mountain Side.”

The Led Zeppelin box set was the first compilation of Led Zeppelin material ever released. The box set was released in three different configurations. There was a four CD Set, a six vinyl record set and a four cassette tape set. All three configurations contained a 36 page deluxe booklet. The box set was released in a large album sized hard cardboard box. All the songs on the album had been remastered. The initial Led Zeppelin CD releases that came out in the 1980s sounded horrible. The Led Zeppelin box set contained the best sounding versions of those classic Led Zeppelin songs that we all grew up with. It was the first of many attempts of remastering the Led Zeppelin material.

Led Zeppelin was never known as a band that released rare material. With the exception of “Hey, Hey, What Can I Do,” all the singles that were released from Led Zeppelin albums contained only album tracks on the b sides. There were no greatest hits albums released during their tenure. Led Zeppelin was always very guarded of their material. The arrival of the box set in 1990 only ten years after the band had broken up was a surprise to many Led Zeppelin fans. The grand surprise was the inclusion of the two unreleased tracks.

The inclusion of “Traveling Riverside Blues,” on the Led Zeppelin box set was the crown jewel of the box set for Led Zeppelin fans. The song had been recorded in 1969 at one of the seven BBC studios in London, England. Because the song had been recorded at one of the BBC studios. The BBC held the rights to the recording. Legally Led Zeppelin was unable to release the recording until they negotiated with the BBC for the recording’s release. Led Zeppelin’s performance of “Traveling Riverside Blues,” was originally recorded by the BBC at Aeolian Hall in England on June 24th 1969. At the time Led Zeppelin was touring the United Kingdom. The song’s recording was produced by John Walters of the BBC. The song was broadcast on the John Peel Top Gear show on June 28 1969.

“Traveling Riverside Blues,” was released as a single from the Led Zeppelin box set in 1990. Atlantic records also released a video of the song that included video clips from Led Zeppelin’s film The Song Remains The Same. Those video clips were intermixed with stock footage of various historic events and other filmed clips.

The recording of “Traveling Riverside Blues,” is vintage Led Zeppelin circa 1969. Robert Plant’s incredible vocals fuel the song. Robert Plant is pitch perfect on the tune while Jimmy Page lays down his signature guitar solos and riffs. It’s a stunning recording of a band that seem to be in their prime early on; a prime that never ended until the band broke up.

“Traveling Riverside Blues,” is a song written by Robert Johnson. The song was originally written in 1937.


  1. Avatar Jeremy Raab May 2, 2020
    • Avatar Charlie January 21, 2022
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