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Led Zeppelin: Burn Like A Candle (LA Forum, June 1972)

From collectorsmusicreviews.com

The Forum, Los Angeles, CA – June 25th, 1972

Disc 1:  LA drone, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Over the Hills And Far Away, Black Dog, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Stairway To Heaven, Going To California

Disc 2:  That’s The Way, Tangerine, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, Dazed & Confused, What Is And What Should Never Be

Disc 3:  Dancing Days, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love (includes Everybody Needs Somebody To Love, Boogie Chillun’, Let’s Have A Party, Hello Mary Lou, Heartbreak Hotel, Slow Down, Going Down Slow, The Shape I’m In)

// //

Disc 4:  Rock & Roll, The Ocean, Louie Louie, organ solo, Thank You, Communication Breakdown, Bring It On Home, Weekend

Bonus cd:  Wolfman Jack interview, January 22nd 1973 Southampton sound check (drums & mellotron tuning, Love Me, Frankfurt Special, King Creole, Love Me (reprise))

The audience tape for Led Zeppelin’s June 25th, 1972 Los Angeles show first began life on vinyl on the simply titled LA ‘72 (TT02) and received wider circulation as A Night At The Heartbreak Hotel (Artemis).  Both of these titles are very good quality but incomplete.  Silver Rarities released one of the earliest compact disc versions of the complete show on Burn Like A Candle under their unique Smoking Pig label, a title which has pretty much stuck with this tape ever since.  Tarantura released the four-disc set Route 66 (T4CD-3) that contained an incomplete copy of this tape coupled with the San Bernardino show.  

Route 66 has only “Rock And Roll” from the long encore section.  This was copied on Silently Ravaging America (WLL016/017) on the Whole Lotta Live label.  Missing Link tried to revive the early vinyl title with Night At The Heartbreak Hotel (ML-011/12/13) which was a copy of the Silver Rarities including the spurious encore “Weekend” and Cobra released the three disc set LA Forum (Cobra Standard Vol.024) about this time.  Equinox released the three disc set Burn That Candle (EX-00-010/011/012) which omits the encore and includes the Wolfman Jack interview from the following night. 

Empress Valley followed that with Burn Like A Candle in three editions.  The first was had LP sized packaging with three discs, followed by a gatefold sleeve edition with a fourth disc containing the Long Beach soundboard fragment which was followed by a third edition released in a jewel case.  Finally Wendy released Burn Like A Candle (WECD-63/64/65) last year. 

Just like Smoking Pig and the Empress Valleys, Wendy too uses the William Stout artwork of the burning candle on the front. 

Tarantura is the latest label to issue this tape on Burn Like A Candle.  This is a gorgeously packaged box set where the show is spread out over four discs and includes a bonus disc.  The four discs are housed in a gatefold sleeve which fit nicely in the box with the bonus disc in a single sleeve which comes in different colors depending upon he number you receive (#1-50 are white, #51-100 black, #101-150 cream, #151-200 yellow, and #201-300 green, and we are all encouraged to collect them all if we can).  The tape is a very good to excellent stereo audience recording taped very close to the stage with wonderful dynamics capturing the warmth of the performance beautifully. 

There is distortion during very loud parts but nothing to detract from the enjoyment of the show.  Tarantura use only the older source and do not use the newer source that surfaced recently.  Cuts at 1:30 in “Going To California” and at 17:53 in “Whole Lotta Love” are still present.  They also include “Weekend” as an eighth encore although it is now generally conceded to be from the June 14th Nassau Coliseum tape.  The bonus disc contains the Wolfgang Jack radio interview with Robert Plant the night after the show which first surfaced on the Graf Zeppelin interview compilation which if followed by the short, five minute rehearsal from a gig in Southampton, England the following January.

The reason for its inclusion in this set is not apparent since it has nothing to do with neither the Los Angeles concert nor the famous rehearsal tape that is sometimes attributed to this date.  Compared to older releases this is not a major upgrade but it does rank among the better sounding versions of the tape.  Compared to other releases there is a more natural sound to it. 

Tarantura spread the show over four discs when it fits on three.  Nevertheless this is great sounding and is a good, high quality deluxe production of a concert that is essential to own.  Much of this was released officially on How The West Was Won, but it is good to hear the songs unedited and Robert Plant’s speeches on stage which gives this show its characteristic warmth.  The set is nothing less than a great summary of the first five years of Led Zeppelin’s recording career. 

This show is notable also for having perhaps the longest encore section ever performed by the group containing their cover of “Louie Louie” including very rare Jimmy Page vocals.  John Paul Jones plays Sly And The Family Stone’s “Everyday People” on the organ as a prelude to an epic version of “Thank You”.  It is also enjoyable having the Wolfman Jack radio show as a bonus since it contains a rare glimpse of Plant on the radio giving an immediate reaction to one of Zeppelin’s legendary gigs.  Burn Like A Candle is another limited edition set released by the Tarantura label who is focusing upon releasing tapes from the lowest generations possible releasing the definitive edition of well-known tapes.

Note on the final encore “Weekend”:  Many years ago the track “Weekend” was considered a legitimate encore for this show.  The reason why it is in much more poor quality from the rest is because the taper was leaving the venue and didn’t know they were going to come back for more.  This song was thus taped at the back of the venue. 

My claim above about “Weekend” being from the June 14th, 1972 Nassau Coliseum show has been a common assumption for many years and is the reason why the latter day releases of this tape by Empress Valley, Equinox and Genuine Masters omitted the track.  For this release Tarantura received a fourth generation copy of the tape which includes “Weekend”.  Comparing “Weekend” on the Tarantura with the version on Missing Link reveals that it is more clear and several seconds longer and Plant can be heard speaking at the song’s conclusion, saying what is assumed to be “good night”. 

Comparing the Tarantura with the most recent release of the New York tape on Whole Lotta Led demonstrates that the common assumption is correct.  The performances between the two are identical.  Plant says something like “vocal” before the band start the song and the greetings at the end sound the same. 

Plus the performance sounds the same too with Plant singing the first three verses of the song before Page plays his solo.  Plant returns to sing the final two lines of the song (”No harm done, just a-havin’ some fun on a weekend / That was all, we had a big ball on the weekend”) before singing the first two verses again.  Also Plant’s intonation for the policeman’s line (”The police with a flashlight bright & nosy / Sayin’, ‘Holdin’ neck o’er there, what is all this?’”) is the same. 

Zeppelin may very well have played “Weekend” as a final encore that night in Los Angeles, but since there are no cuts surrounding the track on the New York tape it is safe to assume that the recording on these releases is not from Los Angeles and may have been imported early in the tape’s history for completeness.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Burn Like A Candle | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin: Fort Worth Express (May 1973)

From collectorsmusicreviews.com

Tarrant County Convention Center, Fort Worth, TX – May 19th, 1973

Disc 1: Rock And Roll, Celebration Day, Black Dog, Over The Hills And Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song

Disc 2: Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven

Last spring Tarantura released their version of the well-traveled Fort Worth soundboard tape on I’m With The Band. Empress Valley now have their edition on Fort Worth Express and it follows along the same lines as their previous treatments of the ninth U.S. tour soundboards. I’m With The Band emphasizes a narrow range with the upper frequencies cut off, but Empress Valley is much more broad in sound.

With the work done on the lower frequencies as well this edition sounds much more natural and easy to listen to although there is some residue of their remastering present. The tape is still incomplete with “Moby Dick”, “Whole Lotta Love” and the encore missing and there is a cut a 6:33 in “The Rain Song”.

This is also ninety seconds longer than the Tarantura, but that seems entirely due to the long fade out and fade in on the two discs. There isn’t any additional music or action on stage that isn’t present on the many other releases of this tape.

This comes packaged in their long cardboard sleeve design which works very well on this release. This is a bulky package but Empress Valley of late have been utilizing the space very well for the artwork and this is a beautiful piece to look at. Collectors speculate why all these soundboards are incomplete and when the rest will ever surface.

There was some hope several years ago when fragments from the May 31st Los Angeles show surfaced a couple years apart but the gates seem to have been shut and this is probably all that we’ll ever have for Fort Worth. Whether or not this is the definitive edition is due entirely to one’s tastes in the label’s work with this tape.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Fort Worth Express | , | Leave a comment

Gram Parsons: The Complete Reprise Sessions (2006)

From The Sydney Morning Herald

Mythologised and anthologised, if still little recognised, Ingram Cecil Connor III, or Gram Parsons, should really be a “what if” footnote in music history.

His ’60s career usually found him jettisoning bands, or being ejected, as he sought for some middle ground between rock, folk and country music but never quite nailed it.

His ’70s career had two solo albums, the second released posthumously, and the sales of both worth very little. But it’s hard to imagine the ’90s alt.country scene and even some of the finest of the ’70s and ’80s country (such as Emmylou Harris’s career) existing without the templates of those two albums, GP and Grievous Angel.

This box has those two and a third disc of out-takes, which are often at least as beautiful as the released versions. Don’t come looking for rock with twangy bits though; this is pure country music, done without irony, but with often startling heart and the exquisite blend of Parsons and Harris’s voices.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Gram Parsons The Complete Reprise Sessions | | Leave a comment

Nick Drake – Bryter Layter (1970)

From Sputnikmusic.com

Nick Drake was without a doubt an underestimated genius. Underestimated not by others, but by himself. He was a man of recluse and low self-confidence. He always thought he wasn�t talented musically, and it puzzles many how he could even think of himself as un-talented, nevermind actually believing it.

One would have no idea that he thought of himself like that after listening to Bryter Layter. This was probably his most orchestrated album, containing not only his soft-spoken voice, guitar and violin but also drumming, bass, piano and a brass instrument here and there (Such as the saxophone in At the Chime of a City Clock) even going so far to include a xylophone during the song Northern Sky. He definitely went all out on this album and it really shows.

Even with the use of so many wonderfully arranged instruments, it still seems simplistic enough to be a nice calming listen, but while retaining enough depth so not to come off as boring or repetitive. But when it comes down to it, what do people end up listening to? That’s right, his sweet gentleman tone of voice and his amazing finger picked guitar playing.

Songs like One of These Things First are easily a prime example of this, when ever you listen to it, you’ll initially be in awe of the majestic piano but by the end your attention always wanders back to Drake’s soothing voice and melodic guitar playing. Not only does his voice leave such as an impression, the lyrics he sings always have a very nice message.

Take Hazey Jane I for example, a song the seems like it’s about a woman so infatuated with a man that she passes by on so many other things in life she could be enjoying. But for some reason these songs never come off as being too depressing, unlike a lot of his other work. Again, this is probably contributed to the fact that the other instruments he experimented with on this album give it more of an upbeat feeling, no matter what the subject matter is.

However, these lyrics and messages are vital, mainly because one of the only let downs on the album (and it’s not really THAT big of a let down) is the title track, Bryter Layter. This instrumental track, clocking in at 3 minutes and 22 seconds sounds slightly dated and sounds like a cheesy intermission tune. Compared to the brilliant songs before and after (Hazey Jane I and Fly respectively) it comes of as being a little bit of a filler track, but it’s intended purpose was probably just for him to experiment on an instrumental song, and just try something out of the ordinary.

Even more out of the ordinary is the 6 minute song, Poor Boy. Easily one of the most epic songs in all of Nick Drake’s relatively short career it truly is a masterpiece. Using choir vocals in the chorus, and his own voice during the verses. It also features such wonderful arrangements for saxophone, piano and guitar.

Sunday is really the perfect way to close out an album, a calm flute melody played over a brilliant sounding guitar and later on, an organ. It just puts the whole album in perspective, despite it not being as powerful as the other songs on the album.

Quick Recap:
Pros- Amazing orchestration, brilliant lyeics and he has such a wonderful voice.

Cons- The instrumental tracks are nothing really to get excited about, when I listen to this album I usually skip Bryter Layter and rarely bother waiting through Sunday.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Nick Drake Bryter Layter | | Leave a comment

Gram Parsons: Fallen Angel DVD, Complete Reprise Sessions and An Intimate Biography of Gram Parsons by Jessica Hundley (2007/2007/2005)

From Musictap.com

We seem to have a multimedia “Gram Parsons assault” in progress. Over a relatively short period of time, we are treated to a book, a DVD, and a cd reissue with a wealth of alternate takes and interviews. Interestingly, Parsons is the first member of the Byrds to receive this royal treatment, so maybe we can hope that similar works are in progress for the original Byrds.

Grievous Angel:An Intimate Biography of Gram Parsons

I’m not usually a big fan of “rock” biographies. They tend to go overboard with praise for the artists and have a difficult time in keeping the artist’s pedestal modest. In the case of Gram Parsons, one of the pioneers of country-rock in the late sixties, we are dealing with a true enigma…he helped steer the Byrds into pure country with his involvement on “Sweetheart of the Rodeo”, founded the legendary Flying Burrito Brothers with Chris Hillman, carved out a solo career that featured some of the most heartfelt and emotional canons of songs I’ve ever heard, and became a mentor to Emily Lou Harris. All this before he died of a drug/alcohol overdose in a motel room in Joshua Tree, California at the age of 26. Did I mention that his body was stolen by his manager, Phil Kaufmann and taken out to the desert to be burned as part of a pact the two made shortly before after they attended Clarence White’s funeral. If this doesn’t have “movie” written all over it, nothing does. Johnnie Depp…if you’re reading this…

“Grievous Angel” is a solid biography of a brilliant, but tragic musician. When the book stays close to telling his story, it is an inspired read. Parsons’ influences are made clear and his progression from a rich, spoiled folkie to rock legend gains greater clarity as we begin to understand how his dysfunctional family situation when he was growing up caused him to seek solace in music and the approval of others…no matter whether their approval was necessary.

There are numerous interviews scattered through the book and they vary considerably in their value. Conspicuous in their absence are any interviews with Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman. As former band mates in the Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers, I think that their perspectives would have been welcome additions.
This book is a must read for anyone who has an affection for country (or country rock). It’s a very disturbing read on some levels and serves to remind us of the uglier side of the Sixties legacy.

Fallen Angel DVD

The second installment of Gram Parsons material is the best of the group. This film (Fallen Angel) was a long time in the making (6+) years and has an entirely different feel about itself. The film pays homage to every stage of Gram’s career but also shows the pain he caused to his closest friends and family members with his addictive behavior.
The perspective seems unique (to me) perhaps because Henning doesn’t stoop toward adulation…he recognizes Gram’s brilliance and contributions, but doesn’t shy away from the seamy side of his legacy either.
“Fallen Angel” spends a good amount of time in delivering a perspective from many of the musicians that Parsons worked with, from the International Submarine Band, Flying Burrito Brothers, back up players from Parsons’ solo albums, and Emmylou Harris. Phil Kaufman is given ample opportunity to offer his side of the story that involved his stealing Gram’s body from LAX and driving it out to Joshua Tree Monument where he carried out his friend’s request that his body be cremated in his favorite spot. Now, more than 30 years later, we see some degree of reconciliation with Gram’s family over the issue.

Henning brings an uncanny perspective to the country rock emergence which is very admirable given his youth and the fact that he grew up in Germany. The most touching comment came from Ms. Harris when she asked that people remember Gram’s music as his legacy…not the way he died. This DVD is a must see for any rock fan…it’s almost a primer of lifestyles to be avoided.

The Complete Reprise Sessions 3CD Box

There have been a number of CDs that attempt to cover Gram Parsons’ career. Most tend to focus on his work with the Flying Burrito Brothers. Rhino has issued re-mastered versions of his first two solo efforts (“GP” and “Grievous Angel”). Both have been released in some form previously, but the sound is much cleaner here. The real attraction from my perspective is in the bonus tracks on each of the solo efforts and the 3rd cd which is comprised entirely of alternate takes. These cuts simply shine even though they’re not fundamentally different from the released versions. Standout cuts are “Return of the Grievous Angel #1”, “In my Hour of Darkness”, and a stunning read of “Brass Buttons” (a song written about his mother Avis, who died of alcohol poisoning when he was a young man). There’s a version of “Hickory Wind” that tops any version previously released, including the Byrds’ version on “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” (a claim I don’t make lightly).

There are a number of interviews that fill out the 1st two discs. This is a great compilation of Parsons’ solo efforts. No country (or country rock) fan should be without this set.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Book An Intimate Biography of Gram Parsons by Jessica Hundley, Gram Parsons Fallen Angel DVD, Gram Parsons The Complete Reprise Sessions | , , | Leave a comment

Paul McCartney – The Fireman: Electric Arguements (2008)

From Uncut magazine

Yes, he may have hammered the point home a little gracelessly at times. But nevertheless, Many Years From Now – the 1997 biography virtually dictated to Barry Miles by Paul McCartney, made a convincing case for McCartney as the Fabs’ chief experimenter. John may have written and sung “Tomorrow Never Knows”, but long after he went home, it was Paul who worked into the night fashioning tape loops to drop in lieu of a guitar solo. Famously, for “A Day In The Life”, it was Paul – apparently, wearing a red butcher’s apron – who overrode George Martin’s misgivings and freighted in the New Philharmonia to create the song’s iconic 24-bar happening.

All of which, is fine, of course. But there’s something a little odd about Sir Macca’s eagerness to remind us that he was the Fabs’ first avant-gardist, while – even during the relative creative upswing of recent years – seeming reluctant to re-engage with that spirit. One suspects the real problem for McCartney, has been an inability to measure the success of his projects by any means other than record sales and the mainstream appeal upon which those sales are predicated. On the rare occasions McCartney has strayed from his musical comfort zone, he has shown reluctance to attach the Paul McCartney “brand” to anything other than a relatively narrow area of music.

Hence, in 1993, when he first hooked up with producer and Killing Joke bassist Youth for a dance music project, it was as The Fireman. Their debut, Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest, was a series of digital pictures seemingly designed to ease the digestion of a full English at Café del Mar. Though commendable in its way, it also served to heighten your exasperation. Why couldn’t Peculiar Paul and Populist Paul coexist on the same record, just as they once did in The Beatles?

Ten years after McCartney and Youth’s last collaboration, Rushes, it’s fair to say the world wasn’t gasping for a third instalment. By the same token, the world would surely prick up its ears if it knew that Electric Arguments is audibly, immediately, a Paul McCartney album, sung and written by Macca, played on “real” instruments – imbued at every turn with a questing curiosity that, at this stage, no one had any right to expect. And far from allowing you to gradually realise the fact, the opening song, “Nothing Too Much Just Out Of Sight”, explodes into action with a miasmic slo-mo peal of blues-rock guitar and a hoarse Macca delivering a predatory vocal display over the top of it. If the idea is to blow away the misgivings of anyone who diligently put the hours into previous Fireman projects, then it works like a dream.

Speed seems to have been the key here. With McCartney and Youth setting themselves the brief of creating 13 songs in 13 separate days, it’s perhaps not surprising that Electric Arguments feels like a series of distinct dispatches, albeit from the same holiday. At one extreme lies “Is This Love?” – a beatific Pacific gospel hymn with a choir of woozy Maccas singing “Bring my baby home to me”; at the other, the sonic mains-surge of “Highway”. In a blind taste test, we’d be here for some time before guessing the singer of the brooding, beautiful “Travelling Light”. Indeed, the sound of Macca’s cracked 66-year-old falsetto duetting with his careworn deeper register, sounds like something Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan accidentally left in a cab on their way to the studio. For some bands, the studio can feel like a place of incarceration. One suspects that, having spent much of last year negotiating the legal fallout from his divorce from Heather Mills, the studio must have felt like an oasis of liberation – more so for the fact that McCartney was free from his EMI contract.

Indeed, in December last year, McCartney castigated his record company of 45 years for having become “boring”. Even in more understated moments, that’s one adjective you’d struggle to level here. Seemingly bored with waiting for Lee Mavers to re-enter the studio and make another La’s record, the analogue angels of his mind seem to have jumped ship and gifted Macca the sonorous acoustic sunburst of “Sing The Changes”. Over wire on snare, the sun-dappled strum of “Two Magpies” evokes Nilsson’s 1972 beauty, “Turn On Your Radio”.

If you remember “Dance Tonight” – the pungent hors d’oeuvre of red herring that commenced last year’s first post-EMI album, Memory Almost Full – you won’t be encouraged to learn that Macca has once again picked up his mandolin for “Light From Your Lighthouse”. This time, however, there’s meat on these musical bones, pushed along by a lugubrious boom-thump and a chorus that comes with its own ready-made campfire glow.

Of course, it’s hard to think of campfires without thinking of what people do around campfires. Just as Mrs Merton famously asked Debbie McGee what attracted her to “the millionaire entertainer Paul Daniels”, there are times when you feel like impishly asking Sir Paul what prompted him to reconvene his occasional liaison with evangelical rock stoner Youth.

Much of what happens in “Universal Here, Everlasting Now” can probably be extrapolated from its title: the disembodied reverb-drenched voices, the birdsong, the billowing clouds of Orbular noise. But here, and on the pastoral spook-pop closer “Don’t Stop Running”, it’s hard not to thrill at the zeal with which diems are carpe’d and ancient habits resurface. As if found on a scrunched-up piece of paper in a 40-year-old jacket, McCartney sings the title of the latter over and over again, as if determined, this time, never to forget.

Depending on which Paul McCartney you like the most, you may or may not like what he’s done. But the best thing about Electric Arguments is that it sounds like the work of someone who doesn’t give a stuff what people are going to think. About time, too.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Paul McCartney Electric Arguements | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin bootleg – Live At The Lyceum (1969)

From allmusicguide.com

When this rare two-LP bootleg was recorded at the Lyceum in London on October 12, 1969, Led Zeppelin had only one album out — the release of Led Zeppelin II was still a few months away.

While the sound quality is decent — not great, not terrible, but decent — Zep’s performances are generally excellent. Most of the songs that Zep performs are on its self-titled debut album, including “Dazed and Confused” (which takes up all 14 minutes of Side Three), “Communication Breakdown,” “I Can’t Quit You, Baby,” Willie Dixon‘s “You Shook Me,” and Howlin’ Wolf‘s “How Many More Times.” Taking up all of Side Four, the latter becomes the basis for an inspired 15-minute blues jam.

Only two songs from Led Zeppelin II, “Heartbreaker” and “What Is and What Should Never Be,” are performed — at that point, they had yet to be released commercially, and many of the Londoners in the audience were no doubt hearing them for the first time. Released by a German bootlegger that called itself Grant Muzik, this double-LP made its way across the Atlantic to the U.S. and was quickly grabbed up by American collectors.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Live At The Lyceum | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin bootleg – Another White Summer (1969)

From allmusicguide.com

One of the best-sounding Led Zeppelin bootlegs that surfaced in the 1990s was Another White Summer, which focuses primarily on a June 27, 1969 concert at Playhouse Theater in London.

A bootlegger calling itself Big Music obviously had a high-quality master recording to work with, for the sound quality is superb (by 1969 standards). In fact, one could go so far as to say that Another White Summer is a bootleg that would even impress an audiophile. The word superb also describes the performances themselves — as much jamming and improvising as Robert Plant and Jimmy Page do, Zeppelin sounds quite focused on “Communication Breakdown” and an 11-minute “Dazed and Confused,” as well as interpretations of Chicago blues classics like Howlin’ Wolf‘s “How Many More Times” and Willie Dixon‘s “You Shook Me.”

Meanwhile, two versions of the instrumental “White Summer” (one of which is a bonus track recorded in 1970 instead of 1969) find Page getting into some interesting, raga-influenced jamming. When this concert was recorded, Zeppelin only had one album out — the ultra-influential Led Zeppelin II was still a few months away from being released.

Easily recommended to heavy metal/hard rock and blues-rock lovers, Another White Summer is among the more rewarding bootlegs of Zeppelin’s early concerts.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Another White Summer | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Ultimate Mudslide

ultimate_mudslide_3_21_70a1From allmusicguide.com

At first glance, The Ultimate Mudslide appears to be a Mobile Fidelity release — the OMS label steals Mobile Fidelity’s graphics style on this CD. But The Ultimate Mudslide is definitely a bootleg — not a Mobile Fidelity release — and it is based on the 1970s bootleg Mudslide, which was recorded at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, Canada on March 21, 1970.

There are some important differences between the old vinyl versions of Mudslide (which came out on Trademark of Quality in the early 1970s and was reissued by various other bootleggers later in the decade) and this CD version.

According to OMS, the songs on the original Mudslide were completely out of order and have been restored to their proper order with this disc — gems that include “Heartbreaker,” “Thank You,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “What Is and What Should Never Be,” and “Communication Breakdown.” But The Ultimate Mudslide adds some bonus tracks from a March 29, 1970 show at the University of Houston, including “How Many More Times.”

Unfortunately, the sound quality is poor on the Houston performances, which were obviously recorded on a cheap mono recorder. OMS admits that this bootleg doesn’t contain the Vancouver show in its entirety — what OMS doesn’t tell you is that Trademark of Quality’s original Mudslide LP actually had slightly better sound quality than this CD version. While The Ultimate Mudslide offers good sound quality, Trademark’s Mudslide LP had excellent sound.

Nonetheless, The Ultimate Mudslide is quite enjoyable (except for the poor-sounding bonus tracks) and is worth searching for if you’re a lover of Led Zeppelin’s early work.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Ultimate Mudslide | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin: Earl’s Court, May 25th, 1975 (Young Persons Guide To Led Zeppelin)

From collectorsmusicreviews.com

Earl’s Court, London, England – May 25th, 1975

Disc 1: Intro by Alan Freeman, Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, In My Time Of Dying, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir

Disc 2: No Quarter, Tangerine, Going To California, That’s The Way, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, Trampled Underfoot

Disc 3: Moby Dick, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven

Disc 4: Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, Heartbreaker, Communication Breakdown

Led Zeppelin’s fifth of five concerts at Earl’s Court is one of their longest and most emotional they delivered. Earl’s Court were the first shows they performed in England for more than two years and would be the final for a while (”who knows, there’s always the eighties” Plant says in his introductory remarks). A mediocre audience recording circulated for many years and a small fragment of the video soundtrack also existed but five years ago Empress Valley began their “soundboard revolution” by releasing an almost complete, excellent quality soundboard recording in their massive Demand Unprecedented box set covering all five shows over twenty-two discs.

The label subsequently released the final night separately as Zeppelin Physical Express Rocket (EVSD-109/110/111/112) in a quad jewel case. Afterwards the Watchtower label released their version of the soundboard tape that garnered universal praise on Conquistador (WT-2002097/98/99/100), which was a significant improvement over the Empress Valley with the sound quality being much more clear and with no traces of background noise. That release is rightly said to be among the top ten Zeppelin bootleg releases of all time.

Empress Valley followed Watchtower with When We Were Kings (EVSD – 256/257/258/259) a year later just in time for Christmas along with a new version of the May 24th soundboard Earl’s Court Arena 2405 Evoluzione. To most ears the second editions sound extremely close to their Watchtower equivalents. Both of these titles proved to be very popular and sold out quickly making them very difficult to find.

With Young Person’s Guide To Led Zeppelin (the title obviously inspired by Benjamin Britten) Empress Valley offer a second chance to pick up the final night in an extremely affordable edition.

The catalogue number for this release is identical to When We Were Kings and that title is even printed on the discs themselves and the spine. Little effort was made on the artwork with the common acoustic set photo on the front, a copy of the poster on the back and stark black inserts on the inside with the track listings.

They also did not use the thick glossy paper used for their other releases. But the artwork is reasonable and clean and is not that important compared to the contents of the discs themselves. It is the same excellent quality, mind-blowing recording as before and is a worthy upgrade to those who were not able to afford the high price asked for both the earlier Empress Valley and Watchtower editions.

When this tape first surfaced it caused a re-evaluation of the concert itself. Before it was considered a good but tired end of a very long series of concerts. It is now considered to be one of the better shows they ever performed. Certainly it is one of the longest, clocking in at almost four hours. Knowing it would be their last show for a while (and the interim was much longer than expected given Plant’s accident), they make this a special performance.

The first two hours of the show must be among the most energetic in the mid-seventies. The sequence of “The Song Remains The Same”, “The Rain Song”, and one of the best ever renditions of “Kashmir” ever, is phenomenal and is followed by a classic “No Quarter”. The opening riff to the future Presence track “Tea For One” prefaces “Tangerine”. “Trampled Underfoot” is very heavy and was used for the official DVD. “Dazed & Confused”, a song that dates from the band’s infancy (as Plant pointed out for years) is played for the final time and it is a shame they play such a poor version. Page sounds very tired by this point and makes very obvious mistakes which he doesn’t even try to cover up.

Things do recover for “Stairway To Heaven” and the band give the audience a half hour’s worth of encores with Plant throwing in “D’yer M’ker” in “Communication Breakdown”. 1975 was Led Zeppelin at their heaviest and this stunning evidence of that. Given the asking price this is a good opportunity for an upgrade for this great concert.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Young Persons Guide To Led Zeppelin | , | Leave a comment