Classic Rock Review

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Led Zeppelin II (1969)


Led Zeppelin already had an impressive touring schedule under their belts when they released their sophomore album, Led Zeppelin II. They had completed touring around the UK and the States, but Led Zeppelin II would be the album that would cement them into rock history.

The album was released in October 1969, a mere nine months after their debut, and was recorded and produced in between their hectic touring schedule. The blues influenced quartet took their initial more psychedelic approach and fused it with harder, bluesier rock to create one of the most influential rock albums to date.

“Whole Lotta Love” is one of the band’s biggest, most recognizable songs. Jimmy Page’s opening riff accompanied by John Paul Jones’ bass starts off the album in true hard rock fashion. The other rock of the late 1960s was nothing compared to the heaviness that Page and his band mates were bringing to the forefront. This paired with the wailing vocals of the “golden god” Robert Plant made the track an instant classic. It oozes sex appeal without losing any of its integrity.

“Whole Lotta Love” is followed by “What is and What Should Never Be,” which starts out in a bit of spacey fashion but picks up in the chorus. While it is overall a good song, the lyrics aren’t the strongest. Plant’s delivery is great, but other tracks on the album are superior in lyrical content.

Next up is “The Lemon Song,” the longest and by far the sleaziest track on Led Zeppelin II. The band digs deep into their blues roots for this one and they don’t disappoint. Page’s blues guitar work is gritty and groovy, with the rhythm section following suit. Of course, it wouldn’t be fair not to mention Plant’s stunning vocals. Very few vocalists could take the phallic symbol of a lemon and scream out some of the best blues rock of the 20th century.

Led Zeppelin II also contains two more of the band’s biggest tracks, “Heartbreaker” and “Living Loving Maid.” “Heartbreaker” features another Page riff that is instantly recognizable, while “Living Loving Maid” contains one of the catchiest choruses.

“Ramble On” is one of the album’s best both musically and lyrically. It starts with Page’s soft acoustic playing, with Jones laying down a solid bass in the back. The chorus, however, changes everything with Page, Jones, and drummer extraordinaire John Bonham ripping and playing at full force. Plant’s vocals and song writing are also on full display, with his infamous nods to J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings making an appearance.

When talking about Zeppelin, it also wouldn’t be fair not to mention the genius that is John Bonham. His skills are some of the best the music world has ever seen, which is evident on “Moby Dick.” While some may find the track odd or boring, it truly shows how masterful Bonham was as a percussionist. Whether with his sticks or with his hands, Bonham knew how to make the drums speak and no one did it so powerfully.

The album closes with the blues tune “Bring It On Home,” which seems fitting. Led Zeppelin II was and is some of the heaviest work the band has ever produced and really delves into the dirty blues on which they were raised.

It is very easy to say that this album is some of Zeppelin’s best work. “Whole Lotta Love” has spanned decades and is still a staple on any rock lovers’ playlist. Page’s iconic riff and Plant’s incredible, powerful vocals entrance the listener, keeping the song relevant over 40 years later. “Heartbreaker” and “Living Loving Maid” are other classic, catchy tunes that have stood the test of time.

The band’s longevity cannot be credited to any one member. It must be attributed to the individual talents of Plant, Page, Jones, and Bonham. Each member is a key ingredient that could not be subtracted from the equation. Page’s guitar, Bonham’s drums, Jones’ bass, and Plant’s wail are all individually stunning but sound even better when combined.

While the songwriting developed and expanded over the years, Led Zeppelin II is still a masterful creation from one of the most distinctive bands in all of music history. They crafted a blues based style of rock and made music that is nostalgic but timeless. No one can imitate the mighty Zeppelin…and no one ever will.

Next Steps
Following the release of Led Zeppelin II, Zeppelin continued to tour and build a massive following. In 1970, the band began working on Led Zeppelin III, which was highly influenced by Celtic and folk music. 1971 saw the release of the band’s most notable song, “Stairway to Heaven,” which is said to be the most requested song in rock radio.

After a string of incredibly successful album releases, tragedy struck in 1980. Drummer John Bonham was found dead in his hotel room. The band’s scheduled tour was cancelled and the members decided to part ways.

Since the breakup, the band has reunited at various points over the years, with Bonham’s son Jason filling in on the drums. Their last gig together took place at the O2 arena in 2007.

January 7, 2014 Posted by | Led Zeppelin II | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Houses Of The Holy (1973)


Led Zeppelin took stock of their phenomenal fame with Houses of the Holy, with deep contributions from each member of the rock quartet. This fifth album was released in 1973, nearly a full year after it was recorded in the Spring of 1972 at Stargroves, an English country estate owned by Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones. The major reason for the album’s delay was trouble with designing and printing the unique album cover by the artistic company Hipgnosis, with the band completely rejecting the initial artwork and the first prints of the final artwork accidentally coming out with a strong purple tint. When they finally got the artwork correct, the album was banned from sale in many locations because of the naked children on the cover who pay homage to the Arthur C. Clarke novel Childhood’s End.

Produced by guitarist Jimmy Page (like all Zeppelin albums), the album featured sophisticated layered guitars, the addition of obscure instrumentation, and other rich production techniques. Beyond the Stargroves recordings, the album contains recordings from Headley Grange (site of recordings of their previous album Led Zeppelin IV) with the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, along with Olympic Studios in London and Electric Lady Studios in New York. There were also several recorded songs not included on Houses of the Holy but released on later albums such as Physical Graffiti and Coda.

The album featured styles and sub-genres not heard on previous Led Zeppelin albums, such as funk, reggae, and doo-wop. The album is an indirect tribute to their fan base, who were showing up in record numbers to their live shows. It perfectly straddles the band’s early, more blues-based period from their later work, which consisted of more richly produced studio albums that tilted more towards pop and modern rock. Bass player and keyboardist John Paul Jones temporarily left the band for a few days during this album’s recording but soon returned and stayed with the band until the end.

The fact that this album features different sounds is evident right from the top with “The Song Remains the Same”. This song is odd on several fronts, from the pitch-effect vocals of Robert Plant to the extremely bright multi-tracked guitars of Page. Still, the song is great and is set up as a sort of journey, not a rotation. The song is a jam that feels loose yet does not get lost for one second, due mainly to the steady and strong drumming of John Bonham. The song was originally an instrumental which was given the working title “The Overture”, before Plant added lyrics and the title to it. It was originally going to be an intro for “The Rain Song”, and these songs were often coupled together in concert. “The Rain Song” Is an extended piece with eloquent acoustic and electric guitars weaved together. The song also features a long mellotron section (some would say too long) played by Jones, adding a surreal orchestral effect above Page’s guitar before returned to the climatic final verses and soft and excellent guitar outtro.

Parts of “Over the Hills and Far Away” written by Page and Plant during the 1970 sessions at the Welsh cottage Bron-Yr-Aur for the album Led Zeppelin. The song is mostly acoustic throughout but works into a harder rock section during the middle, making it one of the most dynamic Led Zeppelin songs ever. Jones and Bonham add a tight rhythm to Page and Plant’s etheral dynamics. The song was released as a US single, but failed to reach the “Top 40″, faring much better on classic rock radio through the decades. Over the Hills and Far Away single“The Crunge” is a funk tribute to Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and James Brown and evolved out of a jam session built around Bonham’s off-beat drums and a bass riff by Jones. This song features an overdubbed VCS3 synthesizer to replicated the funk “horn” section, which gives it a totally unique sound of its own. During the jam Plant calls for a “bridge” (imitating Brown’s habit of shouting instructions to his band during live recordings). When no such section materiializes, the song (and first side) uniquely ends with the spoken “Where’s that Confounded Bridge?”

The closest Led Zeppelin ever came to writing a pure pop song, “Dancing Days” was actually inspired by an Indian tune that Page and Plant heard while traveling in Mumbai. The guitar overdubs are simply masterful in this upbeat song about summer nights and young love. It was played live as early as November 1971 and, although not officially released as a single, it received heavy radio play in the UK. “D’Yer Ma’ker” was released as a single and became the band’s final Top 40 hit (although they didn’t have many of those). The song has a unique sound with Bonham’s exaggerated drum pounding backing a reggae-inspired riff by Page and Jones and Plant’s bubblegum pop vocals. The distinctive drum sound was created by placing three microphones a good distance away from Bonham’s drums, giving him much natural reverb to make the banging sound more majestic. The name of the song is derived from an old joke about Jamaica, and was often mispronounced as “Dire Maker” by those not privvy to the joke.

John Paul Jones centerpiece “No Quarter” provides a great contrast with a much darker piece about viking conquest, with the title derived from the military practice of showing no mercy to a vanquished opponent. The song features a distinct, heavily treated electric piano throughout with an acoustic piano solo by Jones in the long mid-section. Page doubles up with electric guitars and a theremin for effect, while Plant’s voice is deep and distorted. The album concludes with the upbeat rocker “The Ocean”, which refers to the “sea of fans” at the band’s concerts. Launching from a voice intro by Bonham, the song returns to the heavy riff-driven anthems that were popular on their earlier albums. But this song does contain its own unique parts, including an overdubbed vocal chorus, performed a Capella, by Plant in the middle and a doo-wop outro section that contains a boogie bass with strong guitar overdubs, bringing the album to a climatic end.

Houses of the Holy has been certified eleven times platinum and is often included on “greatest albums” lists. It is an odd but brilliant album by Led Zeppelin which finds a balance uncommon by hard rock bands of any era.

January 5, 2014 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Houses Of The Holy | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Presence (1976)


In late 1975, Led Zeppelin had planned a world tour to capitalize of the phenomenal success of their latest album Physical Graffiti. the band was at the absolute zenith of their popularity with a string on top-selling albums going back to 1969. However, a serious car accident involving lead singer Robert Plant while he was vacationing on the island of Rhodes with his wife, made the tour impossible. Plant was confined to a wheelchair for nearly six months and this tilted the band towards writing and recording a new “unplanned” album. The result was Presence, the least successful album in the Zeppelin catalog commercially and one with very mixed reviews critically. However, Presence is the album that the band themselves consider to be their “most important”.

During his recovery period in Malibu, CA following the accident, Plant began to write some lyrics. He was soon joined by guitarist and producer Jimmy Page to further work on these compositions. When enough material had been written, bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham were summoned to rehearsals in California. The band then migrated to Munich, Germany for recording, all with Plant still in a wheelchair. The studio was small, in a basement, and very difficult for Plant to work in. Further, the band found out that they had just 18 days for the entire production as the Rolling Stones had the very same studio booked for their next album, Black and Blue. As producer, Page pretty much stayed awake for the entire 18 days in order to complete the album in Munich.

The result is, perhaps, the most unusual Led Zeppelin album (although each of their albums are quite distinct). Page developed a cleaner, “twang-ier” guitar sound in contrast to his signature “crunch” riffs of earlier days. Bonham’s drumming is furious and strong with a sound extended from that on Physical Graffiti, while Jones continued his migration from a dynamic blues to that of a more standard rock bass player. As Plant himself admits, his vocals dynamics suffered a bit due to his confinement. Further, he was a bit upset with the band’s management for keeping him from his wife, who was also seriously injured in the car wreck and recovering back in England, mainly due to tax reasons. Still, Robert Plant at 50% is superior to most rock singers and his performance on Presence is far from embarrassing.

The album was completed on November 26th, the day before Thanksgiving, which was a suggested title for the album. This title was rejected in favor of “Presence”, a representative force surrounding the band. The cover artwork features various images of random people interacting with a black obelisk-shaped “object”, a sort of play on the space object in the film 2001.

Presence is the only Led Zeppelin album with neither acoustic or keyboard tracks, as the band made a concerted effort to forge and updated version of their earliest “raw” sound. This strategy succeeds well on the first side but is less successful on the second side as the three songs on the first side are far superior to the four on the second. Still, it is refreshing that the band never lost their capacity for experimentation even with this quickly rushed album.

Unlike most albums which tend to build towards an epic song late on either sides this album kicks off right away with “Achilles Last Stand”, the tour de force of Presence. The song starts with dreamy, flanged guitar intro by Page which gives way to a rapid trigger-like riff that gets variated throughout. It is a true journey of a song lead by Plant’s lyric and vocal telling of his misfortune in the land of the Greek heroes. One flaw with the song is that it lasts just a bit too long and becomes a little repetitive towards the end. It perhaps would have worked better as a 7-minute song than this 10½ minute goliath.

This last point is magnified with the album’s closer “Tea For One”, another extended cut but with alot less action. The truth is, the best part of this 9-plus-minute song is the first 21 seconds when the band does a riff completely out of context with the rest of the song, which is a slow and depressing diddy that wallows in misery and desperately cries for a kick into a higher gear at some point. Some have pointed to the shorter songs on the album as “filler”, but I believe the filler actually lies within the longer compositions themselves by virtue of repetitiveness. Which begs the question – if the band didn’t feel like they had enough material, why not add some older material like they had with Physical Graffiti? We know now that there were some fine, unreleased songs out there like “Travelig Riverside Blues”, “Poor Tom”, and “Hey, Hey What Can I Do?”

Rounding out side one is a couple of unique Zeppelin gems. “For Your Life” is the quintessential Led Zeppelin song, filled with bluesy licks over a catchy riff and dynamic, much-improvised vocals by Plant belting out lyrics that are hard to decipher completely, but with a vibe “felt” to the bone. The song contains nice changes, an interesting bridge, and a precise, simple, and strong beat throughout by Bonham. “Royal Orleans” is a fun and funky tune alledgedly retelling a story involving John Paul Jones and a transvestite.

Launching the second side, “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”, Plant’s guilt-ridden song about bad things befalling him (presumably the car wreck) due to his own actions. The song contains an excellent blues harp solo, unlike anything he had done since “When the Levee Breaks” on Led Zeppelin IV, five years earlier. It is the first of two distinct leads, followed by Page’s own bluesy guitar lead, combined these make up the best part of the song. Much like “Achilles”, this composition would be better if more succinct and less repetitive, but it is still a fine track.

The heart of the second side contains two fine sounding throwback songs. “Candy Store Rock” is an Elvis tribute, which uses the candy store as an analogy for sex in the same fashion that “Trampled Underfoot” used the car on the previous album. It is not a terrible listen but just a little disappointing in the minimalist approach of Page and Jones. Bonham, on the other hand plays a very interesting beat with entertaining variations throughout. “Hots On for Nowhere” is one of the forgotten gems of the Zeppelin catalog, a stop-start rockabilly riff and beat with some nice changes. It is a song with a very upbeat vibe despite the mainly depressing lyrics.

Presence did initially rush to #1 on the Billboard charts (probably due to the band’s popularity alone) but quickly fell and tracks from this album have rarely received airplay. Also, because of it being completely built in the studio, few songs from the album were played live on subsequent tours. Still, despite this initial subdued reception, Presence is an excellent listen that has held up well over the decades and cannot be overlooked by any true fans of Led Zeppelin today.

January 5, 2014 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Presence | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin I (1969)


Jeff Beck leaves Jimmy Page as sole guitarist in The Yardbirds, a group that had also numbered Eric Clapton among their ranks prior to Jeff and Jimmy. Keith Relf, the singer with The Yardbirds, winds up leaving along with the groups drummer and bass player. Jimmy Page along with manager Peter Grant find themselves with concert dates to fulfil, so set about forming a new Yardbirds line-up. Enter Robert Plant, session bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham.

Jimmy Page had worked extensively as an in-demand session guitarist all through the Sixties, playing on countless pop and rock recordings, learning about studio techniques and record making as he went along. Early shows saw the soon to be christened Led Zeppelin billed as The Yardbirds but certain supporters were apparently disappointed that it wasn’t really The Yardbirds. The name Led Zeppelin was based on something Who drummer Keith Moon said about a proposed off-shoot group ( to feature himself along with Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck ) “Going down like a lead balloon, or a lead zeppelin”. Remove the ‘a’ from ‘lead’, and hey presto! For this new enterprise, Jimmy Page wanted to explore dynamics….. he more than succeeded.

Add in a rhythm section with an almost telepathic understanding, add in Robert Plant with his furious, all out, sexual roar of a voice…. Ah, reservations! Led Zeppelin achieved a distinctive sound right from the off. That doesn’t mean that the material was so original or distinctive, however. ‘Black Mountain Side’ was based upon a Bert Jansch tune, but credited here to Jimmy Page all the same. Singer Robert Plant had a habit of improvising and unwittingly including fragments of blues songs in the lyrics as he went along. The closing eight minute plus epic ‘How Many More Times’ has a clear precedent in the Howlin Wolf song ‘How Many More Years’, and so it goes on. There are more references here if you care to unearth them. Two ‘correct’ writing credits arrive on the album sleeve courtesy of Willie Dixon, as Led Zeppelin produce versions of his ‘You Shook Me’ and ‘I Can’t Quit You Babe’.

There’s something about Led Zeppelin and this album in particular I really love and it’s something I see as an ideal for hard rock or ( heaven forbid! ) heavy metal groups. This ‘ideal’ is perfectly demonstrated in the two minute forty six second long opening number, ‘Good Times Bad Times’. You can hear each and every instrument clearly and separately from each other instrument. You can clearly make out every drum roll of John Bonham, every nuance of the bass parts of John Paul Jones – obviously make out Jimmy Page with his solo and his riffing.

A tight ensemble, powerful with spaces left by the rhythm section to allow Jimmy to fully express himself. On top of all of this we have Robert Plant of course, a singer plucked out of relative obscurity and almost instantly managing to present himself as one of the greatest rock singers on the planet at the time. The bass and drums support each other of course, but both can clearly also be heard as separate entities, if that makes sense.

There is a cleanness, a separation. There’s also damn heavy sounding parts as Led Zeppelin receive the credit for inventing heavy metal in the process. Most clearly with ‘Dazed And Confused’, a six minute long scary sounding epic full of astonishing playing and sounds, not least the ‘walking bass’ sound that introduces it. Robert Plant fully does ‘the business’ and sets a template for vocalists that followed. ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ is another six minute plus composition, an arrangement Jimmy had been working on back in the final days of The Yardbirds. Perhaps no better single example of the sheer glorious dynamics, the quiet to loud, of Led Zeppelin exists.

The more out and out blues tunes here, ‘You Shook Me’ and ‘I Can’t Quit You Babe’ are the weaker moments of the set, along with Jimmy Page ‘interpreting’ folk guitarist Bert Jansch with the instrumental filler ‘Black Mountain Side’. Having said that, ‘I Can’t Quit You Babe’ in particular is utterly convincing. Robert Plant sings, the rhythm section constantly threaten to explode. Jimmy Page does plenty of twiddly and interesting guitar things. Sat between ‘Black Mountain Side’ and ‘I Can’t Quit You Babe’ is the two and a half minute riff monster ‘Communication Breakdown’.

Heavy as fuck, catchy as hell – i’ll see you on the other side. As for the closing ‘How Many More Times’, well, Jimmy does interesting guitar parts and sounds, the rhythm section are supremely powerful, hypnotic and heavy and Robert Plant excels himself throughout. Led Zeppelin succeeded from the off with this debut set. They toured America extensively and the initially reluctant UK market followed amid reports of amazing concerts in America. ‘Led Zeppelin I’ works as a template for the groups entire career, nearly everything is here.

The core of the album is formed by ‘Dazed And Confused’, ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’, ‘Communication Breakdown’, ‘Good Times Bad Times’ and the closing ‘How Many More Times’. For those songs alone, this is an amazing record.

January 4, 2014 Posted by | Led Zeppelin I | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Buffalo 69 (1969/10/30 : Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo, New York)

NP-001From Black Beauty

1. Communication Breakdown
2. I Can’t Quit You Baby
3. Heartbreaker
4. Dazed And Confused
5. White Summer/Black Mountain Side
6. How Many More Times

January 3, 2014 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Buffalo 69 | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Take My Breath Away (San Diego, September 1970)

WE-045From Black Beauty

1. Introduction
2. Immigrant Song
3. Heartbreaker
4. Dazed And Confused
5. Bring It On Home
6. That’s The Way
7. Since I’ve Been Loving You
1. Organ Solo
2. Thank You
3. What Is And What Should Never Be
4. Moby Dick
5. Whole Lotta Love
6. Communication Breakdown

January 2, 2014 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Take My Breath Away | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Studio Magik Sessions 1968-1980


While I have numerous titles containing Led Zeppelin Studio Outtakes I do not collect them as much as I do their live music. Years back I bought the ScorpioStudio Sessions Ultimate title as kind of a final word and up until now was a (for me) defining release of this material. Upon the official announcement that The Don would be attempting to produce a definitive collection of this material did I think, time to upgrade?  One only has to look at the scope of this collection, every known bit of out take and rehearsal material known to circulate among collectors. The new set is prepared in chronological order, each CD has its own subtitle and the set comes with an excellent 60 page booklet with detailed notes on each session from the incomparable Paul De Luxe and The Hermit. There are six gatefold sleeves that house the CDs, all have the track listing on the back and are beautifully adorned with studio shots of the band during the era found within the compact discs. The box itself is striking in its simplicity, a Black box with gold lettering with the Swan Song logo and individual band member signs on the cover; of course it is slightly thicker to accommodate six sets as well as the booklet. The care shown in the sets creation and its accuracy in detail are second to none, and for now this must be considered as definite as it stands at this time, for we do not know what will be unearthed in the future. The massive 18 disc set just so happens to be Box number 18 of an incredible line of box sets that has garnered praise from collectors.

Doing a review such as this is a daunting task and one that can include some pains to produce and I was incredibly lucky to have some superb references along the way that must be acknowledged. Firstly to Gerard’s excellent review of the Scorpio Studio Sessions, since that set came with a flimsy sheet with only basic information I long ago printed a copy of his review to use as a reference guide. Secondly to the Led Zeppelin Data Base and Argenteum Astrum, a site with a massive amount of information and a vast help for this review and also for my general collecting needs. Of course Led Zeppelin Live by Luis Rey and Dave Lewis’ Concert File are always excellent resources and inspiration in not only how I write a review but thanks to Luis how I listen to these tapes, both the studio and live material.

scan0001 (1)Disc 1 (65:59) Led Zeppelin I and II Sessions – Olympic Sound Studios Barnes, London England September 27,1968; Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (take 8), Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (Take 9 stopped), Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (Take 9 complete), You Shook Me. Olympic Sound Studios Barnes, London England October 10, 1968; Baby Come On Home (AKA Tribute To Bert Berns / Take 1 stopped), Baby Come On Home (AKA Tribute To Bert Berns / Take 2 stopped), Baby Come On Home (AKA Tribute To Bert Berns / Take 3 Complete. Olympic Sound Studios Barnes, London England October 1968; Guitar Organ Instrumentals (Take 1), Guitar Organ Instrumentals (Take 2), Guitar Organ Instrumentals (Take 3), Guitar Organ Instrumentals (Take 4), Guitar Organ Instrumentals (Take 5), Guitar Organ Instrumentals (Take 6), Guitar Organ Instrumentals (Take 7). Mirror Sound, Los AngelesCalifornia between May 4-6 1969; Moby Dick (intro & outro), Drum Solo. Morgan Studios, Willesden, LondonEngland June 1969; Sugar Mama. Morgan Studios, Willesden, London EnglandJune 25, 1969; We’re Gonna Groove

These outtakes can be found in parts on the titles Olympic Gold on Scorpio (LZ 92-SC), Gems + Jams (ZELCD101), Studio Haze (Laughing Skull), Anyway You Want (KFM 008), Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You (Dynamite Studio DS92J031),Hairway To Steven (Invasion Unlimited IU9645-1), Early Days (Refinded Masters),Studio Sessions (Antrabata), and Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio LZ-07001~12). “We’re Gonna Groove” is found on Different Mixed Coda (POT), The Lost Sessions Volume 8 ~ Led Zeppelin In The 80′s Coda Advance Tapes (Empress Valley Supreme Disc).

The sound quality of the material when compared to the Scorpio set is not as amplified as much so there is less hiss and has a warmer sound. Plant’s raw vocal on “Babe I’m Gonna Leave” is superb as well as is his vocal improvisations. I enjoy the “Baby Come On Home”, throw the backing vocals out and blues it up just a little it would have been an incredible song, I love the sound of Page’s guitar as well. The “Guitar Organ Instrumentals” are also good, Page’s playing is simply wonderful, it would have been interesting to here parts of this during his “White Summer / Black Mountain Side” showcase in the live shows. The “Moby Dick” outtakes are a very nice upgrade is sound versus the Scorpio titles as is “Sugar Mama”, there is still tape hiss present but they sound clearer. The version of “We’re Gonna Groove” was later released on Coda, this was not found on the Scorpio title but thankfully added to this set.

Disc 2 (72:28)  Led Zeppelin II Multi Tracks – Rehearsed and assembled during the bands second American Tour in 1969 with basic framework recorded at Olympic Sound Studios London May 1969 with additional overdubs added in Los Angeles. Final mix by Eddie Kramer and Page over two days at A&R Studios, New York City, NY. August 1969; Whole Lotta Love (main guitar bleed), Whole Lotta Love (guitar overdubs bleed), Whole Lotta Love (bass bleed), Whole Lotta Love (drum right bleed), Whole Lotta Love (drum left bleed), Whole Lotta Love (tympani tambourine bleed), Whole Lotta Love (vocals bleed), Whole Lotta Love (vocals overdubs bleed), Whole Lotta Love (multi track mix down version 1), Whole Lotta Love (multi track mix down version 2), Whole Lotta Love (multi track mix down version 3), Whole Lotta Love (multi track mix down showcase)

Disc 3 (58:11) Led Zeppelin II Multi Tracks – Recorded June 1969 at Groove Studios New York and Olympic Sound Studios London. Mixed at A&R Studios New York; What Is And What Should Never Be (main guitar bleed), What Is And What Should Never Be (bass bleed), What Is And What Should Never Be (drum right bleed), What Is And What Should Never Be (drum left bleed), What Is And What Should Never Be (main vocals bleed), What Is And What Should Never Be (vocal overdubs bleed take 1), What Is And What Should Never Be (vocal overdubs bleed take 2), What Is And What Should Never Be (guitar and vocal overdubs), What Is And What Should Never Be (multi mix down version 1), What Is And What Should Never Be (multi mix down version 2), What Is And What Should Never Be (multi mix down version 3)

4Disc 4 (72:31) Led Zeppelin II Multi Tracks – Recorded and mixed in A&R StudiosNew York City, NY. May 30, 31, 1969; Heartbreaker (main guitar bleed take 1), Heartbreaker (main guitar bleed take 2), Heartbreaker (bass bleed), Heartbreaker (drum right bleed), Heartbreaker (drum left bleed), Heartbreaker (guitar bass drum bleed), Heartbreaker (vocals bleed), Heartbreaker (vocals and guitar bleed), Heartbreaker (multi track mix down version 1), Heartbreaker (multi track mix down version 2)

Disc 5 (61:41) Led Zeppelin II Multi Tracks – Recorded in Juggy Sound Studio, New York in June 1969 and mixed in A&R Studios in New York; Ramble On (acoustic guitar bleed), Ramble On (electric guitar bleed), Ramble On (guitar overdub bleed), Ramble On (bass bleed), Ramble On (drum right bleed w/tympani), Ramble On (drum left bleed w/tympani), Ramble On (vocals bleed), Ramble On (vocals and guitar bleed), Ramble On (multi track mix down version 1), Ramble On (multi track mix down version 2), Ramble On (multi track mix down version 3), Ramble On (multi track mix down version 4), Ramble On (multi track mix down version 5), Ramble On (multi track mix down version 6)

All Our Love (Beelzebub Records), Alternates And Outtakes I & II Volume 1(Boogie Mama), The Black Bomber – The Recording Sessions (Beelzebub Records), Countdown (Boogie Mama), Early Ramshackle Days (Beelzebub Records), Led Zeppelin II Multi Track Mixdowns (Empress Valley Supreme Disc),The Lost Sessions Volume 2 (Empress Valley Supreme Disc), The Making Of Led Zeppelin II (Empress Valley Supreme Disc), Royal Albert Hall 1970 (Wendy Records). The most recent of Zeppelin outtakes to see the light of day, early in this millennium. They provide a fascinating glimpse into not only the mixing but how the songs were written and constructed. While sometimes some of the bleed tracks can get tedious other times you marvel at some sounds or parts you never heard before. I have always enjoyed the Classic Album series on VH1 (and on DVD) for this reason. The ensuing multi track mix downs are superb and offer a different glimpse at these songs we all know so well. The sound quality on all is impeccable stereo perfection and these outtakes are considered essential. The “Whole Lotta Love” mix down version 3 has an incredible ending. The mix downs for “What Is And What Should Never Be” have many added guitar snippets with version 2 and 3 being very enjoyable. The last “Heartbreaker” mix down version 2 has a much different guitar solo and some accented slides as well as some vocals snippets and is a superb mix up. The “Ramble On” disc is particularly interesting; the acoustic guitar bleed brings to light a lot of the depth of the song you don’t usually hear and notice due to the eventual prominence of the electric guitar. “Ramble On” has the most multi mixes, all variations of each other with extra vocals and guitar and drum snippets scattered throughout.

Disc 6 (71:38) Led Zeppelin III Sessions – Recorded at Olympic Sound Studios, Barnes, London England November 1969; Jennings Farm Blues (take 1 stopped), Jennings Farm Blues (take 2 stopped), Jennings Farm Blues (take 3 stopped), Jennings Farm Blues (take 4 stopped), Jennings Farm Blues (take 5 stopped), Jennings Farm Blues (take 6 complete basic version), Jennings Farm Blues (take 7 stopped), Jennings Farm Blues (take 8 stopped), Jennings Farm Blues (take 9 stopped), Jennings Farm Blues (take 10 stopped), Jennings Farm Blues (take 11 stopped), Jennings Farm Blues (take 12 complete full mix) Recorded at Bron-Yr-Aur Cottage Machynlleth Gwynedd, Wales sometime between April and May 1970;Untitled Guitar Instrumentals

The Jennings Farm Blues material is an electric take on the Led Zeppelin IIIacoustic song “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp”, recorded as a possible single but the song remained unreleased by the band although one can certainly tell that considerable work went into it. It was first found on Jennings Farm Blues(Scorpio) and featured on 1970 Studio Works (Theramin Music), Alternates And Outtakes III Volume 2 (Boogie Mama), The Lost Sessions Volume 6 (Empress Valley Supreme Disc), Scorpio Rising (Akashic), Sessions (Antrabata Reference Master), and Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio). The sound source has been excellent since its first release; again the music does not seem as amplified as the Scorpio Studio Sessions Ultimate and has a warmer natural sound to it.

The “Untitled Guitar Instrumentals” have a long history and are a much valued tape in Led Zeppelin history as they are the only known tape of the band playing at Bron-Yr-Aur cottage in Wales. Long tired of touring in America and the social upheaval that was happening and directly affecting them they retreated to the quiet countryside to compose and the mostly acoustic material that came from it formed a good deal of the third and fourth records. The recordings have a long history with bootleggers going back to the vinyl days of Bootleg LP’s The Alternative Led Zeppelin III (The Swingin’ Pig Records), Best Of Led Zeppelin Vol. 1 (Rock Solid Records), The Final Option (Rock Solid Records & The Swingin’ Pig Records), Led Zeppelin Film Can (Rock Solid Records), Led Zeppelin III Studio Rehearsals May 1970 (RL Records), More Inedits (MLZ), Studio Rehearsals May 1970 (Rock Live), Studio Rehearsals 1967-1971 Part 1 (Grasshopper), & III To Get Ready (Early Times) and on compact disc under titles like 1970 Studio Works(Theramin Music), Another Way To Wales (Black Swan), Led Zeppelin III(Tarantura), Sessions (Antrabata Reference Master), Studio Sessions Ultimate(Scorpio “new”), Tribute To Johnny Kidd And The Pirates (Scorpio “old”), Ultra Rare Tracks Volume 1 (Missing Link), & Ultra Rare Trax Part 2 (Savage Beast Music). The quality found on the Godfather box is very similar to what is on the Scorpio Studio Sessions Ultimate. There are many song references thrown in, my favorite is “Down By The Seaside” and although is just an early run through has many of the laid back components of the yet to be recorded version. Where the Scorpio version has song indexes, unfortunately the Godfather is one long 46 minute track. Another of the really great early tapes.

7Disc 7 (69:40) Led Zeppelin III Sessions (part 2) – Recorded at Headley Grange Studios, Hampshire England sometime between May and June 1970; Guitar Instrumental (take 1), Guitar Instrumental (take 2), Poor Tom (take 1), Guitar Instrumental (take 3), Guitar Instrumental (take 4), The Boy Next Door aka That’s The Way (take 1), The Boy Next Door aka That’s The Way (take 2), The Boy Next Door aka That’s The Way (take 3), The Boy Next Door aka That’s The Way (take 4), The Boy Next Door aka That’s The Way (take 5), My Oh My aka Friends (takes 1-2), Guitar Instrumental (take 5), Guitar Instrumental (take 6), Guitar Instrumental (take 7), Bron-Yr-Aur (take 3), My Oh My aka Friends (takes 3-4), Bron-Yr-Aur (take 4), Poor Tom (takes 2-6), Hey Hey What Can I Do (takes 1-2), Immigrant Song, Bathroom Song aka Out On The Tiles. Recorded at Morgan Studios Willesden London England on May 6, 1970Poor Tom (take 1 instrumental), Poor Tom (take 2 w/ vocals)

The first set of material is a rehearsal amateur tape some have attributed to Bron-Yr-Aur Cottage but it cannot be confirmed so it is label as Headley Grange. It has also been in circulation for a long period, Bootleg LP References are  The Alternate Led Zeppelin III (The Swingin’ Pig Records), Hiawatha Express (Stash) &The Making Of Friends (III) while on compact disc as 1970 Studio Works (Theramin Music), Alternates And Outtakes III Volume 2 (Boogie Mama), Another Way To Wales (Black Swan), Hiawatha Express (Toasted/Condor), Led Zeppelin III(Tarantura), Sessions (Antrabata Reference Master), Stairway Sessions (Silver Rarities), Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio “new”), Tribute To Johnny Kidd And The Pirates (Scorpio “old”), & Ultra Rare Trax Part 2 (Savage Beast Music). Again the tape is similar to the sound of the Scorpio Studio Session Ultimate. Being an amateur style recording there is some notable tape hiss present and at times what sounds like wind moving across the microphones is present but does not detract from the listening experience, just adds to the ambiance.

This is a very intimate tape featuring just Page and Plant giving us a glimpse inside their unique musical bond. “Poor Tom” features some nice percussion from what sounds like Plant clapping along on his legs as they are seated. The many takes of “The Boy Next Door” are wonderful, soft and gentle with some great improvised guitar from Page; clearly his skills on the acoustic guitar are vast. Great to hear the sounds of a dog, possibly Plant’s beloved Stryder adding his own compliment. The early takes of “Friends” include bongos from Plant and we see that musically it is taking shape, Plant sings vocal harmonies of what is to become the lyrics and Page adds harmonized vocals to flesh it out. You can clearly here Robert’s child during Take 3 of “Bron-Yr-Aur”, the addition of “Hey Hey What Can I Do?” with the acoustic guitar from Plant and some mandolin from Page sounds very like something you would hear from The Band. The early band versions of “Immigrant Song” and “Out On The Tiles” are tentative sounding, the latter has the chorus intact but the rest will continue to take shape.

The two takes of “Poor Tom” are excellent sounding outtakes, the final one being what is used on Coda. They sound just slightly fuzzy and are one of my favorite songs from that record. Previously found on All Our Love (Beelzebub Records), Alternates And Outtakes III Volume 2 (Boogie Mama), Coda Advanced Tapes (Boogie Mama), Different Mixed Coda (POT), The Lost Sessions Volume 8 ~ Led Zeppelin In The 80′s Coda Advance Tapes (Empress Valley Supreme Disc),Sessions (Antrabata Reference Master), Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio).

The rest of the record is taken up with excellent quality outtakes of “Celebration Day”, “Hey Hey What Can I Do?”, and “Out On The Tiles” sans vocals. They sound close to the final mixes and have seen compact disc releases as All Our Love (Beelzebub Records), Alternates And Outtakes III Volume 2 (Boogie Mama),The Lost Mixes EP Volume 3 ~ Led Zeppelin 1970-1971 (Empress Valley Supreme Disc), Outside The Door (Beelzebub Records), The Smithereens (Akashic, 1CD & 3CD), incredible as it sounds the story has the tapes being found in the garbage.

Disc 8 (78:04) Led Zeppelin III and IV Sessions – Recorded at Olympic Sound Studios, Barnes, London England sometime between May and June 1970; That’s The Way (full mix), Feel So Bad (aka Hats Off To Roy Harper takes 1-2) Medley includes Fixin’ To Die, That’s Alright Mama, Since I’ve Been Loving You (vocal track), Since I’ve Been Loving You (full mix). Recorded at Headley Grange Studios, Hampshire England sometime between January and February 1971;Stairway To Heaven (take 1 instrumental), Blues Guitar / Piano improvisation, Black Dog acoustic (take 1 instrumental), Black Dog acoustic (take 2 instrumental), Black Dog electric (rehearsal), No Quarter, Stairway To Heaven (take 2 instrumental), Stairway To Heaven (take 3 instrumental), Stairway To Heaven (take 4 instrumental), Electric Guitar Improvisation, Stairway To Heaven (take 5 w/ vocals), Stairway To Heaven (take 6 w/ vocals), Stairway To Heaven, Night Flight

The remainder of the LZIII out takes start disc eight, in incredible sound. It first appeared on Studio Daze (Scorpio) and was followed on titles like 1970 Studio Works (Theramin Music), Alternates And Outtakes III Volume 2 (Boogie Mama),Led Zeppelin III (Tarantura), Live On Tour With Led Zeppelin Volume 1 (Beelzebub Records), The Lost Sessions Volume 6 (Empress Valley Supreme Disc), Scorpio Rising (Akashic), Sessions (Antrabata Reference Master), Studio Daze Revisited(Scorpio), Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio), & Ultra Rare Trax Part 2 (Savage Beast Music). The versions are excellent studio mixed version in outstanding quality and are musically a revelation. The song titles “Feel So Bad” is the music of “Hats Off To Harper” with lyrics from “Fixin’ To Die” and Elvis’ “Thats Alright Mama” sung in the “Hats Off” style.  The vocal track of “Since” is good but the final full mix of the song is incredible. It reeks with emotion and passion like no other song in the band’s vast catalog does and the playing was described by Plant as the sound of Led Zeppelin live, if the bootleggers microphones could accurately capture the bands sound, this song would be it.

The IV album outtakes are essential listening, mostly due to the fact that we are treated to several quality rehearsals of “Stairway To Heaven”, as well as other gems to boot. This recording has been out many times on bootleg LP as And IV To Go (Ugly Duckling), Inedits (LZ 1-2), Led Zeppelin IV Studio Rehearsals January 1971 (RL Records), Studio Rehearsals January 1971 (Rock Live), & Studio Rehearsals 1967-1971 Part 1&2 (Grasshopper) and on bootleg CD as All That Glitters Is Gold (Celebration Definitive Masters), The Lost Sessions Volume 9(Eelgrass), The Lost Sessions Volume 9 ~ All Roads Lead To Headley Grange 1(Empress Valley Supreme Disc), Sessions (Antrabata Reference Master & The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin), Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio), Ultra Rare Tracks Volume 1 (Missing Link), & Ultra Rare Trax Part 2 (Savage Beast Music). The “Stairway” versions start off rudimentary and have early versions of “Black Dog” in between, it is great to here Jonesy give direction and Plant improving the lyrics, something he would continue to do onstage. There is an early version of “No Quarter” also, a song that would continue to be worked on until its final form the next year. The history of “Stairway” is one of legend, the music comes to Page and upon hearing it Plant started the lyrics in a blast of semiotic energy between the two, this is a glorified idea but is pretty much confirmed when listening to the versions of the song. The sound is very similar to that of the Scorpio Studio Sessions Unlimited.

The last take of “Stairway” is an excellent studio outtake released as The Lost Sessions Volume 9 ~ All Roads Lead To Headley Grange 1 (Empress Valley Supreme Disc), some claim its legitimacy but Plant’s vocals are slightly different and Page’s guitar solo is total different, he has stated in many interviews that several solo were recorded. “Night Flight” is the full mix of the song minus overdubs done prior to its being released on Physical Graffiti, it has been previously found on Coda Advanced Tapes (Boogie Mama), The Lost Sessions Volume 8 – Led Zeppelin In The 80′s Coda Advance Tapes (Empress Valley Supreme Disc).

Disc 9 (60:26) Led Zeppelin IV Sessions – Recorded at Headley Grange Studios, Hampshire England sometime between January and February 1971; The Battle Of Evermore (take 1), The Battle Of Evermore (take 2), The Battle Of Evermore (take 3), The Battle Of Evermore (take 4), The Battle Of Evermore (take 5), The Battle Of Evermore (take 6). Recorded somewhere between January and February 1971;Four Sticks (take 1 instrumental), Four sticks (take 2 w/ vocals), Black Dog, When The Levee Breaks (take 1), When The Levee Breaks (take 2)

One of my disappointments with the Scorpio Session box was that the “Battle Of Evermore” material was not present, save one small outtake. I have always loved this song and am glad to finally hear this music. Of course many collectors have this on titles All That Glitters Is Gold (Celebration Definitive Masters), Alternates And Outtakes Led Zeppelin IV & Physical Graffiti Volume 3 (Boogie Mama),Sessions (Antrabata Reference Master & The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin), andStudio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio). I give Plant much credit for this song, he brings in Sandy Denny from Fairport Convention to sing on the song and the vocal mix has the wonderful call and response aspect and his lyrics show his deep appreciation and knowledge of Welsh history combined with the works of JR Tolkein that brings the song to life. The quality of this material varies slightly but is all very good to excellent quality.

The remainder of the material has been found on All Our Love (Beelzebub Records), All That Glitters Is Gold (Celebration Definitive Masters), Alternates And Outtakes Led Zeppelin IV & Physical Graffiti Volume 3 (Boogie Mama),Control Monitor Mixes EP (Watch Tower), The Lost Mixes EP Volume 1 (Empress Valley Supreme Disc), The Lost Mixes EP Volume 3 – Led Zeppelin 1970-1971(Empress Valley Supreme Disc), Outside The Door (Beelzebub Records), The Smithereens (Akashic, 1CD & 3CD), Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio). They are variations of the final mixes, “Four Sticks” has Bonzo’s drumming in the foreground and has a much different feel to it where the final mix is close to the one found on the record. The most interesting of these is the two “When The Levee Breaks”, both sound as if they are still a mix in process, all the above songs are superb studio quality.

scan0004Disc 10 (61:45) Bombay Rehearsals & Houses Of The Holy Sessions – Recorded at EMI Studios Bombay, India March 1972; Friends (rehearsing the tune), Four Sticks (take 1), Friends (take 1), Friends (take 2), Friends (take 3), Four Sticks (take 2), Four Sticks (take 3), Four Sticks (take 4). Recorded by the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, Stargroves Newbury, Berkshire, England and Island Studios London England May 15, 1972; Walters Walk (take 1 instrumental), Walters Walk (take 2 w/ vocals), Walters Walk (take 3 with vocals)

Page and Plant’s trip to Bombay after the band’s legendary Australian Tour is one of legend, they spoke about it in various interviews and finally the tape came to light, and what a revelation it is, one that would certainly come to fruition some 20 plus years later when the duo reformed to produce the Un- Ledded project. Previously issued as All That Glitters Is Gold (Celebration Definitive Masters),Alternates And Outtakes III Volume 2 (Boogie Mama), Complete 1972 Bombay Sessions (Tecumseh), The Lost Sessions Volume 2 – Led Zeppelin In India(Empress Valley Supreme Disc), Sessions (Antrabata Reference Master & The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin), The Smithereens (Akashic, 1CD & 3CD), Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio). I got my first taste of this tape on the Studio Haze(Laughing Skull), a version that was much poorer in sound and completeness. The sound quality found on this Godfather version is similar to the ScorpioStudio Session Ultimate and is excellent and complete. The music found within is very interesting; if you close your eyes you can almost envision Page and Plant working with the musicians who they have a limited dialogue with. The versions of “Friends” with vocals are incredible; his voice has some echo on it and a very ethereal quality to it that accents the music perfectly. The final mixes of “Four Sticks” are also very nice, although take 4 is not a complete version being cut about a minute in.

The remainder of the disc is comprised of three takes of “Walter’s Walk”, a song that dates back to the Houses Of The Holy era but would not see the light of day until the Coda record in 1982. The band would play the main riff of the song during “Dazed and Confused” and there are many good references to the song from the summer 1972 tour, such as Baltimore and San Bernardino. We are treated to the complete 13 minute tape, parts have been released on 1970 Studio Works (Theramin Music), All Our Love (Beelzebub Records), Coda Advanced Tapes (Boogie Mama), Different Mixed Coda (POT), The Lost Sessions Volume 8 – Led Zeppelin In The 80′s Coda Advance Tapes (Empress Valley Supreme Disc),Sessions (Antrabata Reference Master), Studio Daze (Scorpio), Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio). The quality is superb studio quality, and the final two versions have been remixed sometime in 1982 when Plant recorded the vocals for the song, his last remaining thing he recorded for Led Zeppelin.

Disc 11 (57:00) Houses Of The Holy & Lucifer Rising – Recorded at Island Studios London, England and mixed at Olympic Studios by Andy Johns in June 1972; No Quarter (take 1 instrumental complete), No Quarter (take 2 stopped), No Quarter (take 3 stopped), No Quarter (take 4 instrumental complete), No Quarter (take 5 stopped), No Quarter (take 6 stopped), No Quarter (take 7 w/ vocals complete).Recorded at Boleskine House. Loch Ness Scotland sometime between October and November 1973; Incubus, Damask, Unharmonics, Damask (ambient version), Lucifer Rising, Lucifer Rising (percussive return)

There is precious little of the material that encompasses the Houses Of The Holyrecord, all we have is 25 minutes of “No Quarter” outtakes, the quality is incredible and the final version with vocals is pristine in quality and showcases a mix I think that is superior than the one eventually released. The material was first found on Studio Daze (Scorpio) and then on 1970 Studio Works (Theramin Music), Alternates And Outtakes Led Zeppelin IV & Physical Graffiti Volume 3(Boogie Mama), The Lost Sessions Volume 6 (Empress Valley Supreme Disc),Sessions (Antrabata Reference Master), Scorpio Rising (Akashic),  Studio Daze Revisited (Scorpio), Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio).

The remainder of the material comes from 1973 and is a four track recording of instrumental music Page produced for Kenneth Angers film Lucifer Rising. Page was late with turning the music over to Anger who was much displeased and made light of the situation in the press. This was Page’s first foray into film, he would again dabble in soundtracks from 1982s Death Wish II. Previous releases include Brutal Artistry II (Midas Touch), Inducted And Possessed (Beelzebub Records), Sessions (Antrabata Reference Master), Studio Sessions Ultimate(Scorpio). Interestingly, Anger did not use any of the material, a true shame as the “Lucifer Rising” track is a 20 minute soundscape of very dramatic themes that have, as the liner notes state “give one the creeps”. If you love Page’s bow solos from “Dazed and Confused” and some of his electronic improvisation, this dark piece is very appealing and the same piece makes its CD debut on this set. The sound quality is certainly better than is what is found on Scorpio’s Studio Session Ultimate title, and is much more complete.

Disc 12 (54:21) Pre Physical Graffiti Outtakes (Part 1) – Recorded at Headley Grange Studios HampshireEngland November 1973; Untitled Instrumental.Recorded at Headley Grange Studios HampshireEngland November 1973;Untitled Instrumental, Ten Years Gone (takes 1-12)

Sessions (Antrabata Reference Masters) and Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio) were the only two previous releases, I will defer to the liner notes; This is a real mystery. It consists of Page working out melodies on the acoustic guitar. Some of the melodies introduced on the guitar are then (very occasionally) played on piano. The piano playing is very good and causes questions as to whether or not it is Page playing or someone else. There is no further evidence on tape that he even plays the instrument. Nevertheless some of the melodies are recognizable including the fast break found in 1976′s “Hots On For Nowhere” and an embryonic version of “The Rain Song”. Sadly Godfather chose to leave it as one long 43 minute track. The quality is excellent and a slight improvement over the Scorpio version.

The rest of the disc is comprised of Jimmy working through “Ten Years Gone”, the material has seen previous released as All That Glitters Is Gold (Celebration Definitive Masters), Brutal Artistry (Midas Touch), The Complete Bombay 1972 Sessions (Tecumseh), Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio “new”). Again the quality is excellent, the origin of these could have been to use as overdubs on the final version, one comprised of Page’s guitar army. Sadly, they are just fragments. One of the more boring discs in the set that does get a lot of “air time” on my stereo but is good to own for completeists sake.

13Disc 13 (61:36) Pre Physical Graffiti Outtakes (Part 2) – Recorded at Headley Grange Studios HampshireEngland November 1973; Swan Song aka Midnight Moonlight.

The song has seen prior releases on Brutal Artistry (Midas Touch), The Lost Sessions Volume 10 ~ All Roads Leads To Headley Grange 2 (Empress Valley Supreme Disc), Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio). Its origins go back many years, as early as February 1970 as found in Page’s showcase of “White Summer/Black Mountain Side” from the band’s date in Copenhagen on the 28 you can certainly clearly hear the introductory notes and would be played sporadically throughout the years, sadly as these instrumental workouts show, was never completed by the band. As we all know Page would dust of the song and work it into shape for his solo spot on the ARMS tour, one that would find him beginning a collaboration with Bad Company’s Paul Rodgers. The duo would go on to form The Firm and release the opus on their first self titled record in 1984. Again unfortunate that Godfather elected to leave it as one long track as there are numerous places that would have made sense. Quality wise it is similar to theScorpio Studio Sessions Ultimate in terms of quality.

Disc 14 (72:34) Physical Graffiti Outtakes (Part 1) – Recorded at Headley Grange Studios Hampshire, England sometime between January and February 1974; The Wanton Song (take 1), The Wanton Song (take 2), Take Me Home (take 1), Take Me Home (take 2), In The Morning aka In The Light (take 1), Trampled Underfoot (takes 1-9), In The Morning aka In The Light (take 2), Sick Again, The Rover, Untitled Instrumental, ABC Song, In My Time Of Dying (takes 1-7). Recorded at Headley Grange Studios HampshireEngland sometime between January and February 1974; The Wanton Song, Trampled Underfoot

After the meandering of the previous two discs we get into the real meat and potatoes of this set. Thankfully there is a lot of studio material from the Physical Graffiti sessions for us to enjoy in excellent sound quality. This is a real glimpse inside the creative process of the band as they record their masterpiece. The tape has seen numerous releases on Bootleg LP as Alternate Physical Graffiti(The Swingin’ Pig Records), Hiawatha Express (Stash), In Through The Outtakes(White Box & Widget Recordworks), Tangible Vandalism (TV & White Box), &White Summer (Marc & Rock Solid Records) and on CD as Alternative Graffiti(Celebration Definitive Masters), Brutal Artistry (Midas Touch), Headley Grange(Immigrant), The Lost Sessions EP Volume 10 – All Roads Leads To Headley Grange 2 (Empress Valley Supreme Disc), Physically Present (House Of Elrond),Sessions (Antrabata Reference Master), Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio), &Totally Tangible (Blimp). The sound on this material, as stated before is excellent and very close in sound to the Scorpio Studio Session Ultimate.

“The Wanton Song” is much more advanced as found on the 1973 rehearsal tape / sound check. “Take Me Home” sounding like something that came from “The Crunge” with Plant ad libbing lyrics that sound like The Beatles’ “I Wanna Be Your Man”. “In The Morning” is an early work through of “In The Light”, it is interesting to hear Page working on the different riffs and time changes on the guitar, he has the ascending riff down. Even though Plant has some rough lyrical ideas down he seem to put in a great vocal performance and Bonham starts really pounding his set at the songs conclusion, great outtake. The “Trampled” takes are a lot of start and stops and finds Bonzo searching for the right beat, there are some nice spots of chatter between takes that is quit nice. Another “In The Morning” follows, like the other has Plant (?) whistling the melody before the band start the song but the version is tame compared to the first.

The “Untitled Instrumental” is what is described as a groovy jam, one can certainly agree as it is loaded with funk. The “In My Time Of Dying” takes are interesting to say the least, the band try and get Bonzo to get the right beat and it sounds heated. The final two songs are finished mixes, the sound is perfect, they have circulated under titles as Alternates And Outtakes Led Zeppelin IV & Physical Graffiti Volume 3 (Boogie Mama), Alternative Graffiti (Celebration Definitive Masters), Control Monitor Mixes EP (Watch Tower), The Lost Mixes EP Volume 1 (Empress Valley Supreme Disc), & Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio “new”).

Disc 15 (69:29) Physical Graffiti Outtakes (Part 2) – Recorded at Headley Grange Studios Hampshire, England sometime between January and February 1974; Ten Years Gone (takes 1-4), Boogie With Stu (takes 1-9), Night Flight (takes 1-11).Recorded at Headley Grange Studios Hampshire, England sometime between January and February 1974; Trampled Underfoot, Kashmir, Custard Pie, In The Light, Swan Song aka Midnight Moonlight (take 1), Swan Song aka Midnight Moonlight (take 2)

The 37 minute tape featuring the “Ten Years Gone”, “Boogie With Stu”, and “Night Flight” outtakes have been circulating on such titles as Alternative Graffiti(Celebration Definitive Masters), Brutal Artistry II (Midas Touch), Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio), & Ultra Rare Trax Part 2 (Savage Beast Music). There are small scuffs during 2:18 and 2:29 of “Ten Years Gone”; they are also present on the Scorpio title, Disc 10 track 8. I do not own other versions of this tape and have to guess it is on the master. The song is in its final mixes and the extensive overdubs are all on there. “Boogie With Stu” was, of course, recorded back in 1971 and dusted off for inclusion on Physical Graffiti, the mixes provide no hidden gem within. Again it would be nice to have que breaks for the songs as some are quick snippets while others are a complete song.

The reminder of the disc has seen the light of day on All Our Love (Beelzebub Records), Alternates And Outtakes Led Zeppelin IV & Physical Graffiti Volume 3(Boogie Mama), Alternative Graffiti (Celebration Definitive Masters), Brutal Artistry (Midas Touch), Brutal Artistry II (Midas Touch), The Lost Sessions Volume 12 – All Roads Lead To Headley Grange 3 (Empress Valley Supreme Disc),Physical Graffiti Alternate Trax (Tarantura), Physically Present (House Of Elrond),Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio), & Swansongs (Tarantura).

“Trampled” is a virtually complete finished mix. “Kashmir” is a stripped down version with drums, bass, and guitar before the Mellotron was added and is fantastic to hear. The version of “In The Light” is incredible, worth the price of admission alone, this is the “In The Morning” version with different lyrics. The quality is so pristine; one has to wonder why they chose to abandon this version. The last two tracks are full band instrumental version of “Swan Song aka Midnight Moonlight”. The second take is longer and where the first take is like the opening, this take sounds like the possible middle section. It cannot be stated enough, and certainly the hardcore collectors know that the Physical Graffitiouttakes are the most satisfying of this set and is essential listening.

16Disc 16 (69:56) Radio Takes, Presence Outtakes, Bonzo’s Montreux Sessions and In Through The Out Door Outtakes – Recorded at Headley Grange Studios Hampshire, England 1974; The Wanton Song (WLIR 92.7 radio broadcast), The Wanton Song (WPLJ 95.5 radio broadcast). Recorded at Studio Instrument Rentals (SIR) HollywoodLos Angeles October 1975; Royal Orleans, Tea For One (Hootchie Kootchie version), Don’t Start Me Talking – All My Loving. Recorded at Mountain Studios MontreuxSwitzerland on September 12, 1976; Bonzo’s Montreux (take 1), Bonzo’s Montreux (take 2). Clearwell CastleForest Of Dean,GloucestershireEngland May 1978; Fire (Say You Gonna Love Me), Carouselambra (takes 1-4). Recorded at Polar Studios Stockholm, Sweden November 1978; Drum Segment, Carouselambra, Ozone Baby (take 1), Ozone Baby (take 2), All My Love, Wearing And Tearing, I’m Gonna Crawl, Fool In The Rain

The first two tracks are from radio broadcasts and feature outtakes of “The Wanton Song”. The quality is excellent but sounds like it were recorded off of radio, it has seen prior releases as Alternates And Outtakes Led Zeppelin IV & Physical Graffiti Volume 3 (Boogie Mama), The Lost Sessions Volume 12 – All Roads Lead To Headley Grange 3 (Empress Valley Supreme Disc), Relax(Beelzebub Records). Luis Rey stated that if not for some slide guitar overdubs this could pass for a live recording. I agree as it has alot of energy and a live feel too it, this version has DJ comments after its conclusion. The second version is better sounding and similar to the other. Alternative Graffiti (Celebration Definitive Masters), Brutal Artistry (Midas Touch), Sessions (Antrabata Reference Master), Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio). The sound is similar to the Scorpio title and is excellent quality.

Sadly the sessions for Presence yields virtually nothing, all we have is this 8 minute fragment of rehearsal done while the band is in exile in California. The version of “Tea For One” is very nice, certainly not as up and down sounding as the final version is more of a Chicago blues, the “Don’t Start Me Talking” is a really nice jam. Prior releases are Bizarre (Tarantura), Brutal Artistry II (Midas Touch), Countdown (Boogie Mama), Sessions (Antrabata Reference Master), &Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio). Quality is excellent and the tape sounds similar to the Scorpio title.

“Bonzo’s Montreux” was done in the fall of 1976, previously released as All Our Love (Beelzebub Records), Coda Advanced Tapes (Boogie Mama), Different Mixed Coda (POT), The Lost Sessions Volume 8 – Led Zeppelin In The 80′s Coda Advance Tapes (Empress Valley Supreme Disc). The song is very close to what would be released on Coda. Very inventive, one has to wonder why he did not incorporate it into his 1977 solos.

The second portion of the disc is the first glimpses of the band after the turbulent and very sad death of Robert’s son and the cancellation of the 1977 tour and band activities. Early rehearsals are done in England at Clearwell Castle and produce an interesting tape that has seen the light of day as Bizarre (Tarantura),Brutal Artistry II (Midas Touch), In Through The Outdoor Sessions (Boogie Mama),The Lost Sessions Volume 4 (Empress Valley Supreme Disc), Missing Links (The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin), Sessions (Antrabata Reference Master), & Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio). The quality is a very good amateur style recording, Page is playing very well and the music sounds nothing like what would be eventually released on In Through The Out Door, obviously Jimmy sounds very dominant. The run throughs of “Carouselambra” are simply wonderful, albeit raw. Jimmy’s guitar tone is excellent and Jones’ keys naturally have a dominant place in the mix but as Luis Rey states that Bonzo is the true star of this recording and leaves you wondering if the band would have ever played the piece live. The band has put considerable work into the song and Plant has vocals in place for much of the piece, great stuff.

The rest of the disc has us transported to Sweden and Polar Studios, home to ABBA and the sessions that would produce the band’s final studio album. All Our Love (Beelzebub Records), Coda Advanced Tapes (Boogie Mama), The Lost Sessions Volume 4 (Empress Valley Supreme Disc) are the previous titles featuring this 29 minute tape. I will refer to liner notes as they hit the nail on the head; These tracks are drum mixes of versions later used on the In Through The Out Door album. Stellar quality, you hear a drums view of the songs. We can clearly hear Bonham working on the drums with the tape of the vocals and guitar faintly in the background. It’s a brilliant insight into a brilliant drummer and makes me wish they had released the official album with this good quality. They sound fresh and excited. Bonzo lets out a “fookin’ ‘ell” right before “Fool In The Rain” and it’s a joy to hear.

Disc 17 (65:29) In Through The Out Door Sessions – Recorded at Polar Studios Stockholm, Sweden November 1978; Carouselambra (take 1), Wearing And Tearing, Fool In The Rain (take 1), Hot Dog, In The Evening, Southbound Saurez, Darlene, Fool In The Rain (take 2), Carouselambra (take 2). Recorded at Polar Studios StockholmSweden November 1978; All Of My Love

The majority of this disc is the 58 minute tape and finds the music nearing completion with the final mixes being worked on. It has been much bootlegged starting with the bootleg LP The Complete Outtakes And Rehearsals (Swan Song),In Through Out Door Sessions (Toasted Records), In Through The Outtakes(White Box & Widget Recordworks), & Out Through The Back Door (Amazing Stork & White Box) and on CD as All My Love (Tarantura), In Through The Outdoor Sessions (Boogie Mama), The Lost Sessions Volume 4 ( Empress Valley Supreme Disc), Sessions (Antrabata Reference Master), & Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio). The quality is excellent, professional quality if just a little dull but is equal in quality to the Scorpio set. Again Bonham’s drumming is at the forefront of “Carouselambra”, simply incredible in his fills of what was the last of the Zeppelin epics and one for the new decade. One has to wonder how they chose the material that would make the record, they produced a fast and aggressive rocker like “Wearing And Tearing” and elect to leave it off and make for a possible Knebworth special EP that is of course scrapped. Perhaps too aggressive for the rest of the material but a song that certainly lets you know that the dinosaur still had some fighting spirit left in its old bones. “Fool In The Rain” has some cool count in and some ad libs from Plant. “Southbound Saurez” has a different feel with Jones on the piano and Page’s guitar has a nice fuzz tone to it.

The final track is “All Of My Love”, this outtake is stunning in terms of sound quality and performance. Previously released on All Our Love (Beelzebub Records), In Through The Outdoor Sessions (Boogie Mama), The Lost Sessions Volume 4 (Empress Valley Supreme Disc), Studio Daze (Scorpio), Studio Daze Revisited (Scorpio), & Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio). I remember being blown away by the original Studio Daze Scorpio title and this version of “All Of My Love” as it was much closer to how it was performed live and has a loser feel and features some great playing from Page.

Disc 18 (66:15) In Through The Out Door Sessions & Final Rehearsal – Recorded at Polar Studios StockholmSweden November 14 1978; Ozone Baby (take 1), Ozone Baby (take 2). Recorded at Polar Studios StockholmSweden November 16 1978; Darlene (take 1), Darlene (take 2). Recorded at Polar Studios Stockholm,Sweden November 21 1978; Wearing And Tearing (take 1), Wearing And Tearing (take 2). Recorded at the Rainbow Theatre, London, England and / or New Victoria Theatre London, England sometime between April and May 1980; White Summer (take 1) White Summer medley incl. Black Mountain Side (take 2), Kashmir, Achilles Last Stand (take 1), Achilles Last Stand (take 2) Stairway To Heaven

The final disc finds different mixes of the three songs recorded during the In Through The Out Door sessions that would eventually be released on Coda. Interesting as we have actual dates for each of the three songs and all are in the finished stages with just minor differences in the mixes. Previously released under the titles Coda Advanced Tapes (Boogie Mama), Different Mixed Coda(POT), & The Lost Sessions Volume 8 – Led Zeppelin In The 80′s Coda Advance Tapes (Empress Valley Supreme Disc). The songs show a possible different direction that the band could have explored on the record and possibly in the new decade.

The rest of the disc has the “final” rehearsal as it originally circulated as being from the time period directly before Bonham’s death. Ultimately it has the more plausible origin of being from rehearsals prior to the bands German tour 1980. It has had a myriad of releases beginning with the vinyl LP The Final Option (Rock Solid Records & The Swingin’ Pig Records), The Last Rehearsal – Bonzo’s Last Stand (Oznob), Out Through The Back Door (Amazing Stork & White Box),Strange Tales From The Road (Rock Solid Records), & Tangible Van-Dalism (TV & White Box) and CD as The Last Rehearsal (Missing Link), The Lost Sessions Volume 11 ~ The Final Rehearsal (Empress Valley Supreme Disc), Rehearsals(Empress Valley Supreme Disc), Sessions (Antrabata Reference Master), Strange Tales From The Road (no label), & Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio). The recording itself is excellent quality, the performances are not really noteworthy but an interesting listening experience as unbeknownst to the band that they were in their final stages of existence.

The last word? Many times previously when companies try to put together something and label it as definitive it always seems to fall short. As massive of a project as this was Godfather simply nails it and delivered what they intended to do; give fans the most comprehensive and complete collection of Zeppelin studio outtakes in the best ever quality. Certainly the most ambitious and best ever box set produced by the label, bar none.

December 31, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Studio Magik | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Thunder Down Under (The Complete 1972 Australian and New Zealand Recordings)

ledzep-thunder-downFrom Underground Uprising

“Thunder Down Under” (subtitled The Complete 1972 Australian And New Zealand Recordings) is Empress Valley’s newest title – a massive luxury box set containing 20 CDs and 1DVD of – what was told – a complete and comprehensive collection of all available audio and video from Led Zeppelin’s one and only Australia/New Zealand tour that took place in February of 1972. The box itself looks awesome: glossy cardboard hinged set with five individual gatefold sleeves housed inside. For the front artwork, they’ve used fantastic photo from Melbourne gig, showing members playing on the outdoor stage just as the dark stormy clouds started to appear in the sky and bringing some heavy rain. The back has famous Swan Song logo along with album’s title, usual credits (to Mr. Diamond, whoever he is) and EVSD logos on bottom rears (and with another photo in the background). Each gatefold cover is differently titled and contains two versions of each show, presenting basic edit or source mix (version #A) and alternate edit or source mix (version #B). Each gatefold album utilizes Melbourne photos done during the show and before the rain started to drop.

When it was first announced in October 2013, many negative comments started to pop up and many people complained about its content, saying that yet again thislabel is reissuing the old material known from their previous titles, and stolen a DVD shared by the fans throughout the torrent sites. There were also some problems with flawed discs (actually, disc #16 of Sydney show), and replacement copies were quickly released and sent to everyone, who picked up box at its first selease. After some hesitation I decided to get a copy for myself, and I have to say that even if most of this material already surfaced many years ago, the sound quality and completeness of this collection is undoubtedly far superior to every past title containing any of shows included in this box. There are some rumours saying that this time label used a better tapes and mastering and even if this is not true at all, the overall effect is more than satisfying.

So let’s examine this deluxe set disc by disc, also making some recollections from the past and study this wonderful piece of music. Since we have already plenty of reviews describing each of five shows, I’ll concentrate much on technical aspects, and try to make a comprehensive comparison between titles.

“Shattering Rock Experience” – Adelaide February 19th, 1972

Version #A (EVSD 609/610)
CD1: Immigrant Song/Heartbreaker/Black Dog/Since I’ve Been Loving You/Stairway To Heaven/Going To California/That’s The Way/Tangerine/Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp
CD2: Dazed And Confused/Moby Dick/Whole Lotta Love

Version #B (EVSD 611/612)
CD3: Immigrant Song/Heartbreaker/Black Dog/Since I’ve Been Loving You/Stairway To Heaven/Going To California/That’s The Way/Tangerine/Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp
CD4: Dazed And Confused/Moby Dick/Whole Lotta Love

This is the famous Adelaide show, and best sounding tape of all five nights that have surfaced so far from this tour. Adelaide was the second stop (after Perth, which has a tape that hasn’t surfaced yet, according to rumour). The show first circulated many years ago on TDOLZ’s “Oooh My Ears Man” and was later reissued by few major labels, of which worth to list are Equinox’s “Live In Adelaide” (also released as stunning 7 CD box set titled [ sic! ] “Thunder Down Under” and collected everything that was available from the tour at that time), Tarantura’s “Voo Doo Drive”, T2K’s “Voo Doo Drive Version 2004” and EVSD’s “Deep Downunder”. Each of these past titles are quite similar in content and quality except for the EVSD’s “Deep Downunder”, which has some edits from between the songs removed out to present a bit more compact listening. EVSD’s newest version included in the box seems to be a little clearer/brighter, has additional several seconds at the very start of tape and overall the recording sounds freshier. Most likely, they’ve used a newly circulated master clone that was traded just few years ago. Between this and first EVSD title I do hear some noticeable difference in depth, and I am calling the box set version a winner.

The show itself is very powerful, with brilliant versions of “Immigrant Song”, “Heartbreaker” (these two songs are unlikely performed with a long break due to a broken string of Jimmy’s guitar and funny comments from some members of the audience, reporting the devastating level of sound (“ooh my years man!” can be heard just right after the first song, when someone was literally blown away by the large amount of decibels), “Stairway To Heaven”, “Dazed And Confused” (a really furious and heavy version, one of the best from 1972 I think), and “Whole Lotta Love medley”. The only minor of this show are numerous cuts and edits throughout the show that caused the dropping of some Plantations from the set, and omitting (probably) some songs that might be played that evening (“Celebration Day” or “What Is And What Should Never Be” and maybe “Communication Breakdown” as the final encore).

Between both versions, version #A contains literally everything that have surfaced on tape while version #B is very similar in content to EVSD’s “Deep Downunder”, and has some edits removed out from compilation. It’s also worth to say that some of edits that plagued original recording are repaired here in a smooth way, making this show even more interesting.

“So Loud, So Hot” – Melbourne February 20th, 1972

Version #A (EVSD 613/614)
CD5: Immigrant Song/Heartbreaker/Black Dog/Since I’ve Been Loving You/Stairway To Heaven/Going To California/That’s The Way/Tangerine/Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp
CD6: Dazed And Confused/Rock And Roll/Whole Lotta Love

Version #B (EVSD 615/616)
CD7: Immigrant Song/Heartbreaker/Black Dog/Since I’ve Been Loving You/Stairway To Heaven/Going To California/That’s The Way/Tangerine/Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp
CD8: Dazed And Confused/Rock And Roll/Whole Lotta Love

The Melbourne show was the first date from the tour that started to circulate amongst the collectors back in the early/mid 1970s, and few vinyl LPs containing first half of the gig in acceptable fair quality appeared just few years after the show. After that, at least three new different source tapes as well as more complete basic source have surfaced, and it’s a hard to say which tape is really complete. At the early 1990s, various labels started to release this show in unique way, and at the end, we have at least a dozen of different titles, and this is probably the most bootlegged date from the entire tour. The most noticeable past versions of this set are: “Acoustically” (TDOLZ), “Count Me Out When It’s Hot” (Cobra), “”Down Under Daze” (Image Quality), “Live In Melbourne” (Equinox; also as 7CD compilation), “Melbourne Masters” (Immigrant), “No Longer Down Under: Live In Melbourne” (Graf Zeppelin), “On Stage Melbourne” (Wendy), “Shivers ‘n’ Shakes” (Red Hot), and “Wet Head Is Dead” (EVSD). Between all of them, no one is truly complete (except for EVSD, Graf and Wendy), and each offers different source mix between at least two or three tape sources. Newly released EVSD title offers almost the same mix as the one found on Graf Zeppelin and Wendy, and is the most complete version of this show so far.

ledzep-thunder-down2This show was played under very cloudy conditions with rain cutting it short at the end, and was cut short because of thepossibility of electrocution. EVSD used probably four different tapes sources to present a complete concert. Version #A is very similar in content to the versions released by Graf Zeppelin and Wendy (as mentioned) and differs only in very few minor spots (mostly a technical issues). The tape starts with the old “vinyl” source, and then is patched with almost excellent sounding tape, recorded close to the stage and without any serious distortion except for the fact that it sounds a tiny bit weak to me. For the “Rock And Roll” and very start of “Whole Lotta Love” they’ve used another tape that sounds very poorly, lacking complete clarity and it obvious that it was recorded somewhere from the balconies at the end of stadium. Frankly, it lasts maybe within 5 or 6 minutes at all (if count all the minutes used for this particular source) and it doesn’t disturbing overall atmosphere. Very likely, another tape recorder is used for some patches in between the songs but I am not 100 percent sure because when you’re listening multiple source changes, your ears starting to be a bit tired. In opposite, version #B is somewhat much more interesting, at least for someone who’s a mad completist as me. For this version, the label used so called entire “vinyl” source as primary source and used another two (or three?) recorders to patch missing parts in between the songs and for the parts, where basic source tape doesn’t exist (ie. some of “Dazed And Confused”, “Whole Lotta Love” etc.). It is very interesting to hear the whole alternate tape because, even if this source isn’t as clear and dynamic as the one used for the basic version, it allows me to celebrate this date in a much different perspective. Anyway, congrats to EVSD for doing such a great research and – at this point – I must complain on excellent Bootledz site, which states they missed something. (I more believe that some of older titles just faked or repeated some audience parts rather than EVSD accidentally cuts out something, because the same site didn’t say anything bad when referring to Graf Zeppelin/Wendy titles, which are very similar in content to this newly box set and have literally everything in order.) The bad aspect of this version is the fact that they included “Rock And Roll” after “Whole Lotta Love”, which is obviously a big error and I hope that the label will replace this soon with corrected copies of the first disc for version #A.

The show itself starts in with usual medley of “Immigrant Song” and “Heartbreaker” and is followed by good renditions of “Black Dog”, “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and “Stairway To Heaven”. I don’t know why, but for me one of the highlights for this date is acoustic set. The band seems to enjoying themselves much and I have a feeling that night before they were in rush and this night all four members of the group – along with audience – were much more relaxed. The weather started to getting worse as the band went heavily through a great version of “Dazed And Confused”, and near the end it was obvious that the group had to stop the show and wait for a better time. An abrupt version of “Rock And Roll” followed soon and, again, the rain scared everyone during the “Whole Lotta Love” medley, which was shortened “because electricity and water just don’t get together at all”, but even this fact, this concert is really good and worth attention (at least in my humble opinion).

“The Biggest Gathering” – Auckland February 25th, 1972

Version #A (EVSD 617/618)
CD9: Immigrant Song/Heartbreaker/Black Dog/Since I’ve Been Loving You/Celebration Day/Stairway To Heaven/Going To California/That’s The Way/Tangerine/Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp
CD10: Dazed And Confused/What Is And What Should Never Be/Rock And Roll/Moby Dick/Whole Lotta Love/Communication Breakdown

Version #B (EVSD 619/620)
CD11: Immigrant Song/Heartbreaker/Black Dog/Since I’ve Been Loving You/Celebration Day/Stairway To Heaven/Going To California/That’s The Way/Tangerine/Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp
CD12: Dazed And Confused/What Is And What Should Never Be/Rock And Roll/Moby Dick/Whole Lotta Love/Communication Breakdown

This show started to circulate back in 2003 as a single, excellent sounding tape, but was very incomplete (missing many songs). In 2010, an alternate and much more complete tape recorder was found, and this time almost entire show was captured. The show was first released exclusively on two premium labels, Akashic and T2K, under the title “Going To Auckland”. This is followed by another three titles, “Live In New Zealand” (EVSD), “On Stage Auckland” (Wendy) and “No Longer Down Under: Live In Auckland” (Graf Zeppelin); each of them mixed both tape sources and are much similar in content. However, each of them focused on first tape source, using alternate recording only to fill gaps in basic source. Newly released EVSD presents two unique source mixes: version #A is somewhat very similar to their predecessors and version #B includes second tape source as its foundation.

Between all of these titles, the quality is much similar; however, once again, newly EVSD title seems to be sourced from freshier transfers and has more depth to me. Also, version #B is much more interesting because it reflects on alternate recorder that hadn’t been in circulation anywhere but on low gens and here is presented in its entirety, what allows me to explore this show in a different mood.

mr5dF3--JcKVnBf-wD-99NwAuckland date is known especially from the fact of being the first and only appearance of the band in New Zealand. Almost 25,000 fans went to see the group and for this groundbreaking event, Peter Grant hired a Zeppelin Express – an exclusive train to bring fans from Wellington up for the show. This is another excellent performance (probably – mostly because of its quality – shares the same top sound with Adelaide and Sydney), showing a very rare early glimpse of Jimmy Page’s creative prowess on stage and Plant’s explicit praise of the logistics of the show. Probably for the first time during this tour a fast and heavy version of “Celebration Day” was performed and in the middle of “Dazed”, Page incorporated opening riffs of “The Song Remains The Same” (back then the song was yet not finished and was only rehearsed under working title, “The Plumpton And Worcester Races” [sic! ] and existed as a spontaneous, loose jam). “Whole Lotta Love” is my all time favorite from the tour, and furious and heavy “Communication Breakdown” is played as a closer to delight of rowdy audience.

“Pop Goes The Showground” – Sydney February 27th, 1972

Version #A (EVSD 621/622)
CD13: Black Dog/Stairway To Heaven/Going To California/That’s The Way/Tangerine/Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp/Dazed And Confused/What Is And What Should Never Be
CD14: Moby Dick/Rock And Roll/Whole Lotta Love/Communication Breakdown/Organ Solo/Thank You

Version #B (623/624)
CD15: Black Dog/Stairway To Heaven/Going To California/That’s The Way/Tangerine/Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp/Dazed And Confused/What Is And What Should Never Be
CD16: Moby Dick/Rock And Roll/Whole Lotta Love/Communication Breakdown/Organ Solo/Thank You

For the Sydney show two different tape sources are known to exists. The first tape is only a 40-minute fragment containing “Black Dog”, “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp”, “Rock And Roll” and “Whole Lotta Love” and it was released on Equinox’s “Live In Sydney” (released also as a part of 7CD “Thunder Down Under” set) and on Black Cat’s “Australian Tour Part 1”. The quality is muffled and distant but enough fairly listenable. The second tape surfaced few years after and was taped by Mr. Leo Ishac. It has excellent, wide sound and was taped much close to the stage. Sadly, only equalized transfers are in wide circulation and some of listeners always complained on that fact, saying that the sound is way too much tempered due to process of equalization. On the other hand, this tape source captures almost entire show (minus “Immigrant Song”, “Heartbreaker”, “Since I’ve Been Loving You”, and “Celebration Day”) and was released soon after on “Ayers Rock” by T2K. (Other reports says that the taper recorded entire show, but because of some unknown reasons, he dropped them out from copies he traded over the years.) T2K title is even more tweaked what causing of a rather painful listening experience for this show. Soon after few more labels started to released their own versions, using first (shorter) source to fill gaps in longer tape: “Rumble In Sydney” (Further Along), “Balloon Goes Up On Led Zeppelin” (EVSD), and “On Stage: Sydney” (Wendy). Newly released EVSD title (presented on version #A) uses the same source mix but it seems to be done a little more carefully, keeping everything in right order. Also, for the very first time, the small gap in between “Hello Mary Lou” and “The Rover” in the middle of “Whole Lotta Love’ medley is filled by first tape source, making this ‘marathon’ truly complete. Version #B (similar to Adelaide show) includes an alternate edit, where some of worst cuts are gently eliminated, providing smoother version of this concert.

Sydney show itself is a very strong performance, with many great moments. “Black Dog” is played with fury and impact and “Dazed And Confused” (especially the bowing solo), is a delightful novelty to the provincial punters and this is another great version of this song. “Rock And Roll” is delivered with swaggering fury. Plant reaches the notes the ear expects. Very long and somewhat unique “Whole Lotta Love” and its rock medley, including a fully-realized, instrumental version of “The Rover”, heard years before its official release, is a truly awesome. A great pair of encores (with extremely jammy “Communication Breakdown” and glorious “Thank You”, preceded by organ solo), closing this amazing gig.

“Indoor Farewell” – Brisbane February 29th, 1972

Version #A (EVSD 625/626)
CD17: Immigrant Song/Heartbreaker/Black Dog/Since I’ve Been Loving You/Celebration Day/Stairway To Heaven/Going To California/That’s The Way/Tangerine/Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp
CD18: Dazed And Confused/What Is And What Should Never Be/Moby Dick/Whole Lotta Love

Version #B (EVSD 627/628)
CD19: Immigrant Song/Heartbreaker/Black Dog/Since I’ve Been Loving You/Celebration Day/Stairway To Heaven/Going To California/That’s The Way/Tangerine/Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp
CD20: Dazed And Confused/What Is And What Should Never Be/Moby Dick/Whole Lotta Love

At the start I need to say that probably this was the biggest surprise for me, having previously only heard the entire Brisbane show and remembering its poor quality, I was even more happy enjoying the fact that EVSD used better sounding transfers up here. Furthermore, all previous titles offered only single source – and – for the very first time large speed issues that plagued both recordings are finally fixed in excellent way.

For many years only first tape source circulated on silvers, making its appearance on Black Cat’s “Australian Tour Part 2” and “Live in Brisbane” (Equinox; released also on 7CD set titled “Thunder Down Under”). Both titles uses poor sounding and somewhat incomplete tape. Newly released EVSD set includes this tape source on version #A as its foundation and filling missing parts with second tape source, that is released on silver for the very first time. Version #B rely on second tape source as basic tape and uses first tape source in parts, where second tape isn’t available. The quality is still muddy and distant but is much more clear and all issues that were presented on past titles are fully repaired, making listening much more comfortable journey. Even the weakness of the sound couldn’t broke my excitement, since Brisbane show is really worth of close attention.

The concert was the final show of the tour and the only indoor gig of all five dates. In fact, this is excellent, high-powered show in front of another rowdy Australian crowd! The opening numbers are excellent and Robert’s singing on “Since I’ve Been Loving You” is pure emotion and one of the best versions from the entire Australian episode. A restless audience stops “That’s The Way” a minute into the song. After Plant’s seating instructions, they start the song again. “Dazed And Confused” is another long version and “Whole Lotta Love’ medley medley is excellent and contains some really rare inclusions. We can only wondering if the group played some encores, since end of tape captured people leaving the hall but if they did any, “Communication Breakdown” might be the answer (judging their two previous shows, they used this song as a definitive set closer).

DVD: Immigrant Song*/Heartbreaker*/Black Dog*/Since I’ve Been Loving You*/Celebration Day*/Stairway To Heaven*/Going To California*/That’s The Way*/Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp*/Dazed And Confused*/What Is And What Should Never Be*/Moby Dick*/Rock And Roll*/Whole Lotta Love medley incl .Boogie Chillun, The Rover*/Immigrant Song**/Black Dog**/Since I’ve Been Loving You**/Celebration Day**/Going To California**/Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp**/Dazed And Confused**/Moby Dick**/Rock And Roll**/ Heartbreaker***/Black Dog***/Dazed And Confused***/Thank You****/Miscellaneous scenes*****

The DVD disc is added as a bonus to the set and makes this release a very special gem. The only minor problems are the incompleteness of footages included, but assuming the fact that back in early 1970s no one had a chance to capture an entire show on video, this is a remarkable piece of rock history and pure delight for all LZ fans, having a chance to see the group live on stage! Four different amateur movies have surfaced from the Sydney show (I marked them from * to **** symbols) and all four have sound dubbed from actual concert, except for the parts where original soundtrack doesn’t exist (these short parts are dubbed from Brisbane show). The fourth (****) footage is supposed to be much longer but the complete copy is still in the hand of the taper. The fifth (*****) footage is allegedly taken from Melbourne and showing people arriving to the Kooyong stadium, also partially exploring stage and band’s equipment. Since we all know that seeing LZ on video is something outstanding, I need to say only that the idea of including all these films was really accurate and it’s even more great to see also famous GTK footage (along with Sydney press party) attributed to this DVD.

Summary: As for any other massive sets, this title is recommended especially for more serious collectors out there. Two versions for each of shows might be a boring thing for less advanced listeners and for those, who cannot afford it, at least one single title for each show can be adapted. The minor flaws here and there (mostly attributed to the Sydney tape and unavailability of raw unprocessed transfer for the Leo Ishac’s source tape) are vastly overshadowed by the excellent presentation and editing work of the sources presented in this box set. Just about all the shows presented here are in either same or improvement in terms of sound quality and completeness over previous releases with EVSD taking full advantage of the very careful mastering technique (making all these shows sounding fantastic, especially Melbourne, where multiple source changes are done in a truly professional way). Furthermore, this box set will probably become highly collectable in years to come, not only because the fact of being strictly limited to few hundred copies only but mainly because of its content as the most complete and comprehensive collection of all these shows (until new tape sources are about to surface someday). If I need to discuss any bad sides, I’d point out problems with flawed discs for Melbourne and Sydney shows and its high price and for sure for those who cannot afford a few hundred of $, a direct download copies (that will appear very soon on torrent sites) are an excellent ways to obtain this release for free. (argenteumastrum, Dec 2013)

December 29, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Thunder Down Under | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Throwing The Wild Seeds – Nassau Coliseum 1975 Complete Tapes


Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum Uniondale New York February 13th, 1975

Disc 1 : Intro Announcements, 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, No Quarter
Disc 2: Trampled Underfoot, Moby Dick, Dazed And Confused
Disc 3: Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, Communication Breakdown (with special guest Ronnie Wood)
Few Hours With St. Valentine
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum Uniondale New York February 14th, 1975
Disc 1 : Intro Announcements, Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, In My Time Of Dying, Since I’ve Been Loving You, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir
Disc 2: No Quarter, Trampled Underfoot, Moby Dick
Disc 3: Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, Heartbreaker

Armed with a new double album, Physical Graffiti that would be in stores soon, Led Zeppelin prepared for their much anticipated 10′th US tour. The tour was to be broken into two legs following two European warm-up shows in Brussels and Rotterdam. In keeping with rock shows of the day, this tour was to be much more grandiose, incorporating a massive light show and laser bean effects for Jimmy’s violin bow solo during Dazed and Confused. And, for the very first time Bonzo and his drum kit were perched high atop a riser.

22GrABCThe first leg of the tour was plagued with ill health. Jimmy injured a finger which forced him to develop a new “3 finger” technique. This also meant that Dazed and Confused would be put on the shelf, only to be replaced by How Many More Times. Robert had the flu, and ongoing voice issues while Bonzo struggled with stomach problems. John Paul Jones it seemed was the only member of the band to remain healthy throughout.

Songs from the new album that were added to the setlist were Sick Again, In My Time Of Dying, Kashmir and Trampled Underfoot, with Kashmir quickly becoming one of the highlights of the show. As Plant would often mention during the shows, the set list had been constructed to highlight a broad cross section of material from the groups six and a half years.

After what I consider to be the best show of the tour to that point at Madison Square Garden on February 12′th, the band must have been feeling quite good about themselves as they set up camp for two shows at the Nassau County Coliseum in Uniondale New York.

The February 13th show was very good. By this time, Dazed and Confused was back in the set list as Jimmy’s finger problems appeared to be much less problematic. This show is historically notable due to the fact that Rolling Stone Ron Wood joins the band during the Communication Breakdown encore. For fans that are used to seeing Jimmy handle all the guitar work , it is interesting to see the interplay between the two of them as they both take rather long solos.

February 14′th was another energetic and forceful performance despite Robert struggling with his voice again in the early going. Highlights on this night were the inclusion of Since I’ve Been Loving You into the set as well as John Paul Jones at his improvisational best during No Quarter.

22GrDEFSoundboard tapes for the February 14′th show have circulated for quite some time already and have been released by various labels. The big excitement though was the discovery of the soundboard from February 13′th which surfaced only just recently. With this discovery, Godfather Records saw the perfect opportunity to package both these superb shows into a single deluxe box set.

As for the sound quality, that is always a very subjective thing from one listener to the next, so speaking for myself only, I feel this release does contain the best available sound and is very close to rivaling an official release. I’m not an audio engineer so I can’t give you the details of what Godfather have done to the sound, but trust me…it sounds good!

Never one to disappoint on the packaging front, Godfather has created another visually appealing box set. Enclosed in the outer box are two trifold cardboard cases, one for each night, as well as two miniature tour posters and a beautifully illustrated 18 page booklet.

If you have always been a fan of the New York shows as I have this box set will make a wonderful addition to your collection. Both visually and aurally stunning it gets high marks from me.

December 27, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Throwing The Wild Seeds – Nassau Coliseum 1975 Complete Tapes | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti (1975)



Some consider this the pinnacle of Zeppelinism – a double album that sends to hell all these funk/reggae tendences of Houses in favour of Page/Plant’s more traditional hallmarks: heavy riffs and devilish screaming abound on this record, Bonham pounds as if his life depends on the effort he puts in his drums, and Jones mostly sticks to bass if you don’t count an occasional organ solo now and then (which, by the way, he used to do since the very beginning).

Everybody’s in top form, in short. But in the end, maybe it’s just that fact that makes the record unlistenable to a large extent. Now I’m not willing to lower this record in the eyes of the fans: everybody who worships Page more than Budda will get his load of kicks from this record. But for me, who likes Led Zeppelin just like ‘one more great Seventies band’, this is a real pain in the neck, I mean, c’mon people, how can you really sit through the entire record?

That said, Physical Graffiti has always been a critical favourite, and one of the trendiest things to do is to include it in numerous ‘Top 100’ or even ‘Top 10’ rock records of the last four thousand years (which, by the way, is an occupation comparable to defining the ‘Top 10 Writers of the Western Hemisphere’, i.e. fun, but with a zero percent intellectual value.) It’s easy to see why: it’s a double album, it has a wide range of styles, and it sounds acceptable. Double albums have always suffered that fate – when released by a notorious artist, they were either complete failures, or else they were halfway decent, in which case the critics raved up and proclaimed them ‘encyclopaedic masterpieces’.

Such is the case with the Stones’ Exile On Main Street; absolutely the same case is with Physical Graffiti. Except that Led Zeppelin were a less talented band than the Stones (ah, come on all you fans and throttle me – I’m ready for that!), so, naturally, Physical Graffiti is an even worse album. Encyclopaedic it may be, but it is also regressive, limited in its superficially ‘wide’ scope, and, yeah, right, boring. To some extent.

First of all, I’m not at all satisfied with the way they begin to sound from now on. In my humble opinion, Graffiti initiates the ‘late Zeppelin’ period when their hard rock (aka heavy metal) songs suddenly lost all traces of freshness and began sounding totally generic. Maybe it’s the low production value that’s responsible (although I couldn’t accuse Jimmy of not paying attention to production). Maybe it’s because of the overall ‘jamming’ atmosphere of the album: most of the songs sound raw and totally unpolished. But most probably it’s because Jimmy overabuses distortion and power chords, sounding from time to time like a bad parody on Pete Townshend.

Maybe there’s some other kind of reason. But when I hear ‘Custard Pie’, the by now familiar cock rocker that opens the album, I just can’t help saying: yup, the magic is gone. This is just your average heavy metal band that thinks of itself as sitting on top of the world while in fact what it does is rehashing the elder classic standards with all the diligency expected from a piece of used carbon paper. The witty Mark Prindle once remarked that some of these songs sound more like Grand Funk Railroad than Led Zeppelin, and to me, that’s definitely not a compliment – GFR are one of the most conservative and unimaginative hard rock bands to have ever existed. And the mighty Led Zep, once the kings of scary, jerky tension, have now degenerated to Mark Farner level? Come on now! And I’m not even mentioning their age!

Not that it ain’t really enjoyable, this ‘Custard Pie’: it’s a good piece of heavy boogie, and you can play air guitar and sing along and tap your foot and do everything. But what the heck – it doesn’t even have the power of ‘Black Dog’! It has the crunch, but it doesn’t have the angst and it doesn’t have the menace of that song – ‘Custard Pie’ is nothing to scare your parents with. More examples of the same include the ridiculous closing number ‘Sick Again’ with its hideous jam at the end; and even the more or less classic ‘Wanton Song’ that could have been inserted into ‘Custard Pie’ without anyone noticing the substitution, since the riffs are nearly identical (not that Page is plagiarizing himself for the first time, but never before was it so obvious).

Decent songs, all of them, but not even a little bit better than the contemporary efforts of Aerosmith or AC/DC or whoever. Or Grand Funk, yeah. The Led Zep chemistry that made the early albums so groovy, even if they were still patchy, is gone – almost entirely.

Of course, not all is lost, because on certain other numbers Jimmy tries steering the band into different directions and introducing new gimmicks to the sound – I’m ready to admit that. In doing so, he produces two of the weirdest tracks the band ever did. ‘In My Time Of Dying’ opens with a terrific slide guitar melody, and when Plant comes in with his lyrics it seems for a couple of moments that they almost succeed in recreating the fascinating guitar/vocals battle of old, especially on the oddly-sung line ‘…so I can die eaaaa-a-a-asy…’ And ‘Kashmir’, with its famous Eastern-tinged melody, is deservedly a fan favourite.

Are these violins that play throughout the song, or synthesizers? I’m not too sure, but that majestic ascending line is really something. On the other hand, not even good ideas can save Jimmy from fuckin’ up – ‘In My Time Of Dying’ exceeds all limits of decency by turning into a stupid jam just after four minutes and refusing to shut up for what seems like ages (moreover, at the very end some voice says ‘this is gonna be a long ending’, did they reprise it once again?), and ‘Kashmir’ soon turns out to be just a background setting for that violin line; it certainly does not deserve to be more than eight minutes long. And did I mention such laughable monsters as ‘Ten Years Gone’ or ‘In The Light’?

The first one easily defines ‘filler’, as the riff it is based upon is moderately good, but nothing is ever done to properly unveil the song’s potential – too soft and feeble for a rocker, but too cold and restrained for a ballad. What the hell? And ‘In The Light’… okay, I give: the intro to the song is moody and effective, with J. P. Jones drawing on a mighty fine and scary ‘kozmik’ synth line. The rest I could easily live without.

Did I mention ‘The Rover’ yet? Sounds nice until you realize that its most ’emotional’ parts are almost directly copied from the ‘heavier’ parts of ‘Stairway To Heaven’, with that descending riff near the solo section.

Other ‘novelty’ moments include outtakes from earlier albums, such as the blatantly-pop-disguised-as-heavy-rock ‘Houses Of The Holy’, or the pretty short acoustic instrumental ‘Bron-Y-Aur’ (not to be confounded with ‘Bron-Y-Aur Stomp’!!). There’s a funny boogie-woogie piano shuffle with Ian Stewart, the ‘sixth Rolling Stone’, at the piano (‘Boogie With Stu’), and a totally out of place country rocker (‘Black Country Woman’). But these are more or less tiny curious islands amidst a sea of pedestrian heavy riffage and mind-boggling jamming.

Track after track goes on and on and on, until you’re really beginning to wonder if these guys planned a double album simply because of lack of dough. And mind you, I said I really don’t dislike Page’s solos by pumping up the rating of The Song Remains The Same. But the fact is, he’s not really soloing: most of the time, he just delivers crunchy guitar lines that don’t suit his classic style at all. Compare Jimmy the guitarist in 1968 and Jimmy the guitarist in 1975 and you’ll see that he’s vilified his own techniques. Even worse, the kind of sound he developed on here serves mostly to mask the lack of truly creative musical ideas. The album really looks like an anthemic chef-d’aeuvre on the outside, but upon opening the nut one can easily ascertain that it’s almost hollow. Isn’t it? Sure is!

I originally gave it a 6, but it has grown on me enough to guarantee a relatively high seven, just because I’m rarely offended by those songs from this album that do not exceed six minutes (plus, I have finally gotten the point of ‘Trampled Underfoot’, which is indeed one of the band’s best attempts at a high-volume, high-energy funk rocker). Still, I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my life listening to ‘Down By The Seaside’ or ‘The Wanton Song’. I just see no point, thanks.

December 23, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti | | Leave a comment