THE Z FILES: PART 2

October 14, 2010 – 9:54 am

From 1993 to 2000, the print publication Live! Music Review kept bootleg CD collectors abreast on all the latest offerings. In the age of torrents, many of these recordings are now available as downloads. As a service to music fans, L!MR editor Bill Glahn is making reprints of these reviews available for the first time on the web, exclusively on BigO Worldwide.

Throughout its seven-year history, Live! Music Review reviewed hundreds of bootlegs by Led Zeppelin. Zep was one of the first bands to be bootlegged in the rock era, notably two famous vinyl boots called “Pb” (Pure Blues) and “Live on Blueberry Hill” in 1970. The band’s tendency to stray far from their studio output, including many cover tunes and drastically extended and altered arrangements of their official output, made them concert favorites from the start. And bootleg favorites as well. I’ve made a notation on when the reviews originally appeared. Please keep in mind that many upgrades have become available for many Zep shows in the intervening years. I have not heard many of the more recent upgrades, but for those that I have heard, I have made the appropriate notations.

 
Click on the graphic to download full-size artwork.

LED ZEPPELIN
Over the Hill & Far Away [Great Dane 8914]

This is a bootlegger with a sense of humor. Isn’t it amazing how the simple removal of an “s” from one word (hills) in the title can change its meaning?

Well, the contents of this CD show that Zeppelin nay have been having some problems in 1975, but they were definitely not “over the hill.” Although not a spectacular performance, this is an excellent quality CD which shows the band exploring the most extreme examples of improvisation in rock music. This is a soundboard recording from Dallas, Texas on March 4, 1975. This is the most easily obtainable version of this recording and clocks in at an impressive 78 minutes. A double CD on Rocks Records was the first version of this CD to appear on CD and features an additional 12 minutes of music. That version is near impossible to find, however.

When bootlegs were manufactured on vinyl, 1975 always seemed to be the tour that was most difficult to find in good quality. There have been several good ones to appear on CD and this is the best of the lot.
[recommended upgrade: Chasing The Dragon (Empress Valley Supreme Discs) is a three-CD set of the complete soundboard]
(Bill Glahn, May 1993, issue #3)

 

LED ZEPPELIN
Knebworth 1979 [TNT Studio]

Zeppelin played only four shows in 1979. They were scheduled to play the Knebworth Festival (two shows) and two warm-up dates in Copenhagen. This double CD is from the second Knebworth performance - their last performance ever in Great Britain. It is from a superior quality audience recording.

None of the 1979 shows seemed to be particularly inspired affairs. Many new songs were introduced for the first time. “In the Evening” has been stretched out a bit from its studio version. “Whole Lotta Love” no longer contains the never-ending medley of blues classics that the band tagged onto it during previous tours. “Hot Dog” makes its live premiere in 1979, and Page seems to genuinely enjoy playing this little hillbilly ditty. It’s nice to see that even at this late stage in their career, the band does not always take themselves too seriously.
[recommended upgrade: Dinosaurs In The Park (Diagrams of Led Zeppelin) contains the entire performance]
(Bill Glahn, May 1993, issue #3)

 

LED ZEPPELIN
Tour Over Europe 1980 [Seagull 004/2]

“Tour Over Europe” on Twin Eagle CDs was the first ever Led Zeppelin soundboard recording to appear on CD. It contained 90 minutes from the June 29 Zurich show. Since that show surfaced on CD, a multitude of other 1980 soundboard recordings have found their way onto CD. The Zurich recording is still the best of the lot. The above listed title is a reissue of the Twin Eagle set with a different cover and label.

1980 brought the return of “Train Kept A Rollin’” as the show opener (absent since 1969). “All My Love” makes its live debut during this tour. The 1980 Zeppelin shows are the most “produced” in the group’s history. The set list is almost constant from show to show, with “Communication Breakdown” making only several appearances throughout the tour as a final encore. The performances are mechanical and only the final show in Berlin extends past two hours.
[recommended upgrade: Tour Over Europe 1980 (Diagrams of Led Zeppelin) is a four-CD set that includes both the complete soundboard recording of the show and the complete audience recording used to make the vinyl boot, Swiss Made]
(Bill Glahn, May 1993, issue #3)

 

 

LED ZEPPELIN
Blueberry Hill [Triangle 035/036]

The first bootleg I ever bought was The Rolling Stones’ “Liver’ Than You’ll Ever Be” (Lurch Records). It wasn’t too long after that that I purchased Led Zeppelin’s “Live on Blueberry Hill” (Blimp Records). Both made an impact on me that lasts to this day. Both are still among my favorite live recordings of all time, legitimate releases included.

If “Liver’” was the lure that attracted me to bootleg recordings, then “Blueberry Hill” (The Forum, Los Angeles, September 4, 1970) was the hook that made me a lifelong fan. I was already a fan of the band when I bought my first copy of this bootleg classic. A friend had recommended their first LP to me. From Led Zeppelin II onward, I was always the first in line to buy their new LPs on the day of release.

Still, nothing prepared me for what I was to hear on this double LP set. The packaging was similar to what I expected. A bare bones insert picturing a psychedelic collage showing a bare breasted woman, some “Oliver Twist” type children and a Zeppelin descending into clouds in front of the moon. The discs were thicker than most vinyl from that period. In those days most shopping was still done “downtown.” Downtown for me meant taking the bus (I was still too young to drive) into Trenton, NJ to buy my records at one of the two “mom & pop” record stores. One was called “Hal’s Stereo” and the other was called “The Record Museum.” Record Museum handled most of the bootlegs that were just beginning to crop up. They also handled all the “underground” papers such as Rolling Stone and Crawdaddy. Record Museum got most of my hard earned paper route money.

Anyway - I got home and expected to hear live versions of what was on the studio LPs. I did get a lot of the same songs, however, they were so far removed from the LPs as to be almost unrecognizable. Two of my favorite songs, “Communication Breakdown” and “Good Times Bad Times,” were meshed into a medley that also included “For What It’s Worth” (Buffalo Springfield) and “I Saw Her Standing There” (The Beatles). “Dazed & Confused” had developed into a 17-minute opus. “Out On The Tiles” had thundered on the LP. It was a full-blown hurricane on Blueberry Hill. The “Whole Lotta Love” medley was my introduction to a plethora of blues standards that I never knew existed. “Blueberry Hill” was something else - Fats Domino had never sounded like THAT! Every few years I would always buy a replacement copy after wearing my existing copy out (LED Records, then a series of TMOQ repackages).

The first release of Blueberry Hill on CD was issued by Neutral Zone CDs. They used the original reel-to-reel tapes. Because of the extra length available on CDs, they were able to include the complete performance, including “That’s the Way” and Bron-Y-Aur Stomp.” The sound quality is still amazing to me considering it is an audience recording from 1970. It borders on professional sound and should be considered a “must” for any comprehensive collection of rock music.

All subsequent issues of this double CD set are copies of the Neutral Zone issue. All have equally good sound. The Triangle version is the most readily available.
[recommended upgrade: Tarantura and Empress Valley have each released nine-CD sets that include multiple different tape sources of the Blueberry Hill show. Expensive!]
(Bill Glahn, July 1993, issue #5)

Click here to download Live On Blueberry Hill (Empress Valley) - the version drawn from the Trademark Of Quality alternate source.

 

LED ZEPPELIN
Plays Pure Blues [Whoopy Cat 910121]

While Woodstock was going on, Zeppelin, during their third lengthy tour of the US in under a year, were setting the stage on fire at the Boston Tea Party club in Massachusetts. Two weeks later, however, they would play at a lesser known festival in Dallas called The Texas International Pop Festival.

Woodstock had made international headlines and now it seemed that every young person that missed being there would not pass up a second opportunity to cash in on the fun. There is a one-hour video of this festival circulating (one Zep tune) which pans the crowd quite a bit - images of open dope smoking and prevalent nudity. In other words - typical for the day.

This CD captures the Zeppelin performance in almost perfect soundboard quality. A minor glitch during “How Many More Times” is the only flaw, and it is so minor that it went unnoticed to these ears for several listenings. I don’t think Zeppelin put on a bad performance in 1969. They built their reputation on the road, not in the media - most critics panned their first LP.

There were some PA problems at this show, but Zep still performed magnificently. The interaction between Page and Plant is as good as ever. And the highlight is John Bonham’s drumming. His style during this show is especially versatile and “jazzy.”

Oh Boy Records from Luxembourg have issued this performance twice. Once as Don’t Mess With Texas and a second time as “Texas International Pop Festival.” The Whoopie Cat version is the orignal Japanese issue of the show. It is the rarest of the three releases. All three have excellent sound quality.
(Bill Glahn, August 1993, issue #6)
Click here to download Led Zeppelin in Dallas 1969.

Next up in The Z Files: Live! Music Review goes to Japan.

Note: Bill Glahn wrote, edited and published Live! Music Review, a magazine devoted to bootleg recordings when bootlegs were not so common. And they are still not so common today. Live! Music Review is also on Facebook (click here) and on Twitter (LMRonTwit). Do drop by to say hello and, as Bill says, all comments welcome.

  1. 6 Responses to “THE Z FILES: PART 2”

  2. Awesome picks Bill, love ‘em all, particularly the Dallas ‘75 one, and Zurich is definately my favorite of all the 1980 soundboards!

    By todd on Oct 14, 2010

  3. There was always something magical about getting your hands on a vinyl boot,but now with the abundance of mp3’s,cd-r’s,and todays digital versions,the joy has somewhat been lost.Maybe it was the fact that they were illegal,maybe the ink stamped or hand drawn sleeves,the blank labels or just that you never knew how good or bad it sounded until you dropped it onto the turntable,whatever it was they were something special. Still thank you for the chance to hear these.much appreciated.

    By aybsee on Oct 14, 2010

  4. I can appreciate your comments “aybsee”, but I found too many vinyl boots were of terrible sound quality…..when the mp3’s and cdr’s came along many great recordings that weren’t widely circulated all of a sudden starting popping up everywhere, and for that reason I love them actually. That and the internet really opened up a wider range of boots as well….and then with great sites like BigO, it’s much easier to grab and read-up on all these gems!

    By todd on Oct 14, 2010

  5. I agree with both “abysee” & “todd”. “todd” is correct in that the abundance of & excellent sound quailty of the newer mp3’s & cd-r’s cannot be ignored. Many, many more shows are available now that we never had access to before. However, I totally agree with “aybsee”…the old bootlegs were awesome back then for all the reasons he listed. I loved getting home just to see how awful or how great they were, & I’ve brought home both! One of my favorite/best ones is Jethro Tull’s “My God”.That’s it…white cover with the name stamped on front & on the lp. Fantastic! No idea where from but it’s great. Any chance of finding that BigO?

    By Starrwatts on Oct 15, 2010

  6. My eyes were opened by Genesis concerts from the Peter gabriel era……I had a book many many years ago that listed this incredible selection of early Genesis shows…..I used to read it over and over thinking I’d never get to hear these amazing shows.

    Now I have almost every show I ever read about, just blows me away! And then Zeppelin made my ears explode with the incredible marathon performances and extended jams!

    By todd on Oct 16, 2010

  7. I have a lot of Live Music Review back issues if anyone is interested.

    By sluggo on Oct 16, 2010

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