Top 10 CDs

2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

Top ten releases of 2006

Takemi Hiramatsu's Top Ten 2006
2006 turned out to be another fruitful year for Led Zeppelin collectors.  The following is my top 10 list:

1. Any release from Genuine Masters.  From “Pb” to “Knebworth Celebration, " GM again constantly released excellent DVD-A titles until it was unexpectedly compelled to cease its activities in the middle of the year.  In my assessment, so long as GM is given an opportunity to work on a tape, the quality of audio of the DVD-A title produced by the label from the tape has never been surpassed by anyone else in its range, depth and dynamism.  Hence, I could not help but again list all of their titles on top of all other releases!  I especially love their latest release "Knebworth Celebration " which stands as the best-ever sounding version of the now revaluated first Knebworth show.  I truly hope that in 2007 GM will return to the scene, as they have recently announced. 

2.  Live At Whisky A Go-Go!!! (Empress Valley, 1DVD-A), LA 5 January 1969.  Clearly, this is the title of the highest historical value of the year.  Full marks should go to EV for having located and released a title featuring the tape which captured the band of its earliest days in such a good sound quality, 37 years after the show took place!      

3. Snow Jobs (Empress Valley, 4CDs), Vancouver 19 March 1975.  An amazing find by EV of another full-length soundboard recording from the band's '75 U.S. tour, which sounds almost as good as the label’s epoch-making prior release “Flying Circus”. The recording in this title is especially valuable and enjoyable, as it captured one of the shows rendered by the band when it reached its peak in that tour. 

4. The Complete British Broadcasting Corporation Radio Sessions (Empress Valley, 4CDs), BBC Sessions 1969 to 1971.  Another excellent release from EV that covered all of the BBC sessions in a most complete-ever manner and in excellent sound qualities with nice packaging, which almost blew away the official “BBS Sessions” release.  

5. New Orleans May 14th 1973 (Winston Remasters, 4CDs), New Orleans 14 May 1973.   This is a nice title featuring both the newly surfaced marvelously sounding audience tape and an upgraded version of the soundboard recording of the good show in the band's ’73 US tour. This title from WR is superior to its Japanese counterpart, EV’s “Bourbon Street Renegades,” in terms of the cleanness of the sounds. 
  
6. Blow-Jobs (Tarantura, 7CDs), Seattle, 17 & 21 March 1975.  A nice box set from Tarantura featuring the audience recordings from both of the two famous excellent shows in Seattle in the band's ’75 US tour, in the best-ever sound qualities, with an accent of a sensational photo which reveals the meaning of the title!

7. Jimmy’s Birthday Party (Empress Valley, 4CDs), London 9 January 1970.  A title with a “vintage” flavor that features the soundboard from the famous Jimmy's birthday show, in a manner more complete than the official DVD release, with nice packaging artworks.

8. Three Days After (Empress Valley, 4CDs), LA 3 June 1973.  Despite the notorious tape problems in the first half of the show, this is a beauty. The title allegedly made from the master audience tape sounds very clean and quite enjoyable for repeated listening of arguably THE very best show from the band’s ’73 US tour.

9. Mike The Mike (Winston Remasters, 3CDs), LA 27 June 1977.  A title featuring a remastered version of the famous Mike Millard tape from the last day of the legendary LA 6 days.  It now stands as the best-ever sounding version of the show, even better than EV’s “Deep Striker” or Watch Tower’s “Coherence”.

10. Melancholy Danish Pageboys Get It On (Empress Valley, 2DVD-As) & Copenhagen Warm-Ups (Empress Valley, 2DVD-As), Copenhagen 23 & 24 July 1979.  Nice twin DVD-A sets from EV to enjoy the band’s famous warm-up gigs in Copenhagen in excellent sound qualities, excelling EV’s own preceding CD releases. 

On a further note, although I was unable to list it among my Top10 list for 2005 because I had not had a chance to listen to it by the time I submitted the list, Tarantura’s “Live On Blueberry Hill” box set is a wonderful production which should have been entered into the list.

Finally, another massive thank you to our webmaster, Jules McTrainspotter [and his assistant Jamie Boswell], for maintaining this invaluable and informative website for us throughout 2006!

Chris Hager’s Top-10 Titles from 2006:

10.  Blow Jobs – Tarantura’s much improved version of Empress Valley’s The Dinosaur in Motion, which is also presented in a beautiful box with apropos images that undoubtedly influenced this title, and probably much of the debauchery that occurred during this 1975 tour!  Another first-rate job by the great Tarantura.

9. Good Bad or Indifferent – Zeppelin’s raucous show in Newcastle-On-Tyne on November 11, 1971 NEVER sounded as good as the audio used on this excellent Tarantura release.  The howling closer of “Communication Breakdown” is found on this title, which was absent from prior releases of this show.

8. New Orleans, 1973 – Winston Remasters’ version of the spectacular audience recording outpaces what Empress Valley released of this recording, showing, once again, that the devotion of a fan can produce the benchmark for a recording.

7.  Going to California – Zep’s September 13 and 14 shows have long been legendary, and Tarantura’s presentation of the two shows together in this title was (and is) an extremely pleasant surprise.  Pretty tough to top any show from September, 1971, and this release by Tarantura, from start to finish, shows you why.

6.  Lili Marleen – Tarantura’s release of the fantastic March 10-11, 1970 concerts in Germany is blessed by substantial upgrades in sound over prior releases of these shows, accompanied by tasteful and classy packaging Tarantura-style.

5.  Live at Whisky A Go-Go!!! – an incredibly surprising release at the end of 2006, this concert provides valuable insights into the meteoric rise of this band’s confidence and stage show, which was less impressive at Gonzaga the week before, and not nearly as impressive as the shows Zep would put on in Boston just a matter of weeks later.  This is that rare show where Plant and Bonham actually detract from the listening experience.  A must have, but not necessarily because of the performance.

4.  Jimmy’s Birthday Party – another wonderful production by Empress Valley, who seem to know how to turn it on in the packaging department when they want.  This title debuts the “Hearbreaker”, but for some peculiar reason, does not include the full introduction and performance of “How Many More Times” despite Empress Valley’s release of that complete recording in its prior Lost Mixes EP, Volume 7!  Go figure.

3.  The Complete British Broadcasting Corporation Radio Sessions – a beautiful and thoughtful presentation by Empress Valley of the BBC studio recordings.  A far cry from the butchered selections released on the official “BBC Sessions,” this title is all one needs to fully enjoy these classic recordings.

2.  Flying Circus DVD-A – Empress Valley’s foray into the DVD-A media was initiated by their production of this show in a definite audio upgrade (although hard to believe) over the stereo soundboard recording.

1.  Snow Jobs – by a wide margin for me, this was the pinnacle release of 2006.  A superb 1975 concert presented through a superb recording.  Full marks to Empress Valley on all fronts.

Adrian Jones' Top 10 releases of 2006

1. Snow Jobs - Empress Valley (6 CD Set)
Pristine soundboard every bit as good as that of Flying Circus and a highlight performance of the mammoth set of the brilliant 75 tour. For me it's the winner by a good distance. Absolutely essential listening.

2. Live At Whisky A Go Go!!! - Empress Valley (1 CD + DVD-A)
This last minute release at the end of the year is an excellent audience recording of great historical importance. The performance is not as impressive as later 69 shows but you can hear the band growing throughout the performance, showing the promise of what was to come later. Essential.

3. The Complete British Broadcasting Corporation Sessions - Empress Valley (4 CD Box)
Empress Valley present a beautiful box set that blows the official release away altogether. Excellent quality sound and presentation.

4.Summer Of Love - Beelzebub (2 CD Set)
Two great shows, nice packaging and great sound. A nice upgrade

5. Three Days After - Empress Valley (6 CD Set)
Despite the tape problems a fantastic show, presented here in the best quality so far. The only gripe is the packaging, which is very unimaginative.

6. Swingin On The Gallows Pole  - Beelzebub (2 CD Set)
A nice sounding upgrade of a cracking show. Great versions of Four Sticks and Gallows Pole make this essential listening.

7. Zep Triumphant vol 2 - Beelzebub (3 CD Set)
A fantastic show with much improved sound thanks to Beelzebub's tweaking (which is not always good!). It's better that the version I had previously and No Quarter shines brightly on this release.

8. Melancholy Danish Pageboys Get It On / Copenhagen Warm-ups - Empress Valley - 2 DVD-A
A very nice upgrade, better than their own previous CD release.

9. Black Beauty - Wendy (1 CD)
A great show and this is a nice upgrade from Wendy

10. Refreshing Mistakes - Beelzebub
For its notoriety and for an interesting upgrade :-), The packaging for this one is awful in my opinion. The jury is out......

Gianfranco Pucci's Top Ten 2006

1 . Blow-Jobs -Tarantura (7 CD) 

2 . Live At Whisky A Go Go!!! - Empress Valley (1 CD + DVD-A)

3 . Snow Jobs - Empress Valley (6 CD Set)

4 . Good Bad or Indifferent - Tarantura (2 CD)

5 . Lili Marleen - Tarantura (4 CD)

6 . Jimmy’s Birthday Party - Empress Valley (4 CD Set)

7 . The Complete British Broadcasting Corporation Radio Sessions - Empress Valley (4 CD Set)

8 . Going to California - Tarantura (4 CD)

9 . Texas International POP Festival - Empress Valley (1 CD + DVD-A)

10.  Black Beauty - Wendy (1 CD)

Smoking Pig's Top Ten for 2006

10. Good Bad or Indifferent (Tarantura 2cds) 11/11/71
      What else can be said. An awesome release with all currently available tape including the new Communication Breakdown encore in the best sound quality 

9.  No Quarter (Tarantura 3cds) 5/18/75
      Three source mix and presents more time that ever before in this awesome sounding release

8.  Blow Jobs (Tarantura 7cds) 3/17/75 & 3/21/75
      Both Seattle shows in typcal Tarantura fashion with awesome packaging and sound 

7.  Genuine Masters 2006
      Like my Japanese friend above mentioned first, every title made by Genuine Masters in 2006 is in my collection.  For that matter every release ever made by Genuine Masters is in my collection and hopefully they will be back at some point in 2007.  Cheers BD.    

6.  The Complete British Broadcasting Corporation Radio Sessions (Empress Valley 4cds) '69-'71
      Nice box set of the sessions the way they should be presented and heard.

5.  Burn That Candle (Tarantura 5cds) 6/25/72
      Very cool box set with the best ever sound quality for the audience tape.  Bonus disc includes The Wolfman Jack interview of Robert Plant the next night and unfortunately presents the Southampton '73 soundcheck as the infamous Elvis' Golden Discs Volume One rehearsal/soundcheck before the LA gigs.  Also includes Weekend from 6/14/72.

4.  Lili Marleen (Tarantura 4cds) 3/10/70 & 3/11/70
      Nice quad gatefold release with the best sound quality of these dates(on silver disc)

3.  Royal Albert Hall (Presence Productions or Winston Remasters)
      The Kevin Shirely multi-track pre dvd release with unbeleivable sound kudos to Prez for breaking this to the public.

2.  Snow Jobs (Empress valley 5cds) 3/19/75
      Keep bringing out the soundboards.  This awesome release was number one but I am partial to '69 shows especially never before heard early ones (see below).

1.  Live At the Whiskey A Go Go!!! (Empress Valley 1 DVD-A + 2cds) 1/5/69
      UNBELIEVABLE find!!!  This is the one you dream about, the 7th show of the first American tour in great sound, untainted and pure, rough and raw, love that Tele sound. As Long As I Have You and the Hendrix-esque For Your Love are enough to make a grown man cry.

It must be mentioned that there are people out there, FANS, who bring us equally unbeliveable releases from hard found tapes that are shared freely on the web and many times used for the silver cds sets without credit.  A giant Eye Thank Ewe to Presence, Winston, Jameskg, dadgad, and all the others.

Graeme Hutchinson’s Top 10

2006 was a pretty good year for Zep live releases. Not quite as many new discoveries as I’d have hoped for but nevertheless some new stuff, a few upgrades and lots and lots of re-releases/rehashes! We can only hope for more exciting stuff in 2007 with an alleged official release re-master of TSRTS plus rumours of the soundboard from Southampton 1973, digital master quality DVD releases of the 24th and 25th Earls Court shows ( they have to be out there somewhereJ) and another 1977 show on video DVD.  Anyway, here are my picks from 2006, in no particular order. Rock On!!!

Top 10 2006 CDs

  1. Good Bad and Indifferent, 11 Nov 1971 Newcastle, 2 CD, Tarantura – the most complete version of this stellar show from Newcastle 1971 that includes a storming Communication Breakdown. Hailing from the North East of England myself, I have a soft spot for City Hall shows but be assured this is a terrific 1971 performance and in very good audience sound quality.
  1. Complete BBC Radio Sessions, 4 CD, EVSD – a brilliant collection of all the BBC Radio material in one superb package. Stunning sound quality and overall is even more desirable than the official BBC Sessions release. Only negative point is that EVSD released this with 2 different artwork options. Absolutely no need for this and makes it twice as expensive for obsessive collectors like me!!
  1. Jimmy’s Birthday Party, RAH 9 Jan 1970, 4 CD, EVSD – this is bit of a botch but nevertheless makes my top ten. This is supposed to be sourced from the “working tapes” of the multi-track mix down by Kevin Shirley for the official DVD…..and I can believe it. Importantly it includes a few minutes of Heartbreaker which had been missing to this point. The first 2 discs try to pull together the show as fully as possible using other sources to fill gaps in the multi track source but somehow it doesn’t quite work. Discs 3 and 4 are simply the (edited?) multi track and whilst not as complete it represents the most enjoyable version of this concert in my opinion with stunning sound of what is undeniably a blinding concert! As a footnote, Winston Remaster put out his own version of a “most complete” version incorporating the Shirley multi-tracks and this is something you simply have to get. It is better than discs 1 and 2 from EVSD, plus you can get it for FREE via download sites or by CDR trading.
  1. Whisky A Go Go!!! 5 Jan 1969, 1 DVDA and 1 CD, EVSD – Any new show is like manna from heaven to serious Zep heads. This is a very good 1969 performance in truly excellent sound quality. I think it is complete but you never know with newly discovered shows. Anyway, a very welcome and worthwhile addition to live early Zep and available at a reasonable price.
  1. Snow Jobs, 19 March 1975, 5 CD, EVSD – a new 1975 soundboard is always welcome (by me at least) and this was no disappointment. Boasting sound quality close to Flying Circus this is no dry soundboard. The sound is rich and full and the performance itself is very solid from the lads. With this limited edition version, EVSD also includes a nice mix of the 2 audience source on 2 CDs. Packaging is also very good from EVSD!
  1. Blueberry Hill, 4 Sept 1970, 9CD box set, Tarantura – better than the EVSD big box set attempt with less mixing-up of sources and again with stunning packaging.
  1. Blow Jobs 17 and 21 March 1975, 7 CD box set, Tarantura – I love Tarantura releases. Even when the actual sound quality offered isn’t any better that what I already have; the packaging just makes me want to buy them. Not a purist view I know, but I just love collecting Zep artefacts. With this in mind this 7 CD box set was already in my top 10 before I’d put a disc in my player J (only joking). Seriously, this super box set offers an upgrade over the Dinosaur In Motion EVSD release. The 17th is noticeably better whilst the 21st is marginal.
  1. Lili Marleen 10 and 11 March 1970 Hamburg, 4 CD, Tarantura – another strong release from Tarantura. Better sound quality than other releases and seems to be lower generation sources. Packaging is first rate as usual.
  1. Jupiter and Saturn, 17th July 1977, Seattle, 3 CD, Tarantura – now I know this show has been released to death with numerous audio CD and video DVD releases. However, I was mightily impressed with this latest version from Tarantura. To my ears the sound is significantly improved over every other soundboard release I’ve heard (including the EVSD 4 CD release from a few years back). Some people have suggested that it has richer, fuller and more dynamic sound simply because Tarantura have reprocessed an existing source however I am sceptical about this. If it was that easy then lots of other soundboards would be improved to this fantastic standard. My own hypothesis is that this is a true soundboard source whereas everything else purporting to be a soundboard is from the video source. Just my guess, but in my opinion the sound on this version of Seattle 77 is the best, bar none.
  1. Burn That Candle, 14 and 25 June 72 plus Southampton 73 rehearsal, 5CD box set, Tarantura – to be honest I haven’t even played this yet BUT I am blown away by the packaging. However, bloody Tarantura have release this in numerous colour versions which is naughty as it will cost me an absolute fortune to get the whole set (if I ever do). Anyway, sorry to put this in my top ten before any proper audio analysis, but you’ll know what I mean when you see this in the flesh.

Top 2006 DVDs

  • Assemblage, 2 DVD, Cosmic Energy – a brilliant collection of recently surfaced Zep video clips that didn’t make the original Cosmic Energy Zep releases. The quality is fantastic with some truly amazing clips. The discs are also pressed, unlike the original Cosmic Energy releases which were DVDRs. A must have releases!
  • Knebworth Celebration, 4 Aug 1979, 2 DVDR, Genuine Masters – pretty much everything Genuine Masters releases is fabulous, however I am giving this a special mention as it is the definitive version of this historic show (in my humble opinion) by matching up the recently surfaced video in superb quality with a very punchy and powerful sound. For all you oldies that were there in 1979 I strongly recommend you get this!!!

John Morrisson's top ten Zep boots for 2006

1. Live at Whisky A Go-Go (Empress Valley).  New early 69 show.  Excellent sound.  It just does not get any better than this.

2. Soul Brothers (Tarantura).  Trentham Gardens, January 15th 1973.  Numerous previous releases.  Was this just going to be another rehash of what had gone before?  No chance.  However they managed it, this boot sounds better than all previous releases.  Deserves description definitive.  The packaging is beautiful.  A great boot.

3. Lili Marleen (Tarantura).  Musikhalle, Hamburg.  Two dates, 10th and 11th March 1970.  Impressive number of boots available from this early in Zeps touring career.  The sound, relatively, is excellent.  This boot represented a significant improvement in sound quality over boots I already had.  Excellent effort.

4. Led Zeps Triumph - Zug (Beelzebub Records).  Zeppelin's 1973 European Tour, Offenburg 24th March.  A good boot by Beelzebub.  Touch and go whether it is an improvement over Not Warm, It's Hot.  It is 1973.  I cannot resist putting it on my list.

5. Drums N Bass Show (Beelzebub Records).  Houston, Texas 1977.  Soundboard recording.  First released by Empress Valley.  You would have thought that Empress Valley, with first crack at the whip would have produced the definitive version in terms of sound quality.  Not so.  This effort by Beelzebub sounds significantly better than the Empress Valley release.  Now if this audio could be matched up to a video.  Come on Mr Hoarder open your fault.

6. Snow Jobs (Empress Valley).  Excellent sounding soundboard.  Part of Empress Valley's ongoing "soundboard revolution".  Show from the peak of Zeps playing in the 75 tour.  Next best thing to being there.

7. Knebworth Celebration (Genuine Masters).  First night at Knebworth.  This boot is definitive, in terms of sound quality, for this date.  The Knebworth shows are not my favourite listen however with sound quality as good as this I find myself going back to it.  Testament to the quality of the boot.  It has been said before, but worth repeating, it is hoped that GM restart the production line.  No one does it better in terms of sound quality.

8. Live at Royal Albert Hall: Jimmy's Birthday Party (Empress Valley).  Notwithstanding the official release, this is still a great boot.  Wonderful concert.  Great sound.

9. Live On Blueberry Hill (Empress Valley).  One of my all time favourite concerts.  Given the deluxe treatment by Empress Valley.  Good effort.

10. Complete BBC Radio Sessions (Empress Valley).  I know boots should not be judged solely by reference to packaging however I thought Empress Valley's effort on this boot was wonderful.  Full marks. Thankfully EV did not spoil the show with dodgy sound quality.  Definitive boot for the purposes of it's subject matter.

Phil Bushe’s Top Ten 2006

My top ten is delivered by year order and in no particular preference.  There were some great releases by labels and enterprising fans which makes collecting Led Zeppelin so enjoyable, most of which aren’t listed here.  It’s also interesting to note that the pricings for Empress Valley releases advertised by some sites seem to be getting cheaper by the month whilst quite a few Tarantura titles appear to have doubled from the available shop price!  I also hope that Genuine Masters, the innovators of the DVD/DVDR-Audio in bootleg format we are now enjoying so much, make a much welcome return in 2007. 
1.   Live at The Whiskey A Go Go - Empress Valley Supreme Disc (1CD & 1DVD-A).  Brilliant release of the 2nd earliest live Led Zeppelin performance on January 5th 1969.  Sounds like a pro Aud recording.  Fab set list but is it missing White Summer?  This historic release was presented at a budget price and in a jewel case!  If any title cried out for extravagant packaging that this label is capable of, this was it.   A missed opportunity and anyone who has an original will understand me when I say I had to almost chisel the CD and DVD out of the plastic!
2.   Royal Albert Hall – Winston Remasters (2CDR).  Fantastic show and massive sound presented in a lovely 4CD package by Empress Valley Supreme Disc.  This should have been a stellar release of the January 9th 70 performance but this was another wasted opportunity and completely overshadowed by the very best and most definitive later version produced by Winston Remasters on 2CDR, and available for free.  Hats off to Winston for doing it right!
3.    Lili Marleen – Tarantura (4CD).  Classic and top quality beautiful Tarantura quad-fold packaging presenting fantastic upgrades and lowest generation versions of the Hamburg concerts from March 10th and 11th 70.  These performances were great but are even better with this latest release.
4.   Good Bad Or Indifferent – Tarantura (2CD).  The most complete version so far of this great show from November 11th, 71 in Newcastle using all available Aud tape sources.  Surprisingly, the artwork did not meet my expectations although the sound quality did.  Powerful performance from the band.  This would be truly outstanding if the taper could find his cassette with the WLL recording!
5.   Burn That Candle – Tarantura (5CD).  Late 2006 release with a few flubs but presented in a stunning package that has to be seen and in 6 colour variants.  For the purists who want the lot – it’s going to cost you.  This show from June 25th 72 delivers.  As far I’m concerned it beats HTWWW by a mile.
6.   Soul Brothers – Tarantura (2CD).  Beautiful gatefold package and sound quality that has to be seen and heard from the January 15th 73 performance which I was lucky enough to witness.  Wow factor quality. 
7.   Bonzo’s Birthday Party - Genuine Masters (6CDR & 2DVDR-Audio).  Irrespective of the arguments as to what constitutes a real DVD-Audio, no Top 10 could leave off at least one GM release.  I love their versions of Bonzo’s Birthday Party from May 31st 73 and Knebworth August 4th 79.  I’ve picked this one as the performance is outstanding.  Superb quality along with the vast majority of their catalogue.
8.   No Quarter - Tarantura (3CD).  Huge upgrade in sound quality from a single source tape on this Earls Court 2nd night show from May 18th 75 and presented in very nice triple fold-out packaging.  Quality sound source and art!
9.   Snow Jobs – Empress Valley Supreme Disc (5CD).  I hate most ‘75 to ‘80 releases.  However, this has to be the best sounding and performance of all the Sbd revolution, imho, to date.  Huge quality production from the March 19th 75 show in Vancouver and presented in a very nice package that simply blew me away.  Now if all 75 Sbd’s were as good as this I might change my opinion.  
10.   Blow Jobs – Tarantura (7CD).  Another extravagant Historic Box package from Tarantura 2000 with controversial imagery and mistaking the upgraded sources as Mike Millard masters.  However, the 7CDs present the very best Aud versions yet of the March 17th, in particular, & March 21st shows from 75 and is a better production than the Dinosaurs In Motion.

Gerard Sparaco's Top Ten Releases of 2006

1.   Live at The Whisky A Go Go !!!- Empress Valley.  It is almost a given this release is the best for 2006.  The playing is what can be expected from a band who are both getting to know one another and fighting the flu. We are blessed to have such a great sounding tape from the band so early in their career. 

2.   Snow Jobs - Empress Valley.  This is the only entry into the "soundboard revolution" in 2006 but a significant one.  The audience recording is listenable but incomplete, but this has the complete performance in stellar quality and is one of the heaviest sounding Zeppelin tapes. 

3.    Lili Marleen – Tarantura.  I really enjoyed this release by Tarantura.  The label focused upon finding the lowest generation possible of well known tapes and this is an excellent production all around.  Both of the concerts are great and the packaging is very clever. 

4.   Blow Jobs – Tarantura.  Another comprehensive box set, all of the tapes used in this release sound noticably better than previous releases. 

5.   Fort Worth Express – Empress Valley.  I used to have the Midas Touch version of this tape but both Tarantura and Empress Valley released their versions of this soundboard fragment.  The EV sounds "dirtier" but in the end is more effective, displaying the power of this performance.

6.   Soul Brothers – Tarantura.  Tarantura did a tremendous job in mastering the soundboard tape to make it sound close to perfect.   
 
7.   Montreal Gazette - Wendy.  A very good to excellent compliation of the tape sources to present as complete as show as possible.  This release revealed some rarities and general enthusastic playing at the start of the eighth North American tour.  

8.   Roll Over Beethoven - Empress Valley.   The sound quality of this tape was much improved on EV's version and makes it a very enjoyable listen.  Very impressive, and the best version of this underrated show.

9.   Bourbon Street Renegades - Empress Valley.   Good comprehensive collection of the soundboard tape released with the Freezer audience recording.  The audience tape captures the "aura" of Zeppelin in 1973 and is one of the best recordings from that tour.

10.   Three Days After - Empress Valley.  Very impressive work on these damaged tapes, and the label gives you two options to enjoy this show.  Hopefully another source will someday surface, but this is a definitive release for now.

Top

Top ten releases of 2005

2005 was another bumper year for both CD and DVD releases, with some very exciting and important material seeing the light of day for the first time. Here are some thoughts and observations from collectors.

Jules McTrainspotter's 2005 Top Ten CD/DVD Releases:

There were some superb CD and DVD releases during the course of 2005, and some brand new shows appeared out of the woodwork. Whilst these are only a drop in the ocean compared to the tremendous number of Led Zeppelin concerts being hoarded by "fans" (sic), we have to be grateful for these pearls thrown before us swine.

1. Live On Blueberry Hill (Tarantura 9 CD box set). This amazing and beautiful release came out right at the end of the year, making 2005 end with a bang rather than a whimper. Apart from the beautiful packaging, the sound on this release is as good as I have ever heard for the classic concert at the LA Forum on 4 September 1970, drawing all available sources together for the first time.

2. Heavy Metal Kids (Empress Valley 3 DVD). You can never have enough of a good thing (earls Court), and Empress Valley did a tremendous job on this release (apart from the silly title). A near excellent picture quality and virtually complete 24th May Earls Court video (with a first ever airing of Moby Dick), and an a great quality first hour from the 25th May. This is a very important release.

3. Wreckage In Boston (Tarantura 5 CD). Another lovely package from the masters of packaging, but the sound quality is the ultimate test, and we have the three Boston shows from 1970, 1971 and 1973 in best ever quality.

4. The Dragon Snake (Empress Valley 3 CD). Empress Valley pulled off yet another incredible surprise with a complete and near perfect, and totally unreleased, soundboard from Houston on 21 May 1977. This release was rumoured to be sourced from a pro shot video, which is allegedly going to be released at some stage. The sound was not manipulated by Empress Valley, and full marks must go to them for not only tracking down this gem, but also putting it out without overzealous EQ. It was left to others to remaster this release, Beelzebub Records as The Drum 'n' Bass Show and a dedicated (and generous) fan [4 Eyed Freak Remaster] who also remastered and made available to everyone via the wonders of the Internet, also as The Dragon Snake. The latter has the edge, and is a really tremendous release, even better as it is practically free.

5. Secrets Revealed (Watch Tower 2 DVD). The first time release of the complete first Knebworth concert, in excellent picture and sound. This is another historic release, and full marks must go to Watch Tower for getting this out to fans.

6. Peter's PA (Small Fish 4 CDR). The appearance out of nowhere in early August 2005 of this 1971 concert from Montreux was one of the big surprises of the Summer. Folklore had it that it was recorded from outside the venue, but in fact it was recorded inside. Two versions were available, the original, and a remastered version. Numerous commercial labels put this show out, and the best of the bunch was Tarantura's two CD release of the same name.

7. Led Zeppelin Is My Brother (Empress Valley 2 CD). The opening night in Tokyo of the short Japan 1972 has been released many times, but Empress Valley did a great job in both sound and packaging on this one.

8. Live At Tear-Gassed Place (Tarantura 2 CD). A hidden gem, this never received much publicity or praise, but is a really good audience recording from Baltimore 1970, easily the best quality for this concert.

9. Danke! Vienna (Winston Remasters 2 CDR). The Winston Remasters stable is a thoroughbred one, and consistently puts out shows in the best sound and most complete versions available. There is no exception here, with one of my all time favourite shows, from Vienna on 16 March 1973. Using the numerous audience sources and the soundboard section available, this is a great addition to the Live Repertoire, from possibly Led Zeppelin's greatest ever tour (Europe 1973).

10. The Diploma (Tarantura). Another lovely packaging job, and the sound is better than has appeared before, making this the best version from Leicester on the 25th November 1971..

Scott Shallcross's 2005 Top Ten

2005 was another excellent year for collectors of Zeppelin bootlegs. We were treated to a newly surfaced videotape of the first Knebworth show, a new recording/soundboard from Houston in 1977, and an audio source of Montreux 1971 for the very first time, among other exciting finds. 2005 saw the re-emergence of Tarantura as a superior boot label, the inconsistency of the Empress Valley label, and the continued superior sound quality and enhancments provided by Genuine Masters. I am limiting the selection of my top ten list of 2005 to silver pressed CD's and DVD's only (with the exception of Genuine Masters). I realize that there have been some very worthy CD-R releases and bit torrents/downloads that were quite exceptional. However, I will leave it to others to sort them out as I typically only collect silver pressed boots.

1. Secrets Revealed (Watchtower 2 DVD) Knebworth Festival 8/4/79 The most important release of the year. Watchtower brings us new video in excellent quality of the first Knebworth show. The video is synched with the superb soundboard audio. Any new video of the band that surfaces at this point has to be considered a Zeppelin holy grail of sorts. This show has been underrated and much maligned by the critics through the years. However, that could change given video proof of a much better performance by the band than previously thought.
2. Peter's PA (Tarantura 2 CD) Montreux, Switzerland 8/7/71 A previously uncirculated show that was generously made available via the internet by a few fans. It is a slightly distant but clear recording. Tarantura trumps Empress Valley's release of this show (entitled Casino Royale) as EV went a bit heavy handed on the EQ making the sound a bit harsh. As a newly surfaced show this one is very important, catching Zep in their prime.
3. The Dragon Snake (Empress Valley 3 CD) Houston, Texas 5/21/77 A new soundboard from 1977 has to be near the top of the list of best releases of the year. Like Peter's PA, this show has never been in circulation until surfacing on the Empress Valley label. The quality of the band's performance is inconsistent and the sound is a bit thin and unbalanced. However, it is a previously unavailable show and a rare soundboard from 1977. I have heard that Beelzebub Records have done an excellent job remastering this show on CD-R. It may be worth seeking out the Beezlebub version.
4. Live on Blueberry Hill (Tarantura 9 CD Box Set) LA Forum 9/4/70 This beautiful box set reminds me of such legendary Tarantura releases as "The Campaign" and "Get Back to LA". The artwork and packaging are first rate. Tarantura includes several mono and stereo audience sources from this legendary show in the box set. A newly surfaced audience stereo source is included as well. This new source sounds quite good and may be considered the definitive version of the show. The box set is expensive but worth it if you can afford it.
5. BBC Zep (Genuine Masters 1 DVD-A) London 4/1/71 Yes, these BBC sessions have been released in very good quality many times. So what makes this release special? Well, you will need to give it a listen to find out. The sound is crytsal clear and powerful. This release places you right there at the Paris Theatre so many years ago. Genuine Masters have given us the best sounding release of the year with this one.
6. Heavy Metal Kids (Empress Valley 3 DVD) Earl's Court Arena, London 5/24 & 5/25/75 Video for the last two Earl's Court shows has been circulating for quite some time. However, EV has released newly discovered video of Moby Dick from 5/24. The video for the 5/25 show is the best available. This release makes the top ten based on the new and ugraded video.
7. Going to California (TMOQ-Tarantura 4 CD) Berkeley, California 9/13 and 9/14/71 Tarantura released these shows under the TMOQ label with the old replica vinyl covers on the front and back (remember those days?). Both concerts are presented here together as one release for the first time. These shows are legendary as the band was hitting their prime just before they headed over to the land of the rising sun. Tarantura has given us the best sounding release of both concerts.
8. Sweet Dreams Chicago (Empress Valley 3 CD Soundboard) Chicago, Illinois 7/6/73 I was pleasantly surprised by the upgraded sound and more complete soundboard of this concert. It is the definitive version of this show. Not one of Zeppelin's best performances but much more enjoyable sound than was previously available.
9. Matrix Leded (Tarantura 2 CD) Vienna, Austria 3/16/73 This concert has been a fan favorite for many years. Tarantura combined the best audience sources with all of the known soundboard tape for this concert. The edits are seamless and the sound is excellent. (note: sourced from the Winston Remaster series).
10. Soul Brothers (Tarantura 2 CD) 1/15/73 The sound on this release is much clearer and better sounding than the previous versions of this show. Well worth picking this one up. (note: sourced from the Winston Remaster series).

Honorable Mentions: All of the following releases could have made it into my top ten list for 2005. But, I had to leave some of them out to cut the list down to ten. I want to mention them here as highly recommended titles to consider picking up if you do not already own them. Tarantura releases: The Diploma, Woody Woodpecker Show, Wreckage in Boston and Live at Tear Gassed Place. Empress Valley: Led Zeppelin is My Brother, There's So Much More Sound to Hear, The Lost Mixes Vol 7, Battle of Baton Rouge, Alabama Getaway, and Listen to the Difference. Genuine Masters: All releases. Watchtower: Coherence. Wendy: Sweet Home Chicago.

This list has been sent in by 'Crikke':

First off all, thanks again for maintaining your invaluable site. We all know where we stand without it. So here's my humble contribution with my favourite releases, in no particular order, of the past year :

-Woody Woodrocker Show - 07/21/69 - Tarantura2000

-Wreckage in Boston - 09/09/70 * 09/06/71 * 07/20/73 - Tarantura2000

-Going to California - 09/13/71 * 09/14/71 - TMOQ/Tarantura2000

-The Diploma - 11/25/71 -Tarantura2000

-Burn like a Candle DVD-A - 06/25/72 - Genuine Masters

-Led Zeppelin is my Brother - 10/02/72 - Empress Valley

-Soul Brothers - 01/15/73 - Tarantura2000
-tie-
The Matrix Leded - 03/16/73 - Tarantura2000

-Heavy Metal Kids 3 DVD - 05/24-25/75 - Empress Valley

-Great Chicago Fire - 04/06-07-09-10/77 - Empress Valley
-tie-
The Dragon Snake - 05/21/77 - Empress Valley

-Secrets Revealed 2 DVD - 08/04/79 - Watchtower

Thanks again and keep up the good work!
Crikke

2005 Top Ten From Phil Bushe

I agree with above comments that this has been a superior year for the Tarantura 2000 label and special thanks indeed go to those sites that ensured collectors were deprived of these facts and never got to hear about the majority of them!! You would have thought the only labels producing were EVSD, Wendy and Badgeholders.

1. Wreckage in Boston - 09 Sep 70, 06 Sep 71, 20 Jul 73 (Boston Garden) - 5CD Special Collector's Box, Tarantura 2000.
For me the best release of the year and kills off any other version's of individual shows released over the internet by a mile, being not only longer but the best quality too. This is topped off by fabulous artwork on the 2nd Edition in particular which depict World War 1 photographs sourced from old cigarette cards. 3 single slipcases housed inside a lavish box. This contains a must have 9 Sep 70 show.
2. Woody Woodrocker Show - 21 Jul 69 (Central Park) - 1CD Tarantura 2000.
Clearly the best and longest version so far. Incredible sound with the Zep on top form and topped by a fantastic fold out card slipcase. If you haven't got a copy, you are missing a great sounding version.
3. The Diploma - 25 Nov 71 (Leicester University) - 3CD Tarantura 2000.
Sourced from the master cassettes, this is the best version so far and contrary to what a particular Japanese web site would have you believe. I suppose 4 Editions to my knowledge would be testament to how popular a release this has been.
4. BBC Zep - 01 Apr 71 (London) - 1DVDR Audio/2CDR Genuine Masters.
The real deal and most complete form and best version to date, imho, of an incredible show.
5. Secrets Revealed - 04 Aug 79 (Knebworth) - 2 DVD Watchtower.
This has to be a wow factor release!! Marvellous to see the band hit the spot after years of being starved on the 11 Aug 79 release. How much better would this be if it was the complete filmed performance from the Copenhagen warm-up's last night?
6. Live on Blueberry Hill (35th Anniversary Edition) - 04 Sep 70 (LA Forum) 9CD Tarantura 2000.
Produced in a magnificent box these have to be the best and most definitive versions of the best sources available including the wonderful new stereo source, even though it has a slight cut in it !! If you love this show you'll really enjoy this release. Killer performance.
7. Going to California (1971, 2 Daze) - 13 & 14 Sep 71 (Berkley) - 4CD Tarantura 2000 under the Trade Mark Of Quality label and covers.
Easily the best versions to date and nicely presented in a 4CD jumbo jewel case or 4CD single slipcase version. More killer 1971 performances in superior sound quality.
8. Peter's PA ~ Making A Bootleg Tonight - 07 Aug 71 (Montreaux) - 2CD Black Dog Records.
As stated above this was an uncirculated show that was picked from the internet. Awesome show in average sound and top marks to whoever uploaded it with a cut "Since I've Been Loving You" and grateful thanks to whomever uploaded the most complete version at a later date.
Available in lovely colour or black and white gatefold releases.
9. Heavy Metal Kids - 24 & 25 may 75 (Earls Court) - 3DVD Empress Valley Supreme Disc.
Top marks to EVSD for the best quality and most complete footage of Earls Court so far released. I am not a huge fan of Earls Court but, it does become more enjoyable if there is superior quality footage to go with the sound. This is excellent.
10. Soul Brothers - 15 Jan 73 (Trentham Gardens) - 2CD Tarantura 2000.
Without doubt the best ever release than all previous versions. This is in my top ten because I was there and if it were any more complete would be simply awesome. Presented in the most luxury thick gatefold card release. Superb!!

Honourable Mentions: These are all worthy of being above but there just isn't the space:
Live at Tear Gassed Place - Baltimore 70 Tarantura 2000 (Best ever version).
The Lost Monitor Mixes Vol 7 - Empress Valley Supreme Disc (Is never off my CD player).
The Matrix Leded - Vienna 73 Tarantura 2000.
#911117 Belfast & Dublin 71 Tarantura 2000.
Orlando, You Really Got Me - Orlando 71 Genuine Masters (Best ever and a killer version).
The Drum & Bass Show - Houston 77 - Beezlebub Records (as it's better and more complete than Empress Valley's).

The following list received from Chris Hager:

As in previous years, I personally thank you for maintaining this most valuable website for those dedicated to this (throat clear) hobby of collecting underground Led Zeppelin titles.  Here are my top-10 favorites from 2005:
 
1.  Thanks for Eleven Years - a Bluecongo/Winston Remasters DVD production, this beauty uses Watchtower's excellent (and otherwise top ranking release in its own right) Secrets Revealed DVD with the Winston Remasters audio matrix of the August 4, 1979 Knebworth concert.  The audio, mixing an excellent audience recording with the prevailing soundboard recording of this show, is perfectly synched with the visuals.  An upgrade to Secrets Revealed in that respect and, as a result, my favorite release from last year.
 
2.  Boston Wreckage - Tarantura's emergence over the past year as not only the most active underground recording label, but also the label clearly putting the most care and thought into their releases, was highlighted for me with this title.  Tarantura's packaging is unparalleled, pure and simple.  For this title, a sturdy case adorned as described by Mr. Bushe opens to reveal 3 separate sleeves similarly decorated with black-and-white imagery (including the shot from which Zep II's cover was modeled).  The first of these sleeves contains the September 9, 1970 Boston show which, to me, was a startling surprise not only in terms of recording quality and clarity, but also sheer brute force in the performance.  The remaining sleeves contain a single disc from September 7, 1971, and then 2 discs from July 20, 1973.  The discs themselves, of course, are beautiful and this title has received, and will continue to receive, regular spins on my CD players.
 
3.  The Lost Mixes EP Volume 7 - Empress Valley's release of these mixes from the Coda studio sessions and DVD project was a great one in 2005.  Not only did it contain the entire How Many More Times from January 9, 1970, as compared to the edited version found on the finalized DVD, but also the pristine soundboard recording of Long Tall Sally from that show, which was excluded from the DVD.  It's titles like this that give me hope that, someday, we'll also be treated to the remaining songs performed that night.
 
4.  The Diploma - Tarantura's release of this 6-CD title, described as being drawn from the master cassettes, shed an entirely new light on Zep's November 25, 1971 performance for me.  My copy of Empress Valley's Best for Hard and Heavy does not contain the depth and distinction of instruments found on this Tarantura release, with Mr. Bonham thankfully being a bit more discernable now as a result.  As always, the packaging and presentation of this show by Tarantura threw in the proverbial kitchen sink.
 
5.  Led Zeppelin Is My Brother - I am a big fan of Zep's 1972 Japan tour for a few reasons.  One is that they were playing new material from Houses of the Holy that wasn't available the prior year when they barnstormed Japan.  Another is because I believe Zep had entered into a different phase of their existence as the acoustic sets from prior years were replaced by an exclusively electric show.  The final reason is that I believe the 1972 tour is better represented by the circulated audience recordings than is 1971.  While 9/23 and 9/29/71 are legend in not only performance but recording quality, 10/2, 10/4, and 10/9/72, for example, stand out in both respects.  Empress Valley's presentation of the 10/2 show is the best I have heard of this show, claiming to be from the master reels as suggested by the pictures adorning the rear of the beautiful case containing the discs.  A first class effort by Empress Valley of this release, which also included a replica ticket and interesting liner notes by Aquarius 11.  The cover picture on this title is one I'd never seen before, and is an excellent complement.
 
6.  Mr. Soundman - Straight from the laboratory of Winston Remasters came this dramatic, and important, soundboard recording of the May 19, 1973 show in Fort Worth, Texas.  The prior release of this performance, Tympani for the Butterqueen, was flat and uninspiring, with Bonzo's drums sounding more like damp cardboard surfaces than the gorgeous, lively vistallites he manipulated show after show during the 1973 tours.  Luckily, Winston was able to do this recording justice, with the result being an absorbing listening experience of a more than inspiring show finally heard in a dynamic recording.
 
7.  Peter's PA - whether the internet downloaded version, as improved over the initial release, this August, 1971 show was a very welcomed surprise.  Robert's vocal prowess dominates the recording, but all others are well represented for sure.  Tarantura's classy presentation of this show in its Peter's PA title outclasses Empress Valley's Casino Royale title, which seems a bit duller.
 
8.  Live on Blueberry Hill - Released the day after Christmas, 2005, this 9-CD extravaganza from Tarantura sets the standard not only in terms of packaging, but also in providing an exhaustive presentation of a show's many different recordings.  Zep's September 23, 1971 show comes to mind as another example of a show recorded by multiple parties.  Tarantura's Blueberry box is lavish, thoughtful, and thorough.  It honors the Rubber Dubber release, replicating the "artwork" from that early release, and includes the very recently released version of this landmark show.  With this release, there is nothing more to be said - or obtained - of this show.  Unless, of course, a soundboard recording emerges....
 
9.  Live at Tear-Gassed Place - Continuing with the spate of excellent 1970 shows, Tarantura's release of this performance on April 5, 1970 is fantastic.  Presented in a textured case, this recording captures another fantastic Zep performance on April 5, 1970, during their onslaught of America around the Spring of 1970.  It must have been such a thrill to see them this time of year, in 1970, and Tarantura's release of this show helps me to pretend in that fleeting way.
 

10.  World Class Drummer! -  Recorded 2 days after the April 5th show in 1970 is this performance from Raleigh, North Carolina.  Excellent, yet simple packaging from Empress Valley on this release nicely complements the discs it contains.  The show is, for sure, a great one, with Thank You being a particular standout containing an extended and unique instrumental section where Pagey pushes things a bit.  Bonzo's use of the bell to his ride cymbal in Since I've Been Loving You also stands out to me in this recording, which, again, is a plum of this great concert.

John Morrison My Top 10 for 2005

It was a good year for Zep boots.  In years to come it may well be regarded a vintage year.  A new source was produced from 7th August 1971, Montreux Casino, new sources became available commercially for the first year from concerts in Boston, Empress Valley produced yet another soundboard out of the hat, Houston Texas 21st May 1977 and perhaps most significantly a DVD with great visuals and sound quality, the first night at Knebworth.  Add to that labels improving expertise at remastering sources, fans had a terrific menu of titles from which to collect.  Genuine Masters achieve a consistency of wonderful sound quality not matched by any other label.  My choice of top boot for the year will come as no surprise.  

1 - "BBC Zep", DVD-Audio, Genuine Masters   I was not terribly impressed with the sound quality of any of the official live releases (DVD excepted).  BBC sessions was a disappointment in that, to my ear it lacked life.  I managed to get a hold of BBC sessions on 180g vinyl.  This certainly sounded a bit better than the CD release but still was not terribly impressive.  Having said that when I ordered the GM title I did not believe they would be able to really improve upon the official release.  I was wrong.  Jimmy Page should phone up Black Dog for some tips on how to present a live title.  

2 - "The Diploma", 6 CD set, Tarantura   The title I almost missed.  I had Empress Valley/Best For Hard 'n' Heavy.  The EV title was very good.  I did not think that Tarantura would be able to improve upon the sound quality. An improvement on the Empress Valley release.  Early Zeppelin in full flow.  Terrific.  

3 - "Listen to the Difference", 1 CD, Empress Valley   Audience recording.  Crystal clear.  Sounds absolutely stunning.  Massive upgrade in what was previously available.  Great performance.  Great effort Empress Valley.  

4 - "The Drum 'n' Bass Show", 3 CD, Beelzebub Records/"The Dragon Snake", 3 CD, Empress Valley   Kudos to Empress Valley for sourcing a new soundboard.  Sound quality, at best, average.  Beelzebub Records to the rescue.  Their title sounds as though it could have come from a completely different source.  It sounds wonderful.  I was instantly reintroduced to the '77 tour.  Beelzebub's title is on the CD changer in my car.  I play it everyday.  Look forward to hearing GM's treatment of this source.  

5 - "Wreckage in Boston", 5 CD, Tarantura/"Boston Cream Pie", 2 CD, Empress Valley/"Wild and Relatively Mellow", 2 CD, Badgeholders/"Thank You and Goodnight, Led Zeppelin are Gone", 2 CD, Beelzebub Records   The Tarantura release, as ever, was beautifully packaged.  Three shows were represented in this title.  I refer, for the purposes of this review to the show from 1973.  This source became commercially available for the first time.  Various labels issued a title.  There was little to choose between the various titles in terms of sound quality.  Beelzebub have an argument that their title may have been more complete/authentic.  Each listener would have their own opinion.  The important point being that putting the difficulties at the concert to the side, the band put in a lively performance.  It represented an excellent addition to the catalogue.  

6 - "Casino Royal", 2 CD, Empress Valley/"Peter's PA", 2 CD, Tarantura/"Outside The In Door", 2 CD, Beelzebub   When the title was first released there was a great story about the circumstances surrounding the recording.  Peter Grant putting loudspeakers outside the concert hall etc.  Latterly this was disputed.  The circumstances do not really matter.  More or less complete sound source for the concert.  Sounds great.  Terrific addition.  It never ceases to amaze that sources continue to surface after so many years.  Long may it continue.  

7 - "Led Zeppelin Is My Brother", 2 CD, Empress Valley   When this title was released I posted a review on UU.  Great packaging.  I really enjoyed the picture of the band on the front cover.  The source was a massive improvement over the titles that I had of this concert.  A joy to listen to.  

8 - "Secrets Revealed", 2 DVD, Watchtower   Available for the first time.  Great sound.  Great visuals.  The visuals allow a whole new interpretation of the CD sources previously available.  The reviews of the concert at the time would have you believe that this was a poor concert.  This establishes beyond argument that they were still more than able to cut it live.  Top marks to Watchtower for sourcing this title.  One would expect this to receive the GM treatment in due course.  

9 - "Mystery Train", 3 CD, Badgeholders/"San Diego Mystery Train", 3 CD, Wendy   Proof, if ever it were needed, that a good mastering job makes all the difference to a title's sound quality.  Wendy's title, without overstating matters, sounds turgid.  Badgeholders, using the same source, a Mike Millard tape, produced a title that sounds, to my ear fantastic.  There have been various comments about the fact that the band were not at their best on this date.  However, to my mind, they put in a good performance.  Sound wise Ten Years Gone is one of the best.  

10 - "Hannover Version 2004", 2 CD, Tarantura   Simple but very effective packaging.  Sound quality, from a soundboard, is excellent.  What sets this title apart is that the sound quality has life to it.  Prior to receiving this title performances from the '80 tour did not get much air play.  Since acquiring this title it gets played regularly and I revisit other titles from this tour.  Surely the test of a terrific title.  

Honourable mentions: Everything else by Genuine Masters.
A day or so before the end of the year I received the Tarantura blockbuster Led Zeppelin Live on Blueberry Hill.  I have not included it in my Top 10 as before the end of the year I had not listened to all the sources.  This title, in every aspect is a trainspotter's delight.  Outstanding packaging.  The sound quality is just wonderful.

Takemi Hiramatsu's Top Ten 2005

2005 turned out to be another enjoyable year for Led Zeppelin collectors, like us.  However, in preparing this top ten list, I felt it was difficult to properly weigh the value in the quality of the sound of some titles and the historical value of others. The following list represents the conclusion I have reached as a result of such difficult and agonizing task:
 
1. Any release from Genuine Masters.  From "Texas Pop" through "BBC Zep", GM constantly released excellent DVD titles with the best-ever sounds, which are in all cases destined to be THE definitive versions of the tapes featured on them. The contributions made by GM to our circle and the relevant market were invaluable and irreplaceable.  Hence, I could not help but list all of their titles on top of all other releases!  Personally, I especially love "Final Court" which should be regarded as one of the best sounding and most beautiful releases ever by the label.  
 
2.  Secrets Revealed (Watch Tower, 2DVDs), Knebworth 4 August 1979.  Clearly, this is the title of the highest historical value of the year.  Full marks should go to WT for releasing it which enabled us to finally straighten our evaluation of the unduly underrated show, 26 years after it took place!      
 
3. Heavy Metal Kids (Empress Valley, 2DVDs), Earls' Court 24 & 25 May 1975.  This title is one of the most enjoyable releases of the year, thanks to the (probably artificially) upgraded quality of the video of the show on the 24th in full length and, though partial, the video of the show on the 25th.  I truly hope that the rumored release of the full length (and possibly further upgraded) videos of both shows will come out soon from somewhere.  
 
4. The Dragon Snake (Empress Valley, 3CDs),  Houston 21 May 1977.  Amazing find of a newly surfaced complete soundboard recording of the band's show from its '77 U.S. tour, as to which there even was no audience recording previously available.  While I admit Beelzebub Record's subsequent release "The Drum n Bass Show!" has better balanced beautiful sound, I personally prefer EV's rough version by which we can more vividly enjoy the brutal and amazing playing of Bonzo and Johnsey.  
 
5. Peter's PA (Small Fish, 2CDs), Montreux, 7 August 1971.  A very welcomed new find of a good sounding audience tape of an amazing show in the band's most glorious days. Especially, it's our sheer joy to listen to Robert's singing in a unwearied high tone voice.    
 
6. Going To California (TMOQ-Tarantura, 4CDs), Berkeley 13 & 14 September 1971.  A nice set featuring both of the two excellent shows at Berkeley in the band's most glorious days, in upgraded sound qualities and with a cute packaging.
 
7. The Battle of Baton Rouge (Empress Valley, 3CDs), Baton Rouge 28 February 1975.  A good title which finally made me a fan of this show because of its excellent sound, after the same tape from the show had been released numerous times in the past in mediocre sound qualities.  Excellent mastering job by EV.
 
8. Mystery Train (Badgeholders, 3CDs), San Diego 19 June 1977.  The first release which made the miracle Mike Millard's tape of the show duly shine as it should have done.  Although it was clearly not a day for Bonzo, it's rather interesting to hear how Bonzo managed to survive the whole show under the bad health conditions.  All the other band members were in fine form. Remember that it is the show immediately preceding the historical "Eddie" show!  
 
9. Led Zeppelin Is My Brother (Empress Valley, 2CDs), Tokyo 2 October 1972.  A title featuring the upgraded version of the famous excellent audience tape from the infamous show which eventually turned out to be the turning point of the band's live history.  It now stands as the best-ever sounding version of the show.
 
10. The Lost Mixes EP Vol. 7 (Empress Valley 1CD), London 9 January 1970.  A title which features several songs from the famous Jimmy's birthday show in the sound of official quality.  Notably, it includes "Long Tall Sally" which was left out of the official DVD.  Especially, Bonzo's drum solo is quite impressive when we hear it on this title.
 
In addition, Empress Valley's "St. Louis Blues" should be on the list if it should be counted as a release in 2005 rather than 2004. Finally, a massive thank you to our webmaster, Jules McTrainspotter, for maintaining this invaluable website for us!

Chris from Argentina, this is my top ten:

The Diploma Tarantura

Peter's PA Black Dog

The Dragon Snake Empress Valley

Live on Blueberry Hill Tarantura

Live at Tear Gassed Place Tarantura

Wreckage in Boston Tarantura

Woody Woodrocker Tarantura

Going to California TMOQ

911117 The Triumph for Mother Tarantura

Led Zeppelin is my Brother Empress Valley

DVDs:

Secrets Revealed (Watchtower 2 DVD)

Heavy Metal Kids (Empress Valley 3 DVD)

All Genuine Master DVDs

Honorable Mentions: Soul Brothers Tarantura, The Matrix Leded Tarantura, Sweet Dreams EV,There's So Much More Sound to Hear EV.

Graeme Hutchinson's Top Ten for 2005:

Top 5 DVDs of 2005:
 
Thanks For Eleven Year, Bluecongo/Winston and Secrets Revealed, Watchtower
2. Heavy Metal Kids, Empress Valley
3. Knebworth 79 25th Anniversary Edition, Genuine Bastard label (one disc dual layer)
4. Page Plant Utamaro, Empress Valley
5. Supersonic Seattle, Genuine Masters label
 
Top 10 CDs of 2005
 
1. The Dragon Snake, Empress Valley
2. Wreckage In Boston, Tarantura
3. Peter's PA - Internet download/Black Dog
4. St Louis Blues, Empress Valley
5. BBC Zep, Genuine Masters
6. Live On Blueberry Hill box set, Tarantura
7. Led Zeppelin Is My Borther, Empress Valley
8. Listen To The Difference, Empress Valley
9. The Battle Of Baton Rouge, Empress Valley
10. The Diploma, Tarantura
 
Top 2 books
 
1. The Concert File (updated), Pallet and Lewis
2. Led Zeppelin 1968-80, Shadwick

Top

Top ten CD releases of 2004

2004 saw some new and exciting concerts appear for the first time. We reproduce below the choices of Underground Uprising readers for their favourite titles. The Underground Uprising Webmaster starts the ball rolling with his choices (in chronological concert date order).

Jules McTrainspotter's 2004 Top Ten (in chronological order)

1. The Devil's Blues (Genuine Masters, 1 DVDR-A), San Francisco 27 April 1969. A new concept of presenting audio was pioneered in 2004, on the sonically superior (and greater capacity) DVDR format, combining it with either still or moving images. Of the numerous releases the combined soundboard and audience recordings of the classic last night in San Francisco on 27 April 1969 has been chosen. The concert itself was superb, and the sound on this release is simply breathtaking, it could very well be an official release.

2. Fatally Wanderer 929 (Wendy Records 3 CDs), Osaka 29 September 1971. Another classic concert, which has been released more times than I have had hot dinners. However this release from Wendy, whilst still not 100% complete, sounds excellent, and they may well have tracked down the master tapes for the main source (the so called 'soundboard' source), as it sounds superior on this title to all previous versions.

3. Rock Explosion '72 (Tarantura 4 CDs), Osaka 4 & 9 October 1972. Reportedly from new master sources, the sound quality for both these very underrated concerts are excellent stereo audience recordings. Very nice packaging too, combine to make this a very sought after title.

4. It's Been Very Nice (Winston Remasters 3 CDRs), Essen 22 March 1973. A new, albeit incomplete, audience recording surfaced in 2004, and, when combined with the original audience recording plus the superb soundboard fragment, we have got the complete concert at last. Put together with great care by a fan, for the fans, this is a very encouraging and rapidly growing in popularity. It makes concerts available to every fan, rather than the lucky few who can track down (and afford) the limited and expensive Eastern releases.

5. Chasing The Dragon (Empress Valley 6 CDs), Dallas 5 & 6 March 1975. The cat got amongst the pigeons when Empress Valley released this beautifully packaged 6 CD release, not only did we have the complete soundboard recording for the first Dallas concert, but the dates were revised from what we had always thought they had been. An important release.

6. California Graffiti (Masterport 3 CDs), Long Beach 11 March 1975. Another show that has been flogged to death, largely because it was blessed with a stunning audience recording from the legendary Mike Millard. Masterport have presented the recording in the very best quality.

7. Conspiracy Theory (Empress Valley 3 CDs), San Diego 14 March 1975. When this title was announced, everyone thought that it was a mistake, as it had been assumed that Led Zeppelin never played a second concert in San Diego. It looks like we were all wrong, as this incomplete soundboard recording was released by Empress Valley to prove it. The encore are very sadly missing from this release, a great shame.

8. The Return Of Destroyer (Live Remains 3 CDs), Cleveland 28 April 1977. Another great concert that has been released numerous times. However in 2004 a very generous fan made available a second generation source of this excellent audience recording, to be freely downloaded on the Internet. Live Remains have used this new source, and have by and large done an excellent job with EQ (but have fiddled about with a couple of inappropriate cuts/pastes/edits), so this sounds very poweful and sharp.

9. Delirium Treatment (Tarantura 3 CDs), Los Angeles 25 June 1977. Probably the best overall performance by the group of the six legendary nights in June 1977 at the LA Forum, the sound on this release (another Mike Millard recording) is superb stereo, and a joy to listen to.

10. Return Of The Dinosaurs (Genuine Masters 2 DVDR), Knebworth 11 August 1979. There were three excellent releases in 2004 in greatly upgraded picture and sound quality of the complete official video from the second Knebworth Festival. This release, on 2 DVDRs, from Genuine Masters, is as good as it gets, although the release on a pressed 'silver' single DVD Knebworth Festival 8.11.79 Twenty-Fifth Anniverary Edition has a superb menu and special effects. The Genuine Masters release pips it on sound quality.

Chris Hager's 2004 Top Ten

It's been a wonderful year in 2004 for us Zep collectors, and here's my submission of what I consider to be the top 10 CD and/or DVD releases:
 
10:  Reel Masters' Dusseldorf 1970, which received minimal comment on the net, but turned out to be an excellent presentation of this hot German show in early 1970.
 
9:  Rock Carnival, although another release of Zep's 9/23/71 show in Tokyo, this audience recording brought more ambiance and depth to my ears than the prior releases of this show by labels such as LSD, Empress Valley, and Wendy.  Too bad it's incomplete.... 

8:  California Graffiti is (in my opinion) the finest presentation of Zep's excellent show in Long Beach on March 11, 1975.  This is an example of another one of those recordings that can support an argument that a concert may be best experienced through a superb audience recording than a sterile soundboard.
 
7:  One More for the Road, which delightfully took us all by surprise (and has since been remastered into a 2005 Edition), still makes it into my regular playing rotation.  The simple fact that Zeppelin played this show "in the evening" after storming through an excellent show earlier that afternoon is only part of what makes this show so special.  One of the best Zep performances ever, no doubt. 

6:  The Effect is Shattering, Empress Valley's great presentation of 7/28/73, opens with the nice touch of an advertisement for Houses of the Holy taken from that era.
 
5:  Any Winston Remaster, whether it be Essen, Inglewood on 6/21/77, or Vienna, 1973, these are all excellent versions of giant shows carefully put together by a dedicated and generous fan.
 
4:  Fatally Wanderer, Wendy Records set itself apart from other labels with this release of the historic Osaka show on September 29, 1971.  At the moment, this stands as the defining presentation (excluding packaging) of this fantastic show.
 
3:  Conspiracy Theory, Empress Valley's release of the then-controversial San Diego date in 1975, is a pristine soundboard recording of a strong (but not excellent) show.  An important release for many reasons, and hats off to Empress Valley for providing so many special items to the Zep community. 

2: Knebworth, August 11, 1979 DVD, with no label (maybe Wendy?) offers the nicest visuals I've ever seen of this unheralded concert (accompanied by wonderful audio, too).  Please note that I don't yet have Genuine Masters' "Dinosaurs in the Park," which may equal or even supercede this no label release.  Either way, a very nice and special release for the Zep community in 2004.
 
1:  Lost Sessions, Volume 4, released by Empress Valley, contains the coolest drum tracks I've ever heard by Bonzo from the Polar Studio sessions.  A real gem, and, by far, my favorite release of 2004. 
 
Many thanks, again, for maintaining your invaluable UU!

Crikke's 2004 Top Ten

in view of performance, packaging and sound quality)

01. THE DINOSAUR IN MOTION (EV)
02. AVOCADO CLUB (EV)
03. HAVE YOU EVER EXPERIENCED? (TARANTURA)
04. NEW YORK IN THE WIND (EV)
05. KIWI EXPRESS (GENUINE MASTERS)
06. THE EFFECT IS SHATTERING (EV)
07. ROCK EXPLOSION (TARANTURA)
08. THE SUPREME DESTROYERS (EV)
09. SWINGING IN SAN BERNARDINO (EV)
10. SCORPIO RISING (AKASHIC)

A special thank you must go out to Mr. Jules McTrainspotter for his endless effort with his Underground Uprising website!

Michael Möller's 2004 Top Four

1. Conspiracy Theory - Empress Valley
2. St. Louis Blues - Empress Valley
3. The Dinosaur In Motion - Empress Valley
4. California Graffiti - Masterport

Thank you once again for a brilliant site.

Gary Bell's 2004 Top Ten

# 1 THE DEVIL'S BLUES Genuine Masters DVD-A

Got this baby before the year finished and what a way to end it. The BlackDog has given us the ultimate for this oft-booted source. I.m not one for artwork but the cover art just grabs you then the sound and visual for this takes you to the stratosphere! This one has the whole deal guys. Nothing sounded so sweeter to the ears. This one has my vote for title of the decade and it ain.t finished yet!

# 2 LIVE ON BLUEBERRY HILL Genuine Masters DVD-A

Another famous show booted a 1000 times over. This time the title is a throw back to the old masters of the vinyl boot TMoQ and the man with the magic drawing pen William Stout. This source is a major upgrade to anything else out there. A nice touch by the BlackDog with the visuals.

# 3 WATCH AND LISTEN TO THIS EDDIE Genuine Masters DVD-A

Just when you think you have this in best every quality on the Empress Valley Xmas set along comes BlackDog with this F'ing amazing upgrade. Comparing this to EVs now is like comparing a bottle of whisky to water. Turn off the visual and just listen to this!

# 4 HEARTBREAKERS BACK IN TOWN Genuine Masters DVD-A

Okay, Empress Valley got this source first but this title by GM is again leaps ahead. Flawless sound and f'ing awesome stereo sound. It rocks!

# 5 FOR BADGEHOLDERS ONLY Genuine Masters DVD-A

Getting to sound like a broken record here but again the Dog pulled another rabbit out the hat with this baby. Craps all over anything before it.

# 6 THE ROVERS RETURN Genuine Masters DVD-A

1972 was Zep's best touring period and this gold nugget from down under is as good as it gets in sound and performance. Almost complete tape with a killer sound and smokin. Page. Just listen to Pag.s attack on Communication Breakdown!!

# 7 FATALLY WANDERER Wendy Records

Another oft-booted source and now best ever quality brought to us by the oddly named Wendy Label. Sounds like one of those laid back sets that caught the band in a great mood.

# 8 RETURN OF THE DINOSAURS Genuine Masters & AUSTIN CITY LIMITS Genuine Masters.

Both titles from the GM get the nod here for equal # 8. Both are the best ever I've seen and heard for both shows. Unless we get access to the masters this is probably the best we'll ever get them in.

# 9 SWINGING IN SAN BERNARDINO Empress Valley. Another highlight from the 1972 period and a good clean honest sound form this title gets my vote here.

# 10 MY BRAIN HURTS Tarantura Tarantura sneaks in with this gold nugget of the last Jap tour. Sound is sensational and best by a mile. Could be the master and therefore not to be improved.

My TOP 10 titles have nothing to do with artwork or rarity. It's the quality of the music and the completeness that get my vote. My music is to be played. 2004 should be titled as the Year of the Dog with what GM has released. Let's hope they can continue in 2005. Gary Zinno.

Dwayne Jenkins' 2004 Top Ten

1: THE DEVILS BLUES - GENUINE MASTERS
Its all here in this GM title. I second what McTrainspotter says on this one.
2: WATCH AND LISTEN TO THIS EDDIE - GENUINE MASTERS
Nothin' comes close to this sound.
3: HEARTBREAKERS BACK IN TOWN - GENUINE MASTERS
Awesome 1975 soundboard perfection. A killer!
4: DELIRIUM TREATMENT - TARANTURA
The best of all that came before this title..
5: FATALLY WANDERER 929 - WENDY
1971's standout concert. Nice one Wendy!
6: LIVE ON BLUEBERRY HILL - GENUINE MASTERS
A gold gem that is to be heard to be believed.
7: CALIFORNIA GRAFFITI - MASTERPORT
Done to death but presented here in best ever sound. A delight.
8: RETURN OF THE DINOSAURS - GENUINE MASTERS
Cannot fault the sound or the clear video. 1st gen?
9: FOR BADGEHOLDERS ONLY - GENUINE MASTERS
This is the real deal. Perfect from start to finish. Best ever No Quarter in best ever quality.
10. SWINGING IN SAN BERNARDINO - EMPRESS VALLEY
One of the top 5 tapes from the 1972 tour before the excesses of 1973.
This is my Top 10 and the mantle for top producer for 2004 is, hands down, Genuine Masters. Dwayne Jenkins.

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Top Ten CD releases for 2003

2003 was yet another tremendous year for Live CD releases, with a number of new shows coming out for the first time. Also some classic shows were released in their ultimate sound and completeness. To start the ball rolling here is the Underground Uprising's Webmaster's selection:-

1. Bringing The House Down (Empress Valley). Landover, MD, 26 May 1977. This virtually complete soundboard recording in near perfect sound quality is a great addition to the documentation of the US 1977 Tour.
2. Plant's Influenza (Empress Valley). Preston, 30 January 1973. A really nice recording of a very good concert, and this is a completely new release to CD.
3. For Badgeholders Only (Tarantura 2000). Los Angeles, 23 June 1977. At last the superb sounding vinyl source has been used for the majority of this release, neatly filled with another audience recording. A new classic. Later reissued as The Brothers In Pinball, which is a work of art in itself.
4. Deep Throat (Empress Valley). Los Angeles 24, 25 & 27 March 1977. Great sounding recordings, in a stunning package, Empress Valley excelled themselves with this work of art.
5. Chasing The Dragon (Empress Valley). Dallas 5 & 6 April 1975. A far more complete soundboard recording for the first night, and an excellent audience recording for the second night, in another lovely package.
6. In The Windy City II (Empress Valley). Chicago 7 July 1973. A near complete and newly surfaced excellent audience recording, whilst Plant's voice is poor, the three other band members more than make up for that.
7. Please Please Me (Wendy Records). Osaka 28 September 1971. Little known new label releases an excellent all round production in sound (at the correct speed at last) and superb packaging, that puts more expensive titles to shame.
8. Listen To This, Eddie (Empress Valley. Los Angeles 21 June 1977. Released on Christmas Eve 2003, this latest incarnation of the famous "Eddie" show is in breathtaking stereo audience sound, Mike Millard's finest work.
9. A Hard Rock Night (Wendy Records). Tokyo 24 September 1971. Part of a set of all five Japan 1971 concerts, this has excellent sound and really superb packaging, from a very underestimated label who know the best reviews to copy in their sleeve notes!
10. The Nebula (Tarantura 2000). Phoenix 18 April 1970. Whilst incomplete, this release not only sounds excellent, but has the looks to match. Another superb production from the masters of packaging, Tarantura 2000.

Finally, a thousand 'eye thank yews' to Mr. James Patrick Page, for having the tenacity and vision to see through the magnificent official Led Zeppelin DVD and 3CD How The West was Won projects, against many obstacles and problems, both technical and human. These releases are a great tribute to the greatest rock and roll band that ever was, or ever will be, LED ZEPPELIN! Happy 60th birthday on 9 January 2004 to Jimmy! (Jules McTrainspotter, 2 January 2004).

Dave Panunti's Top Ten for 2003

Here are my top CDs of the year..........IN ORDER FROM BEST ON DOWN.....
Empress Valley HAVE JUST  DESTROYED THE REST OF THE LABELS THIS YEAR... HOPEFULLY THEY HAVE MORE UP THEIR SLEEVES NEXT YEAR.....

Top 10 releases:-
1. Florida Sunshine -Orlando Magic   (EV) the earlier the zep the better....
2. Chasing The Dragon 6 CD SET (EV)
3. Bringing The House Down (EV)
4. Deep Throat  (EV)
5. Sweet Brummy Roll (EV)
6. Crashing Revelry (EV)  tie In The Windy City II (EV)
7. Welcome To The 1979 Knebworth Festival 4th Of August (WT)
8. Jamming With Simon Kirke!  (EV)
9. Welcome To The 1979 Knebworth Festival 11th Of August  (WT)
10. Triumphant UK Return  (EV) tie Blighty- Tarantura (TARA 2000)

AND THE DVD OF THE YEAR GOES TO JIMMY PAGE... FOR FINALLY RELEASING THIS AMAZING SET,.,,,,,,,,,, The official 2 DVD set.

A modest choice from theUbben-Comhaire family

1. Earl's Court Arena 2405 Evoluzione (Empress Valley)
2. Florida Sunshine (Empress Valley)
3. Sgt Page's Badgeholders Club (Tara 2000)

Chris Hager's 2003 Top Ten

10. Phoenix 1970 (Electric Magic) - a very nice upgrade to an excellent show.

9.  For Badgeholders Only (Tarantura 2000) - Tarantura 2000's best effort to date, in my opinion.

8.  Bringing the House Down - a surprising release by Empress Valley, close to the date of release of HTWWW and DVD, that captures another excellent Zep performance on soundboard where the only prior releases have been mediocre (or poor) audience recordings.

7.  Another Night On Blueberry Hill - another release of this most excellent concert, demonstrating why Robert Plant has set the standard for all rock vocalists.

6.  The Wet Head Is Dead Empress Valley did a superb job assembling this great outdoor concert, although the title's a bit hoaky.

5.  Florida Sunshine/Orlando Magic another fantastic Empress Valley soundboard/audience release of a powerful recording in what had to be a very hot environment (for many reasons).

4.  Crashing Revelry  whether or not this is the "definitive" generation of this recording, the concert's superb and the release is another gem from Empress Valley.

3.  In the Windy City II although similar to Crashing Revelry in terms of being a welcomed new release, this show is a better sounding audience recording notwithstanding Robert's difficulties.

2.  Chasing the Dragon Empress Valley's dominance of the Zep bootleg market was capped by this release, whether the 6 or 3 CD version is considered.

1.  Deep Throat quite possibly Empress Valley's nicest production to date (Demand Unprecedented In The History Of Rock Music notwithstanding), the 3 nights at the LA Forum in 1975 are presented in the best possible versions with an impressive bonus DVD, Empress Valley's very first effort in that media.

Thanks for all of your efforts, all year and every year, to keep me and all others informed about underground Zep. You're invaluable!

Chris Hager

Top Ten 2003 from David Hirko

  1. Led Zeppelin DVD/How The West Was Won (got to give credit for this long, overdue, official release. If Billboard made them #1 for a time, so will I !)
  2. Bringing Down the House (where did this come from!!! 77 is lacking for SBD's !)
  3. Deep Throat (everyone has always wanted the best versions of these shows together, like EC in 2002 – great all-encompassing, quality release)
  4. Chasing the Dragon (great sounding ending to an existing 75 SBD)
  5. Welcome to the Knebworth Festival 11 th of August (even though this was technically released in late 2002, I got it in early 2003. I've always had a crummy impression of the performance on the 11 th because of previous SBD and AUD recordings, but this release put an entirely new, positive spin on the 8/11/79 show – as did the DVD footage later in 2003)
  6. Crashing Revelry (I have copy from the master source versus the actual release, but as a concert, its great to keep having new shows surface so many years later – plus, the US '72 tour, especially the final run of shows, are great and had been under-represented compared to other tours)
  7. In the Windy City II (great to have another brand new show surface. Performance was solid for the early part of the 2nd leg of the 73 tour, but I'll vote for anyone who releases new shows. I like the story about how the taper for this show was “discovered” on the bike-path in Dallas )
  8. Sweet Brummy Roll (Too bad about the Brighton show not being fully recorded – especially after someone teased us all these years that Christmas tunes were played as encores for this show)
  9. “Meltin' the Forum” Tree – great new source for one of the more underrated LA Forum performances
  10. 6/21/80 Alt. Audience Source – surfaced in 2003 – even though it has yet to be released by a major label, I'm very appreciative of this new recording as it also brings out a great performance compared to previously released mediocre SBD and AUD recordings.

Some 2003 releases that I have yet to listen to because of bad marketing…

  1. Florida Sunshine – Releasing audience and soundboard, or either or, confused me! Heard this one is good, though.
  2. Sgt Page's Badgeholders Club – I hear it might be the best quality release for 6/23/77 yet, but the multi-release manner in which Tara2000 released these shows really made me leery.

Top 2003 CDs by Yage

1. Deep Throat  (Empress Valley)
2. Florida Sunshine (Empress Valley)
3. Bringing The House Down (Empress Valley)
4. The Wet Head Is Dead (Empress Valley)
5. Listen To This, Eddie (Wendy)

Phil Bushe's Top Ten CDs 2003

Here is my Top 10 for 2003, which has been made solely on performance and packaging, not necessarily sound quality.  Although it appears that most of the best sounding quality releases were again on the Empress Valley Supreme Disc label, it was encouraging to see some new labels flex their bootleg muscles, although not very successfully.  It was also good to see a late resurgence in the Tarantura 2000/Akashic stable.  My biggest disappointment has been the unimaginative artwork or Artleg to accompany some of the 2003 releases.  Apart from the Deep Throat  and Chasing The Dragon Box Sets from Empress Valley with an occassional foray into card-board gatefold covers, everything else has been fairly lack-lustre to say the least.  The only lable to consistently provide collectors with amazing packaging for their hard earned dollar is Tarantura 2000.  Whether you like or dislike the use of multiple artwork formats for shows, Tarantura has, if nothing else, successfully marketed each release for those hard core collectors willing to pay.  Their releases are still virtually sold out on pre-order with a few exceptions. 
1. Sgt Pages Badgeholders Club Band/For Badgeholders Only/The Brothers In Pinball (The Definitive Edition ) (LA 23 Jun 77) ~ Tarantura 2000. 
2. Florida Sunshine - Orlando Magic (Florida 31 Aug 71) ~ Empress Valley Supreme Disc. 
3. Crashing Revelry (Tucson 72) ~ Empress Valley Supreme Disc.
4. In The Windy City II (Chicago 73) ~ Empress Valley Supreme Disc.
5 . Sweet Brummy Roll (Birmingham 16 Dec 72 & Brighton 20 Dec 72) ~ Empress Valley Supreme Disc.
6. The Wet Head Is Dead Downunder 1972 (Melbourne 20 Feb 72) ~ Empress Valley Supreme Disc.
7. Blighty (Newcastle 20 Jun 69 & Birmingham 22 Mar 69) ~ Tarantura 2000.
8. The Nebula (Phoenix 18 Apr 70) ~ Tarantura 2000.
9. V1/2 Extravaganza (Seattle 17 Jul 73 & MSG 27 Jul 73) ~ Badgeholders.
10.  No Quarter World Tour Highlights/Jimmy Page & Robert Plant ~ Right Stuff.
Worthy contenders but not included in my list are the SBD or SBD& AUD releases of Bringing The House Down, Chasing The Dragon and Deep Throat and for more times than I've had hot dinners, Earls Court and Knebworth, again!!!  I have relegated all these to the substitutions bench not for sound quality, which has been vastly superior to most releases, but for downright dreary or boring performances.  The retread of Listen To This, Eddie and the newly surfaced show Plant's Influenza have not been included as I have not had the opportunity to listen to them yet.  But in my opinion, some newly surfaced recordings and alternate sources that have been produced by the fans for the fans without detour to the bootleggers have been the real highlight so far and titles such as Conquer The FatherlandFor Badgeholders Only ~ Fan Release and Ain't That A Shame are just but a few really worth seeking out.  Let's hope that 2004 sees some more hoarded shows being plucked to freedom - there's still plenty out there!!!!! Phil Bushe 1 Jan 04

Top CDs 2003 by Stephen Palmer

1. Earl's Court Arena 2405 Evoluzione (Empress Valley)

2. Crashing Revelry (Empress Valley)

3. Listen To This, Eddie (Wendy)

4. Chasing The Dragon (Empress Valley)

5. Florida Sunshine (Empress Valley)

6. Please Please Me (Wendy)

Chris La Pepa Top CDs 2003

This is my top ten. I think Empress Valley was the best label this year, but I hate the cheap packaging in some of CDs. Tarantara produced very nice artwork. And there was a really nice edition of Sgt Page´s Badgeholders Club Band.

SGT, Page's Badgeholders Club Band - Promotional Prototype Edition

Listen To this Eddie, Empress Valley (It is my favourite concert)

Florida Sunshine - Orlando Magic - 4CDs Edition - Empress Valley (I think it is the best new source)

Chasing The Dragon special box - Empress Valley EVSD-188~193

Deep Throat - Empress Valley EVSD-156 ~ 164 / EVSDVD-001

Bringing The House Down - Empress Valley EVSD-240 ~ 242

When We Were Kings - Empress Valley EVSD-256~259

Earl's Court Arena 2405 Evoluzione - Empress Valley EVSD-252~255

The Nebula - Tarantura TCD-14-1,2

Meet Led Zeppelin - Akashic Records AKALZ-STUDIO-001

Blighty - Tarantura TCD-13-1/2

Please Please Me - Wendy Records2003 WECD-710928

Crashing Revelry - Empress Valley EVSD-249 ~ 251

The Belgian Triple - Empress Valley EVSD-232 ~ 237

Mannheim 3rd 1980 - Tarantura 1980-23,24

Sweet Brummy Roll - Empress Valley EVSD-243 ~ 245

Thanks and Happy & Peace Years, Chris from Argentina

Top Ten CDs from Pieter Kleij

First of all Happy 2004 !!

Now the entries from the Dutch jury

1. DVD/How The West Was Won

2. When We Were Kings~Empress Valley
Beautiful package, beautiful sound, Robert has eaten bread baked with Colombian baking powder and
gives a tour guide to Wales included !! And of course the playing is OK.

3. Florida Sunshine/Orlando Magic~Empress Valley
1971 and a new very complete good sounding SB. What more to wish ??

4. 28/06/1972 Tucson Community Center,Tucson
I have one of the first transfers, but the magic shines through even with this not so good version.

5. 07/07/1973 Chicago Auditorium,Chicago
A very good 1973 AUDIENCE recording !

6. Chasing The Dragon~Empress Valley
Packaging and sound wonderful, performance so so.

7. Bringing The House Down~Empress Valley
Typical 1977 show, highs and a few lows all together in a very nice looking package.

8. 17/03/1973 Olympiahalle,Munich~"Conquering The Fatherland"
Europe 1973 for the total cost of some blanks and a stamp !

9. Another Night On Blueberry Hill~Electric Magic
California 1970 with Plant overshadowing even Jimmy.

10. Live on Blueberry Hill~Cobra Premium Series (not new but..)
My normal Cobra version was totally played to death, when this came up as a 'buy now last five copies' i couldn't resist.

Mike Moller Top Ten CDs 2003

Here is my vote for the 2003 releases I enjoyed most:

1. Deep Throat  
2. Earl's Court DVD on Cosmic Energy  
3. Chasing The Dragon - 6 CD edition  
4. Flying Circus (Gold Disc edition)  
5. Florida Sunshine  
6. Jammin' With Simon Kirke!  
7. Bringing The Hose Down  
8. Good Evening Seattle  
9. The Belgian Triple
10. Riot In Thunderstorm

And thank you for a most excellent website. Mike

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Top Ten Releases of 2002

The last year was a bumper one for CD releases, although some of them were merely the same shows in slightly better sound. It is always difficult (but rather fun) to compile a list of the ten best CD releases, but for what it is worth here is the Underground Uprising's webmaster's favourite ten releases in 2002:

1. Demand Unprecedented In The History Of Rock Music (Empress Valley) 22CD box set in the best available sound quality of all five 1975 Earls Court Concerts. Housed in a superb box, the packaging and presentation make this one of the finest sets ever released. The sound quality is the best for each of the five nights, with the final night now available in an almost complete perfect soundboard. Empress Valley's finest production.

2. Led Zeppelin's Flying Circus (Empress Valley) 3CD SBD recording in stunning quality from New York on 12 February 1975. The sound quality of this recording is simply awesome, it can be passed off as an official live release.

3. Welcome To The 1979 Knebworth Festival (Watch Tower) 6CD SBD recordings of both the 1979 Knebworth Festivals. This set sounds a bit better than Empress Valley's version (Blind Date) and is longer too.

4. Desert Storm (Empress Valley) 2CD newly surfaced AUD recording of Phoenix on 18 April 1970. The last concert of the Spring 1970 American tour, Robert Plant is the hero by managing to give an excellent performance when clearly he was very ill. He collapsed at the end of the show, and Jimmy Page comes back on stage as an MC and lets the audience know what has happened.

5. Best For Hard 'N' Heavy (Empress Valley) 3CD AUD recording in much improved sound quality from Leicester 25 November 1971. This is a big improvement in sound quality, and is a really nice show.

6. Bonzo's Birthday Party (Watch Tower) 2CD SBD of a much larger part of this historic concert at the LA Forum on 31 May 1973. Perhaps one day the complete soundboard tape will come out, but until then we have this wonderful recording to celebration the late, great John Bonham's 25th birthday.

7. In Concert In Copenhagen (Empress Valley) 2CD AUD recording from Copenhagen on 3 May 1971. This show is very highly regarded by fans for the songs played, and this version really is the best sounding.

8. Lifetime Guarantee (Empress Valley) 1CD of Led Zeppelin's first documented concert at Spokane on 30 December 1968. A small upgrade in sound, this is an historic artefact, being the band's first recorded concert available.

9. Georgia On My Mind (Empress Valley) 2CD SBD from Salt Lake City on 26 May 1973. Though not complete this newly surfaced soundboard recording is excellent. An audience recording has also now been released by this label, the two recordings need to be combined to make a near complete concert.

10. Three Days Before (Empress Valley) 2CD SBD recording from San Diego 28 May 1973. Another soundboard recording that saw the light of day in 2002, another excellent performance and a new show for fans.

This received from a good friend of Underground Uprising, Steve Prendergast:
When the Trainspotter emailed me asking for a list of what I felt was the best of 2002, I sat looking at (if I may say so myself) the large collection of discs that I had acquired in the past 8 or so months. I looked through the piles and stacks of discs recalling nights spent with headphones on, reviews being written, sleeves being scanned (and in some cases, copies being made to seed trees). I recalled the stellar performances (Achilles Last Stand in Munich 1980 comes to mind), the tragic mistakes (Kashmir just about anywhere), quite horrible source tapes (anything labelled Tarantura 2000), and the gems that feature sound so incredible that when you close your eyes, you transport back in time and suddenly find yourself in an arena with 20,000 other fans witnessing the greatest rock and roll band in history while asking yourself "the Rolling who?" (Flying Circus). While I have been collecting bootleg Zeppelin since the mid to late eighties - well before the advent of bootleg CDs - it's only been in the past eight or so months that the collecting bug bit anew and my stagnant collection of maybe forty bootleg CD's grew in leaps and bounds (I don't know how many I have now). All of that said, my picks for "best of 2002" are going to be a bit skewed compared to what the the rest of the contributors submit. I say this because I appear to be of a dying breed - the collector that actually buys bootlegs. While I do trade the occasional CDR set here and there, the bulk of my collection consist of original silvers. The CDRs that I do have consist of 95% fan traded shows that are either of better sound quality, are a compilation or are more complete than what is available commercially. The remaining 5% are direct copies of major label shows that I wanted to check out but couldn't afford to spend the money on at the time that they were released. The only down side to this is that I am generally limited to a somewhat small amount of new shows that I can buy as the Japanese releases these days command top dollar and my collecting budget is actually quite modest. I tend to scarf up groups of older (read: cheaper) releases that I had missed over the ten or so year gap in my collecting opposed to getting just one new release for the same money. My criteria for the "best of 2002" is that I tried to focus on sets that I own an original copy of (unlike a lot of you guys, I don't have every release from 2002 on CDR to reference). I supplied the above background information to help you to understand where I was coming from with my picks.

1. DEMAND UNPRECEDENTED IN THE HISTORY OF ROCK MUSIC (Empress Valley) - The rather lavish "a week in a box" set that has some fantastic audio throughout. My minor gripe with this set is that there is no printed number on the package (at least none that I could find). The extra Red Devil source was a nice bonus and came back from the grave. Unlike some of the massive box sets released over the years (Power & Glory from TDOLZ and The Complete Japan from LSD come to mind) this set does not stop with the deluxe packaging, it also includes deluxe gatefold paper sleeved sub packing that house the individual shows. Add in replica ticket stubs for each of the 5 shows and a replica mini tour book and this is hands down the best from the year. The "all in one" with overall great sound is what sold me on this set and allowed me to justify the ridiculous cost.

2. LED ZEPPELIN'S FLYING CIRCUS (Empress Valley) - Absolutely awesome sound. Not a bad show from 1975, but it's early in the tour and Plant's voice is still a bit rough from his flu, but I don't think anyone cares - the audio quality is so good on this set that any flaws or mistakes are easily forgotten because you're in awe of what you're hearing. This set will be the landmark for soundboard rating for years to come.

3. SALT LAKE CITY 1973 (Watch Tower) - I am not an Empress Valley groupie, so I didn't go for the EV set over the WT set just because one said EV and the other one didn't. I preferred the WT version over the EV set. Sure the WT set some a few ticks and whatnot, but they also included the bonus disc "CONTROL MONITOR MIXES" at no additional cost to the collectors wallet and therefore make the minor clicks much more tolerable.

4. LISTEN TO THIS EDDIE (Empress Valley) - Those of you with ten versions of this show will tell me that the Jelly Roll version is best, but that's ok (this set was released this year while the Jelly Roll set was not, so it's not allowed). Excellent sound throughout (although that tape switchover in Ten Years Gone scared the hell out of me at 3AM with headphones on!). Excellent packaging with nice photos and some TOUR OVER AMERICA 1977 graphics. My only gripe is the cheezy slipcase - this set should have merited a deluxe paper sleeve gatefold, IMO.

5. IN CONCERT IN COPENHAGEN (Empress Valley) - One of my favorite shows of all time. The unique setlist and added surprises makes this a stand out show. EV's release comes in a nice package with "exclusive pics from the show" and audio that's a notch higher than what was previously released.

6. DESERT STORM (Empress Valley) - The decent sounding source tape used on this set came out of nowhere. Empress Valley did a top job in unearthing previously unreleased shows (or source tapes) this year and while this is far from a showcase example of Led Zeppelin live, it is still a jewel in its own right.

7. A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (ELECTRIC MAGIC) - I'll probably be the only one to list this set, but too bad! Nice, fairly affordable set (well, compared to Tarantura and EV, this was a bargain!). An overall good audio source tape was used and the packaging is nice with photos from the era and a snippet of the Melody Maker article written at this show is reprinted under the clear disc tray. This was a worthy and fairly affordable addition to your collection in 2002.

8. LIFETIME GUARANTEE (Empress Valley) - EV found the master tape and worked their magic on it. Nice package with a photo of the original tape and some early '69 photos. EV also included some background on the venue and how the show was recorded which was a nice touch.

9. BURN LIKE A CANDLE (REISSUE) (Empress Valley) - While really only a reissue, the inclusion of the Long Beach material is noteworthy in addition to the cheaper admission price.

10. WELCOME TO THE 1979 KNEBWORTH FESTIVAL (Watch Tower) - Both shows from the board in great sound.

EMPRESS VALLEY and WATCH TOWER ruled Led Zeppelin in 2002, no question. I'd probably grab one of everything that they offered if the cost was just a tad lower. I applaud EV for lowering the cost on some of their newer sets as well as Watch Tower offering "bonus" discs to help justify the costs the collectors are being asked to pay. One last note, can we please not issue any Knebworth shows this year? It was released at least SIX times in 2002. Also, Seattle '77 and Cleveland '77 should be put away for awhile.

Here is The VLH's Top Ten for 2002:

1. THE ONLY WAY TO FLY (Empress Valley) - In my personal opinion the Aud and Sbd versions released right at the end of 2002 from the Texas Pop Festival are definite upgrades on anything else previously released. I've played the Sbd version again and again against all other versions. It's loud, powerful and probably Led Zeppelin's finest hour recorded live.

2. BEST FOR HARD 'N' HEAVY (Empress Valley) - Great upgrade in sound for this Leicester gig from MMR and in the correct running order. Nice glossy card box with individual thick glossy card jackets, with great b & w photos from the show, paper slip cases and a badge. Anything from the UK Winter Tour 1971 gets my vote, especially with such a brilliant Whole Lotta Love medley.

3. IN CONCERT IN COPENHAGEN (Empress Valley) - Another fantastic show from the vintage year of 1971 The inclusion of Gallows Pole, Four Sticks and Misty Mountain Hop are clearly premier stand-out performances. The standard EVSD long box, slip case and paper sleeves, whilst not exciting, is far better than their efforts with jumbo jewel cased releases. Sound quality is again up on all other releases.
4. DESERT STORM (Empress Valley) - What a discovery and imo the best of 2002. Had the sound quality been any better, this would have been my No 1 choice. Although not the usual sound quality from the EVSD stable, this 1970 show shines throughout when you realise Plant is going down with a serious bout of the flu. Eclipsed by the stellar 1971 performances. Hats off to Plant for sticking with it until he almost collapses on stage and for Page rambling on at the end. Nice thick glossy card gatefold slip-case with paper sleeves.

5. GRAND FINALE (Empress Valley) - Not being a real fan of anything post 1972, I was impressed by the quality of this performance, even though it may have been sacrilege to pinch a couple of tracks from the previous night to complete the show. Impressive packaging by EVSD with a hard thick glossy book cover with pages of super quality colour photos and card inserts with paper sleeves. Shame about the 4th disc Aud source which they should not have included - anything to try and complete a Sbd although it wouldn't have affected the price!!

6. ROCK AND ROLL MAGIC (Electric Magic) - Another fave show from the Winter UK Tour in 1971. This complete show is only marred by the jingling bells effect from over equalising. Another stellar performance from the boys comes in a jumbo jewel case with slip cover that seemed to become quite common for 2002 releases. A shame really as Electric Magic have released some great shows with truly amazing packaging and artwork. Anyone at Empress Valley like to take this one on and provide us with a complete sound upgrade?

7. LIFETIME GUARANTEE (Empress Valley) - Another great release from EVSD from what it claims was the master tape. Didn't have this before but an excellent addition to the collection. Early vibes from the boys as they demonstrate the true potential that was to follow. Standard EVSD long box, slip case and paper sleeves.

8. LISTEN TO THIS EDDIE (Empress Valley) - This is definitely the loudest version I've heard. Each release has been great in it's own way and despite the EVSD tape switch is the only one so far not to have the tape drop out at the the start of STH. Perfect drumming from Bonzo and only marred in the latter stages of the concert by outrageous excursions into numbers such as the Guitar Solo. EVSD's biggest mistake was in marketing this in a basic jumbo jewel case and slip cover.

9. ETERNAL MAGIC (EVSD) - A controversial release by EVSD in that the cover of the deluxe box was a photograph of Bonham's grave-stone. That said this was an excellent 2CD Aud and Sbd release for this show in super excellent quality. Whilst only shadowing their prior power performances, this was an excellent release. Nice glossy card box, like in Best For Hard N' Heavy, but also came with a deluxe quadruple fold-out card slip case and paper sleeves with miniature tour posters and a min-disc with various death announcements of Bonham. EVSD should maintain this standard of packaging, even if a for few dollars more.

10. BLUES ANYTIME (Empress Valley) - A big upgrade on Jelly Roll's Cracker Jack Blues. Crystal clear quality from their best period, imo! The Fillmore West 1969 shows must go down as some of their most outstanding performances of all time. Nice single glossy card jacket with paper sleeve.

2002 was definitely the year of Empress Valley Supreme Disc, by a mile. Whilst closely followed by Watch Tower, this label were unable to match EVSD as much as they could have. Not only were Watch Tower exploiting an over-priced bootleg market, they continued to do so even when EVSD started slashing their prices. Whilst there was an obvious bun-fight between the two, Watch Tower not only overcharged to the point of taking the proverbial but also released nearly every show with major glitches, clicks and pops which was completely unnecessary, but which also nearly eclipsed, dare I say it, EVSD with better sound quality. Was this the decline of real deluxe packaging? I have also not included Flying Circus as it is too perfect!! I want bootlegs to sound like bootlegs - to congratulate those fans who dared enter concert venues at risk with recording equipment. A few warts and all I expect. I have also left off Demand Unprecedented as nearly everyone will have this on their list. Tremendous packaging by EVSD and upgrades on all other releases - but killed by one of the longest runs of boring, lack-lustre concert performances by a band who could have made the return to the UK concert arena as great as it could have been. Let's hope that 2003 sees an end to the in-fighting and a recommencing of all round quality productions. That goes for Tarantura Yuzuki too. Their release of "You'll Never Walk Alone" must be billed as the worst release of that year, followed closely by many of their other attempts If they have to use the former and most famous of label trademarks in both sound quality and super excellent deluxe packaging, then every attempt must be made to match those former skills. If not, then they will surely be confined to the bootleg hinterland and derided by the many, apart from hard-core collectors and the Japanese market for anything labelled Led Zeppelin live!! (The VLH)
 

The Best Led Zeppelin Bootlegs of 2002 by Christopher Gust

Led Zeppelin bootlegs released during 2002 can basically be summed up as a fierce battle between rival Japanese labels Watch Tower and Empress Valley. Whenever one of the two companies released a new source tape on CD, the other was sure to follow with its own version days later. Often the duplicate versions were completely pointless (other than a small different in sound quality) and made hardcore collecting even more expensive as both labels charged premium prices for their product. Watch Tower continued to hurt its own reputation by releasing expensive CD sets with digital imperfections. However, the packaging was usually well done with the discs housed in gatefold paper slipcases, ala TDOLZ, and packed in a glossy cardboard box. WT usually had the best sounding version, when comparing sound quality with its Empress Valley counterparts. EV scored big on two fronts, though. Its first big hit was the release of its massive and impressive "Demand Unprecedented in the History of Rock Music", a presentation of all five Earl's Court 1975 shows and the first appearance of the nearly complete soundboard recording of the final night. But EV hit the biggest home run of the year with the superb new soundboard recording of the February 12, 1975 show, titled "Flying Circus". From other labels, Electric Magic continued to anger collectors with its heavy-handed equalization of its releases, creating a strange metallic effect heard in the upper frequencies. Titles such as "Rock and Roll Magic" , from the December 2, 1971 Bournemouth show were virtually destroyed due to this type of tweaking. A shame. The "new" Tarantura label continued to soil its namesake with a couple of pointless releases also with heavy manipulation. The year ended on a positive note, though, as a new label modestly calling itself Magnificent, released a couple of shows, including Memphis '70 and San Bernardino '72 with simple packaging and moderate prices. 2002 also saw an increase in the number of bootleg DVD releases, with the exciting release by Celebration of the Seattle July 17, 1977 pro-shot film, once considered a "holy grail" by collectors. And an outfit calling itself Sugar Mama released a single DVD with the highlight being the first 40 minutes of the May 25, 1975 Earl's Court show in very good pro-shot quality. What we'll see in the new year is anyone's guess. There is hope that the official Led Zeppelin camp will finally release to the public a long-awaited live DVD set and perhaps a couple of live audio releases on CD. If this comes to pass, look for the Japanese to release a flood of new shows that are being held back right now, as any official live release will definitely create a new level of competition for the bootleggers. We have already seen the release of the new Orlando '71 soundboard recording a couple of weeks ago. Yes, 2003 could be a banner year for live Zep fans, both officially and unofficially. Let's keep our fingers crossed. What follows is my own personal compilation of those bootlegs released during 2002 that gave me the most enjoyment.

1. "Flying Circus" - New York, 12 February 1975 (Empress Valley)
The excellent audience recording of this very good show was always a favorite among many fans but we now have supreme quality soundboard recording with an excellent mix. Easily the best bootleg of the year and perhaps the best all-time Zeppelin boot. Kind of makes one imagine what an official "Dick's Picks"-type live release could be like - warts and all.

2. "To Be a Rock and Not to Roll" - Earl's Court, 24 May 1975 (Watch Tower)
A soundboard source of a majority of this famous show has been available for years. But suddenly this box set appeared from Watch Tower earlier in the year and immediately rendered all previous versions obsolete. This is a near perfect mix; bright and clear with a good audience source to patch up the missing "Going To California". Also found on EV's "Demand Unprecedented" set but a little duller in quality.

3. "Bonzo's Birthday Party" - Inglewood, 31 May 1973 (Watch Tower)
A longer 2-disc soundboard recording of this famous show in excellent quality finds an emphatic Zeppelin celebrating their dear drummer's birthday, despite Jimmy's damaged hand. Nice packaging by WT with wonderful photos of the birthday boy in action on the gatefold slipcase. Also issued by Empress Valley a couple of months later.

4. "Conquistador" - Earl's Court, 25 May 1975 (Watch Tower)
Empress Valley must get credit for issuing this nearly complete soundboard recording of the final show of 1975 in its "Demand Unprecedented" set but WT bettered EV with this release a month later. Similar in quality to WT's "To Be A Rock And Not To Roll" from the previous night and brighter and clearer than EV's version. It's nice to have the additional encores of "Communication Breakdown" and "Heartbreaker" in perfect quality.

5. "Welcome to the 1979 Knebworth Festival" - Knebworth, 4 & 11 August 1979 (Watch Tower)
Also issued by EV as "Blind Date", this set is vitally important as the first night on August 4 is presented for the first time in excellent
soundboard quality and reveals that the boys put on a very good performance that summer evening, far superior to the more well-known show (due to the pro-shot bootleg video) one week later. Renders Tarantura's "You'll Never Walk Alone" as pure rubbish.

6. "Georgia On My Mind" - Salt Lake City, 26 May 1973 (Empress Valley)
This is the one instance where I prefer EV's version to WT, which was simply called "Salt Lake City 1973". Excellent soundboard recording; perhaps the best of all the 1973 board recordings from the U.S. tour, and a relaxed performance. There is some question whether D&C and STH are actually from this show, though.

7. "A Night at the Opera" - Vienna, 16 March 1973 (Electric Magic)
This is one rare instance where Electric Magic's heavy-handed tweaking does not destroy the integrity of the recording, in this case a nice audience source, which first appeared in trader's circles a couple of years ago. Outstanding performance at a time when the instrumental machine was at its peak.

8. "Grand Finale" - New York, 29 July 1973 (Empress Valley)
Significant because the final half of this marathon show is presented for the first time with a soundboard source. Wonderful to hear an epic "Thank You" with its long organ intro in excellent quality. EV can be questioned, however, with its decision to use the soundboard source from the previous night to fill in gaps in D&C and all of STH.

9. "Vibes Are Real" - San Francisco, 2 June 1973 (Watch Tower)
Contains a highly enjoyable last 62 minutes of the famous Kezar Stadium outdoor show in excellent soundboard quality. Also issued by EV, though I find the WT version slightly sharper sounding.

10. "Best For Hard 'N' Heavy" - Leicester, 25 November 1971 (Empress Valley)
Nice to have a late 1971 show in good quality. This is a bit better version than Electric Magic's of a couple of years ago. The new Bournemouth audience source from December 2 would have occupied this spot on my list had Electric Magic not destroyed the recording with its heavy tweaking.

Honorable Mention: "Lifetime Guarantee" - Spokane, 30 December 1968 (Empress Valley)
Easily the best-sounding version of the very first known live Led Zeppelin recording. As they say, the rest is history.

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Top Ten Releases of 2001

There were a considerable number of excellent Live CD releases throughout the year 2001. Mostly they were improvements on previously released titles and shows, but a few were completely new shows that had been discovered. Sadly the two most important concerts were released on poorly produced discs. The first and easily most important show historically was from Belfast on 5 March 1971. This was the first ever live performance of Stairway To Heaven. The original master tape was tracked down by a dedicated fan, but this tape had problems as it cuts, and also a tape squeal could be heard for the latter part of the concert (due to the batteries running down on power). The show was released by Empress Valley in a very expensive package, with the gaps filled from Dublin the next night and from Ipswich on 16 November 1971. However the tape squeal was not removed and this seriously spoils this release.

The second very important release was the famous concert in Auckland on 25 February 1972. Again this was incomplete, but fortunately the gaps were not plugged from another show. However the CDs play fast, just under 3%. Also it was released as four CDs, 2 CDs unequalized and 2 CDs equalized (and the sound altered to false stereo), totally unnecessary and merely a blatant way to rip people off in having to pay for 4 discs rather than 2, for a new show.

Fortunately there were some very important releases during 2001, and the following titles are good contenders for a Top Ten of Live releases in that year:

1. Danish TV & Studio Sessions (Watch Tower).

The best sounding version of the classic Danish TV performance from Gladsaxe on 17 March 1969.

2. Royal Albert Hall 1970 (Celebration).

The best sounding and most complete version from the Royal Albert Hall in London on 9 January 1970, with a video of part of the concert.

3. Intimidator (Empress Valley).

A careful blending of the superb audience recording with the soundboard tape of a wonderful performance in Montreux on 7 March 1970, makes this release a gem. Sadly Empress Valley milked it by releasing the soundboard portion as a third and superfluous CD.

4. Immigrant Song/Out On The Tiles (Empress Valley).

The legendary concert from the 1970 Bath Festival on Sunday 28 June. Previously available in poor sound, this is a far better generation of the tape, properly equalized, which is a considerable improvement.

5. First Attack Of The Rising Of The Sun (Empress Valley).

The first night in Tokyo of the incredible 1971 Japan Tour, on 23 September. Numerous different audience tapes exist, this is a newly surfaced one and is excellent, the gaps filled from another source tape.

6. Burn Like A Candle (Empress Valley).

The concert at the LA Forum on 25 June 1972 was a superb one, fortunately there is an excellent audience recording for it. This new release sounds excellent, although no real improvement on the previous releases, and Empress Valley went overboard in the packaging, including a T shirt!. However it plays at the wrong speed and the overzealous heavy EQ'ing adds distortion.

7. The Rovers Return (Empress Valley).

A newly discovered audience recording from Manchester on 8 December 1972, completed from the other audience recording.

8. Vive Le Zeppelin (Empress Valley).

Another newly surfaced audience recording, from the second night in Paris on 2 April 1973, an improvement on the previously available source, but unfortunately not used to make this release as complete as possible.

9. Ladies & Gents (Tarantura).

Another superb concert, Madison Square Garden in New York on 12 February 1975. An excellent audience recording exists, and this is a very good version, but not the best release of this concert
(which is CAN'T TAKE YOUR EVIL WAYS (UN-CUT COMPLETE VERSION) on TDOLZ).

10. Year Of The Dragon (Empress Valley).

The famous professionally shot video from Seattle on 17 July 1977, has escaped from the vaults, and this release is taken from the soundboard recording.

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