This page revives a feature from the old Underground Uprising website, where collectors were able to list their favourite Led Zeppelin concerts and the CD releases that helped to keep them in their memory. For those unfamiliar with the term, a baker's dozen is 13, as in England in medieval times a baker always included 13 rolls instead of 12 in an order, to ensure that he would not be accused of short changing a customer. This is a principle that could well do with a revival! To start the ball rolling here is a selection by this site's webmaster. Followed by: Gerard Sparaco, Christopher Gust, David DeSanctis, The Cheltenham Flyer, Brian Daoust, Dave Linwood, Gary Ames, Tone McJogger, Dr Jimmy, Anton, Bill McCue, Brett McElheny, Donald Robertson, David Pecnik, Larry Bergmann Jr
A BAKER'S DOZEN, by Jules McTrainspotter
1. Fillmore West, San Francisco, 27 April 1969 (DVDR THE DEVILS BLUES on Genuine Masters).
Any show from 1969 in excellent sound quality is a wonderful thing, but when it is also a classic concert it is an added bonus. There is an almost complete soundboard tape for this concert, and Genuine Masters have done a fantastic job in blending in the audience recording to fill the gaps.
2. The Rockpile, Toronto, 18 August 1969 (3CD ABSOLUTELY GEMS on Sanctuary).
The second set is not only a superb performance by the band but also in very good sound, especially considering the period. Plant's vocals are at the height of his powers, being pushed to the limit by Page's guitar playing. Bonzo's immortal introduction for Robert as coming "straight from the Labour Club at Cradley Heath" are typical of the humour in this performance.
3. The Casino, Montreux, 7 March 1970 (3CD INTIMIDATOR on Empress Valley).
Led Zeppelin's first concert at this venue is another fine performance, and we are blessed with an audience tape that sounds better than the soundboard tape! The careful blending of the two means that we have got nearly the entire concert.
4. The Forum, Los Angeles, 4 September 1970 (2CD LIVE ON BLUEBERRY HILL on Sanctuary)
Little needs to be said about one of Led Zeppelin's most famous concerts, tremendous playing and a number of excellent audience tapes means that this show will more than likely be on every fan's list of best concerts.
5. Paris Theatre, London, 1 April 1971 (2CD BBC ZEP on Antrabata).
This show, being broadcast by BBC Radio has always been a favourite, and is available in pristine sound quality.
6. Festival Hall, Osaka, 29 September 1971 (5CD 929 on TDOLZ).
The first Japan Tour was a superb one, every night was a classic, and it is difficult to single out one in particular. The last night in Osaka however has a lot going for it, and the various audience source tapes mean that it is possible to reconstruct the entire show. The so called soundboard tape is a gem, as you can hear the often highly amusing comments by the band to each other during the concert.
7. The Forum, Los Angeles, 25 June 1972 (3CD BURN LIKE A CANDLE on Empress Valley).
The US Tour of 1972 is a great example of how Led Zeppelin constantly changed their performances and the songs that played live. This is another contender as a classic concert, and is available as an excellent sounding audience tape.
8. Stadthalle, Vienna, 16 March 1973 (2CD VIENNA 1973 on TDOLZ).
The European Tour in the Spring of 1973 is full of superb performances by all the band, Jimmy Page's guitar playing usually superb. Another nice feature about all these shows is the clarity of John Bonham's drum playing in the overall sound. Tonight's version of Heartbreaker is one of the great moments in sport.
9. The Forum, Los Angeles, 31 May 1973 (3CD BONZO'S BIRTHDAY PARTY on Empress Valley).
A good excuse to celebrate John Bonham's 25th birthday, a Led Zeppelin concert at the hallowed LA Forum is a near guarantee of a superb performance, and this night is no exception. The cover designed by the legendary artist William Stout for the original vinyl release is probably the nicest of any Led Zeppelin release, official or unofficial.
10. Madison Square Garden, New York, 12 February 1975 (3CD LED ZEPPELIN'S FLYING CIRCUS on Empress Valley).
A newly surfaced and virtually complete soundboard recording in excellent sound, a superb performance, so this combines to make this a special night.
11. Earls Court Arena, London, 24 May 1975 (4CD TO BE A ROCK AND NOT TO ROLL on Watch Tower).
A legendary concert, blessed with a near complete soundboard recording (taken from the highly prized video soundtrack), of the fourth of five classic nights in London in May 1975. It is a pity that this label did not fill the gaps in the soundboard recording with the audience one, to make it complete.
12. The Forum, Los Angeles, 21 June 1977 (3CD LISTEN TO THIS, EDDIE on Empress Valley).
The late, great Mike Millard recorded this concert in what can only be described as simply stunning stereo sound, and the EDDIE show has always been a firm favourite with fans, with every good reason. A true Led Zeppelin classic performance.
13. The Forum, Los Angeles, 23 June 1977 (3CD GOOD NIGHT, MOON LIGHT on Tarantura).
The third of six concerts at the fabled LA Forum, this one is extra special because the Who's brilliant drummer Keith Moon joined the band on stage during Moby Dick and the encores. The combined explosive drumming power of John Bonham and Keith Moon on the final song Rock And Roll is a wonderful testament to these two legendary drummers. The best audience source tape was used for the original vinyl release FOR BADGE HOLDERS ONLY on Dragonfly Records, and this rivals and just pips EDDIE for the finest audience recording sound quality for a Led Zeppelin concert.
A Baker's Dozen, by Gerard Sparaco
Anybody who has the collecting mentality is by definition an archaeologist. I consider myself to be a Led Zeppelin archaeologist: sifting through the hours of barely audible and sometimes fragmentary tapes to discover some piece of magic. But these are the shows that I listen to when I want to be a passive listener and become engulfed in the experience. The list that follows is completely subjective. In thinking about this Baker's dozen, I am choosing the tapes that are heavy in my rotation. These are the ones that are in my CD player the most often.
March 15th, 1969 Gladsaxe, Denmark (afternoon show).
This is found of many different releases, the most recent being Rock of Ages on TDOLZ. This is a short, intense, and powerful set. They arrived on stage forty five minutes late, and they had to play another show that evening. Instead of playing one of the two Led Zeppelin I epics (Dazed & Confused and How Many More Times), they choose instead a blistering thirteen-minute of As Long As I Have You. Such is the confidence in their own abilities! The only let down is that the audience only gives polite applause throughout the show. This is also one of the final shows that Page plays with the psychedelic colored Fender Telecaster.
August 18, 1969 Toronto (second show)
The summer on '69 saw them play restricted and restrained sets because they played in so many festivals. This show sees them relax and having lots of fun without any concern about the time. This is easily the best show from the summer and has one of the best How Many More Times ever.
August 21st, 1970, Tulsa Oklahoma.
An excellent version of this show is on The Lights Go Down (TDOLZ). Adverse playing conditions often brought out the best in Zeppelin. This show presented them with three: a paranoid promoter, an apathetic audience, and lousy PA. They fight and conquer two of the three (which isn't bad). Jimmy Pages stops his guitar solo in Heartbreaker and says, "Actually, you can turn the lights down now," and they don't play till they are down. Plant loosens up the audience with his comments like, "Are you asleep up there in the balcony? Are you enjoying your popcorn?" He says after a blistering Bring It On Home. Overall the best show from their Fall, 1970 tour.
May 3, 1971
The Copenhagen preview concert. I have the K,b title on the underrated Image Quality label. The versions of Gallows Pole and Four Sticks are enough, but you also hear a great Communication Breakdown with Celebration Day, Robert's powerful voice, and a complete event from the band.
September 23, 1971 Tokyo, Japan
Timeless Rock on Watch Tower has a great clear stereo audience recording. The preceding three years Zeppelin spent building their fan base and impressing people in the West. Here they were allowed to have fun, and you hear them getting looser throughout the almost three hours they are on stage that night which culminates in an almost forty minute Whole Lotta Love where they throw in much of the first album.
November 25, 1971 Leicester
This show is captured on the Mystical Majesties Request on Electric Magic. It is a great sounding complete concert. The Whole Lotta Love medley is beyond belief.
June 25, 1972 Los Angeles
I have the Missing Link title (A Night At The) Heartbreak Hotel, although it is available in many different editions. The performance is legendary, the recording is excellent, and the 1972 set list was the most perfect one in their career. A perfect light/shade, bombastic/tender contrasts. Plus, I think that Dazed & Confused in this show is excellent until the coda, where Page peters out. Hugh Jones of Proximity stated that the 1972 US tour is the last of the "innocent" Led Zeppelin, and this show displays that. The playing is incredible, yet they are so warm and human. I feel like Robert Plant is my big brother after hearing this show.
July 17th, 1973 Seattle
So many shows form the ninth US tour to choose from. I had this on vinyl in the 70's and is still a favorite. Hear how Jones saves The Rain Song after his mellotron explodes, and hear the amazing rhythm Bonzo and Jones get into in Whole Lotta Love.
May 24th, 1975 Earls Court
Since I'm not British I don't have an emotional attachment to the Earl's Court concerts. However, the concerts are perfects examples of the power of what is not explicitly stated. Plant's public stance was anger and humiliation at having to live in exile. ("You know how it is with Dennis. Private Enterprise, no artists in the country anymore. He must be Dazed And Confused"). The dramatic subtext of these concerts is a melancholy at having to leave. Listening to Woodstock in Dazed And Confused, he sounds like he's weeping. This concert is an excellent, schizophrenic show that is exciting and powerful.
April 28, 1977 Cleveland
The Destroyer (Storongest Edition). This was my first vinyl title bought way back in 1979 (I think). It is this show with best illustrates the "Power, Mystery and the Hammer of The Gods" mystique of Led Zeppelin. The concert is dark, mysterious, powerful, and one of the most perfect statements from the 1977 tour. The famous Viking painting on the cover says all that needs to be said about it.
June 10, 1977 New York
This is a highly under appreciated show that is found on Rock N Roll Circus on the Diagrams label. This show is a unique event. Even the firecrackers are very well timed. The band attacks every song with a ferocity that is unbelievable. The recording is a bit distant but very enjoyable.
All My Love (Polar Studios, November 1978)
The All My Love outtake is simply gorgeous. Page's guitars doodling in the final moments (which were cut from the official version) are his most beautiful. What he can express in a few notes that we could never express in words!
June 21, 1980 BrusselsTop
The concerts in Zurich and Frankfurt are both excellent, but I recommend the Brussels show even higher. Listen to the excellent and new audience recording on Raid Over Brussels on Electric Magic. Every song is played with confidence, and there isn't an uninteresting moment in the entire concert.
A Baker’s Dozen by Christopher Gust
- “Simplistic Atomosphere” (Jelly Roll) San Francisco, 27 April 1969
Simply fantastic stereo soundboard recording of young, raw Zep ready to conquer the world. Features terrific “As Long As I Have You”.
- “Intimidator” (Empress Valley) Montreux, 7 March 1970
New version from supreme audience and soundboard sources combine to present this terrific performance nearly complete in outstanding sound quality.
- “Live On Blueberry Hill” (Sanctuary) Inglewood, 4 September 1970
Combination of best available sources give this legendary bootleg its best presentation ever. Check out rare encores!
- “Going to California” (Shout to the Top) Berkeley, 14 September 1971
Transfer of famous bootleg LP to CD featuring excellent performance and outstanding stereo audience recording.
- “Live In Japan” (Cobla) Osaka, 29 September 1971
Cobla’s version of this relaxed legendary performance is often overlooked due to the fact that it was released on CDR, but this is the best version of the stereo “soundboard-like” stage recording.
- “Burn Like A Candle” (Empress Valley) Inglewood, 25 June 1972
New version of marathon show with many “Houses of the Holy” previews from near excellent stereo audience recording.
- “Not Warm, It’s Hot” (TDOLZ) Offenburg, 24 March 1973
Many consider the 1973 European Tour to feature the best instrumental moments of Zeppelin and this three dimensional-sounding audience recording is a perfect document.
- “The Drag Queen” (Tarantura) New Orleans, 14 May 1973
Near complete soundboard recording of excellent performance during 1st leg of U.S. Tour, before Plant damages his voice further and Page sprains his hand. Always a personal favorite.
- “Odysseus” (Celebration) London, 24 May 1975
I have always preferred the Earl’s Court shows to the 1975 U.S. Tour and Celebration’s version of the video soundtrack and soundboard sources is the best to date.
- “Listen to This Eddie, Definitive Edition” (Jelly Roll) Inglewood, 21 June 1977
Another famous bootleg and favorite of many. Features perhaps best-ever Zeppelin audience recording of a great show.
- “Deep Striker” (Empress Valley) Inglewood, 27 June 1977
My personal favorite of the LA ’77 shows, this recording features an excellent audience recording and finds the band in a relaxed, playful mood during the marathon performance.
- “Copenhagen Warm-Ups 1979” (TDOLZ) Copenhagen, 23 & 24 July 1979
1979 was the year of Knebworth but I prefer the excellent stereo audience recording of the two warm-up gigs that featured better performances.
- “Brussels 1980” (Tarantura) Brussels, 20 June 1980
Excellent soundboard recording of the rejuvenated Zeppelin and an excellent show, before the band began to tire during the last half of the “Tour Over Europe”, which proved to be the band’s Swan Song.
- “BBC ‘69” (Antrabata) London, 27 June 1969
- “Royal Albert Hall 1970” (Celebration) London, 9 January 1970
- “Live In Japan 1972” (Last Stand Disc) Tokyo, 2 October 1972
- “For Badgeholders Only” (TDOLZ) Inglewood, 23 June 1977
- “Final Cut” (Celebration) Knebworth, 11 August 1979
A Baker's Dozen by David DeSanctis
1. January 23, 1969 Boston Tea Party, Boston, MA (1CD Boston After Dark on Empress Valley)
My pick for Telecaster era Zep is this underrated, excellent performance. Empress has released it in very good, three-dimensional sound quality with a beautiful LP style sleeve. Jimmy Page is in top form, everyone else is too, and the Tea Party crowd enjoys every note. Great atmosphere. Zep's first appearance at this legendary venue.
2. June 27, 1969 Playhouse Theatre, London (5CD BBC Sessions on Last Stand Disc)
Sensational. In my opinion, this show is much more enjoyable to listen to in its original sequence as presented here than on the official release. The radio-show format is a little loony, though. Great LSD release.
3. August 31, 1969 Texas International Pop Festival (1CD Don't Mess With Texas on Oh Boy)
This was my first Zep CD boot, purchased in 1991. The packaging and sound quality have held up well. A great soundboard recording of a fantastic performance. Zeppelin are really enjoying themselves playing to a receptive Texas crowd. ICQY and the frenetic Communication are highlights of an intense show that is itself a compact highlight of the tour. It is the concise nature of this date that I enjoy so much.
4. January 9, 1970 Royal Albert Hall (1CD Royal Albert Hall on Celebration)
Another early classic. Essential for the great versions of Eddie Cochran's C'mon Everybody and Something Else. The entire set is exciting and energetic. A magic moment for the band. The 40+ minutes of improved video footage is priceless...much more satisfying than Seattle and Earl's Court combined.
5. March 7, 1970 The Casino, Montreux, Switzerland (3CD Intimidator on Empress Valley & Divinity on Atlantic Ocean Records)
If this was a poor performance, the superb audience recording alone would make it compelling - the sound quality is lush and superb. As the performance is a great one, this concert was an easy choice. Engaging throughout. Intimidator is the definitive release but Divinity has the mojo.
6. September 4, 1970 Los Angeles Forum (2CD Live On Blueberry Hill on Sanctuary)
A classic on vinyl and CD. It was this show that cemented the ultimate relationship between the band and it's audience. Sanctuary is by far my favorite release of this fantastic show but LSD's 4CD set is also very good.
7. April 1, 1971 BBC Paris Studios, London (5CD BBC Sessions on Last Stand Disc)
Though released officially, the palpable, three-dimensional recording sounds much better on this excellent 5CD LSD set. Every detail of the performance is preserved. A great concert recorded at the end of the spring UK tour.
8. September 14, 1971 Berkeley Community Theatre, Berkeley, CA (2CD Going To California on Shout To The Top)
This is the most enjoyable recording from the 1971 US tour. The playing is aggressive and impeccable. Immigrant, Heartbreaker and SIBLY burn. Whole Lotta Love just blows your mind! This release on STTT is well done: nice LP style sleeve with the William Stout illustration and a clean transfer from the vinyl.
9. June 25, 1972 Los Angeles Forum (3CD Burn Like A Candle on Empress Valley)
This is Zep playing to a roomful of friends. Gusto, warmth and sheer generosity. As has so often been stated, the Los Angeles Forum consistently provided the ideal atmosphere for the band to work it's magic. Led Zeppelin put a smile on the faces of 17,000 fans for 3 1/2 hours on this night, and to this day, when these discs go into my CD player I can't help but smile with them.
10. June 3, 1973 Los Angeles Forum (3CD Three Days After on Cobra)
This spectacular date feels like a continuation of the 6/25/72 show. The atmosphere and incredible playing make this a very special night. The growing intensity of the last two gigs (Bonzo's & Kezar) culminates in what is by far the best show of the '73 tour. Zeppelin perform a jovial batch of 5 encores including JPJ's organ solo, Thank You and Bring It On Home. A truly unique event for 1973 and presented here in an excellent audience recording (due to taping problems TSRTS, RS and NQ are unfortunately unlistenable).
11. July 12, 1973 Cobo Hall, Detroit, MI (3CD Motor City Daze on Antrabata)
Relaxed, confident and full of creative playing, this Cobo Hall show is so enjoyable to listen to. The Feelin' Groovy reference in the Heartbreaker solo ala 1971 and a great Going Down Slow in Whole Lotta Love are just a couple of the many wonderful moments this show is filled with. The recording leans toward the lower frequencies and contains almost no audience interference (with one notorious exception) making it very kind on the ears.
12. February 14, 1975 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY (3CD Nassau 1975 on TDOLZ)
This night and the 3/21 Seattle show have Zeppelin playing at a level on par with the best of their previous tours...a rarity in 1975. Jimmy is fantastic and throughout the night adds all the arpeggios, runs and extra notes that give special Zep shows that touch of magic. His playing here boggles the mind. Robert's voice is strong and creative at every turn. A Kashmir, No Quarter and Dazed for the ages.
13. June 21, 1977 Los Angeles Forum (3CD Listen To This Eddie - Definitive Complete Version on Jelly Roll)
6/23 has Keith Moon, 6/25 is tight and focused and 6/27 is relaxed and fun but no '77 show can compare to Eddie. This excellent show is available here in outstanding three dimensional sound quality. With headphones you are transported to the Great Western Forum for three hours of rock 'n roll intoxication. The concert opens with the most exciting TSRTS intro ever recorded. Believe the hype. Led Zeppelin and the Forum really was a special match.
A Baker's Dozen by The Cheltenham Flyer
NOTE: TARANTURA, AKASHIC AND OTHER EXPENSIVE PACKAGES ARE EXCLUDED TO EMPHASISE THE MORE AFFORDABLE RELEASES
1. FILLMORE WEST, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, USA, 27 April 1969
SAN FRANCISCO 27/04/69 VOLS 1+2 (KALEIDOSCOPIC) - 2 CD
'Led Zeppelin Live - The Final Edition' pp 42-44
Outstanding soundboard recording of a classic show. The above CD set is one of the best, if not the best, version of this particular tape. The recording simply blasts out of the speakers.
2. TEXAS INTERNATIONAL POP FESTIVAL, MOTOR SPEEDWAY, DALLAS, TEXAS, USA, 31 August 1969
TEXAS INTERNATIONAL POP FESTIVAL (OH BOY) 1 CD
'Led Zeppelin Live - The Final Edition' pp 61-62
Proof that Led Zeppelin could overwhelm an audience both outdoors as well as in indoors. A significant achievement in the group's history presented in a package that includes a facsimile of the programme from the event.
3. THE FORUM, INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA, USA, 4 September 1970
LIVE ON BLUEBERRY HILL (COBLA STANDARD) 2 CD
'Led Zeppelin Live - The Final Edition' pp 130-131
Amazingly clear recording of a classic show. Notable for the encores.
4. BBC PARIS STUDIOS, LONDON, ENGLAND, 1 April 1971
BBC ZEP (ANTRABATA) - 2 CD IN SLIPCASE
'Led Zeppelin Live - The Final Edition' pp 139-141
They may have played better shows but this is the closest available recording to when I saw them. For once, Robert is quite humble and the performance is perhaps of a restrained but still powerful group of musicians. By far the best recording of this show.
5. THE FORUM, INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA, USA, 21 August 1971
DOUBLE CLUTCH (WILD WEEKEND) (THE DIAGRAMS OF LED ZEPPELIN)– 2 CD
'Led Zeppelin Live - The Final Edition' pp 146-147
Once back in the US the group let the Hammer of the Gods loose in a great rocking show that builds in intensity as it progresses.
6. FESTIVAL HALL, OSAKA, JAPAN, 29 September 1971
LIVE IN JAPAN 1971 (LAST STAND) - 3 CD
'Led Zeppelin Live - The Final Edition' pp 165-167
They were supposed to be nervous at this concert but it doesn't show. One of my favourite versions of 'Going to California' and a belter of a medley in 'Whole Lotta Love'. Great fun. Interesting that most of the on-stage banter is preserved on this recording. Listen out for Jimmy badgering Robert to play 'Friends' (which they do eventually). Any good recording of the show will do, the above being merely a good example.
7. THE FORUM, INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA, USA, 25 June 1972
BURN LIKE A CANDLE (THE SMOKING PIG) - 3 CD
'Led Zeppelin Live - The Final Edition' pp 196-198
A complete show from the summer of '72 that underlines the sonic power of the Zeppelin in full cry. Just when you think you've recovered from the opening blast they take you on a rock 'n' roll journey for 25 minutes during 'Whole Lotta Love'.
8. ORTHENAUHALLE, OFFENBURG, GERMANY, 24 March 1973
CUSTARD PIE (COBLA STANDARD) - 2 CD
'Led Zeppelin Live - The Final Edition' pp 260-261
Superb show from perhaps their very best tour (in playing terms). The ‘Whole Lotta Love’ medley just rocks the ceiling off.
9. COBO HALL, DETROIT, MICHIGAN, USA, 12 July 1973
DETROIT ROCK CITY (LEMON SONG) - 3 CD
'Led Zeppelin Live - The Final Edition' pp 281-282
Had to pick something from the '73 US tour and this is perhaps the best. Not the greatest recording but good enough to emphasise the brilliance of the performance, particularly 'Dazed'.
10. SEATTLE CENTRE COLISEUM, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, USA, 21 March 1975
207.19/214 (COBLA STANDARD) - 4 CD SET
'Led Zeppelin Live - The Final Edition' pp 328-330
The return of the dinosaur in 1975 didn't get off to the most auspicious start but by the time they got to Seattle they had more than recovered. Both the epics, 'No Quarter' and 'Dazed' are alone worth the price of admission. Cobla have produced the best all-round recording of this show.
11. EARLS COURT ARENA, LONDON, ENGLAND, 24 May 1975
EARLS COURT (SILVER RARITIES) - 3 CD
'Led Zeppelin Live - The Final Edition' pp 340-341
Various recordings exist. This one may be patchy in places but is still good value for money. The epics once again steal the show (particularly ‘No Quarter’) although the acoustic set is also one of the best ever.
12. THE FORUM, INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA, USA, 21 June 1977
LISTEN TO THIS EDDIE MASTER (SILVER RARITIES) – 3 CD
'Led Zeppelin Live - The Final Edition' pp 393-395
Long regarded as one of the best shows ever, notable for Bonzo’s drumming.
13. THE FORUM, INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA, USA, 25 June 1977
THE LAST L.A. FORUM PARTS 3+4+5+6 (THE LIVE EXPERIENCE) - 4 CD
'Led Zeppelin Live - The Final Edition' pp 398-399
Despite all the plaudits for the first and third nights, the fourth night is the most relaxed and satisfying performance. Jimmy seems to have found his feet and his playing is outstanding. The confidence of the group is reflected in the selection of 'Communication Breakdown' as an encore, the only time it was played on the '77 tour.
A Baker's Dozen by Brian Daoust
One more year has passed for us Zeppelin collectors painstakingly waiting for the hoarders to loosen their grip tad by tad. In the meantime, we all have those certain shows that seem to make it into the rotation more often than others. Mine are as follows. You will notice that I am not one who needs a perfect recording to recognize a great performance and keep it in my regular rotation. Too many of us put more emphasis on sound than performance. Here goes.
1. 11/6/69 San Francisco
I don't know what House of Elrond did to this recording but it might be the best upgrade of 69'. They took a "good" recording of a decent show and turned it into an "outstanding" recording of what they've turned into a great show. You would swear it was from the board.
2. 3/27/70 L.A. Forum
I used to love listening to the Mud Dogs version of this show, and then I got the Holy Grail set which is more complete and sounds a bit better, but I think I could listen to this show underwater and still have it on this list. White Summer and How Many More Times stand out here.
3. 9/9/71 Hampton, Virginia
I know I said sound quality doesn't play a role in my choices, but come on! This show is so tight the only thing that could make it better is when the person who has the rest of it sets it free. With where the cuts are, I think it's pretty obvious this show exists in complete form.
4. 6/15/72 New York
Even these 2 ( the recorders of the show) infamous drunken yahoos can't ruin this show. After years of listening to this concert, I have completely incorporated their insanity into this concert. I actually don't know if I would recognize this show without them.
5. 12/4/72 Glasgow
Page is completely on here. The medley is outstanding in particular. A great complete document from an "iffy" period.
6. 3/16/73 Vienna
I have all of the existing recordings of this show but "Wrench in the Works" by Cobra is the best document for this clean as a whistle show in this triumphant month of March. I listen to this show at least once a week in whatever form.
7. 5/31/73 L.A Forum
A great, complete show from the middle of the tour, when the energy was highest. Dazed is outstanding.
8. 3/21/75 Seattle
Do I really need to say anything here? My God. If you heard them in January, would you ever have thought they could do this? Best night in 75'.
9. 5/23/75 London
I know, I know, we all love the SB from the following night. And when the video of this show popped out of where we all knew it was, we tend to overlook the other nights of this stand. Once a week on this one, too.
10. 4/23/77 Atlanta
Here is where I may lose some of you. The 77' tour is something I've been stuck on since I started collecting. I think it's those first 7 songs. An almost perfect flow. As for this show, If you disregard the muddy, distant sound and just pretend this show is of Eddie quality, you've got the best performance of the tour. I know it's hard, but just try it.
11. 6/11/77 New York
For years, we heard this show on a distant, muddy but almost complete audience recording. Then the CDR set from Disc Exploitation "For Led Heads Only" came out with a very decent upgrade of the show from Song Remains the Same through Kashmir with the 34 min of SB perfectly spliced in to make it obvious this was another overlooked show.
12. 6/25/77 L.A Forum
I love this show. The best Ten Years Gone of the tour along with the impromptu encore makes it a must have.
13. 7/23-24/79 Copenhagen
Ten times the performance of the following week. Blessed with great recordings, too. Song Remains the Same really is the ultimate opener.
A Bakers Dozen by Dave Linwood, TBL Webmaster
1. FILLMORE WEST, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 27 April 1969
Probably the most famous and best documented early '69 show - and why argue?
2. ROYAL ALBERT HALL, LONDON 9 January 1970
This was a revelation the first time I heard it - the band are so heavy! The soundboard release has none of that anti-septic feel that dogs some of the '73 and '80 tours.
3. INTERNATIONAL CENTER, HONOLULU 6 September 1970
Someone else is bound to recommend the Cobla version of Blueberry Hill, so here's an alternative from a few days later; the recording is at times is completely overloaded which only adds to the occasion. Great power, great playing.
4. PARIS THEATRE, LONDON 1st April 1971
Well documented and easily available BBC broadcast. A number of "new" songs from the 4th album were revealed to the UK audience. A perfect quality time capsule from the "bearded era"...
5. BERKELEY COMMUNITY CENTER, CA 14 September 1971
On the bootleg scene, an oldie but still a goodie. Slightly toppy sound but very clear and dynamic. The playing is simply superb!
6. FESTIVAL HALL, OSAKA, 29 September 1971
I've always loved this show. From the ridiculous "1-2-3 Mr Bonham!" to my favourite version of Dazed and Confused, this show has it all - and more such as 'Friends', a rocking jam prior to Whole Lotta Love and (as the regular collectors know) almost sound board quality.
7. STADTHALLE, VIENNA, 16 March 1973
I had the audience version first - and the soundboard compliments this. My favourite Zep "era" - the Euro tour of 1973. The medleys were at their best - and despite Mr Jones' colic so was the band.
8. MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, NEW YORK, 12 February 1975
Another old favourite - except the sound quality gets better and better with each release! The Kashmir/No Quarter/Trampled segment has to be one of my favourite Zep slices of all time. Just typing this review up has me scrambling for the Hi-Fi !!
9. EARLS COURT ARENA, LONDON, 24 May 1975
OK, as a Brit I had to recommend one of the Earls Court gigs - and the vinyl release with the nice colour cover is now complemented with the soundboard. Definitive version of No Quarter.
10. THE FORUM, INGLEWOOD, CA 23 June 1977
One of my first vinyl "investments" - and still one of the best. Apart from the disastrous Kashmir, this has great versions of Over The Hills, Ten Years Gone, No Quarter. Welcome to three hours of lunacy indeed!
11. KNEBWORTH PARK, STEVENAGE, 11 August 1979
OK - the controversial one! I went to the previous week's gig, have the fuzzy video of this show which shows up all the mistakes etc etc. BUT the audience version on TNT Studios gets my foot tapping every time! I know - I don't understand it either, this has to be one of the bigger disasters in the band's career but whereas the soundboard version reviles the audience version revels!!
12. HALLENSTADION, ZURICH, 29 June 1980
Despite a plethora of soundboards from the 1980 tour, it is the audience version which I find the most enjoyable. Not the best quality but it captures the atmosphere and heat from a sweaty night on the last tour.
13. STUDIO DAZE
Oh, err the 13th show. Well I'm going to cheat and throw in a compilation Studio Daze. A combination of studio and stage out-takes in great quality - one of the only true CD quality releases. Plenty of people have this, so you should get a good quality copy without loss of quality.
A Bakers Dozen by Gary Ames
1. FILLMORE WEST 27.4.69.
My copy of this probably needs upgrading , but then again , I may have worn it out!! The boys play 2 sets , with the first better than the slower , bluesier second. my personal highlight from the first is How Many More Times - it meanders in parts , but the improvisations always , in my view , show Zep at their best , even allowing for the odd bit of over indulgence.
The rather deadpan DJ announces "The Led Zeppelin" , who , on this relatively short ( I believe they were late on stage , with a plane to catch) , but killer set. Once again , How many More Times is my personal highlight of this excellent soundboard show which catches Plant in the year that many said was his best vocally. Remarkable quality sound for such an "old" show and the band give it their all.
3. ROYAL ALBERT HALL 9.1.70
There is a school of thought that says some of the very best shows are only available on some of the poorer quality recordings ( Bath 70 for example). This is a great show and the fact that it was filmed and that somewhere there must be a mint , clear copy gives us all hope!! A friend of mine saw this , said it was a great gig live and his main recollection is how well Zep played rock & roll. There is a great "Something Else" , following on from a lively C'mon everybody and with a Long Tall Sally/Great Balls of Fire to follow. For me , it's yet another How Many More Times!!! Another show that I must upgrade , but just get it!
4. INGLEWOOD FORUM 4.9.70
Much booted in the States as "Live on Blueberry Hill" and I gather , the "start point" for many of our American friends , as Paris Theatre (BBC 71) is for the Brits. This is a great gig and the boys will be back to rock this venue again. A great show , with a wistful "Bron Yr Aur" ( as opposed to the "stomp") , which is too tantalisingly short and a rarity in itself. Later we are treated to "Out on the tiles" and as an encore Percy treats us to "Blueberry Hill", clearly enjoying the process.
5. PARIS THEATRE 1971.
Some debate about the exact date - I must say that whilst academically interested , by the time this show hits the deck , I couldn't care!! Some also say that the show is a little lifeless, I disagree and am eternally grateful that whilst Peter Grant hated bootleggers and did so much to "protect" the band , he allowed some BBC broadcasts that give us an excellent quality record of the band. On this occasion we get "previews" of Black Dog , Stairway to Heaven and Going to California. As one who sat by my radio , with a pretty primitive cassette recorder to capture a show that gave me such subsequent pleasure , I won't hear a word against it , especially the Whole Lotta Love finale. You always love your first tape... This show is very common and oft booted. Possibly the Antrabata is best.
6. OSAKA 29.9.71
I feel that Zep often saved some of their best for the Japanese and the closing shows of the Page and Plant tour bear testimony to this. Perhaps the audiences listen/appreciate more?? There are several CDs of this show - my tape is made up by a compilation from different CDs prepared by a real fan who wanted the best mix of sources. The band are really on form and again , the improvisations are what clinch it for me , even including a version of Twist and Shout!!!
7. NEW YORK 12.2.75>
I really should have included something from 73 - so many say that this was their peak , especially the European leg , but having gorged on the early stuff and about to pig out on 75, there just wasn't room..The 75 shows will run to 3 CDs and on occasions meander a bit , with some long Moby Dicks , but there are compensations!! This is a lively loud , but good sounding show, with a real energy Trampled Underfoot is great. But a month later....
8. SEATTLE 21.3.75
This is a monster of a show. From the beginning, the crowd are ready and the boys are willing. No Quarter runs for nearly 30 minutes , with Jonesy improvising well and with some real lightness and shade. Probably the show is most remembered for an epic Dazed and Confused which is the best part of 45 minutes, but fluent and bears repeated listening. Arguably the best of the tour , but allow me some Patriotic bias...on to number 9
9. EARLS COURT 24.5.75
Ask any Brit who was there . despite any claims that the shows were wooden and the venue not condusive to good Rock - it ain't so. I went on the 18th , but the 24th is the most easily available .The acoustic set is quite together and the sound very good indeed. My favourites are ,firstly, No Quarter , with Jonesy showing some real class touches , reminding me that it is all too easy to underrate his quiet contributions (missed on the Page & Plant tour?). Secondly a great version of Dazed and Confused - turn the lights down low , the volume up loud and be very afraid! My version is the Silver Rarities CD.
10. L.A. FORUM 21.6.77.
The boot "Listen to this Eddie" is from an audience recording , but very warm and a real class show. No Quarter is very good again and this tape is what The Song Remains the Same could have been.
11. L.A FORUM 25.6.77
The guys bring their series at the LA Forum , a home from home to a close with a great show.In my Time of Dying sees the band launch into "Rip it up" Trampled Underfoot really moves and Communication Breakdown brings the evening to a suitably sweaty climax.
12. KNEBWORTH 11.8.79
Love and Patriotism can both be blind - I'm not overly patriotic , but longed for the band to return to these shores. Punk ruled and the press were not overly kind. The gig was great - Earls Court may have been better , but this was still a great show. I was there on 4.8.79 ,but haven't found a tape to match the "79" CD of the 11.8.79 show. On their final shows in the UK , Zep did OK !
13. ON THE FENCE!!
I've not picked a 13th show , as I've rather hedged my bets with 17th and 24th May 75 and 4th and 11th August 79 . If pressed , though ,21.8.70, 21.8.71 , 25.6.72 ,17.7.73 are all are excellent contenders!!
A Bakers Dozen by Tone McJogger
1. BOSTON TEA PARTY, BOSTON, JANUARY 26, 1969.
" KILLING FLOOR", Cobla.
"Led Zeppelin Live" pp.23-25.
Not the complete show, and with Page's guitar dominating there is enough of the recording to indicate an early classic performance - fast, loud and aggressive. This one takes no prisoners and is regarded by Luis Rey as the best to date.
2. WINTERLAND BALLROOM, SAN FRANCISCO, APRIL 26, 1969.
"PSYCHEDELIC EXPLOSION", TDOLZ.
"L Z Live-The Final Edition" pp.40-42.
Almost the whole of the two sets played at the third night of the Winterland run is yet another superb '69 performance. The improvisations are becoming longer, more varied and Plant is still in great voice.
3. TEXAS INTERNATIONAL POP FESTIVAL, DALLAS, TEXAS , AUGUST 31, 1969.
"TEXAS INTERNATIONAL POP FESTIVAL" , Oh Boy.
"L Z Live" pp.61-62.
Outstanding soundboard recording of this short, outdoor event. The detail presented of this gig is amazing and what a blistering way to end the third visit to the States.
4. THE FORUM, INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA, SEPTEMBER 4, 1970.
"LIVE ON BLUEBERRY HILL", Cobla.
"L Z Live" pp.130-131.
Many versions of this popular show have been produced, this one really hits you in the face. The only known version of "Out On The Tiles", a great acoustic set and the medley inside "Communication Breakdown" are just a few of the high points.
5. BUDOKAN HALL, TOKYO, SEPTEMBER 24, 1971.
"LIGHT AND SHADE", The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin.
"L Z Live" pp.161-163.
Some regard the '71 Japan tour the greatest series of shows ever performed by Zeppelin. This night from a new audience source is probably the most consistent, only let down by the audience frenzy during the 'Whole Lotta Love' rather drowning out the music!
6. MEMORIAL DRIVE, ADELAIDE, FEBRUARY 19, 1972.
"OOOH, MY EARS, MAN", TDOLZ.
"L Z Live" pp.173-174.
The best audience recording from the group's only Australian tour. The title is a quote from a shell-shocked member of the audience and indicates this was a very heavy show with the band firing on all cylinders.
7. GRUGAHALLE, ESSEN, MARCH 22,1973.
"ESSENTIAL LED", Flying Disc/"ESSEN 1973" Savage Beast Music.
"L Z Live" pp.258-260.
By combining the average audience recording and the excellent hour long soundboard source you get almost the complete show. This one features outstanding versions of "Since I've Been Loving You", "Dazed And Confused" and "Whole Lotta Love". Technically, Zeppelin were at their peak in 1973.
8. KEZAR STADIUM, SAN FRANCISCO, JUNE 2, 1973.
"L Z Live" pp.275-276.
As Luis Rey says "one of the greatest ever". This is the best of many recent versions of this brilliant show. Worth the asking price just for Page's playing in "Dazed And Confused" and "Stairway To Heaven".
9. MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 12,1975.
"CAN'T TAKE YOUR EVIL WAYS", The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin.
"L Z Live" pp.315-316.
Just about the best '75 audience recording on offer. The group is recovering well after the problems in the early part of the US tour and this show is a classic of the era. Watch out for "That's Alright" dropped into the middle of the "Heartbreaker" guitar solo.
10. EARLS COURT ARENA, LONDON, MAY 24, 1975.
"EARL'S COURT", Silver Rarities.
"L Z Live" pp.340-341.
Fourth night of five concerts which are long remembered by British fans as the biggest and maybe the best shows Zeppelin did in England. This is mostly excellent soundboard with an audience source to fill in the gaps. The versions of "No Quarter" and "Stairway To Heaven" are held by some to be the best ever played live by the band.
11. SAN DIEGO SPORTS ARENA, SAN DIEGO, JUNE 19, 1977.
"CALIFORNIA MYSTERY TRAIN", Silver Rarities.
"L Z Live" pp.392-393.
Often overlooked in favour of the LA Forum shows that followed, this one is a good audience recording of an excellent concert only let down by some erratic drumming. Just as well Moby Dick isn't played this one time in 1977.
12. THE FORUM, LOS ANGELES, JUNE 21,1977.
"LISTEN TO THIS EDDIE (REMASTERED)", Silver Rarities.
"L Z Live" pp.393-395.
The LA Forum gigs were the highlight of the 1977 American tour. The first night is preserved on just about the best Zeppelin audience recording ever made. From the stunning sound of Bonham's drumming in "The Song Remains The Same" this is an unforgettable experience.
13. HALLENSTADION, ZURICH, JUNE 29, 1980.
"TOUR OVER EUROPE", Seagull/"SILVER COATED RAILS", Toasted Condor.
"LZ LIVE" pp.429-430.
Probably the best soundboard recording from the final tour in Europe. The Seagull set misses out the encores which are present as part of "Silver Coated Rails". The band play very well most of the time, with "Stairway To Heaven" and the "Heartbreaker" encore standing out.
A Bakers Dozen by Dr Jimmy
1.Fillmore West 24/4/69:
Only a 60 minute fragment, still, a rocking, tight, funky performance by a very early Led Zeppelin including a great jam of As Long As I Have You, Killing Floor (pre-Lemon Song) with a funky intro, and some great band playing. Bonham is on fire, Page is lightning fast, and Jones is distorted, loud, and incredible (sounding, as well as playing!). Plant's voice is a little distant on this soundboard, but very powerful.A great early show worth having. (As well as the 2 -disc Fillmore West 4/27/69,but hey, I only have 13 slots, you know?)
2. Texas Pop Festival 31/8/69:
The best show of '69, this is an incredibly loud, intense, spot on performance, from the first blasting riffs of Train kept A' Rollin' to the last bass notes of Communication Breakdown. Zep only played an hour due to an overrun in the bill earlier...they should have cancelled the act after and let the boys play another hour! The best sounding soundboard from '69, they sound like they are in your living room!
3.Royal Albert hall 9/1/70:
A great soundboard, on 55 minutes...where is the rest!!!???? Great show, cool covers of Eddie Cochran's C'mon Everybody and Something Else, and a great 25 minute How Many More Times. A timeless show, and a must have from this era.
4. Montreux Jazz festival 14/3/70:
An audience recording, but a great one. Incomplete, but still 73 minutes long. A great opening version of We're Gonna Groove, intense versions of the very early Since I've Been Loving You (7 months before Led Zep III!), and the only bad part is a fade out after 13 minutes of How many More Times. The energy flows out of the speakers.
5. Live On Blueberry Hill LA Forum 4/9/70:
An incredible audience recording, the first boot I ever heard of. An incredibly energetic show with a great version of Heartbreaker, thundering version of Communication Breakdown/Good Time Bad Times, and the only live performance known of Out on the Tiles and Bron-Y-Aur (not the stomp). A classic show, with Page emulating Hendrix on dazed.
6.LA Forum 25/6/72:
The most overlooked tour by Zep is also one of the best. This show is complete and an incredible one on an extremely good audience recording (an 8 out of 10 in my book. Great intensity, the best bow solo I have ever heard in Dazed, and first live versions of The Ocean, Over the Hills, Dancing days, and the Crunge and Walter's Walk in the middle of Dazed. Encores include Louie Louie, Thank You, Rock and Roll, and Weekend.
Great sounding soundboard, why isn't this Complete??!!Excellent Since I've Been Loving You, Misty Mountain Hop, and other staples of the '73 tour. One of the best from the '73 US tour.
8.Earl's Court 24/5/75:
Classic complete 3 hour gig!! The best version of No Quarter ever, awesome jams, tight playing, and a near perfect soundboard add up to a great show that is the best of the Earl's Courts. Kashmir and No Quarter are standout, tangerine is a rare electric live version, and the rest is quintessential live Zep perfection.
Legendary almost 4 hour show that includes an incredible (and very re listeneable!). Dazed! The rest is Zep in a spot on gig that is one of the best from the often criticized '75 tour, one that I particularly like quite a lot.
How can any list not include the classic destroyer? A great show...ok, so Jimmy is a little high on coke (or something), but he is intense and spot on, and the rest of the band swings! Plant is in very good voice and humor, and really evokes deep emotions on Since I've Been Loving You and Ten Years Gone. A complete soundboard that is a must have in any collector's library.
11.Two in one here, LA Forum 21/6/77 and 23/6/77:
Badgeholders weekend, the first night is classic, a rare Over the Hills and Heartbreaker on this tour, and very intense versions of material ranging from '69 to Presence. The 3rd night is a great show with the classic Keith Moon( from the Who, tied with Zep as my fave band) who joins his good friend Bonzo on Moby Dick and the last few numbers. I have a soft spot for the '77 tour, it is so dark and mysterious, and at the same time, humorous and friendly.
12.11/8/79 knebworth Festival:
I had to choose one, I chose the second. A great performance back in England, although there are some great moments on the first night too (Plant during Ten Year Gone makes me wanna cry, he evokes so much emotion with his voice!) Classic.
Great sounding soundboard show, mine is complete, with great versions of old and new songs. Kashmir is totally botched, but the versions of In The Evening, Since I've Been Loving You, and a surprise Heartbreaker make up for this, as well as a 1980 reworking of Train Kept A' Rollin' as the show opener. The best from the last tour.
A Bakers Dozen by Anton
1. 17-Mar-69 Danish TV
This is my favourite 1969 show. Yes, I know it may not be 4-24,26,27, but its short, compact and powerful with no annoying solos. Great version of "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You".
2. 4-Sep-71 Toronto (soundboard)
The soundboard contains stairway through Moby Dick. The version of Stairway is the best of '71 and "Celebration Day" is probably the best ever.
3. 24-Mar-73 Offenburg
This aud recording ROCKS!!! its not too great at the beginning but the sound nears PERFECT during Heartbreaker (killer version!) and WLL. Worth it just for the BEST EVER VERSION of WLL! This was my first boot ever and it is quite essential.
4. 2-June-73 Kezar stadium, San Francisco, CA
Great aud recording of one of the best of the '73 tour. This is the best recording of all the audience AND sbds of this tour! (The soundboards SUCK!) Great "Dazed..." and "Stairway..."
5. 12-Feb-75 MSG, NYC
Great show, but the recording is too annoying. If you can stand harsh sounding, one-channel stereo, go for it. Great "Kashmir". Even better "Dazed..." (one of my favourite versions).
6. 11/12-Mar-75 Long Beach Civic Arena CA
Well, ok, its not the best, but its good at some points. the sound is flawless, and one of the most pro-sounding aud recordings ever. good "Kashmir", and an-almost complete version of "The Crunge" inside the great WLL medley. The 35 min frag from the second night sounds better than the complete recording of this show. (Stairway fragment...through...Heartbreaker). The performance of those four songs are wonderful.
7. 4-Mar-75 Memorial Auditorium, Dallas, TX
Ok, not great either, but it has one of the best '75 versions of Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills. Everything else is dull.
8. 27-Mar-75 LA forum CA
Great recording. OK performance except for "Trampled Underfoot". This is the BEST EVER PERFORMANCE OF THIS SONG!
9. 21-June-77 LA forum CA
When I first listened to this I was stunned. The sound cannot be described. (there's a lot of aud noise, although it adds to the effect). The performance sucks in places, is great in others. Probably the best '77 version of Achilles (It sounds like the end of the World!).
10. 27-April-77 Richfield coliseum OH
The Destroyer. It's a true mystery why Luis Rey and others put down this performance. It may not be great musically, but it is one of the HEAVIEST, HARDEST CORE, most "destructive" (well, after all, it IS the DESTROYER!) performance. The band doesn't care about creating beautiful, perfect music, they're just trashing the hell out of the stage and audience! The BEST ,and I mean the BEST EVER versions of "Sick Again"/"In My Time of Dying"/ and "Kashmir"/and maybe "Nobody's fault.." You must get this show. (My version is the Cobla "final edition" set. It's one of the best-sounding.)
11. 27-June-77 LA Forum CA
Well, it has a rare acoustic Dancing Days, but everything else is not the best, although it IS my favourite of all the '77 LA dates, despite the popularity of the first, third, and fourth nights. Give it a try, maybe get a CDR from someone, its kind of here and there (good one minute, erratic the next), and sometimes way too long.
12. 30-June-80 Frankfurt
The best from 1980. I'll even agree with Luis Rey on that one, it truly is. Great (but slow) "Kashmir", one of my favourite "Whole Lotta Love", and the best version overall of Achilles (note: the '77 versions of this song were SO DIFFERENT from the '79 and '80 versions. the '77s were loud, FAST, and chaotic (giving a "hard-core feeling), but with horrible guitar solos. the '80s were slower, sounding much more like the studio version, but with MUCH BETTER guitar solos, which were very "emotional" and dramatic. I like both types of versions) Get it. Its the only thing you need from 1980.
...and the final one:
13. "STUDIO DAZE"
Great outtakes. the version of "No Quarter" is better than the album version.
A Bakers Dozen by Bill McCue
1. West Allis, Wisconsin, USA 1969.
Available on CD as "Stroll On" Why this bootleg isn't on EVERY collector's top ten list is beyond me. Great sound for an outdoor show taped from the audience. The band is on fire.
2. Sept-14-71, Berkeley, CA.
Available on various bootleg CDs, but so far none of the Japanese labels has done justice to this fantastic show. Makes a nice two CDR set from the various vinyl sources. Too bad the tape isn't complete. Great show, great sound. one in the band is on top of their game. The Communication Breakdown, The Ocean and Thank You encore segment is incredible.
3. Feb-19-72 Adelaide, Australia.
Back to the 72 tour for "Voodoo Drive" (expensive) or "Oooh My Ears" A fantastic audience tape of an outdoor show. Classic Plantations throughout. Sound improves markedly after Immigrant Song. Rough start for Percy, but he rebounds nicely as the show moves past the first three numbers.
4. June 25, 1972, Los Angeles, CA.
Available on CD as "Burn Like a Candle" or "A Night at the Heartbreak Hotel". Quite possibly the best Zeppelin bootleg ever. The sound is great for an audience tape and the performance is white hot. From the opening drone to the final encore, it's a must have. Play it for your friends and watch their astonished reaction.
5. June-3-73, Los Angeles, CA.
Available as "Three Days After" A rough listening experience at times due to speed problems throughout the tape. Make your own "mini-show" bootleg by dropping the more troubling spots. Plant's voice never sounded better on this tour. An absolutely killer Whole Lotta Love. The show picks up steam as it moves along and by the time you get to Heartbreaker, everyone in the band is on top of their game. The Communication Breakdown, The Ocean and Thank You encore segment is incredible.
6. Feb-12-75, New York City.
A sentimental favorite for this reviewer. Incredible sound for an audience tape. Near professional recording quality at times - rivalling the sound on TSRTS soundtrack. Get it for the sound quality, the overall "vibe" of the show, and Robert's charming commentary between songs. Credible versions of IMTOD, Rain Song, No Quarter, Kashmir, Trampled and Dazed.
7. March-21-75, Seattle, WA.
"Seattle Supersonic" on CD. A no-brainer for Zep fans. The best show, hands down, from the 75 tour.
8. Physical Graffiti Outtakes.
The version I have is called "Physical Geography" Get it for the alternate version of "In the Light," "TUF" without guitar overdubs, the instrumental version of "Kashmir" (check the bass line!) and two full band versions of "Swan Song" aka "Midnight Moonlight." Great professional sound.
9. Studio Daze.
A great compilation of outtakes, working versions and live tracks. All perfect sound.
10. The Return of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates.
Soundcheck recording, instrumentals from LZ III sessions and then more soundcheck material. The year of the soundcheck recording is often debated. My guess is 1973 due to the raspy quality of Percy's vocals. First half of boot is Zep running through a medley of Chuck Berry, Cliff Richard and...Johnny Kidd and the Pirates covers. Great sound. Followed by the acoustic instrumentals from Bron-Y-Aur. Mildew-y sound, but still a very pleasant listening experience. Closes with an untitled funky workout, plus attempts at Wanton Song (no vocals), The Rover (vocals included) and Night Flight (vocals also included here). The latter two songs proved to be very tough on Percy's vocals cords. No doubt the reason they never made it into set lists for the 73 or 75 tours.
11. The Stairway Sessions.
Listen to the ultimate Zeppelin tune evolve over multiple takes from a pleasant acoustic instrumental to the classic we all know and love. Bootleg also features demos of Black Dog, No Quarter (with scat vocals), Hey Hey and various acoustic instrumentals. All in near perfect sound quality. Another "must have" for every Zep collector.
12. April-28-77, Cleveland, OH.
The second night audience tape called "Destroyer". Look for the "Storongest" (sic) Version" on CD. A great night from the 77 tour. One of the few decent shows they played outside of New York and Los Angeles that year. The NFBM/IMTOD/SIBLY segment is vintage Robert Plant. A great outing for Bonzo, too. If I had to pick one show from the 77 tour, this would be it.
13. For Badgeholders Only. Los Angeles, June-23-77.
In my opinion, overall the best night of the infamous LA run during the tumultuous 1977 Tour of the States. Great sound, a killer performance from start to finish for the band and truly hysterical between song patter from Percy. Be sure to check out Page's solo in Stairway. The three piece instrumental section in No Quarter is Zep at their improvisational peak.
The Definitive Bakers Dozen Edition by Brett McElheny (Limited To 250 Copies)
I've been collecting Led Zeppelin live shows for a relatively short time compared to others, almost seven years. The shows listed below are what I consider "the best" performances by the band. even though my list is biased by my own preferences. Let's face it, we all have our favorites, even those who actually consider Knebworth '79 to be worthy of a listen! Although I usually collect shows from the master sources I have tried to list the several titles for each entry. Without further ado:
1. 4/26/69 San Francisco, CA "Graham's Superb Volume 1" (Image Quality)
I am actually surprised that nobody has mentioned this great show yet. This is my favorite from the San Francisco run of April '69, although the other shows from the run are exceptional as well. The highlight of this show is one of the earliest live versions of Whole Lotta Love and an outstanding How Many More Times medley. This is one of the nicer audience recordings from 1969. Of the two main releases of this show, the Image Quality Title and Psychedelic Explosion (TDOLZ) only the IQ title runs at the correct speed, it's slightly more complete, and enjoys slightly better sound quality. There are also copies available from a DAT copy of the master.
2. 7/25/69 West Allis, WI "Stroll On" (TDOLZ)
This is the best performance of the summer festival shows, without a doubt. An amazing, compact show squeezed into 55 minutes and blessed with very good sound quality. The TDOLZ title is the most complete and has the best sound quality. A 2nd generation tape transfer is also very easy to find. It is very similar quality to the TDOLZ title.
3. 6/28/70 Bath Festival "Immigrant Song/Out On The Titles" (Empress Valley)
It's a shame that this recording is average at best, quite poor at worst. This is probably one of Led Zeppelin's greatest performances ever, yet it gets mentioned less than lackluster shows such as 3/11/75, 4/27/77, Knebworth '79 and most of the 1980 European tour due to their superior sound quality. This is a show that every Zeppelin fan must seek out eventually. I put off getting this show for years because of the sound quality. Two things bring me back to this show again and again, the sound quality is listeneable, and the How Many More Times Medley is perhaps the best ever.
4. 9/2/70 Oakland, CA "Live On Blueberry Hill II" (Tarantura)
I got my hands on this show about 5 years ago and have been in love with it ever since. This show is a much better performance that the infamous show two days later but still gets treated like a redheaded stepchild. The set list is standard until the encores, but the performance is anything but. The encores include the only 1970 version of Train Kept a Rollin' and a nice version of Long Tall Sally. The sound quality is slightly distant but is still very good. There haven't been very many releases of this show, the Tarantura title is probably the best. A copy from a 1st generation reel-to-reel transfer is pretty easy to find.
5. 8/21-22/71 Inglewood, CA "Double Clutch" (TDOLZ)
This may be cheating, but I'm going to list both of these concerts at once. Part of the reason is several bootleggers have released these shows together and the other is that these shows need to be listened to back to back. Did Led Zeppelin ever play a weak show at the Forum? It certainly doesn't seem like it. These two shows are great to have especially with the very good sound quality and the fact that at least in the first show; Robert's voice is at its most powerful. The TDOLZ title is the most complete and is very good sound quality.
6. 9/23/71 Tokyo, Japan "First Attack Of The Rising Of The Sun" (Empress Valley)
At least six different fans at this show had their tape recorders rolling, and it's a good thing as it's one of the best ever. It is my opinion this date often gets overlooked by the more famous 9/29/71 show this is wonderful in it's own right. With that being said, I prefer this date. This show contains one of the best Whole Lotta Love Medleys ever, it includes a complete How Many More Times and Good Times Bad Times among many, many more. To cap off this wild first night, the crazed fans rush the stage at the end of the show and Zep have to pause while the stage is being cleared. There are several bootleg titles of this show from different sources that are worth owning. In my opinion the source used by Empress Valley is the best, however Reflection From A Dream (TDOLZ) and Live In Japan 1971 (Last Stand) are both worth seeking out as both contain alternate sources.
7. 6/25/72 Inglewood, CA "Burn Like A Candle" (Empress Valley)
This is probably my personal favorite Led Zeppelin concert of all time and it was also one of the very first shows I ever collected. This show contains many previews from the Houses Of The Holy album, and although they were played earlier at the Seattle 6/19/72 show, they are much easier to listen to on this near excellent audience recording. The highlight of this show is the wonderful Whole Lotta Love Medley and the long string of encores including a hot Bring It On Home. A 2nd generation speed corrected transfer is worth seeking out. Stay away from the version tree'd on FBO; many copies had digital flaws.
8. 10/9/72 Osaka, Japan "Live In Japan 1972" (Last Stand)
I think that the Japanese tour of 1972 is often overlooked, and although it's not as consistent as the 1971 tour it is still worth seeking out. The highlight of the 2nd tour of Japan is this wonderful show from Osaka. The performance is much better than the other shows of this tour and almost rivals the wonderful shows from 1971. This show also includes a very rare encore, Stand By Me. The Last Stand version is from a near excellent audience recording. A DAT transfer of the master is also quite common.
9. 3/24/73 Offenburg, Germany "Not Warm, It's Hot" (TDOLZ)
It is very difficult to pick just one show from the excellent European tour of '73. What I suggest is at the very least pick up every show that you can get your hands on from March 1973 as they contain possibly the greatest versions of Dazed And Confused. This is probably the best month in the history of live Led Zeppelin. Jimmy Page is without a doubt at the height of this power, while Jones and Bonham are outstanding in their own right. I choose this show because it is an outstanding performance and recording. If I could only choose one show from March '73 I would pick this one.
10. 5/31/73 Inglewood, CA "Bonzo's Birthday Party" (Empress Valley)
In my opinion the highlight of the '73 US Tour occurred on 5/31/73. Please note that an argument could be made for 6/2/73, 6/3/73 and 7/17/73 as well. The Empress Valley title along with the Sanctuary title of the same name both make use of 3 different sources to reconstruct this outstanding concert. And what an outstanding concert it is. I love the way the audience are stomping like crazed animals moments before the crashing intro of Rock And Roll! Other highlights include an outstanding version of Dazed And Confused and the overall playing and atmosphere of this historic night. Empress Valley also released a 9CD box set that included the 3 separate sources.
11. 2/12/75 New York, NY "Can't Take Your Evil Ways" (TDOLZ)
This is probably my favorite show from 1975, although several others are almost as good. What this show has going for it is excellent sound quality and a wonderful atmosphere. A very close second for 1975 has to go to 3/21/75 "Seattle Supersonic" (Scorpio). If the entire concert were available in the sound quality of the first 150 minutes this would probably slip by the title above. A DAT transfer of the master of the New York show is quite common.
12. 4/28/77 Cleveland, OH "The Destroyer Storongest Edition" (reissue in slipcase)(TDOLZ)
The 2nd night in Cleveland is my second favorite show from the '77 and it contains my all-time favorite version of No Quarter. This show is much better than the more famous show from the previous night although the sound quality isn't as good. With that being said this show is a very good audience recording. The TDOLZ title is probably the best version of this show available on bootleg.
13. 6/21/77 Inglewood, CA "Listen To This Eddie - Master Series" (Silver Rarities)
The granddaddy of all Led Zeppelin bootlegs, the one and only Listen To This Eddie. We find ourselves once again of the Forum, home of possible the luckiest Led Zeppelin fans in the world. This is an outstanding audience recordings and my favorite beginning to any Led Zeppelin concert ever. The versions of The Song Remains The Same, Sick Again, and Nobody's Fault But Mine are quite a 1-2-3 punch. The band calms down a bit after that, but still delivers the best show of 1977. This is one show that is well worth seeking out.
A Baker's Dozen by Donald Robertson
I'm sure I'm not alone when I write I'm a Zep fan who can't really afford the second mortgage required labels such as Empress Valley, Watchtower, Tarantura etc, so my list of recommendations is squarely pitched at the wannabe LZ collector of more modest means, who nevertheless wants to get hold of good shows on reasonably accessible labels at affordable prices.
1. 26/04/69 Graham's Superb Vol 1 on IQ (2CDs)
This one seems to get overlooked by the more publicised shows at The Fillmore West, BBC and Texas Int'l Pop Festival, yet it's by far and away the best of them all. Both performances recorded at the Winterland Theatre in San Francisco are terrific, even the taper can't believe what he's hearing. It also happens to contain the first known live outing of a modestly successful number for the band - Whole Lotta Love.
2. 09/01/70 Royal Albert Hall on Monada (1CD)
Luis Rey describes this as, "an excellent performance" and he isn't kidding. Coda's 'I Can't Quit You' was taken from this show and even though it doesn't appear on this particular CD, it gives you a good idea of what the rest of the performance was like. How Many More Times and the medley are terrific.
3.06/09/70 Almost Son Of Blueberry Hill on Shout To The Top (1CD)
Recorded two days after that show at the LA Forum, this finds the band in Hawaii and really going for it. No lazy performances and sticky fingers here. From the moment they hit the stage with the Immigrant Song to the concluding chords of Communication Breakdown you know this was what Zep were all about. Sadly this release is only 1CD, but what it lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality.
4.14/09/71 Going To California CDR (2CD)
My copy is a CDR version of this legendary show given to me by a friend, so I've no idea what label it may have originally come from. Nevertheless, despite the crackles and pops from the original LP source it's taken from, it remains one of those performances just about everyone agrees was somethin' else. The versions of Heartbreaker, Black Dog and Stairway To Heaven make your hair stand on end.
5.23/09/71 Reflections From A Dream on TDOLZ (3CDs digitally remastered)
The 1971 tour of Japan along with the '73 tour of Europe were arguably Zep's best. This opening show at The Budokan in Tokyo has to be considered a must have for anybody's collection, especially as it's now available in this remastered format.
6. 29/09/71 929 on TDOLZ (3CDs)
Again a must have for any collector. Also contains the only known live performance of 'Friends' and an unusual attempt at 'Smoke Gets In Your Eyes!'
7. 25/06/72 Burn Like A Candle on Smoking Pig (3CDs)
Runs slightly fast, but nothing disguises the furious pace of a band back in the place they regarded as home, the LA Forum. Songs from 'Houses Of The Holy' are previewed along with a cracking version of Whole Lotta Love.
8. 16/03/73 Wrench In The Works on Cobra (2CDs)
Recorded in Vienna it remains one of JP's tour de force performances. Cobra have picked up a new source of this show which now presents it in much better quality than was previously available.
9. 17/03/73 Sturm Und Drang on Led Note (2CDs)
Staying with '73 tour of Europe, another solid performance by the band, this time in Munich and captured here on a very good quality recording.
10. 24/03/73 Not Warm, It's Hot on TDOLZ (3CDs)
This just could be the best of the whole European tour of '73 and one of their greatest performances. Recorded at Offenbach (or is it Offenburg?) the title of the CD is indirectly taken from Robert Plant saying, "It's a little bit warm, yup?" Luis Rey in his review of the show goes on to say, "But the word is not Warm, it's HOT. This is what we can call a perfect concert and perfection flows ..." Dazed and Confused is the standout track with JP firing on all cylinders and in all directions! TDOLZ have also put right their poor Sweet At Night release (avoid) with this one in much improved quality.
11. 12/07/73 Motor City Daze on Antrabata (3CDs)
Luis Rey has this down as one of the best shows from the '73 tour of America and having listened to it quite a few times I wouldn't disagree. Recorded at the Cobo Hall in Detroit it's a solid a performance though the recording is a little distant. Also comes with a bonus track, 'Sunshine Woman' recorded for one of Alexis Korner's shows.
12. 12/02/75 Can't Take Your Evil Ways on TDOLZ (3CDs)
Difficult to choose between this or the Seattle gig, but for me this show has the edge. Certainly one of the best shows of the US tour of '75 and one of the best of all the '75 shows including the over rated performances at Earl's Court in the UK. 'In My Time Of Dying' has some sensational guitar work by JP that alone makes getting hold of this show a must have.
And number 13?
13. 13/07/85 In The Light on Zipp Zapp Records (2LPs)
This is a double album and I admit probably difficult to find now. Apart from including some of 'Pb' and sessions at the BBC, it just happens to have the whole of the Live Aid performance from 1985. OK, so they weren't really Led Zeppelin any more with Phil Collins and whatshisname on drums, and the performance was ragged to say the least, but what a reception and what an atmosphere. On those counts alone it can't be bettered.
Led Zeppelin Live - A Baker's Dozen by David Pecnik
I base this list on the 60 or so live shows I have collected over the years. You may notice that I do not include any live shows from the 1977 touring year or the 1980 touring year. In my opinion, the Led Zeppelin of those years was just a shadow of the band that was in the years previous. These are shows I highly recommend for performance, sound and overall enjoyment:
1. 4/24/69-San Francisco, California
Most Zeppelin folks would recommend the 4/27/69 show (and it is indeed a great show that night), but I have come to prefer this small fragment three nights earlier because of the great sound of the rhythm section in this near soundboard-like recording. Plant and Page are back in the mix, while Bonham and Jones are practically in the same room with you. And what a treat it is! During "As Long As I Have You", Jones' bass amp fries during the highly charged musical section, the electronics failing to cope with his awesome attack . More John Paul Jones highlights in the "Killing Floor", a spectacular display of his incredible bass playing . The rest of the set recorded on this fragment includes a fine "White Summer/Black Mountainside", a decent "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You", which features a very loud John Bonham,
and a very entertaining "Pat's Delight". A wonderful recording of early Led Zeppelin that no fan should be without.
2. 7/25/69-Milwaukee, WI
Another 1969 show bursting with both energy and talent. Again, it's a show which expresses the incredible talents of each musician in the band. Here the band plays on a flatbed trailer in front of the racetrack's grandstand, and they give the Wisconsin State Fair crowd a show they would not soon forget. It starts off with a rousing rendition of "Train Kept a Rollin'", with an even better "I Can't Quite You Babe", with includes an unforgettable Blues solo by Jimmy Page. "Dazed and Confused" is up next, and it's a sublime example of the band growing as a talent in every way. The play here is simply monstrous and its musical impact on the listener leaves you exhausted and ready for Page's fine delivery of "White Summer/Black Mountain Side". This is followed by an incredible "How Many More Times" and a "Communication Breakdown" encore that shakes the grandstand's structure. These two songs have the kind of rock and roll energy never duplicated by any other band in that era or this. This is a very good audience tape which captures the excellent play and feel of this concert.
3. 8/31/69-Dallas, Texas
Led Zeppelin was the first band to play in this Pop Festival at the Texas International Motor Speedway. There's no doubt in my mind that they could have ended the show right after Led Zeppelin stepped off the stage and the crowd would have been perfectly satisfied. This is Led Zeppelin at their peak in 1969. Each song features extended play, exciting solos and dramatic drum and bass work. "How Many More Times" is the longest of the touring year and features a Bonham solo at the end that brings the crowd to a heavenly frenzy. There's a wonderful "I Can't Quit You Babe", a searing "You Shook Me" and a blistering "Communication Breakdown". The crowd reaction says it all! The roar of approval and gratitude as the band walks off is deafening. A truly historic event in Zeppelin history!
4. 1/9/70-London, England
As good as it gets! Led Zeppelin in 1970-71 was a band no one could compete against. The sheer power of their play during these years is something to astound you, and never is this more evident than in this show at Royal Albert Hall. The source I own is from the FM broadcast and though a bit overloaded at times, the musical affect is, nonetheless, a numbing experience that leaves you begging for more. Some great covers here ("Something Else" and "C'mon Everybody) and a glorious "How Many More Times". This is perhaps one of John Paul Jones' finest nights on bass. His
play is simply fabulous. He shows his ability to keep a song continuously entertaining with just a bass line. This may not be one of Zeppelin's technically perfect nights, but for energy, atmosphere and enjoyment, this show is one you must have!
5. 4/8/70-Raleigh, North Carolina
This may seem like an odd pick in a baker's dozen of live shows, but I assure you that this is a concert filled with the kind of powerful music that has made Led Zeppelin the legends of music they are today. My source is a very decent audience recording that captures both the exciting atmosphere and the exceptional play. There are a number of songs from this concert that are worth mentioning in brief here: "Dazed and Confused", in which Page hangs on to the exiting note of the crazed section so long that Bonham breaks away first; a superb "Heartbreaker"; a really special "White
Summer", and perhaps the best version of "Thank You" that you'll ever hear. One of my favorite listens. A great show.
6. 9/9/71-Hampton Beach, Virginia
September of 1971 may have been Led Zeppelin's finest month in their concert history. The band is completely together in this month and each show is as ecstatic as the next. For me, it's starts in Virginia, with a heavy and hard rocking performance at Hampton Roads Coliseum. Oddly, in my original review of this concert on my website, I was a little less than moved by this concert and I am not quite sure why! After repeated listens just recently, I've really come to love this concert. This is a healthy and strong Led Zeppelin and it shows in songs like "Heartbreaker", "Black Dog" and "Dazed
and Confused", even with a miserable edit of the latter on the particular soundboard source in my possession. This "Black Dog" is perhaps the finest performance of this song in that year, with a very extended Page guitar workout at the song's climax-very enjoyable! The musical section following a better-than-average violin solo in "Dazed and Confused" rivals those played in the Japanese shows . I also love the rendition of "Since I've Been Loving You", featuring some exceptional play by Page, both in the intro and middle sections.
7. 9/14/71-Berkeley, California
This is one of the best, and features one of those nights where there's an excellent crowd, great music and great vibes. I love this audience recording because it captures everything and leaves nothing to the imagination. This concert features a very special acoustic set, a very emotional "Stairway to Heaven", a monstrous "Dazed and Confused" (the ending is missing, un fortunately), and a truly remarkable "Whole Lotta Love" medley. Plant's friendly interaction with this peace-loving audience gives the whole night a great feel, but it's the band's play that brings this night to a heavenly plateau. Great stuff.
8. 9/29/71-Osaka, Japan
Led Zeppelin's tour of Japan in 1971 was perhaps their finest. Each show is as fabulous as the next. I love this particular show for not only the play, but the sources, which includes a very near to soundboard sounding audience
recording. My source includes the entire show created from that source and two other audience sources. And this is a show that must be heard! By the time Zeppelin reached Japan, "Immigrant Song" was number one on the charts
there, and the rendition they give on this night is really something to hear. It features the usual steady rhythm section of Jones and Bonham and a wonderfully extended Page solo in the climax, which features his great work with the wah-wah pedal. This song is followed by a marvellous "Heartbreaker" which will have you on the edge of your seat. "Dazed and Confused" is perhaps one of the best performances ever for the band. The acoustic section features a beautiful "Going to California", a search for Bonham who disappears with stomach cramps for a while, and a rare rendition of "Friends". This all culminates with one of the best "Whole Lotta Love" medleys the band has ever played. This is an electrifying concert that will leave you buzzing for days afterwards!
9. 6/25/72-Inglewood, California
The LA Forum was a very special place for the band. Throughout their concert history, this was a venue that brought out the best in the band. Perhaps the best night of all these nights came in June 1972. This was a very long and satisfying night that included seven spectacular encore songs and just about everything perfect and imperfect about the band in 1972. There are some moments in this concert where the play is a bit uneven and disjointed, but there are a lot more brilliant moments, too. These moments include a rousing "Immigrant Song/Heartbreaker", a powerful rhythm monster
as witnessed in "Black Dog", a beautiful intro arrangement for "Since I've Been Loving You", an extraordinary "Dancing Days", a devastating "Moby Dick", a magnificent and creative "Whole Lotta Love" medley (which includes an entertaining cover of Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel"), and the aforementioned encore set which ends with a stirring "Bring It On Home". You have to have this one. A wonderful night at The Forum!
10. 5/14/73-New Orleans, Louisiana
Perhaps Zeppelins "second" best month of their career came in the month of May in 1973. A lot of very good performances captured by a lot of fragmented soundboard sources and decent audience sources as well. Some
might question why I would choose this night in New Orleans as opposed to the night before in Mobile, Alabama (in itself a very splendid night for the boys). I like New Orleans because it shows how Led Zeppelin often "evolved" and arose above mediocre concert beginnings to leave you feeling like you got their very best at the end. This is such a night in New Orleans. Things are very, very sketchy for the band up until "Dazed and Confused". An example would be Plant's unusual way of mumbling a line in "No Quarter" that he had obviously forgotten. But by the end of "Dazed and Confused", the boys have finally found their way and the rest of the concert is really sublime, especially the final three: "Heartbreaking", with the musically addictive start-stop rhythm, the highly entertaining drum segue into a tight
and intriguing "Whole Lotta Love" and the final assault in "Communication Breakdown" which includes some music from James Brown's "Cold Sweat". This concert turns out to be a triumphant night for the band and one the Creole city would not soon forget. Led Zeppelin musical gumbo at it's finest!
11. 5/19/73-Fort Worth, Texas
After a very lackluster performance the night before in Dallas, this incomplete but nearly flawless sounding soundboard captures the band at perhaps their best in 1973. I think this particular show contains one of the best "Dazed and Confused" performances of the band's career, featuring John Bonham's outstanding bass foot and snare genius. This rendition may be their most perfect technically-Page hits the notes with authority, the bass play is fabulous and the musical union between each member of the band is completely in sync throughout the song. There's also a very good "No
Quarter", a very strong "The Song Remains the Same" and one of the better "Celebration Day" performances which features an extended finale that has Page and Bonham following and highlighting each other to a most satisfying
12. 2/12/75-New York, New York
Madison Square Garden, like The Forum LA, was a place where Led Zeppelin had many fine concerts. It was a special venue to them and they generally played very special concerts. Perhaps none was more special than this snowy night in New York city in the warmth and comfort of an excellent crowd, captured by an outstanding audience recording. From the very start, you know this is going to be a very good night for the boys. "Sick Again" really makes you jump for joy, "Over the Hills and Far Away" is Jimmy Page at his creative best, and "In My Time of Dying" will leave you breathless.
As the concert progresses, you feel the wonderful vibes and imagine you are right there within the crowd, enjoying some of the best Led Zeppelin music to be heard that year. This concert is stacked with one great performance after another. "Kashmir" is tight and effective, "The Rain Song" is truly a romantic adventure, "No Quarter" is blessed with the artistic musical arrangements of John Paul Jones, "Trampled Underfoot" is great fun, there's an intense performance of "Moby Dick" by the master John Bonham, "Dazed and Confused" is a little uneven but splendid nonetheless, and "Stairway to Heaven" may very well be one of the best the band ever played, featuring some of Page's finest work in this song. It all closes with three very strong performances of the abbreviated "Whole Lotta Love", a solid bass and riff in "Black Dog" and a completely wild and overwhelming "Communication Breakdown". It doesn't get any better than this concert, and I would have to say that this night certainly belongs in the "Top Five" of the very best of Led Zeppelin live. Outstanding!
13. Rehearsals and Outtakes
Instead of a live show as my last pick in my baker's dozen, I wanted to recommend to all Led Zeppelin fans that they acquire the many rehearsal and studio Outtakes which are available within the Zeppelin community. This quote from my website: "Some of the most revealing live recordings of Led Zeppelin come from rehearsal tapes and studio outtakes. You can really hear the genius of these musical giants through these documents." I would especially recommend what I call the "Oh My God" and the "Physical Graffiti" outtakes from the Headley Grange Studios in Hampshire, England. In the
"Physical Graffiti" outtakes, you can sit back and listen to the band develop "Trampled Underfoot" and come to realize how very influential John Bonham was to the music of Led Zeppelin. In the "Oh My God" outtakes, you can hear a completely different and melancholy arrangement of "In the Light" (called "In the Morning"), two very melodic performances of Page's "Swan Song" acoustic number, and a "Kashmir" without lyrics. In my opinion, these recordings capture another side of the developing Led Zeppelin you don't hear in the finished albums or live performances. I know these outtakes have given me a better understanding and appreciation of the hard work and team work that was necessary to produce some of the finest music the world has ever know.
These shows are essential if you are out to discover what made Led Zeppelin the legends in live music they are today. As live performers, I don't think there was a band back then or today that could entertain like this band could, and I don't think you will ever see the likes of their talents again. Fortunately, the band's music will continue to live on in both studio recordings and the live performances which have been captured by the real heroes of music history: the concertgoers with microphones in hand. Without these folks, only a select few would have come to know the greatness which was Led Zeppelin live. (David Pecnik March 2002)
A BAKER'S DOZEN by Larry Bergmann Jr
Picking the 13 most essential Led Zeppelin shows is next to impossible. There are so many good ones, so many classics, that it's very hard to single out a handful.
In my selections, I have tried to choose the shows that I go back to time and again. I'm certain I won't be breaking any new ground here, that the shows I pick will have probably appeared on most of the lists already submitted. But it was fun going thru and trying to figure it out. These are pretty much the shows I've been listening to in the 20+ years I've been collecting bootleg albums, tapes and CDs. Of course there are others I love that are not on this list, but 13 is 13. Almost.
As I have grown older, I must admit that I have become a bit snobbish regarding sound quality of the shows. I had my years where I would trade for any show I could get my hands on, and I have listened to every show I ever obtained (and I believe I have at least 95% of the shows that are in common circulation). However, those days are over.
I cannot listen to a poor sounding show anymore, no matter how great the performance. So, that is reflected in my list, and I have made a comment or two along the way about this. Certainly the best recordings don't always go hand-in-hand with the best performances.
I also have my preferences for the earlier period Zeppelin. This doesn't mean I don't enjoy a good latter-period show, but I do not think that the band was as good onstage in the second half of its career as it was the first half. There were still some great nights in the latter days to be sure, but they became the exception, not the rule they had been in the early days. This probably reflects in my list as well.
As for the bootleg CD world, I make no pretence to running out and collecting every new version of a new source tape of an old show that has been issued 496 times on bootleg CD. I despise this practice, and I call on all hoarders to simply get on with it, sell your tapes to the highest bidder, and put it all out there so that the rest of us mortals can have at it and decide which of these shows we would like to attempt to obtain by taking out second and third mortgages on our homes.
Therefore, I have left out the references to the various bootlegs. In some cases, I probably have whatever might be considered the "definitive" release (as if there is ever such a creature in the murky quagmire that is the bootleg world) and in some cases probably not.
So, without further ado…
1. 4/26/69 WINTERLAND, SAN FRANCISCO
Everything about this show just smokes. This is Zeppelin at its youngest and most raw, finding out how much power they wield, and learning how to wield it. Page is a monster throughout the show, and his playing on Killing Floor is one of the great live moments in all of the Zeppelin canon. Plant's vocals are shattering. The audience is overwhelmed and so is this listener every time.
2. 3/7/70 MONTREUX JAZZ FESTIVAL
A tremendous performance blessed by one of the great audience recordings in Zep collecting history. I especially love the embryonic Since I've Been Loving You. Moby Dick is strong and concise in this show and Bonham really gets into a nice trip on this. But the piece de resistance is an absolutely wild version of How Many More Times. This is Led Zeppelin at its most raw and primal. The excitement roars out of the speakers/headphones and grabs you by the throat.
3. 9/4/70 THE FORUM, LOS ANGELES
Perhaps the show two days earlier in Oakland was better, but the recording cannot touch the beautifully captured sound of this show. And this show isn't too bad in its own right! A devastating opening salvo of Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker and Dazed And Confused. Nice acoustic set, classic performance of Bring It On Home, a great Whole Lotta Love medley, and the classic closer, Blueberry Hill. The recording not only delivers the music in pristine quality, it provides a wonderful document of the ambience at the show. Zeppelin achieves a real intimacy with the audience. One of the first real bootlegs, and still one of the best.
4. 9/14/71 BERKELEY COMMUNITY CENTER
My first bootleg album, yes, album (dating myself a bit, I know). Another tremendous audience recording of a brilliant gig. Then again, are there any non-brilliant 1971 gigs? The opening blast of Immigrant Song and Heartbreaker is 12 minutes of the most blistering Zeppelin ever recorded. Listen to Bonham's daredevil stunt-drumming on Heartbreaker! Another lovely acoustic set, and maybe the definitive performance of the standard '71 tour WLL medley. Perfect.
5. 9/29/71 FESTIVAL HALL, OSAKA
I know there is a lot of sentiment for the great show in Tokyo on September 23, but for my money this is one of the finest shows the band ever played. Another show where you can tell a true sense of community has been established between the band and the audience. The band turns in a relaxed, confident and incredibly fun performance. The highlights exist in every song. The audience recording (which still sounds a lot like an imbalanced soundboard to me) gives the best glimpse in Zeppelin history into the onstage banter between the band. My favorite moment is Jimmy's off-the-cuff Hendrixian wah-wah jam during the WLL medley.
6. 6/25/72 THE FORUM, LOS ANGELES
The show in Seattle from June 19 may be the greatest show the band ever played, but the recording is prohibitive. That leaves this tasty show as the definitive document of 1972. Features maybe the greatest ever Black Dog and the WLL medley is a real standout, particularly the raucous version of Slow Down. Louie Louie is one of the classic moments. Simply a great show.
7. 3/24/73 OFFENBURG
The 1973 European tour features some of the most brutally efficient playing in the band's history. They are coldly and purposefully delivering the goods, and this show is the best recorded of this tour. Unfortunately, Plant really struggled on this tour, his voice sounding at times like it's gone. The final portion of the show, featuring Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, WLL medley and Heartbreaker, is breathtaking. The high moment is I Can't Quit You Baby from the medley. Six minutes of powerhouse blues.
8. 6/3/73 THE FORUM, LOS ANGELES
Page had damaged his finger a few days earlier, and some sticky moments exist in his playing in this show as a result, but this for me is nonetheless the ultimate show from the '73 US tour. A great recording which is marred in some of the earlier parts of the show with tape speed problems. But when it's good, which is most of the time, it's very very good indeed. Thank You is magnificent.
9. 3/21/75 SEATTLE CENTER COLISEUM
The '75 US tour is not my favorite. The playing is getting sloppier, and Page is not getting the same warm tones out of the Les Paul that he once did. But for this one night, the band found the magic and sustained it for the full three-and-a-half hour extravaganza. An incredibly played show before an appreciative audience in one of Zeppelin's home away from homes. Page gets into one of the great solos on Over The Hills And Far Away and Dazed And Confused, which was getting a bit tired by this point, simply burns all the way through. Terrific.
10. 5/24/75 EARL'S COURT ARENA, LONDON
The Holy Grail. Unlike with Knebworth, the emergence of the pro-shot video has done nothing to diminish this great show. These shows were obviously important to the band for all the obvious reasons, and as with all the great Zep shows, there is a real warm vibe that permeates everything about this show. Tangerine is a beautiful prelude to the ultimate acoustic set in the band's history. Plant sings with real beauty and emotion, especially on That's The Way. Also the ultimate performance of Trampled Underfoot. Eight blazing, heart-stopping minutes of the greatest live Zeppelin ever. Woodstock from the middle of Dazed is also devastatingly mysterious. This show also features probably the greatest live recording of Stairway To Heaven. What else do you want? I said years ago in Zoso Magazine that this one show was the perfect presentation of Led Zeppelin's music. All these years later, I still feel the same.
11. 6/21&23/77 THE FORUM, LOS ANGELES
OK, so I cheated here. I'm counting these as one, and how can they be separated? Both of these shows are incredible, the unquestionable highlights of 1977. The first show, the famous Listen To This Eddie show is without doubt the finest audience recording in Zeppelin history. Thank you to the late Mike Millard for his incredible work. Highlights from the first night include everything from TSRTS right thru No Quarter (in which Jimmy lays down the most monstrous performance ever of the opening riff and later develops into one of the great improvisations). Heartbreaker is a rare and delicious treat. The Badge Holders show of two nights later features maybe the ultimate OTHAFA, a tremendous SIBLY, another spectacular NQ, and a wonderful Ten Years Gone. Then, of course, the convention of loonies starring Keith Moon rounds this legendary show off in high style.
12. 7/24/79 FALKONER THEATRE, COPENHAGEN
To my mind, this is the best show of the four 1979 gigs…by a country mile. The first night in Copenhagen was by all accounts a disaster, and the band seemed as if they were trying to make amends. Page is terrific throughout for the only time in '79, especially on OTHAFA and SIBLY. I also like the August 4 Knebworth gig, but if I had to pick one from '79, I would reach for this one. This rates as one of the finest shows in the latter half of the band's career.
13. 6/18/80 SPORTHALLE, COLOGNE
This one is a sentimental favorite for me, as I sought this long and hard on an old Japanese bootleg LP. When I finally obtained it, I wasn't disappointed. A vibrant audience recording captures this show in all its power and majesty, and in my opinion this is the finest show they did in 1980. Jimmy is sprightly on this night, unlike later in the tour. I also absolutely cannot stand to listen to the dry soundboard recordings from this tour. They just don't sound right, and they also make the numerous mistakes in the playing too obvious to bear. It's great to listen to this show, but also a bit melancholy when one considers the tragedy that lie just around the bend. The final great flight of the mighty Led Zeppelin.
I still feel that Jimmy should get around to putting together that chronological live set that he first spoke of 25 years ago. I guess he has tried to put something together in the past, but has been unable to gain a consensus amongst the rest of the band. This is a shame as the definitive official live Zeppelin release has yet to see the light of day. The bootlegs are great to have, but... Perhaps Jimmy can put together a string of releases of great shows, a la the Dick's Picks Grateful Dead series.
Yeah, I know, but a guy can dream can't he?
- Larry Bergmann, Jr.