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Kevin Shirley on the making of DVD and HTWWW...


The Old Hermit
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I found a very interesting and informative interview with Kevin Shirley on the Herculean task of bringing both DVD and HTWWW to fruition, hope everyone finds it as engrossing as I did;

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov03/articles/kevinshirley.htm

One of the most notable parts of Shirley's extensive interview is his revelation that all five nights of the Earl's Court shows were given multi-track recordings, not just the last two nights (May 24th and 25th) of that legendary stint as I had been led to believe... all the more reason for a full-fledged EC live album in the future, considering all five glorious nights are now preserved for posterity in pristine 24/96 digital clarity, how about it Jimmy?

Edited by The Old Hermit
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I found a very interesting and informative interview with Kevin Shirley on the Herculean task of bringing both DVD and HTWWW to fruition, hope everyone finds it as engrossing as I did;

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov03/articles/kevinshirley.htm

One of the most notable parts of Shirley's extensive interview is his revelation that all five nights of the Earl's Court shows were given multi-track recordings, not just the last two (May 24th/25th) as I had been led to believe... more reason for a full-fledged EC live album in the future, considering all five nights are now preserved for posterity in pristine 24-bit digital clarity, how about it Jimmy?

No chance, it would not sell enough to make it viable. There to few Zeppelin fans around these days.

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No chance, it would not sell enough to make it viable. There to few Zeppelin fans around these days.

I know what you mean, after all, only 20+ million fans scrambled to lay down a few hundred a ticket for the O2 show in 07'.

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I know what you mean, after all, only 20+ million fans scrambled to lay down a few hundred a ticket for the O2 show in 07'.

Nah, Two million(ish) fans made multipal applications for o2 tickets (Me for instance). As for an Earls Court live album Page has already said there are enough live albums out there already.

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Nah, Two million(ish) fans made multipal applications for o2 tickets (Me for instance). As for an Earls Court live album Page has already said there are enough live albums out there already.

None of which have an unedited "No Quarter" or "Kashmir" or "Trampled Under Foot". All the official LZ live albums are from 1973 or earlier.

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You're saying that a live cd or dvd combo culled from the multiple nights at Earls Court, Led Zeppelin at the pinnacle of their popularity, firing on most ( :P) cylinders wouldn't sell? :blink:

Sure, How the West Was Won didn't move a ton of copies, it was also marketed horribly and released at the same time as DVD (which confused people because it was also released as a DVD-A). It's sales in no way represent the current state of Led Zeppelin marketability. The current remasters sales might be a better indicator, but there's not a lot of reporting on sales numbers.

Edited by Glyn
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In the end, who cares about the money aspect, after all, Page is worth what, around a $100 million? Even if they went through the trouble, the processing, marketing etc. and the Earls Court DVD only sold say, 50,000 units at $20 a pop, they would still turn a very, very nice profit.

I would think at this point the money would be irrelevant, something like this would be for legacy sake and the fans.

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In the end, who cares about the money aspect, after all, Page is worth what, around a $100 million? Even if they went through the trouble, the processing, marketing etc. and the Earls Court DVD only sold say, 50,000 units at $20 a pop, they would still turn a very, very nice profit.

I would think at this point the money would be irrelevant, something like this would be for legacy sake and the fans.

Money will always be relevant - any project of this magnitude i.e the current re-releases comes at incredible expense. I'd love to see ANY new LZ gig see a proper release, but I fear that hope is lost. I'm afraid any new live material will come from bootlegs.

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If Kevin Shirley's right and there's all five nights from which to draw the best performances, occasional missing bass drum tracks not withstanding, it seems such a shame to just leave it all lying in a vault. Then again, Jimmy once said his interest in more live releases had diminished because 'you can't very well do it if someone is vetoing the bloody thing. It's a lot of work to go through all these tapes and I'm not going to do it if he's going to stop it.' 'He', obviously, being Robert. That was a few years ago, but I guess an Earls Court or any other live release would still come down to Jimmy and Robert managing to agree on the individual performances. Assuming Robert would agree to it in the first place, that is!

Edited by Brigante
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Jimmy once said his interest in more live releases had diminished because 'you can't very well do it if someone is vetoing the bloody thing. It's a lot of work to go through all these tapes and I'm not going to do it if he's going to stop it.' 'He', obviously, being Robert. That was a few years ago, but I guess an Earls Court or any other live release would still come down to Jimmy and Robert managing to agree on the individual performances. Assuming Robert would agree to it in the first place, that is!

That particular lamentation from Jimmy was to do specifically with the chronological live album he had wanted to put together since around 1977 (not being happy with either the performances or mix of TSRTS, released the previous October), and for which he still had every intention of doing up until around 2000 when he gave an interview stating he no longer brought up the subject at band meetings because Robert Plant consistently vetoed it. But by 2002, Plant's attitude to his Zeppelin past seems to have softened significantly, because he was very happy with the L.A. 1972 shows that were used for HTWWW and he didn't veto that, he was also bowled over by Jimmy's and Kevin Shirley's new mix for TSRTS and again he didn't veto that.

I would hazard a guess that if Jimmy at some point in the future was serious about putting together and releasing an Earl's Court live album, Plant wouldn't have a problem with it and certainly wouldn't veto it outright...

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Can we agree that it's most likely that all Empress Valley soundboards were sourced from Kevin Shirley's work on How the West Was Won and the DVD?

I recalled interviews where Shirley said that he baked and digitized everything, and that some of the tapes were in terrible shape.

DVD and HTWWW both came out in May 2003. Empress Valley's Flying Circus (New York 2/12/75) came out around September 2002. Sounds about right timing-wise that they would've given everything a first pass, digitized the whole set, and then selected what they wanted to release officially. Obviously none of the 75 and 77 boards made the cut, but were great quality, so they started leaking them out and have been ever since. Note too that the Southampton 1973 board prepped for the release was also leaked at that time.

Call me crazy, but the whole "The boards come from an ex Showco employee" story never made any sense. The quality of the soundboards is simply too good to be the work of someone just trading reel copies. And to think of someone who has been leaking things for 13 years now? That's nonsense.

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None of the material Kevin Shirley worked on for DVD and HTWWW consisted of anything other than the Royal Albert Hall 1970, one night each of L.A. Forum and Long Beach Arena 1972, three nights of Madison Square Gardens 1973, five nights of Earl's Court 1975, and two nights of Knebworth 1979, no other recordings were mentioned by Shirley in the article and thus should be ruled out as coming from the work he did in 2002 for those two aforementioned releases. And besides, none of those shows were soundboard-sourced, they were all professionally recorded on multi-track tapes (8-track for 1970, 16-track for 1972-73-75, and 24-track for 1979), plus Jimmy Page would never officially release a soundboard recording, period. I would dare say those soundboard-sourced bootlegs either were leaked by someone around the band (road crew, ShowCo employee, venue staff, take your pick) or were part of the trove stolen from Jimmy's house in the 1980's, either way, it's immoral, unethical, and just plain bad form to give EV or any other bootleg company business when they're trafficking in stolen property, this is why the music business is in it's death throes right now.

When you look at the sum total of recorded material that Pagey and Shirley worked on - 13 shows and 45 hours of content in total - you can see why Jimmy wanted to do a chronological live album so badly (despite the lamentable fact none of the 1977 shows were given multi-track recordings)... man, that thing would have been an absolute MONSTER of an album had Percy not vetoed it, but never mind, things worked out well in the end and I wouldn't change what was eventually released, so onwards and upwards as they say...

Edited by The Old Hermit
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None of the material Kevin Shirley worked on for DVD and HTWWW consisted of anything other than the Royal Albert Hall 1970, one night each of L.A. Forum and Long Beach Arena 1972, three nights of Madison Square Gardens 1973, five nights of Earl's Court 1975, and two nights of Knebworth 1979, no other recordings were mentioned by Shirley in the article and thus should be ruled out as coming from the work he did in 2002 for those two aforementioned releases...

http://www.ledzeppelinnews.com/2011/03/kevin-shirley-admits-to-run-ins-with.html

"I got to the studio and it was like, 'Well, there's room full of old tapes, going back from 1968 to 1980 ... And by the time we started looking at it, it really wasn't that much. There was some really shaky performances, and there was a lot of drug use going on in the band in the '70s. So there were performances that really weren't good at all."

Obviously, I don't know what he's referring to when he says a "room full of old tapes". Maybe it was only the stuff that would be officially released, or maybe it was everything that Page has. Given the timing, my guess is still that Shirley (or an assistant) had access to everything, digitized it all, and then worked only on the stuff that appeared on the DVD and HTWWW.

With proper equipment at a studio that had multiple machines, you could run through all of the soundboard reels from the 1975 US tour and cassettes from 1977 within a few weeks. Especially if you have assistants doing it. Note that Shirley had his protools rig shipped to London in May 2002: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov03/articles/kevinshirley.htm and Empress Valley's Flying Circus was out only a few months later.

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The Empress Valley-released bootleg shows you're referring to were soundboard recordings not multi-track recordings, it's a night-and-day difference, so I'm pretty sure that NONE of the tapes that Kevin Shirley and Jimmy Page went through in 2002, whether digitized or not, were leaked to the bootleg market.

Jimmy Page has always intimated there was more audio material in the archive than has been officially released thus far - which is what Kevin Shirley is likely referring to - but not every performance that was given a multi-track recording is fit for release, Jimmy has lamented quite a few times in interviews that he always regretted the fact that the tape wasn't running on most of those "magic nights" when the band were just on fire, although the L.A. 1972 shows featured on HTWWW and most of the Earl's Court shows (the last two in particular) are absolutely moments where the band was on fire and the tape was most definitely running... which is why I really, truly, wholeheartedly believe that an official Earl's Court live album should be put together and released.

But to avoid me starting to sound like a broken record, I'll take my leave of the whole Earl's Court subject matter and let others have the floor...

Edited by The Old Hermit
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The Empress Valley-released bootleg shows you're referring to were soundboard recordings not multi-track recordings, it's a night-and-day difference, so I'm pretty sure that NONE of the tapes that Kevin Shirley and Jimmy Page went through in 2002, whether digitized or not, were leaked to the bootleg market.

Well, remember that Southampton 73 was most certainly part of the tapes worked on (Shirley nicked the keyboards for Stairway on HTWWW), and it eventually leaked out in 2007, having been out there for a few years already. How could that have happened, right? Sure, the 71-77 boards are not multi-tracks, but I would still put money on those tapes having been transferred at/around the same time and that they made their way out to whoever is supplying Empress Valley. I really just don't see some random tech from Showco having anything to do with these boards. As if they had been hoarding them since the 1970s and finally got wise 25-30 years later? Nonsense. We'd be talking about 60 year olds conspiring to do this stuff. And notice that we are now going on 13 years of the same slow drip of releases, and yet every single board has been an extremely clean transfer (albeit with some brickwalling and questionable EQ) with fidelity indicating a generation not far off from the master copy.

I would also take Page's opinion on bootlegs with a grain of salt. Sure, he testified against a particular dealer, but he also admitted to having met Eric Sachs during his visits to Japan, and in the It Might Get Loud documentary of course we can see that Page hads quite the bootleg collection himself.

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Nah, Two million(ish) fans made multipal applications for o2 tickets (Me for instance). As for an Earls Court live album Page has already said there are enough live albums out there already.

I hope that's not really how he feels; if the Stones and the Doors can both have more than 10 live albums Zepp can certainly have more than 5!

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  • 5 months later...

That's very cool indeed! Quick question re: 4, 16, 24 track live recording. Given there are only four musicians playing live - why do you need anything more than a 4 track tape? 

drums, and a stereo image... and other things too.

If you want your drums to appear in stereo you need to use at least two tracks: one for left, one for right. If you want more flexibility at mixdown you'd also use separate tracks for the snare, the bass drum, and maybe individual toms, the timpani and the gong...

John Paul Jones was playing the bass (one track), the mellotron (one track), the electric piano (one track) and bass pedals too when he was on the keyboards (one track).

Jimmy had his guitar (one, maybe two tracks - one for a close Mic, one for a Mic slightly further from the amp for some ambience) and the theremin (one track).

If you wanted to capture the sound of the audience you'd use another Mic or two... it all adds up!

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  • 1 year later...
On 5/26/2015 at 3:50 PM, pluribus said:

I  would also take Page's opinion on bootlegs with a grain of salt. Sure, he testified against a particular dealer, but he also admitted to having met Eric Sachs during his visits to Japan, and in the It Might Get Loud documentary of course we can see that Page hads quite the bootleg collection himself.

Came to this thread quite late , but it's a good topic. Page has said he has acquired quite a nice collection of boots. He has visited CD shops in Tokyo and browsed and bought ( or was given) bootlegs.  It's seems to me the biggest issue hindering more official live releases is the erratic performances , particularly Plant's cracking voice. A lot of editing would be required to clean up his singing and he most likely isn't too proud of many performances post '73. Seems likely to me that Long Beach and LA '72 were chosen because his voice was still pretty much in good shape and the band was at their peak, especially Page. Jones and Bonzo didn't have too many rough nights but there are many gaffs from Page and Plant from late '72 on to '80. I think this is the main reason for a lack of more official live material . 

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26 minutes ago, porgie66 said:

Came to this thread quite late , but it's a good topic. Page has said he has acquired quite a nice collection of boots. He has visited CD shops in Tokyo and browsed and bought ( or was given) bootlegs.  It's seems to me the biggest issue hindering more official live releases is the erratic performances , particularly Plant's cracking voice. A lot of editing would be required to clean up his singing and he most likely isn't too proud of many performances post '73. Seems likely to me that Long Beach and LA '72 were chosen because his voice was still pretty much in good shape and the band was at their peak, especially Page. Jones and Bonzo didn't have too many rough nights but there are many gaffs from Page and Plant from late '72 on to '80. I think this is the main reason for a lack of more official live material . 

Or, they could do what 90% of all live releases are, that is a mix of the best songs over either a multi-night run or over the course of the whole tour. Just about every official live release from any band or performer is cleaned up, edited, and mixed in such a fashion. This is why I never understood the whole controversy over TSRTS album. Zep did the same thing everyone else had, has, and always will do regarding a live release. The fact is, with a few exceptions here and there, if you want a true live release, get a boot and suffer through a possible shitty recording.

Never understood the whole honesty concept regarding a live release. I want the best performances of the songs, if that takes multiple gigs to assemble the best representation of a tour, great. If they can pull it off in one gig, great. All I care about is the live release sounds as good as possible. Hell, even the boots I have are only the best sounding of the best gigs of each tour. Huzzah for the purist who wants to collect every show regardless of quality, but I really don't need to hear the same damn song 40 times played slightly differently over the course of a tour.

Jimmy just needs to assemble the best live performances of the songs played in the best quality, of each tour (plus 79') and be done with it. 12 or 13 live albums or 10 -11 if you skip 72' & 73' since we have official releases for those years.

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3 minutes ago, IpMan said:

Jimmy just needs to assemble the best live performances of the songs played in the best quality, of each tour (plus 79') and be done with it. 12 or 13 live albums or 10 -11 if you skip 72' & 73' since we have official releases for those years.

Does a definitive list exist of live multi-tracked performances from 75-80?

I know some dates from MSG 75 were multi-tracked, but apparently there are none from 77 and 80 is doubtful.

Page would never consider a soundboard for a release.

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15 minutes ago, IpMan said:

Or, they could do what 90% of all live releases are, that is a mix of the best songs over either a multi-night run or over the course of the whole tour. Just about every official live release from any band or performer is cleaned up, edited, and mixed in such a fashion. This is why I never understood the whole controversy over TSRTS album. Zep did the same thing everyone else had, has, and always will do regarding a live release. The fact is, with a few exceptions here and there, if you want a true live release, get a boot and suffer through a possible shitty recording.

Never understood the whole honesty concept regarding a live release. I want the best performances of the songs, if that takes multiple gigs to assemble the best representation of a tour, great. If they can pull it off in one gig, great. All I care about is the live release sounds as good as possible. Hell, even the boots I have are only the best sounding of the best gigs of each tour. Huzzah for the purist who wants to collect every show regardless of quality, but I really don't need to hear the same damn song 40 times played slightly differently over the course of a tour.

Jimmy just needs to assemble the best live performances of the songs played in the best quality, of each tour (plus 79') and be done with it. 12 or 13 live albums or 10 -11 if you skip 72' & 73' since we have official releases for those years.

Absolutely agree! A live album is a totally different ball of wax than a live show. That's why an Earl's Court release would make the most sense since there are multi tracks from two and a half nights that are supposedly useful. Same venue, same overall sonics, it wouldn't be a stretch to get it done. Plenty of alternate bits to edit, cut and paste to make a whole release. I really think it's because Plants voice was so fucked most of the time that he just won't allow it. Jimmy and co would have to ProTools the shit out of the vocals to satisfy Percy. I'd still buy it and crank it. Then I'd nerd out and compare parts to the bootlegs. Hopeless.

Edited by porgie66
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