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Earls Court mental block


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I seem to have a mental block with the Earls Court shows.

I just can't really get into them, despite all the plaudits they get.

I'd much rather listen to '75 shows from Seattle/Vancouver, or even Knebworth '79, despite it's patchiness.

At Earls Court, the band seemed to quite subdued, especially Bonzo who seems to be playing it a bit safe at times.

I think the shows were a commercial milestone for the band and because they were filmed have become somewhat mythical.

But to me, Zep always played their best shows in America. They could live up to their larger-than-life persona and really go for it without feeling self-conscious.

In a 1993 Plant interview - after he had played one of the smaller stages at Glastonbury - he said it was the best he had sang in Britain since Bath in 1970.

The fact that we don't have an official audio release, culled from EC's five performances, hints at the band being slightly reticent about the shows.

 

Edited by Boleskinner
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I agree, the Earl's Court shows tend to be overrated.  That doesn't mean they're not good, there are in fact some truly great moments and I regard them as the band's last great concerts.  However, as you say the American shows that year, in particular the West Coast gigs (don't forget Long Beach!) are definitely better. 

 

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I disagree. The Earls court bootlegs were some of the first that I truely got into. As for Roberts comment about his best singing since bath, you know what he's like, you have to take some of what he says with a pinch of salt and not too seriously.

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1 hour ago, babysquid said:

I disagree. The Earls court bootlegs were some of the first that I truely got into. As for Roberts comment about his best singing since bath, you know what he's like, you have to take some of what he says with a pinch of salt and not too seriously.

I know Plant can be facetious at times, but he was being serious about the best singing since Bath.

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Plant would say that. I am surprised he didn't say since Hobstweedle back in 67 or whatever

I think the trouble with the EC shows is the sound on both the DVD and CD boots - especially the board/film feed. It has no depth. The very first time I heard the audience bootleg of the 24th show " Earls Court", I was blown away with the "woodstock" segment in Dazed. Truly eerie and wonderful. Never sounded like that on the board.

 

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1 hour ago, chillumpuffer said:

Plant would say that. I am surprised he didn't say since Hobstweedle back in 67 or whatever

I think the trouble with the EC shows is the sound on both the DVD and CD boots - especially the board/film feed. It has no depth. The very first time I heard the audience bootleg of the 24th show " Earls Court", I was blown away with the "woodstock" segment in Dazed. Truly eerie and wonderful. Never sounded like that on the board.

 

Totally agree with you mate. I've never gotten into the shows for precisely this reason. I much prefer the Vancouver gigs from that year

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9 hours ago, Boleskinner said:

The fact that we don't have an official audio release, culled from EC's five performances, hints at the band being slightly reticent about the shows.

That could have more to do with recording quality than performance quality. If you want to hold the infinitesimal minority opinion that Led Zeppelin's five night stint at the Earls Court in London in May 1975 are not among their greatest gigs more power to you. 

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Agreed. Earls Court was a shed but you can't argue with the performances especially the 24th & 25th. It was the problem with the UK in the 70's. We just didn't have the venues to hold say 10,000  people that sounded great. My local venue The Free Trade Hall, held 2500. But as it was the home of the world famous Halle Orchestra, the sound was always fantastic

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It seems it's just a  matter of opinion. If you've seen the dvd's, the biggest prob is the sound. Keep in mind, this is a bootleg, so something is going to suffer. There are other dvd's by other artists that are old & suffer from that as well. I think the performance is there, it is just mired by the mix.

Edited by The Rover 75
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23 minutes ago, Jimmy's Dragon Suit said:

The Earl's Court shows are great but I am always compelled to listen to the US shows from 75. There is a certain magic in those US shows that wasn't quite captured in Earl's Court.

21/3/75 is I think clearly the best show of the year, besides that I tend to find that the US shows are a little more uneven BUT the highlights of them like NQ, TU and DAC really do hit there peaks and are the things from 75 that I listen to the most.

Really though I wouldn't say there exactly like for like anyway, not only do you have the acoustic set returning for EC but I think you also have some deliberate rearrangement of tracks like NQ that shifts from the more energetic blues/jazz of the US shows more towards atmospheric classical. I think that does kind of make the EC shows a bit special in that we only 5 five of them with set list/arrangement, a bit like the 79 shows.

In terms of where the band felt "freer" I'd guess that at certain points the band felt under a bit more pressure to give a slick performance, MSG in 73 most obviously but perhaps EC as well and this cut back on some of the energy.

Edited by greenman
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12 hours ago, Boleskinner said:

In a 1993 Plant interview - after he had played one of the smaller stages at Glastonbury - he said it was the best he had sang in Britain since Bath in 1970.

 

well as we know Planty can be facetitious but his 93 Glastonbury gig was a very good one

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21 minutes ago, greenman said:

21/3/75 is I think clearly the best show of the year, besides that I tend to find that the US shows are a little more uneven BUT the highlights of them like NQ, TU and DAC really do hit there peaks and are the things from 75 that I listen to the most.

Really though I wouldn't say there exactly like for like anyway, not only do you have the acoustic set returning for EC but I think you also have some deliberate rearrangement of tracks like NQ that shifts from the more energetic blues/jazz of the US shows more towards atmospheric classical. I think that does kind of make the EC shows a bit special in that we only 5 five of them with set list/arrangement, a bit like the 79 shows.

In terms of where the band felt "freer" I'd guess that at certain points the band felt under a bit more pressure to give a slick performance, MSG in 73 most obviously but perhaps EC as well and this cut back on some of the energy.

I'm somewhat partial to 2/12/75, if only because to this day I can listen to this show and imagine I've just come four blocks in the snow to get there. It was one of the first bootlegs that REALLY blew my mind and exceeded all expectations. 3/21/75 is a better performance though.

 

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1 hour ago, Jimmy's Dragon Suit said:

The Earl's Court shows are great but I am always compelled to listen to the US shows from 75. There is a certain magic in those US shows that wasn't quite captured in Earl's Court.

Agree

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I agree that these shows are overrated. They're decent shows, with a good vibe and atmosphere (Plantations etc.) but they've always left me a bit cold. Yes, the parts that are on the official DVD are great, and there's a few other moments from the shows that are legendary (ex. Woodstock on the 24th), but the best shows of their career? No way! The band seems to be playing it a little too safe, Plant's voice is worse than it was at the West Coast shows, and Page's guitar tone comes across as being so thin on the recordings that it almost sounds like the whole band is playing at minimum volume. You don't really get that "in your face" loudness that you get on other bootlegs (ex. 2/12 MSG).

I do like that they added the acoustic set back, and that's easily the highlight of these shows for me. In terms of runs, I much prefer stuff like Japan 71 or LA 77 because the band seems more energetic and loose at those shows.  I suppose the circumstances surrounding Earl's Court (1st time in UK in 2 years, last time they would play there for four years, last concerts before all the bad stuff began happening, largest indoor arena in UK, Page still heroin-free, full video of two of the concerts) are what make them legendary, rather than the performances themselves.

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I love me some Earls Court. But I have no doubt that the "subdued" atmosphere was a result of them being at home/not on the road. I'm sure their parents wives and children were there as well. They loosened up a bit on the 25th though, probably left the kids at home for that one.

Edited by blindwillie127
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20 hours ago, Boleskinner said:

I seem to have a mental block with the Earls Court shows.

I just can't really get into them, despite all the plaudits they get.

I'd much rather listen to '75 shows from Seattle/Vancouver, or even Knebworth '79, despite it's patchiness.

At Earls Court, the band seemed to quite subdued, especially Bonzo who seems to be playing it a bit safe at times.

I think the shows were a commercial milestone for the band and because they were filmed have become somewhat mythical.

But to me, Zep always played their best shows in America. They could live up to their larger-than-life persona and really go for it without feeling self-conscious.

In a 1993 Plant interview - after he had played one of the smaller stages at Glastonbury - he said it was the best he had sang in Britain since Bath in 1970.

The fact that we don't have an official audio release, culled from EC's five performances, hints at the band being slightly reticent about the shows.

 

What we have here is a disconnect between the actual performance and the sound quality of the tapes. The soundboards from EC do not sound as good as the US '75 soundboards, and it is this that I think makes it hard to get into Earls Court...it lacks the immediacy that the best '75 U.S. shows have.

The EC audience tapes help a little...I like the way Bonham's drums boom on the May 18 and May 23 audience tapes and the fact that you can actually hear the audience (which you can't on the soundboards) helps give the shows a 'live vibe'.

I hear some great performances during the EC run, Plant's voice notwithstanding. The addition of the acoustic set definitely gives it a much more special vibe than the U.S. shows. For instance, these are the only performances of "Tangerine" that properly capture the song's magic. The acoustic-only ones in 1971 and 1972 are never entirely convincing...they sound like demos.

For a band who made great-sounding albums, getting good-sounding live recordings seemed to be a thorn in their side.

The 1970 Bath Festival didn't work out. They weren't happy with 1971 Japan. 1973 MSG sounded and looked terrific on the tapes and film footage they did get...but the crew couldn't get the entire concerts recorded properly. Again they had technical difficulties on certain nights of the 1975 EC run. They ignored the 1977 tour. And by the 1979 Knebworth shows, the band itself was inconsistent.

Only the 1970 Royal Albert Hall and 1972 LA and Long Beach tapes were successful and those tapes were buried for years before being released.

Even the 1971 BBC Paris Theatre show sounds wan compared to other BBC shows by the Faces, Yes, The Who, Kinks, Queen, and the BBC Zeppelin captured on Disc 1.

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I don't buy the argument that poor sounding multi-tracks have prevented a release.

They were paying someone to record it, who had five nights to fine tune the setup, and the best stuff is generally from the last two nights.

The stuff on the official DVD from EC sounds perfectly fine to me.

I know a bass drum is missing from one night, though.

I think other factors are in play.

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7 minutes ago, Boleskinner said:

I don't buy the argument that poor sounding multi-tracks have prevented a release...I think other factors are in play.

Yeah. Like the fact that Robert Plant doesn't like the way he sounds on half the songs.

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Personaly I probably wouldn't buy an official release of the Earls Court concerts. I'm very happy with the boots warts and all, and all the doctoring that would probably go into putting out a "pristine" official release would most likely drive me mad. It's like watching the football highlights and they've retconned all the scores to make everyone look good ?. It would have to be something very special for me to get excited.

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On ‎09‎/‎01‎/‎2017 at 5:28 PM, blindwillie127 said:

I love me some Earls Court. But I have no doubt that the "subdued" atmosphere was a result of them being at home/not on the road. I'm sure their parents wives and children were there as well. They loosened up a bit on the 25th though, probably left the kids at home for that one.

I wouldn't take it THAT far, the EC shows(well the last 4 anyway) clearly are some of the best of the year but again I think that towards the end of the US tour on the west coast the band did tap into something special. Whole shows weren't always as consistent as EC BUT the epic tracks(NQ and DAC) and some of the shorter ones like TU hit heights that I don't think EC quite matches in terms of energy although again I do like the more atmospheric EC versions of NQ.

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On 09/01/2017 at 2:30 AM, Boleskinner said:

The fact that we don't have an official audio release, culled from EC's five performances, hints at the band being slightly reticent about the shows.

Don't be so sure about that; our very own Steve A Jones heard on his well-sourced grapevine in summer 2015 about Jimmy Page giving an EC live album serious consideration, so it might happen in future... having dealt with that frankly frivolous court case and remastered/re-released BBC Sessions, and once he scratches his solo material itch, Jimmy will inevitably return to the true love of his life, sweet lady Led, and the EC shows are last substantive thing in the vaults they have left... those shows are rightly iconic and justifiably legendary, and having all five nights (more or less) multi-tracked at the time, and transferred to 24/96 digital files in 2002, means it would be a shame for them to lie in the vaults gathering dust (so to speak), unheard and unreleased.

Go on Jimmy, you know you want to, you old Magus...

 

 

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