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Gratefulzepp

Why Earl's Court?

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I've been a Zeppelin fan since I was a child. I'm as big of a fan as all of you on here. I've been collecting bootlegs since 1993 when I got introduced to a store in Greenwich Village here in NYC. I remember when I got deep into my bootleg obsession and had a healthy Zeppelin bootleg collection I found I couldn't get into the 1975 tour too much. I tried, there are some decent gems from that tour but Plants vocals and Jimmys increasing sloppiness, I would usually skip that tour. Now to the topic at hand...

Through out the years I've noticed that the Earl's Court shows are very popular among us Zepp freaks. Hardcore fans wish Page would release the Earls Court shows officially and it's talked about a lot. Granted there are some nice gems from those 5 nights, I never understood why these shows are so favored for? Plants voice sounds wrecked more times than not, Page plays goods here and there but is mostly sloppy. The band at times sound tired and uninspired. There's a couple of good No Quarters, the acoustic sets are decent enough and Tangerine sounds nice on the double neck but, I feel the Earl's Court shows are rather average at best. I know it's a matter of opinion of course. I was just wondering why these shows are a fan favorite and why us hardcore fans want an official release so bad? Would be interested in all your opinions on this.

 

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The Earls Court gigs are similar to Bath 1970, Electric Magic 1971, and Knebworth 1979 in as much as they were milestone gigs that allowed Zeppelin to flex their stardom in front of their home audience. As such, they are more about the event and spectacle, and less about the quality of the gigs themselves. A “homecoming” is still a homecoming, regardless of whether the band is truly on fire or not.

As for why people would like an official release of Earls Court or Knebworth comes down to the simple fact that those gigs were among the few that were actually filmed. Same rationale applies to the Pontiac Silverdome show from 1977, a completely average show which has been blown up into mythic status due to the likely existence of film.

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1 hour ago, Gratefulzepp said:

I've been a Zeppelin fan since I was a child. I'm as big of a fan as all of you on here. I've been collecting bootlegs since 1993 when I got introduced to a store in Greenwich Village here in NYC. I remember when I got deep into my bootleg obsession and had a healthy Zeppelin bootleg collection I found I couldn't get into the 1975 tour too much. I tried, there are some decent gems from that tour but Plants vocals and Jimmys increasing sloppiness, I would usually skip that tour. Now to the topic at hand...

Through out the years I've noticed that the Earl's Court shows are very popular among us Zepp freaks. Hardcore fans wish Page would release the Earls Court shows officially and it's talked about a lot. Granted there are some nice gems from those 5 nights, I never understood why these shows are so favored for? Plants voice sounds wrecked more times than not, Page plays goods here and there but is mostly sloppy. The band at times sound tired and uninspired. There's a couple of good No Quarters, the acoustic sets are decent enough and Tangerine sounds nice on the double neck but, I feel the Earl's Court shows are rather average at best. I know it's a matter of opinion of course. I was just wondering why these shows are a fan favorite and why us hardcore fans want an official release so bad? Would be interested in all your opinions on this.

 

Agreed 100%. Never got into them much and still haven’t. I’ve tried. They just didn’t have the magic as the March 11-27 string of shows.

But since there is video and multitracks I do wish Page release a “full” show of them.

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I definitely agree that Earls Court as a whole is overrated. I'd actually argue it's a bit of a step backwards from the March shows. Plant sounds worse and Page has some erratic moments. That being said, there are some standout moments. NQ from the 18th is an all time great version imho and Stairway and Dazed from the 24th are great for the era among others. Ultimately, I could see a good solid live album being made out of the shows, of course Page would have to do a lot of splicing with Plant's vocals to get him to sound consistently decent.

As for why the demand for an official release, it's simple: we know for a fact that three of the shows (at least) were multitracked. The tracks on the DVD offer a nice glimpse of what an official release could sound like. And given how starved we are of new official material, it's worth getting excited about (though I wouldn't hold my breath for an official release any time soon).

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I concur with all of the previous sentiments except for Pontiac '77 being a "completely average" show -- Top 10 or 15 of '77 for me.

The second leg of the 1975 North American Tour is one of the best and most consistent months/legs of their career IMO -- 3/4 Dallas is the only real clunker in the bunch, and even it has some standout versions (e.g. OTHAFA).  

I think where Earls Court loses me a little bit is this: the jamming and improvisation that developed over the course of the second leg in the States (& Vancouver of course) which made it fresh and fun with each night feeling different than the last took quite a dive at Earls Court, presumably to make room for "Tangerine" and the acoustic set (which were cool additions, don't get me wrong).  Take "Dazed And Confused" for example: the six show span from 3/19 Vancouver through 3/27 Los Angeles features five of the six longest versions of all time, ranging from 37.5 to 45 minutes (and they're all very good).  The Earls Court versions range from 27 minutes I think on the 17th to 32-33 for the other four nights, with the 24th being the only all-time great.

Consider this: 5/25 Earls Court is the longest show of their career, clocking in at 3h 48m 50s.  3/27 Los Angeles clocks in at 3h 40m 34s and 3/21 Seattle clocks in at 3h 40m 32s.  5/25 is 20 songs long compared to 17 songs for 3/21 and only 15 songs for 3/27!  No, length is not necessarily synonymous with quality, but an average of 11m 27s per song the last night at Earls Court compared to 12m 58s the last night in Seattle and 14m 42s the last night in LA is a significant drop -- decreases of 11.7% & 22.1%, respectively.

5/18 is a phenomenal show from start to finish, but is the only one on par with 3/21 Seattle and 3/12 Long Beach IMO.  5/23 & 5/25 are also quite good, probably on par with a typical good show from March like 3/17 Seattle maybe.  5/24 is a lot like 3/25 L.A. in that it has an incredible finish from Dazed to the end, but starts very sloppy.  5/17 is well below the rest.

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The March run on the '75 tour has Zeppelin finally warmed up and firing on all or most cylinders. Not peak Zepp but some hot ones. I wonder why they lost their fire by that May. Earl's Court has 2 good No Quarters from the 18th & 23rd. The Dazed from the 24th is good and like I said above, the acoustic set was a nice addition. I would've thought that playing on your home turf, Plants flu done with, etc...the band would've been tighter and sounded better than any of the better shows from March. I'd still buy an official release of the Earl's Court shows if Page released them but it wouldn't be in my top 5 releases to listen to on repeat.

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Posted (edited)

It's the dragon suit. Page wearing the full suit throughout Earl's Court makes the performances seem better than they were. You can laugh, but it's true.

The shows were typical of 1975- a hoarse Plant, a sticky fingered Page, and a Bonzo that absolutely refused to let himself go crazy. The 18th is pretty smoking though. When I first got back into Zep I found these shows on YouTube and found them slightly hard to watch. The searing performances of TSRTS and raw energy of the BBC Sessions just weren't there. Maybe I was expecting too much from unedited shows, but I saw my idols playing at a less impressive level than I imagined would be possible. Now that probably sounds harsh, but it was a hard dose of reality for me as this was the first time I'd truly seen an unedited live performance by them.

edit: Actually the first unedited live footage I saw was the Danish tv special from 1969, and I'd dare to say it blows the EC footage away.

Edited by gibsonfan159

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Posted (edited)

The cavernous acoustics at the Earl's Court venue are also to be held responsible for the lack of spark.

Still, a EC  3CD compilation of sorts still would make my day. When DVD came out in 2003 I extracted most of the (multi tracked) audio, so I could just listen to RAH, MSG, EC and Knebworth on CD. The Dolby stereo rip of Earl's Court sounds mind-blowing. The oomph on Bozo's kick drum during IMTOD, Jonesy's  bouncy fretless playing,...It may not be the most confident string of shows in Zep's history, but the sound is terrific!

Edited by duckman

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8 hours ago, gibsonfan159 said:

It's the dragon suit. Page wearing the full suit throughout Earl's Court makes the performances seem better than they were. You can laugh, but it's true.

The shows were typical of 1975- a hoarse Plant, a sticky fingered Page, and a Bonzo that absolutely refused to let himself go crazy. The 18th is pretty smoking though. When I first got back into Zep I found these shows on YouTube and found them slightly hard to watch. The searing performances of TSRTS and raw energy of the BBC Sessions just weren't there. Maybe I was expecting too much from unedited shows, but I saw my idols playing at a less impressive level than I imagined would be possible. Now that probably sounds harsh, but it was a hard dose of reality for me as this was the first time I'd truly seen an unedited live performance by them.

edit: Actually the first unedited live footage I saw was the Danish tv special from 1969, and I'd dare to say it blows the EC footage away.

I'm not sure I'd agree with Bonzo refusing to go crazy being emblematic of all of '75, but he's definitely pretty reserved at EC.  What's surprising about that is you'd think the re-introduction of the acoustic set would've made him more energetic, not less.  The North American part of '75 has to be the most strenuous setlist of their career for Bonzo, yet he was still pretty lively.  Sure, North America '73 didn't have an acoustic set either, but most of those shows were 30 minutes to an hour shorter than the '75 shows.  Plus, having a 20-30 minute "Moby Dick" and a 30-40 minute "Dazed And Confused" back-to-back is a killer stretch fatigue-wise -- no wonder the cameras at Earls Court capture him getting some Columbian supplements in-between the two!  In '73, "The Rain Song" was before Dazed and Stairway was between Dazed and MD, which gave him much more time to recoup his energy for the two most demanding songs in the set for him.  In '77, he basically went nuts for the first hour, then had almost an hour playing very easy stuff or not at all from TYG through WS/BMS, then had Kashmir and Over The Top, but got to take another break during the noise solo before having to get through Achilles -- an underrated contributor to his "over the top" style in '77, I think.

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On 3/8/2020 at 9:18 PM, gibsonfan159 said:

It's the dragon suit. Page wearing the full suit throughout Earl's Court makes the performances seem better than they were. You can laugh, but it's true.

The shows were typical of 1975- a hoarse Plant, a sticky fingered Page, and a Bonzo that absolutely refused to let himself go crazy. The 18th is pretty smoking though. When I first got back into Zep I found these shows on YouTube and found them slightly hard to watch. The searing performances of TSRTS and raw energy of the BBC Sessions just weren't there. Maybe I was expecting too much from unedited shows, but I saw my idols playing at a less impressive level than I imagined would be possible. Now that probably sounds harsh, but it was a hard dose of reality for me as this was the first time I'd truly seen an unedited live performance by them.

edit: Actually the first unedited live footage I saw was the Danish tv special from 1969, and I'd dare to say it blows the EC footage away.

The EC portion of the DVD from 2003 is pretty damn impressive. Everyone playing and sounding very good and energetic. I do realize that was official release and edited but I have heard both the 18th & 23rd from boots and those are two very stellar shows. I also have the DVD of In the Court of King James and thought as well was quite good (not as good as the 18th or 23rd but still good) though for ITCOKJ you are right, Bonzo is rather reserved.

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