Led Zeppelin bootleg recordings

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The Led Zeppelin bootleg recordings are a collection of audio and video recordings of musical performances by the English rock band Led Zeppelin which were never officially released by the band, or under other legal authority. The recordings consist of both live concert performances and outtakes from studio sessions conducted by the band. Many hundreds of Led Zeppelin bootlegs exist, and are widely collected by fans.

Overview[edit]

Led Zeppelin were, throughout the decade of the 1970s, one of the world's most frequently bootlegged performers, and to this day remain one of the most bootlegged artists in the history of rock music.[1] In August 1999, the band topped the list of Britain's most bootlegged musicians with 384 bootleg titles, compiled by the Anti-Piracy Unit of British Phonographic Industry.[2][3] This phenomenon was due partly to the popularity of the band, which has ensured a large and enthusiastic market for unauthorised recordings, and partly to the large size of the audiences who attended their performances, which made the effective detection of covert recording equipment at these concerts virtually impossible.

Led Zeppelin's manager, Peter Grant, sometimes took extraordinary measures to combat the practice of live bootleg recordings at Led Zeppelin concerts. He is reported to have personally visited record stores in London which were selling Led Zeppelin bootlegs and demanded all copies be handed over. He also monitored the crowd at Led Zeppelin concerts so as to locate anything which resembled bootleg recording equipment. At one concert at Vancouver in 1971 he saw what he thought was recording equipment on the floor of the venue and personally ensured that the equipment be destroyed, only to find out later that the equipment was a noise pollution unit being operated by city officials to test the volume of the concert.[4] Similarly, at the Bath Festival in 1970, he personally threw a bucket of water over unauthorised recording equipment.[5]

These efforts were not enough to prevent the release of a flood of Led Zeppelin bootlegs from the 1970s onwards. As is explained by Led Zeppelin archivist Dave Lewis:

Bootlegs and Led Zeppelin have been synonymous for over three decades. Despite manager Peter Grant's heavy-handedness when dealing with those he caught taping their shows, the band are the most bootlegged act of all time, outstripping even The Beatles, [Bob] Dylan, [Bruce] Springsteen and the [Rolling] Stones. Their final seven shows in the UK alone (live at Earl's Court and two at Knebworth), account for over 100 different releases between them. Just about every amateur recording of the band's live gigs has [been released]."[6]

Earliest bootlegs[edit]

During the 1970s, bootleg labels such as Smilin' Ear, Kornyfone, Dragonfly, Trade Mark of Quality, Condor and Toasted released unofficial recordings of several Led Zeppelin shows on vinyl. The following table includes a sample of these recordings. Most of them derived from audience tapes, though a few (such as Destroyer) were sourced from soundboard recordings.

Title Recording details Notes
Gonzaga '68 The Gymnasium, Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington, December 30, 1968 Audience recording.
The Rising of The Zeppelin Fillmore West, San Francisco, April 24, 1969 Falsely credited as January 9, 1969. The original LP was released in a magnificent red, green and blue color.
Killing Floor Boston Tea Party, Boston, January 26, 1969. Audience recording.
Don't Mess With Texas Texas International Pop Festival, Dallas, August 31, 1969 Soundboard recording.
We're Gonna Groove/Feel All Right Montreux Casino, Montreux, Switzerland, March 7, 1970 The Feel All Right version was released in 1984 by Audio Recording Corporation under an incorrect title of Live in Montreux 1971.
Mudslide Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, Canada on March 21, 1970 The first ever Led Zeppelin bootleg to be released. FM broadcast. Mudslide is a remake of the original first LP 'PB'.
Ottawa Sunshine Tracks 1-3 are FM recordings from London on March 19, 1969. All other tracks were recorded live in Ottawa, Ontario on April 14, 1970. Soundboard/audience recording.
Live on Blueberry Hill Los Angeles Forum, Los Angeles, September 4, 1970. Audience recording. One of the first Led Zeppelin bootleg LPs to be released.
Going to California Berkeley Community Theatre, Berkeley, September 14, 1971 Audience recording.
Japan Tour '71 Budokan Hall, Tokyo, Japan, September 23, 1971 Audience recording, distributed by BUG Recording Corp.
The making of Friends Bombay, India, April, 1972 Soundboard recording.
Custard Pie Offenburg, West Germany, March 24, 1973 Audience recording.
Tympani for the Butter Queen Tarrant County Convention Center, Fort Worth, Texas, May 19, 1973 Soundboard recording.
Bonzo's Birthday Party Los Angeles Forum, California, May 31, 1973 Audience recording (incomplete soundboard available).
Persistence Kezar Stadium, San Francisco, June 2, 1973 Audience recording.
V-1⁄2 Seattle Center Coliseum, Seattle, July 17, 1973 Audience recording.
Duckwalks and Lasers Madison Square Garden, New York, July 28, 1973 and Tarrant County Convention Center, Fort Worth, Texas, May 22, 1977 Soundboard recording (side 1 & 2 – July 28, 1973) and audience recording (side 3 & 4 – May 22, 1977).
214 Seattle Center Coliseum, March 21, 1975. Audience recording.
207.19 Seattle Center Coliseum, March 21, 1975. Audience recording.
Earls Court Earls Court Arena, May 24, 1975. Soundboard recording.
Destroyer Richfield Coliseum, Cleveland, Ohio, April 27, 1977 Soundboard recording.
Listen to This Eddie Los Angeles Forum, Los Angeles, June 21, 1977 Audience recording (taped by Mike Millard).
For Badgeholders Only Los Angeles Forum, Los Angeles, June 23, 1977 Audience recording. (The original vinyl bootleg was recorded by an unknown taper, although it is commonly mistaken as having been taped by Mike Millard, who made a separate recording of the show.) Keith Moon joined in on drum set for "Moby Dick" and the encores.

The 1980s: the release of the soundboards[edit]

In the late 1980s the number of available soundboard recordings of Led Zeppelin shows increased significantly as a result of original soundboard tapes having been stolen from the home of their owner, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, and then copied for underground release. Also stolen were copies of several rare studio out-takes, which were released under titles such as Jennings Farm Blues (featuring run-throughs of an electric version of "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp" recorded in October 1969) and Studio Daze (including different studio mixes of "Since I've Been Loving You", "No Quarter" and "All My Love"). "Midnight Moonlight", a song later recorded by "The Firm", is available through studio bootlegs.

The 1990s: the CD era[edit]

The 1990s saw a multitude of Led Zeppelin bootlegs become available on the CD format, with limited-edition and higher quality releases being produced in Japan on labels such as Tarantura and Antrabata. The most significant 90s label TDOLZ (The Diagrams of Led Zeppelin) has covered most of the circulating concerts for that period releasing over 100 titles. In 1999, the BBC reported that the number of Led Zeppelin bootleg titles in circulation exceeded those of The Beatles.

Some notable Led Zeppelin bootlegs released on CD include:

  • "Don't Mess with Texas" : Recorded at the Texas international Pop Festival in Dallas on August 31, 1969.
  • Burn Like A Candle : The complete show from the Los Angeles Forum on June 25, 1972.
  • Pigeon Blood : Recorded at Tampa Stadium, Florida on May 5, 1973.
  • Knebworth : Both of the band's performances at the Knebworth Festival in August 1979.

The 2000s and present: Empress Valley soundboard breakthrough[edit]

Numerous previously uncirculated complete high quality soundboard recordings were released by newly established Empress Valley label (also referenced as Empress Valley Supreme Disc or EVSD) which is the semi-successor of retired Tarantura. While Empress Valley surfaced many of the recordings, some, including "Working Tapes" were merely repackages of tapes fans had already surfaced and traded via the Internet. Also, early releases such as the "Physical Rocket" DVD were made from sub-par videotapes and were later far surpassed by versions surfaced by fans:

Released Title Recording details
2002 The Zeppelin Express Physical Rocket Earl's Court, London, UK on 25 May 1975; professionally shot live video from that concert was released subsequently on DVD, audio material was reissued two times as A Young Person's Guide to Led Zeppelin and When We Were Kings.
2002 Flying Circus Madison Square Garden, New York City, US on 12 February 1975
2003 Florida Sunshine Orlando Sports Stadium, Orlando, US on 31 August 1971
2003 Bringing the House Down Capital Centre, Landover, US on 26 May 1977
2003 Chasing the Dragon Memorial Auditorium, Dallas, US on 4 March 1975; less complete recording circulated before.
2004 Conspiracy Theory Sports Arena, San Diego, US on 14 March 1975; unknown date before bootleg release.
2004 St. Louis Blues St. Louis Arena, St. Louis, US on 16 February 1975
2005 The Dragon Snake The Summit, Houston, US on 21 May 1977
2006 Snow Jobs Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, Canada on 19 March 1975
2007 Days Confused Memorial Auditorium, Dallas, US on 5 March 1975
2007 Working Tapes The Old Refectory, Southampton University, UK on 22 January 1973
2007 The Powhatan Confederacy Capital Centre, Landover, US on 28 May 1977
2008 St. Valentine's Day Massacre Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, US on 14 February 1975
2009 Long Beach Californication Long Beach Arena, Long Beach, US on 11 March 1975
2009 Rampaging Cajun Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, US on 28 February 1975
2010 Magical Sound Boogie Madison Square Garden, New York City, US on 7 June 1977
2011 Haven't We Met Somewhere Before? Seattle Center Coliseum, Seattle, US on 17 March 1975
2012 Snowblind Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, Canada on 20 March 1975; the package also includes the first Vancouver show from 19 March that was released before.
2012 Double Shot Capital Centre, Landover, US on 25 May 1977 and 30 May 1977; two separate shows in one release; also Maryland Moonshine a box set containing all four Capital Centre shows (26 May 1977 and 28 May 1977 released previously)
2013 The King's of the Stone Age Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, US on 13 February 1975

Since Empress Valley is the only supplier of new soundboard material for the moment, its issues are being cloned after initial release by numerous minor labels, sometimes with alternative titles. As noted above, however, Empress Valley has done its own share of repackaging already existent tapes.

Bootleg trading on the Web[edit]

In the 80s and 90s before broadband Internet access became widely available, bootlegs (CD-Rs or Compact Cassette copies) circulated mostly via snail mail. Today, all of the unauthorised Led Zeppelin material is available on the Internet, mostly on BitTorrent resources in lossless media formats. Decoding and redistributing audio in lossy formats (such as MP3) is strongly frowned upon among the trading community as it diminishes the quality of the audio and can make it difficult for recipients to know if they are receiving the best available copy. During the 2000s, previously uncirculated audience recordings surfaced mostly on the BitTorrent resources.

Notable previously unheard audience recordings that surfaced on the Web from 2000's:

2007 court case[edit]

In July 2007 Page appeared in a Glasgow Sheriff courtroom to give testimony and observe evidence on behalf of Led Zeppelin against an alleged bootlegger. Robert Langley was charged with, and denied, 12 counts of producing and selling products without copyright permission.

Page was shown hundreds of CDs and DVDs, ranging from his solo material to his time with Led Zeppelin and the Yardbirds, which Langley was allegedly selling in Scotland during 2005. Many contain footage and audio from Page's personal collection, stolen from his home in the early 1980s.[7][8] The goods were found on sale as far away as New York, where shop-owners thought they were official. Page later said "If you have something like this that appears legitimate then it is just not right".[7]

Following Page's testimony, Langley changed his plea and admitted guilt to three trademark and two copyright infringements.[9] He was sentenced to 20 months in prison which, at the time, was believed to be the highest sentence handed out to a bootlegger in Scotland.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Heylin, Clinton (2004). Bootleg! The Rise & Fall of the Secret Recording Industry. Omnibus Press. ISBN 1-84449-151-X. 
  2. ^ "Led Zeppelin rock bootleg chart". BBC Online Network - Entertainment. BBC. 1999-08-17. Archived from the original on 2002-08-11. Retrieved 2007-12-15. ""Led Zep" have overtaken previous chart-toppers The Beatles, in the latest list compiled by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).... The BPI Anti-Piracy Unit identified 384 bootleg titles featuring Led Zeppelin performances. These albums typically contain plundered studio out-takes and amateur recordings made at concerts." 
  3. ^ Led Zeppelin gain dubious honour of being Britain's most bootlegged band. The Independent. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  4. ^ Newspaper clipping on ledzeppelin.com (official site)
  5. ^ Welch, Chris (1994) Led Zeppelin, London: Orion Books. ISBN 1-85797-930-3, pp. 24, 56.
  6. ^ Dave Lewis (2003), Led Zeppelin: Celebration II: The 'Tight But Loose' Files, London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 1-84449-056-4, p. 16.
  7. ^ a b "Star Page witness in bootleg case". BBC News. BBC. 2007-07-26. Retrieved 2012-08-10. 
  8. ^ "Jimmy Page Testifies In Bootlegging Trial". blabbermouth.net. Roadrunner Records. 2007-07-26. Retrieved 2012-08-10. "The star told the ongoing court case that the discs had never been authorized for manufacture, distribution or sale." 
  9. ^ "Man admits Led Zep bootleg charge". BBC News. BBC. 2007-07-30. Retrieved 2012-08-10. 
  10. ^ "Page's role in piracy conviction". BBC News. BBC. 2007-08-30. Retrieved 2012-08-10. 

Sources[edit]

  • Dave Lewis and Simon Pallett (1997) Led Zeppelin: The Concert File, London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-5307-4.
  • Robert Godwin (1994) The Illustrated Collectors Guide to Led Zeppelin Volume 1,Burlington: Collectors Guide Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9695736-3-0
  • Robert Godwin (1997) The Illustrated Collectors Guide to Led Zeppelin Volume 2,Burlington: Collectors Guide Publishing. ISBN 978-1-896522-42-5
  • Luis Rey (1997) Led Zeppelin Live: An Illustrated Exploration of Underground Tapes, Ontario: The Hot Wacks Press. ISBN 0-9698080-7-0.

External links[edit]