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Led Zeppelin – Deep Throat (Empress Valley EVSD-156 ~ 164 / EVSDVD-001)

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Deep Throat (Empress Valley EVSD-156 ~ 164 / EVSDVD-001)

It was 1975 when Zeppelin arguably attained the greatest height of popularity.  Physical Graffiti had been out for a month by the time they completed their  US tour with three sold out shows at the Forum in Los Angeles.  The new album reached number one on the chart, but also their entire catalogue up to that point also entered the charts again (Led Zeppelin IV at #83; Houses of the Holy at #92; Led Zeppelin II at #104; Led Zeppelin at #116; and Led Zeppelin III at #124), a feat never before accomplished in pop history.

It was also this time where they gained a certain amount of respect from the music press, something which they craved and didn’t always receive with long, glowing articles in Rolling Stone and New Musical Express.

By the time Zeppelin entered the final week of the tour, their health problems were less of a problem and they played some of their longest, darkest, strangest and most wired concerts of their entire career.  The marathons in the set, “No Quarter,” “Moby Dick” and “Dazed And Confused” all routinely reached a half hour.  Thankfully all of these shows have been recorded and are commonly available including Michael Millard, one of the most accomplished tapers in the seventies, capturing all of the LA area concerts. 

Deep Throat on Empress Valley is the second attempt to present a boxset of all three shows together.  Tarantura made the first set called Get Back To L.A. in the mid-nineties.  It is packaged in a gorgeous accordion still package and at the time was definitive.  But since better generations of these tapes have surfaced.

Deep Throat was originally announced in 1999 but delayed until 2000 and was available finally in 2003.  The first edition came in a box silver box with a tour program and sold out quickly and commanding high prices when it does surface.  This edition is a reprint released for Christmas 2008.

Unlike the first edition, the second edition is packaged more simply in three gatefold sleeves which are stored in a slip cover.  Given Empress Valley’s careful mastering of the Millard tapes and their editing of alternate tape sources to fix the gaps, this remains one of their best creations and are certainly the definitive editions of the LA concerts.  The tapes have never sounded as good. 

Deep Throat I (EVSD 156-158)

The Forum, Los Angeles, CA – March 24th, 1975

Disc 1 (56:04):  Introduction by J.J. Jackson, Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, In My Time Of Dying, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir

Disc 2 (59:24):  No Quarter, Trampled Underfoot, Moby Dick

Disc 3 (72:20):  Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, Heartbreaker

The Millard tape for the first Los Angeles show is nearly excellent but slightly hissy and lacking in depth compared ot the other tapes.  Millard tape used on Crazed And Bemused (Black Cat Records BC-22), Get Back To LA (Tarantura T9CD-1-7) and The Firecrackers Show (The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin TDOLZ003/004/005)Dazed And Confused (Mad Dog MDR-LZ001~2) contains “Stairway To Heaven,” ” Whole Lotta Love,” “Black Dog” and “Heartbreaker” from this tape as does A Gram Is A Gram Is A Gram (Image Quality IQ-80/081/082).  An alternate tape is used for the introduction and the first minute of “Rock And Roll,” for thirt seconds after “The Rain Song,” 6:47 to 7:47 in “Trampled Underfoot,” and for a  minute after “Dazed And Confused.”

The show begins with J.J. Jackson making the introduction before “Rock And Roll” and after “Sick Again,” Plant tells the audience that “we’ve been in California a little while, but let me tell you, this is the place….these are the last three gigs on our American tour and so we intend them to be somewhat of a very high point for us and that can’t be really achieved, obviously we really don’t achieve that without a little bit of vibe, which I can already feel, and a few smiles.”

Plant continues to sprinkle the show with his humorous comments like before “In My Time Of Dying” telling the audience that there are “a few developments in the camp and a few camps in the development. Bonzo decided not to have the sex change after-all, and ah, we got a new album out.”  The first real high point occurs during the “No Quarter” marathon, the first one in the set.  The grand piano and electric guitar improvisation had reached a hight by this time and these versions are among the best executed and recorded.

“Dazed And Confused” is “probably about the first thing that we had a go at, apart from the secretary.”  It’s obvious Page is trying hard to expand the improvisation as the piece stretches past a half hour, but there are several rough spots and it comes off as rather sloppy, the worst of the three Forum shows.   “Stairway To Heaven,” which is “for all our English friends who’ve arrived at the continental Riot House…. and this is for you people here who’ve made this a good gig.”  The encores are the longest of the three with a full version of “The Crunge” before they play “Black Dog,” and this is the only one to have the rare second encore “Heartbreaker.”

Deep Throat II (EVSD 159-161)

The Forum, Los Angeles, CA – March 25th, 1975

Disc 1 (55:43):  Introduction, Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, In My Time Of Dying, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir

Disc 2 (62:34):  No Quarter, Trampled Underfoot, Moby Dick

Disc 3 (67:46):  Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog

The second night in Los Angeles also exists in an excellent sounding Millard source.  The show first circulated on boot on the vinyl Children Of The Moon (Southern Records).  One of the earliest CD versions is The Revenge Of The Butterqueen (Ghost CD 53-46) and The Sex Machine & The Butterqueen (Ghost 53-45) issued in 1991 and which claims to be a soundboard recording and copied on Dazed And Confused (Mad Dog MDR-LZ001~2). 

Crazed And Bemused (Black Cat Records BC-22) with “Over The Hills And Far Away,” “In My Time Of Dying,” “The Song Remains The Same,” “The Rain Song,” “Kashmir,” “Trampled Underfoot” and “Dazed And Confused.”  Trampled  Under Gallows (Zero ZRCD 205-2) omits “Moby Dick” to fit the show onto two discs. 

More complete versions can be found on Cosmic Crazy (ARMS 09/10/11PR), Cosmic Crazy (Last Stand Disc LSD-40/41/42), the Get Back To L.A. set on Tarantura, The Sex Machine (Lemon Song LS-7213/14/15) which has great sound but awful packaging.  Deep Throat is a nice edit of two sources which starts with the alt tape for the introduction and the beginning of “Rock And Roll.”

This is one of the best of the Los Angeles gigs.  John Bonham was quoted afterwards:  “Our best gig where everything clicked was last Tuesday night at the Forum. The people were so great that attended the show they made us play harder.”

After the introduction and a friery opening, Plant is in a very loose and chatty mood with the audience, saying, “Good evening the Forum. A very aptly titled building. That spot light’s gonna catch us sooner or later. In the light, everybody makes it through. Look at that, see? The guy’s jerking himself off up there.  Last night we had a really really good time. We had a great concert here.  It was one of the finest we had in California in a long time on our part and also on the part of the audience.”

“Over The Hills And Far Away” had been developing into a Page showpiece through the several months they’ve been on the road and all of these versions of LA are extremely wired.  Having such a rave up stands in contrast to “In My Time Of Dying,” which in this show has “it’s roots, long before we ever heard it, must have, have been used as an evening song after the chain gang had stopped for the day.”

The second LA show has perhaps the most interesting “Dazed And Confused” of the three.  Instead of “Woodstock” or “San Francisco,” Plant sings a bit of Ben E. King’s “Spanish Harlem” (“there is a rose in Spanish Harlem.”)  Page again tries to push the band into exploring new vistas in the long forty minute improvisation which is much more effective than the previous night.  

Deep Throat III (EVSD 162-164)

The Forum, Los Angeles, CA – March 27th, 1975

Disc 1 (70:52):  Introduction, Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, In My Time Of Dying, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir, Since I’ve Been Loving You

Disc 2 (70:48):  No Quarter, Trampled Underfoot, Moby Dick

Disc 3 (76:10):  Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog

Led Zeppelin’s final show of their 1975 tour at the LA Forum is one of the longest, heaviest and self-indulgent on record.  This show is good for those who like their Zeppelin dark and mysterious with long and crazy improvisations going on for hours.  Surprisingly this show was never released on vinyl but saw new life with the advent of compact discs. 

Perhaps the earliest can be found on Psychical Graffiti (Flying Disc CD6-817), which claims this to be a soundboard recording.  This was supposed to be part of a three disc set but the label only produced one.  The Italy produced Dazed And Confused (The Mad Dogs Records MDR-LZ001-2) and its Australian copy Crazed And Bemused (Black Cat BC-22) has “Rock And Roll,” “Sick Again,” and “Since I’ve Been Loving You.”  The earliest three disc set with the whole show appear on Electric Orgasm (Jolly Roger D91-51-52-53) and in the boxset Get Back To LA (Tarantura T9CD-1-7). 

In the late nineties Final Show In the Forum 1975 (Jelly Roll JR 12/13/14) (which many Zeppelin collectors admit is the best version to exist), Tour De Force (Rabbit Records RR 005/6/7) and Remainz (Akashic AKA-4) all were released to various degrees of success.  The latest two editions can be found in Last Night In the Forum 1975 (Power Archives PA 0307001/2/3), coming out in late 2003 and is actually the only title to use the second tape source to fill in the gaps on the first, and We’re Playing Our Balls Out(The Chronicles Of Led Zeppelin TCOLZ 021/022/023/024/025/026) which presents both tape srouces in total spread out over six discs.

For the final night on their tenth US tour, Led Zeppelin play one of their longest ever gigs clocking in at almost three and a half hours.  They also stretch themselves musically and, although they don’t always succeed, the results are interesting nevertheless.  Disc jockey JJ Jackson introduces porn star Linda Lovelace to introduce the band and after the opening duo of “Rock And Roll” and “Sick Again” Plant says, “This is the last gig on the American tour for us. So it only remains to be said that we intend to have yet even a better time than we’ve had here before. We’d like to thank Linda Lovelace for coming on and making an appropriate speech about our presence and we’d like to apologize for being late, but one of the cars didn’t crash. It didn’t crash.”

After “Kashmir” they celebrate the final night by changing the setlist by playing “Since I’ve Been Loving You” for only the third time on the tour.  Still a bit rugged, Page misses the transition from the solo to the final verse.  Self consciously Plant says afterwards, “Right, well that was something that we’ve done about three times in three years. It’s always quite refreshing to do things that we haven’t done for such a long time even though sometime you might think it puts your reputation at stake in front of twenty thousand people, but it doesn’t really matter, does it?”

“No Quarter” reaches a half hour in this performance.  Jones plays an interesting three note arpeggio on the grand piano and runs it through different variations as a reoccurring motif before Page comes in with the guitar section of the solo.  This is certainly one of the more interesting improvisations among the 1975 versions of the piece.  “Trampled Underfoot” follows and Page himself, in a magazine interview several years ago, singled this performance out as perhaps the best ever.  He plays a unique solo in the middle and by the end Plant is singing “Gallows Pole” as the song moves along.  In fact he refers to the song afterwards as “Trampled Under Gallows.”  Plant continues talking about a part they attended in honor of The Pretty Things and how Bonham left early and threw a television out of the window, one of his activities that has passed into legend.

“Dazed And Confused” is introduced as “a deliberation for the fact that we should be now, in about three months time, I don’t know, on our way to Kathmandu. So stand by for the songs when we come back from there.  Reaching forty-five minutes even with the cut, this is one of the longest versions extant on tape.  Early on, where Plant would normally sing either “San Francisco” or “Woodstock,” he mumbled lyrics to an  unidentifiable song with the phrase “loving you” repeated over and over again.  Before the return to the third verse Page hits upon a chunky riff over a funk rhythm laid down by Jones and Bonham that sounds terrifically exciting and in unfortunately cut on both recordings.  Its transition to the finale is missing.

When they return to the stage for the encores Plant says, “We’d like to thank California for being such good hosts to us while we’ve been here, and if anybody can hear us in England, we’re coming back baby!”  (Referring to the shows scheduled in Earls Court in London in two months).  The encores are comprised of only the “Whole Lotta Love” with segue into “Black Dog,” but the middle section is great with Plant singing “Licking Stick” and saying “licking” over again. 

He keeps asking “has anybody seen the bridge?” and the audience keep responding “NO!!!”  During the theremin section Bonham lets Jones and Page battle it out several times by remaining silent, only to pick up the pace and lead them into “Black Dog.”  “It’s time to ramble on. Good night” are Plant’s parting words.

The DVD presents all of the audience shot footage from the shows.  The best of the lot comes from the first night which is very close to the stage and clear and captures very effective shots of the band performing.  Overall Deep Throat is the definitive package for the final three US shows in 1975 in great sound quality and very good editing of the sources together.  It is also cost effective as well since the price of this set is much lower than buying each of the shows separately.   

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Led Zeppelin - Deep Throat (Empress Valley EVSD-156 ~ 164 / EVSDVD-001), 4.2 out of 5 based on 19 ratings

4 Comments

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  1. Profile photo of James
    James says
    November 6, 2011, 7:26 am

    I’m waiting for the SBs to come out, considering the overabundance of 75 releases it would inconceivable that these shows aren’t out there, i might have to wait a bit however.

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    jabs1960 says
    November 5, 2011, 9:41 pm

    I’ve just received this in the last few months, and I am quite pleased in all aspects. I got it brand new for under $200.00, but I don’t know what it went for earlier, so I’m not sure if that is good, or bad, but I am none the less very pleased.

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    schriste says
    April 26, 2011, 3:53 pm

    A great release with incredible packaging. One of ev’s best.

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  4. Profile photo of Pedro Moya
    Pedro Moya says
    March 3, 2010, 1:41 pm

    Does eveyone agree this is the ultimate release?
    I have the 1st nite on TDOLZ which is ok .The second nite on THE SEX MACHINE and the 3rd nite on Rabbit and I think both are really, really good. I have always wanted this set, mostly now on its cheaper edition.
    As for the dvd I guess it’s the footage that has been out on the Cosmic releases or is there more footage??

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