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Led Zeppelin – For Badge Holders Only (Empress Valley EVSD-465 ~ 482)

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For Badge Holders Only (Empress Valley EVSD-465 ~ 482)

Empress Valley’s massive box set For Badge Holders Only caught collectors by surprise.  Nowhere was it ever mentioned this was in production.  This is an eighteen disc plus one DVD box set.  It has two designs on the front cover and each is limited to only one hundred fifty copies.  This is the third time a box set with Led Zeppelin’s eleventh tour Los Angeles shows has been released.  The first was A Week For Badge Holders (Tarantura T19CD-BOX (T19CD-1~19)).  At the time this was a startling achievement and is an extremely rare piece.  However Tarantura used the first hour of the June 14th New York show for the June 22nd tape for some reason.  After this Power & Glory (The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin  TDOLZ Vol. 50-55).  This was a solid set but for the June 22nd show they edited in ”Ten Years Gone” from an alternate source for the June 21st show.  Also they used some high generation tapes which is noticeable especially on the June 25th concert. 

In the intervening decade since the release of the Diagrams set there have been a multitude of releases of the four Millard taped concerts.  In the past two years both Wendy and Scorpio issued these shows and both released the Eddie show twice.  This set finds partial redemption in issuing the first complete version of the June 22nd show on silver for the first time.  Empress Valley are also trying hard to associate this with their excellent Deep Throat boxset, which covers the three Los Angeles shows from 1975 and now commands high prices.  What follows are brief comments regarding each of the shows in this set.     

 

Listen To This, Eddie!!! (EVSD-465 ~ 467)

The Forum Inglewood California USA June 21th 1977
Disc 1 : The Song Remains The Same / Sick Again / Nobody’s Fault But Mine / Over The Hills And Far Away / Since I’ve Been Loving You / No Quarter
Disc 2 : Ten Years Gone / The Battle Of Ever More / Going To California / Black Country Woman / Bron-Yr -Aur Stomp / White Summer – Black Mountain Side / Kashmir
Disc 3 : Out On The Tiles – Moby Dick / Guitar Solo – Achilles Last Stand / Stairway To Heaven / Whole Lotta Love / Rock And Roll

No tape is so revered as Millard’s from the first show of the Los Angeles stint.  Empress Valley themselves have issued this three times before this set.  In the box set they utilize again their definitive 2003 Christmas remaster but with a significant boost in volume.  With the increase in volume comes also an increase in hiss and it leaves the tape very sterile and cold feeling. 

Thirty Years Gone (EVSD-468 ~ 470)

The Forum Inglewood California USA June 22th 1977
Disc 1 : The Song Remains The Same / Sick Again / Nobody’s Fault But Mine / In My Time Of Dying / Since I’ve Been Loving You / No Quarter
Disc 2 : Ten Years Gone / The Battle Of Ever More / Going To California / Black Country Woman / Bron-Yr -Aur Stomp / White Summer – Black Mountain Side / Kashmir
Disc 3 : Out On The Tiles – Moby Dick / Over The Hills And Far Away / Guitar Solo – Achilles Last Stand / Stairway To Heaven / Whole Lotta Love / Rock And Roll

This is the selling point for the box.  Previous releases of this show used an alternate tape source from the June 21st show for “Ten Years Gone.”  But Empress Valley finally get it right by using an alternate tape source for the correct show.  The sound quality is fair to good and the volume is boosted significantly again producing a harsh effect.  To make matters worse there are digital ticks during “Rock And Roll” sounding like there is a malfunction with the cd player.  Maybe EV will correct this flaw but hopefully another label will master and edit these tapes properly in the future because this is a fascinating concert. 

For Badge Holders Only (EVSD-471 ~ 473)

The Forum Inglewood California USA June 23th 1977
Disc 1 : The Song Remains The Same / Sick Again / Nobody’s Fault But Mine / Over The Hills And Far Away / Since I’ve Been Loving You / No Quarter
Disc 2 : Ten Years Gone / The Battle Of Ever More / Going To California / Black Country Woman / Bron-Yr -Aur Stomp / White Summer – Black Mountain Side / Kashmir / Trampled Underfoot
Disc 3 : Out On The Tiles – Moby Dick / Guitar Solo – Achilles Last Stand / Stairway To Heaven / Whole Lotta Love / Rock And Roll

This is a mix of sources using the Millard tape as the base and an alternate source for the opening four songs.  The volume again is boosted very high on this making the highs sound crispy.  Hiss is also present and the right channel drops out in “Kashmir” and about half of “Trampled Under Foot.”  This defect isn’t found on any other release. The recent Scorpio release of this show remains the definitive version.   

Badge Holders Annual Meeting (EVSD-474 ~ 476)

The Forum Inglewood California USA June 25th 1977

Disc 1 : The Song Remains The Same / Sick Again / Nobody’s Fault But Mine / In My Time Of Dying / Since I’ve Been Loving You / No Quarter
Disc 2 : Ten Years Gone / The Battle Of Ever More / Going To California / Black Country Woman / Bron-Yr -Aur Stomp / White Summer – Black Mountain Side / Kashmir / Trampled Underfoot
Disc 3 : Out On The Tiles – Moby Dick / Guitar Solo – Achilles Last Stand / Stairway To Heaven / Whole Lotta Love / Communication Breakdown

Some consider this to be the best concert of the week.  There is a relaxed feel to the show probably due to a night off for the band.  Both Scorpio and Wendy released this tape in the past couple of years and the best sounding version of all is Saturday Night’s Alright.  Empress Valley’s Badge Holders Annual Meeting provides the biggest difference compared to previous issues.  EV sounds very hissy and distorted and is painful to listen to.  It sounds like they used the horrible version of the tape from the TDOLZ set and cranked the volume up extremely high.     

That’s All Right Mama (EVSD-477 ~ 479)

The Forum Inglewood California USA June 26th 1977
Disc 1 : The Song Remains The Same / Sick Again / Nobody’s Fault But Mine / Over The Hills And Far Away/ Since I’ve Been Loving You / No Quarter
Disc 2 : Ten Years Gone / The Battle Of Ever More / Going To California / That’s All Right Mama / Black Country Woman / Bron-Yr -Aur Stomp / White Summer – Black Mountain Side / Kashmir
Disc 3 : Out On The Tiles – Moby Dick / Guitar Solo – Achilles Last Stand / Stairway To Heaven / It’ll Be Me

This show hasn’t been released since TDOLZ issued It’ll Be Me from the Power & Glory boxset and is due for an overhaul.  Of the six nights this is the worst sounding.  Compared to the TDOLZ, EV have increased the volume making it sound much more distorted and harsh.  This is a hard tape to get through as it is though and EV did a good job in making it somewhat presentable.     

Just Can’t Be Satisfied (EVSD-480 ~ 482)

The Forum Inglewood California USA June 27th 1977
Disc 1 : The Song Remains The Same / Sick Again / Nobody’s Fault But Mine / Over The Hills And Far Away/ Since I’ve Been Loving You / No Quarter
Disc 2 : Ten Years Gone / The Battle Of Ever More / Going To California / Just Can’t Be Satisfied / Black Country Woman / Bron-Yr -Aur Stomp / Dancing Days / White Summer – Black Mountain Side / Kashmir / Trampled Underfoot
Disc 3 : Out On The Tiles – Moby Dick / Guitar Solo – Achilles Last Stand / Stairway To Heaven / Whole Lotta Love / Rock And Roll

Of the six nights in this box, this is the one that can be considered an improvement.  Compared to Full Imperial Collapse on Wendy, Just Can’t Be Satisfied is brighter with less hiss and very clear.  If all the tapes in this set were like this, For Badge Holders Only would be an instant classic.  Empress Valley should really release this show alone since this a dramatic improvement.

Given the expense of this boxset, two shows out of six is a poor average.  Collectors use the terms “mess” and “disaster” when referring to this and it is a shame because the packaging is gorgeous.  It looks like this boxset was rushed for some reason and one wonders why?  Although the hope is that this will sell out instantly and be a huge ticket item in the future like Deep Throat, this will actually follow the path of the Destroyers boxset which was also flawed and is found in the bargain bins. 

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Led Zeppelin - For Badge Holders Only (Empress Valley EVSD-465 ~ 482), 1.5 out of 5 based on 7 ratings

3 Comments

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  1. Avatar of roertd7
    roertd7 says
    May 25, 2008, 3:32 am

    Following on from the comment above maybe EVSD will also issue a replacement disc for disc 2 of the 23rd show as I’ve never been aware of a drop out in Kashmir & TUF before.

    EVSD is such a frustrating label; capable of stunning releases at one end of the spectrum and utter dross at the other. Surely somebody could have listened to the test pressing before actual production commenced? I mean this is standard procedure for any production environment – hardly rocket science!

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    brianvy says
    May 16, 2008, 11:10 am

    According to Empress Valley, the 3rd disc of the June 22 concert, “Thirty Years Gone”, will be repressed and a replacement disk issued to correct the mastering fault/digital ticks. Only appropriate for such an expensive title…

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  3. Avatar of heartbreaker
    May 12, 2008, 1:14 pm

    Thanks, for a good honest review.

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