Lifetime Guarantee Revisited (Empress Valley EVSD-508 / EVSDVD-A 008)
Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA – December 30, 1968
CD: The Train Kept A-Rollin’, I Can’t Quit You, As Long As I Have You, Dazed And Confused, White Summer, How Many More Times, Pat’s Delight
DVDA: The Train Kept A-Rollin’, I Can’t Quit You, As Long As I Have You, Dazed And Confused, White Summer, How Many More Times, Pat’s Delight
The earliest live Led Zeppelin audience recording has been released many times before over the past twenty or so years. The show was taped by the promoter of the show and the levels were set high making it rather distorted at the beginning. Thankfully after the initial blast it clears up and it becomes a very good and listenable, perfectly enjoyable document. It first surfaced on vinyl on Alpha And Omega (Rock Solid Records RSR 141) where the show (minus “Dazed And Confused” and “White Summer”) were paired with the July 24th, 1977 Oakland show.
This title was also included in The Final Option box set. On compact disc it can be found on Gonzaga 1968, Gonzaga ’68 (Capricorn CR-2031E), Capricorn’s copy Gonzaga ’68 (So Fucking What), and Empress Valley’s first release Lifetime Guarantee (EV 141) released in the spring of 2002. EV claim to use the master cassette which is pictured on the sleeve, and their version runs at the correct speed, is much cleaner sounding and is more complete.
Tarantura issued a version of this show on Yardbirds Fame (TCD – 69) which was almost universally panned by collectors as being among the worst ever issued. Empress Valley’s latest release Lifetime Guarantee Revisited presents the show in both an audio and a DVDA format. The volume of the tape has been amplified a little bit and is a bit more clear than the earlier edition making it the best available version in existence.
Spokane is the fifth show on Zeppelin’s first tour and the only live tape from 1968 in circulation. Opening for Vanilla Fudge, this show is a bit more than three months removed from their live debut in September and nine months from the Yardbirds’ Anderson Theater show recorded in March and released on Live Yardbirds! Featuring Jimmy Page. The set list for both began with “Train Kept a Rollin’,” focuses upon “Dazed And Confused” and “White Summer,” and contains a twelve minute rave by the end (“I’m A Man” and “How Many More Times.”)
The opening song is played deliberately as The Yardbirds did, before Zeppelin would quicken the tempo in later performances. The guitar disappears about a minute into the song and it take a bit of time before Page’s guitar is fixed before he comes back in.
After the second song Plant says, “good evening from Led Zeppelin. You won’t believe this but I don’t think either ourselves or our equipment is quite used to the temperature. It’s taken about three hours of gas stoves over the equipment before we could get it together. Let’s see if we can keep it going. This is a thing by Garnett Mimms of all people, called ‘As Long As I Have You.'” This early version of their epic improvisational piece is eight minutes long but includes the “Fresh Garbage” reference.
“We’re all dying. You’ve got flu and things here” Plant says before he mentions the first album coming out in three weeks.
“Dazed And Confused” is very close to the studio track with little improvisation in the middle, and this is followed by “White Summer.” This version is two minutes longer than what Page played in the springtime, but is a rare version where he only plays the old track with no reference to “Black Mountain Side.”
“How Many More Times” doesn’t have the Bolero section, but has a lot of call and response between Page and Plant, “The Hunter,” and another Page violin bow on guitar solo. The show strangely ends with the Bonham’s drum solo “Pat’s Delight.” The tape cuts out right after the return to the main theme, leading to speculation if another song were played that night such as “Communication Breakdown.”
The second disc is a DVDA of the same tape and again the sound quality is very good. Each song is accompanied by a picture from the era.
This is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with full color inserts with photos from the early years of Zeppelin. Thankfully they didn’t use the inconvenient big plastic cases they use for their other DVDA releases. Some collectors are speculating Empress Valley released this in direct competition with Tarantura’s release from some months back. If that is the case, EV is still the best version of this fascinating tape available and since this one is very reasonably priced makes it worth acquiring.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)