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Led Zeppelin – Live On Blueberry Hill 35th Anniversary Edition (Empress Valley Supreme Disc 2006 EVSD – 385/386/387/388/389/390/391/392/393)

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Live On Blueberry Hill 35th Anniversary Edition (Empress Valley Supreme Disc 2006 EVSD – 385/386/387/388/389/390/391/392/393)

The Forum, Inglewood, CA – September 4th, 1970

The Complete 1970 LA Forum Tapes

Version 1: Blimp Records/Trademark Quality Source

Disc 1: Introduction By J.J. Jackson, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Dazed and Confused, Bring It On Home, That’s The Way, Bron-Yr-Aur, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Organ Solo, Thank You

Disc 2: What Is and What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown, Out On The Tiles, Blueberry Hill

Version II: Trademark Quality Alternate Source

Disc 3: Introduction By J.J. Jackson, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Dazed and Confused, Bring It On Home, That’s The Way, Bron-Yr-Aur, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Organ Solo, Thank You

Disc 4: What Is and What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown, Out On The Tiles, Blueberry Hill

Version III: Cobra Source

Disc 5: Introduction By J.J. Jackson, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Dazed and Confused, Bring It On Home, That’s The Way, Bron-Yr-Aur, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Organ Solo, Thank You

Disc 6: What Is and What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown, Out On The Tiles, Blueberry Hill

Version IV: Antrabata Source

Disc 7: Introduction By J.J. Jackson, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Dazed and Confused, Bring It On Home, That’s The Way, Bron-Yr-Aur, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Organ Solo, Thank You

Disc 8: What Is and What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown, Out On The Tiles, Blueberry Hill

Rubber Dubber Source

Disc 9: Bring It On Home, That’s The Way, Bron-Yr-Aur, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Organ Solo, Thank You, What Is and What Should Never Be, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown

It’s not often that we get an excellent recording of an amazing performance such as this night at The LA Forum. But to have five different sources to choose from is incredible. Led Zeppelin gives one of their greatest performances and they are deserving of all the hype that has surrounded this show. Playing much from Led Zeppelin I and Led Zeppelin II, the audience was treated to some yet unreleased tracks from their next LP and a few extra encores, one of which would brand this performance forever. The band is really enjoying themselves and are obviously feeding off of the response they are getting. Version I presented here on discs 1 and 2 is the first source to surface from this night and has been released many times over the last 35 years on both vinyl and CD. Empress refers to this as the Blimp Records/Trademark Quality Source. It is a good source for listening to Page as he is very up front in the mix. EV has mixed in some of the alternate sources in a few places where the original tape is available, as well as between songs. They aim to achieve the most complete version of the show as they will do on most of the other versions in this box set. I have mixed feelings about their mastering of this source. At times it can sound better than the LSD version and other times LSD sounds superior. For some reason, this source was not included in Tarantura’s box set.

Version II from discs 3 and 4 is the source most commonly referred to as the Mud Dogs source and has also been released by Tarantura in 1993, Antrabata, two versions from Cobra and is featured on discs 3 and 4 from Last Stand Disc. Empress Valley refers to this as the Trademark Quality Alternate Source. This may be the most impressive sounding source from this night and is an excellent stereo recording. Empress Valley’s sound is a little fuzzier when compared with the discs from the Tarantura box set but both sound excellent and are much louder than the LSD version. Tarantura included this source twice in their box. One of them mixed with another source to address some problems found in the original recording. It seems strange, especially where they didn’t bother to include the original TMQ source. However, their version of this incredible stereo source seems a little bit better in comparison with Empress.

Version III from discs 5 and 6 is titled the Cobra Source, since they were the first to include fragments from this tape edited with the Mud Dogs source. The Tarantura and Empress box sets are the only titles so far to present the full source. EV’s sound is amplified over Tarantura’s and has a heavier low end. Empress also runs a tad slower but both are a pleasure to listen to.

Version IV on discs 7 and 8 is the most distant sounding recording from this night and is the only tape to include the full introduction. EV borrowed this intro for all their versions except the Rubber Dubber tape. During “Immigrant Song” and “Heartbreaker” they splice in part of the Blimp/TMQ source, which has got to be the most unlikely source to use. In my opinion, the sound change is more dramatic than it would have been if they chose one of the other recordings. Empress Valley has dubbed this the Antrabata source because they were the first to include the introduction, and only the introduction, from this source on their title. Tarantura released the full source tape in 1997 as well as part of their recent box set. When compared with Tarantura’s box set version, it sounds like Empress boosted the frequencies, giving it a fuller sound which also brought out more of the tape noise.

The Rubber Dubber vinyl source is featured on disc 9 and is another excellent sounding source. This source is incomplete, missing the first three songs, “Moby Dick”, a large section of “Whole Lotta Love”, and the final two encores. Tarantura also included this in their box set and their version is much better sounding. Either their vinyl source was in much better condition than Empress Valley’s or they just cleaned it up nicer. These are the only two CD releases of this source, so far, and unfortunately is the only isolated source in EV’s box set.

The set comes in a hinged box which houses nine individual hard sleeves. Discs 1, 2, and 9 feature the covers from the old vinyl releases and the remainder contain various black and white photos. All of Empress Valley’s versions, with the exception of the Rubber Dubber source, have alternate sources mixed in giving us four virtually complete versions of the show. This might be applauded if they were to only release a 2CD version. But considering the fact that they are trying to present all the different recordings from this night it seems rather unnecessary and goes against their claim of featuring “masters of all five sources”, not to mention it can be difficult at times to determine which source you are actually listening to. Both box sets have their issues, so it’s hard to recommend one over the other. I guess it depends on how tolerable you are. Maybe someday somebody will get it right and feature five separate isolated sources. That being said, this is still a beautiful set to own.  (WGPSEC)

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Led Zeppelin - Live On Blueberry Hill 35th Anniversary Edition (Empress Valley Supreme Disc 2006 EVSD – 385/386/387/388/389/390/391/392/393), 4.8 out of 5 based on 10 ratings

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