Texas International Pop Festival (Empress Valley EVSDVD-A 004 & EVSD-439)
International Speedway, Lewisville, TX – August 31st, 1969
Introduction, Train Kept a Rollin’, I Can’t Quit You, Dazed And Confused, You Shook Me, How Many More Times (including Suzie Q, The Hunter, Eyesight To The Blind, Boogie Chillun’, The Lemon Song, The Girl I Love), Communication Breakdown (includes bass solo)
The Texas International Pop Festival held over Labor Day weekend is sometimes referred to as “the second Woodstock”. Of all the bands that played over the three days it seems that Led Zeppelin’s set on the second day is the most well known. Pristine soundboards exist for most of the artists but Zeppelin’s is the one which has more permutations than any other. The earliest releases were in the early nineties with Don’t Mess With Texas on Oh Boy (1-1969 TEX1) and Plays Pure Blues (WCP-910121) on Whoopy Cat with a 2004 re-release on the same label and same artwork with the catalogue number WCP-910121R.
“Train Kept A-Rollin'”, “I Can’t Quit You”, and “Dazed & Confused” appear on the compilation Tales From Riverside on Luna Records (LU 9309) and “How Many More Times” and “Communication Breakdown” appear on the famous Cabala box set. Plays Pure Blues (LSCD 52106) was released on Live Storm in 1994 with some BBC material as filler. In 1995 the Italian Oil Well label released You Shook Me (RSC CD 100). Other releases worth mentioning the copies of the Oh Boy release on both Hawgleg records from Luxembourg and Whole Lotta Love Vol. 4 (BAN-008-D) on the Australian label Bananna.
The Japanese label Last Stand Disc released Texas International Pop Festival (LSD-18) which promised 24-bit remastering. More recently Dinopower released Electric Magic Over Dallas (DP 674) coupled with some Bombay sessions. Empress Valley was ambitious by releasing the soundboard on The Only Way To Fly (EVSD-208/209) with the audience recording on the second disc. Finally the Genuine Masters project were the first to issue this recording on the DVD-A format on Texas Pop (GM-LZ-31.08.1969-DVD-A-12) which was given the highest praise on Hotwacks.
Now Empress Valley released Texas International Pop Festival as their latest title in the DVD-A medium in direct competition to the Genuine Masters release from last year. This title comes with two discs, the first the dvd given the catalogue number EVSDVD-A 004 and the second an audio CD given the number EVSD-439. The DVD contains the show with the slide show, the six minute piece from the film Got No Shoes, Got No Blues, and the option for either 5.1 surround sound or 2 channel stereo. Both discs feature the soundboard recording with the audience source being utilized for the introduction and to fill the cuts.
Comparing the audio discs is difficult because this tape is fantastic to begin with. The original Oh Boy issue is still considered by some to be the definitive version and it does have a lot of good points going for it. The Only Way To Fly was criticized with some justification as having too much residue of their remastering, but the audio for this release does sound extremely good. It is definitely better than Empress Valley’s older release and more dynamic than the older versions. To nitpick a bit this has slightly more hiss, but playing it at a loud volume will drown out that concern in a big hurry. The DVD is presented in “94KHZ/24Bit DVD-Audio:5.1 Surround Sound” and it sounds devastatingly clear and vibrant.
The slide show presents photos that are both common and rare (I’ve never seen them before). Some pictures are very clear and others are a bit blurry. The slide show cuts out after the guitar solo in “Communication Breakdown” in what I think might be a manufacturing glitch on the part of Empress Valley. The Got No Shoes, Got No Blues fragment has been circulating for a long time and it looks very old. It mainly shows the band being introduced and playing “Dazed & Confused”. It is in color but the picture is so faded it is hard to tell. There are also black blocks on the top and bottom of the screen further obscuring the view. However this is again an amazing document and one wonders how much still exists sitting somewhere? Nevertheless it is a nice touch by Empress Valley to include this footage as a bonus.
This concert routinely makes collectors’ top five lists for all time best Led Zeppelin concerts. Even though it was very hot there that evening they deliver their standard set (minus “White Summer”) to the 120,000 in attendance. The discs begin with the audience recording picking up the band getting ready. The soundboard picks up with the announcer introducing the band, “Please welcome, the Led Zeppelin”. The “Train Kept A-Rollin” and “I Can’t Get You” are employed for the final time as the set opener.
“Dazed & Confused” reaches some intense creepiness and a peculiarity about this version is the inclusion, between 9:25 and 9:40 of the heavy majestic riff usually found as an introduction to “How Many More Times” (most notably on the Royal Albert Hall version found on the DVD). “How Many More Times” reaches more than twenty minutes and contains some interaction between Plant and the audience after someone throws something at him (what exactly was thrown isn’t clear). The lyrics to “Eyesight To The Blind” are sung in the “Boogie Chillun'” style. “Communication Breakdown” with a short bass solo closes the event.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)