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Led Zeppelin – Empire Strikes Back (Tarantura TCD102)

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Empire Strikes Back (Tarantura TCD102)

Wembley Arena, London, England - November 20th, 1971 

Disc 1 (60:21):  Introduction, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Rock and Roll, Stairway to Heaven, Going to California, That’s the Way, Tangerine 

Disc 2 (56:41):  Dazed and Confused, What Is and What Should Never Be, Celebration Day, Moby Dick 

Disc 2 (24:06):  Whole Lotta Love

Led Zeppelin’s first London shows after the release of the fourth LP were two at the Wembley Arena billed Electric Magic.  These were two five hour long extravaganzas with many opening acts like Stone The Crows and performing animals on stage.  Nearly 10,000 tickets were sold out within an hour before the second night was added.  Empire Strikes Back presents the almost complete tape for the first night. 

It is a distant and distorted but listenable recording.  There is a cut in at 23:52 in “Dazed And Confused” and one after “Whole Lotta Love” eliminating the encores “Communication Breakdown,” “Thank You” and whatever else they chose to play.  The earliest releases of the show include The Electric Magic Show (Mad Dogs-033/34), Magik (Tarantura EM-001, 2), and Electric Magic Show(Apple No. 376) on CDR.  These three were all missing missing “Immigrant Song” and most of “Whole Lotta Love” and the Tarantura and Apple were also missing “Tangerine” and most of “Moby Dick.”  2352 

In 2003 Electric Magic Show Definitive Edition(Electric Magic EMC-023 A/B) was released with contained “Dancing Days” from the December 23rd, 1972 London show and “What Is And What Should Never Be” and “Celebration Day” switched places.  Empire Strikes Back has all of the known tape from the show in the correct order and without the inserted faux-”Dancing Days.”  For silver pressed editions, this stands as the definitive statement of the Electric Magic show at Wembley. 

The press were very enthusiastic for this performance.  Melody Maker claimed “the atmosphere almost leaps off the stage. Led Zeppelin performed Friday night and 9,000 of them put their hands above their heads and got their Saturday night rocks off” and NME writes that this is “What the true essence of rock and roll is about.”

Despite the plaudits received, this is a good show but Zeppelin sound too uptight for it to be a magical night.  There are some embaressing moments too such as the loud bum note at the end of “Since I’ve Been Loving You.”  The were contending with various factors such as the length of the show and the temperature in the venue.  In fact, Plant’s first words to the audience are “are you cold?”  

Things do warm up as the show progresses however, especially with very heavy version of “Black Dog” and “Stairway To Heaven,” two newer numbers.  But the acoustic set in the middle is truly intimate and a highlight of the set.  By the winter UK tour they had added “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” but that is dropped from the set this night, so the acoustic set is three songs long instead of two.

There is a bit of a “technical hitch” before they proceed with “Dazed And Confused” which still holds similarities to the version played in the BBC the previous April including the spaced out coda.  “Moby Dick” makes a rare appearance in the set since it has been dropped for this particular tour.  “Whole Lotta Love” lasts twenty-five minutes and includes the normal songs in the medley with “Boogie Chillun’,” “Hello Mary Lou” and ending with “Going Down Slow.”

Empire Strike Back is limited to 150 numbered copies.  The discs are enclosed in a thick tri-fold cardboard sleeve which is housed in a box with the same cover design ad the sleeve and with a T-shirt, much in the same design as the Winterland boxset.  Given this the sound quality and this is the only silver release with the complete tape, this stands as definitive (until another tape surfaces). 

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Led Zeppelin - Empire Strikes Back (Tarantura TCD102), 2.7 out of 5 based on 9 ratings

10 Comments

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  1. Avatar of Harperspace
    January 13, 2013, 8:50 am

    After searching in vain for a copy of this release for nearly two years, I finally secured one a couple of weeks back. It was well worth the wait! :-)

    Let me say first of all that the Tarantura 2000 folks don’t always get it right. However when they do, the collector is normally rewarded with something special. It’s interesting to see some of the comments concerning the artwork. My view is that this is a beautiful package. In fact I’m not sure how they could have possibly improved it.

    Of course the main thing (as others rightly point out) is sound quality. This was never a very good recording (either source), but Tarantura has made this a very listenable & enjoyable release. It is certainly better than the “Electric Magic Show Definitive Editon” (Electric Magic) release I’ve had for years, and seldom played.

    For once a great upgrade.

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  2. Avatar of LZJoker
    LZJoker says
    January 28, 2010, 8:41 am

    Basically he’s saying with the prices they charge the artwork is the main justification, if they drop the ball on that you might as well download the lowgen.

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  3. Avatar of Argenteum Astrum
    January 28, 2010, 4:09 am

    JMM, so you’re trying to say that you’d go to pay for the artwork only even if you have the same stuff on the other boot? Of course this is your choice but personally I feel it a waste of money.

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  4. Avatar of JMM
    JMM says
    January 27, 2010, 11:41 am

    AA not sure you correctly picked up point Luudd was making . Sound quality more important than packaging . No dispute . Tarantura consider packaging to be important . Why else would they go to the lengths they do . The packaging with many of their titles is stunning . On packaging they have no peer . Many a review of a new Tara release comments on the packaging . And why shouldnt it . I bet Tara are pleased to read praise of both sound quality and packaging of their releases . Tara invite comment in a way other labels dont . I read Ludd’s article as saying no more than that .

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  5. Avatar of wgpsec
    wgpsec says
    January 26, 2010, 9:42 pm

    LedMan, my copy of Electric Magic Show on Apple Jams No. 376 is on silver discs as well. However, my copy of Some Things Never Pass (Baltimore 4/5/70) also from Apple Jams is on black CDR.

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  6. Avatar of classicrawker
    January 26, 2010, 7:03 pm

    I agree AA the music is the most important for me and I don’t worry about the artwork but I guess with the staggering prices Tarantura charges for their releases people have a right to expect the top notch artwork and packaging Tarantura usually provides……

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  7. Avatar of LedMan
    LedMan says
    January 26, 2010, 4:51 pm

    I haven’t heard this yet so will comment later however I wanted to clarify that my copy of “Electric Magic Show” Apple Jams No. 376 is a silver and not CDR. I’m curious if any other collectors have the silver and/or CDR and would care to comment?

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  8. Avatar of Argenteum Astrum
    January 26, 2010, 1:14 am

    Are you gguys always complaining on the artwork, not the music content? What’s the matter what the artwork is if the music is most important thing?

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  9. Avatar of JMM
    JMM says
    January 25, 2010, 5:03 am

    Compared to packaging of other Tara releases perhaps uninspired . Not sure I agree . But in terms of lost opportunity look at packaging for EVs latest soundboard release . Guff .

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  10. Avatar of ludd3
    ludd3 says
    January 24, 2010, 11:43 am

    Really surprised (disappointed) by the cover art. Was hoping for something original that would pull from the movie title that they used for this release. For instance, Buck Rogers (Tarantura) was a great release in regard to packaging. Something different & novel. Just regurgitating the old concert playbill is so boring, done to death, and uninspired. Missed opportunity by Tara 2000.

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