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Led Zeppelin – Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio LZ-07001~12)

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 Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio LZ-07001~12)

Led Zeppelin collectors are among the most fortunate when it comes to owning outtakes and rehearsals.  Except for The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, no other big group has as many and various behind the scene tapes as Zeppelin.  So much of this material has been released that it is possible to trace the entire history of the band, from the first album sessions right through to their last.  The first massive collection to be issued was the Antrabata eleven disc set Studio Sessions released a decade ago.

This set collected every piece of tape known at the time and presented them in a chronological, cohesive order.  Despite the knock against it for using inferior sounding tapes, it remains a popular and sought after item.  Akashic was going to attempt a comprehensive box set in the winter of 1999 to be called The Final Option.  This, however, was scrapped and only five discs spread out over three titles, Meet Led Zeppelin, Scorpio Rising and The Smithereens, have been released. 

Now the new Scorpio label, with the new release Studio Sessions Ultimate, gives a much needed overhaul of Antrabata.  Spread over twelve discs, Scorpio not only includes everything found in the older box set, but also include most of the material that has surfaced in the past decade and use only the best sounding versions of the more familiar tapes.  Generally speaking, the sound quality of this release is not worse, and in some cases better than anything else in circulation.   

Disc 1:  Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (take 8), Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (take 9), You Shook Me (take 1), Babe Come On Home (take 1), Babe Come On Home (take 2), Babe Come On Home (take 3) (Olympic Studios, London – September 20th – October 10th, 1968), untitled instrumental (take 1), untitled instrumental (take 2), untitled instrumental (take 3), untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental (take 4), untitled instrumental untitled instrumental (take 7) (Olympic Studios, London – October, 1968), Moby Dick, Moby Dick (Mirror Sound Studios, Los Angeles, CA – May, 1969), Sugar Mama (Morgan Studios, London, England – June, 1969)

The first disc follows the track listing of Antrabata’s first disc except for the addition of “Moby Dick”.  It dates from the very first sessions for the first album in Olympic Studio in October 1968.  These outtakes can also be found on Olympic Gold on Scorpio (LZ 92-SC), Gems + Jams (ZELCD101), Studio Haze (Laughing Skull), Anyway You Want (KFM 008), Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You (Dynamite Studio DS92J031), Hairway To Steven (Invasion Unlimited IU9645-1) and Early Days (Refinded Masters) released in 2004.  The sessions for the first album began on September 27th, 1968 at Olympic Studio where they recorded under the name, according to studio records, as The Yardbirds.  The first two tracks are full band run throughs of “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”. 

It is appropriate this track begins this massive box set since this is the song Jimmy Page and Robert Plant bonded on in their first face-to-face meeting at Page’s home.  The final product sounds much more restrained than these two takes, with Plant singing his guts out.  “You Shook Me” is the very first take according to the voice of engineer Glyn Johns.  It lasts for almost eight minutes and cuts out at the very end.  There are three takes of “Tribute To Bert Burns”, which surfaced in 1993 as “Baby Come On Home.”  This dates from the final day of recording.  What follows is a half hour of guitar and organ excercises.

Its origin and purpose is a mystery and when they first surfaced it was claimed the organ player was Steve Winwood. The music is very moody and it sounds like Page and John Paul Jones trying to get a handle on “Your Time Is Gonna Come”.  These sessions were most recently released on Danish TV & Studio Sessions (Watch Tower WT 2001009).  “Moby Dick” dates from the hectic recording schedule for Led Zeppelin II during their second US tour. 

The first disc ends with the very rare cover of  Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Sugar Mama”.  This dates from Morgan studio in the summer of that year intended possibly for the second album.  It is a bouncy, catchy pop number and is obvious why it has never been issued by the band in any form.  It sounds dated even for 1969, but is good to have. 

Disc 2:  Jennings Farm Blues, Jennings Farm Blues, Jennings Farm Blues, Jennings Farm Blues, Jennings Farm Blues, Jennings Farm Blues, Jennings Farm Blues, Jennings Farm Blues, Jennings Farm Blues, Jennings Farm Blues, Jennings Farm Blues, Jennings Farm Blues (Olympic Studio, London, England – November 1969)  That’s The Way, Feel So Bad / Fixin’ To Die / That’s All Right, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Friends, Immigrant Song, Immigrant Song / Out On The Tiles, Bron-Yr-Aur, Poor Tom, Hey Hey What Can I Do, Friends (Headley Grange, Hampton, England – May – June 1970), Poor Tom (Olympic Studio, London – May 5th, 1970)

The first half of the second disc contains the fascinating track “Jennings Farm Blues.”  Led Zeppelin’s manager Peter Grant at the time was quoted in the music press that the band have “written a special number which they intended as their first British single which they will be recording next week” for a January, 1970 release to coincide with their appearance at the Royal Albert Hall. 

This would have been their first single but this, along with several throughout their career, was scrapped and England wouldn’t have a single from Led Zeppelin until 1997’s “Whole Lotta Love.”  This tape, dating from November 1969, first surfaced on the old Scorpio label on Jennings Farm Blues, was copied by the Australian  Farmhouse Blues (Blue Kangaroo BK-11), and appears on the second disc of the Antrabata, 1970 Studio Works on Theremin, Scorpio Rising (Akashic AKALZ-Studio-002), and The Lost Sessions Vol. 6 (Empress Valley EVSD-325). 

The sound quality of “Jennings Farm Blues” (named after Robert Plant’s farm) is outstanding.  It is one of Page’s early attempts to create a guitar orchestra with many layers of guitars weaving around one another in increasing complexity.  As the sessions go on both the playing and Page’s comments reveal a lot of frustration and the song never passed the instrumental stage.  The final version does have some pretty lyrical passages and it’s a shame it was never completed in this form.  The basic melody would be used again six months later for “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp” and the vision of multi-layered guitars will come to fruition three years later for “The Song Remains The Same”. 

The balance of disc two contains outtakes from the sessions for the third album.  These recordings first surfaced on Studio Daze on Scorpio (SE 64-10-171) and are also available on Led Zeppelin III (Tarantura Trantic CD 19128), Studio Daze Revisited (TMOQ) as well as disc two of the Antrabata.  “That’s The Way” through “Since I’ve Been Loving You” are label Headley Grange but that isn’t correct.  “That’s The Way”, which sounds identical to the final version, was recorded in Island Studios in London.  

“Feel So Bad” is a medley of blues hits played by Page on a nervous sounding slide guitar and is part of the sessions for “Hats Off For (Roy) Harper” which closes the album and was recorded at Olympic studio.  “Since I’ve Been Loving You” was recorded at Island Studios with the guitar solo dating from Memphis in April, 1970.  This is the take used for the final product with the addition of Plant screaming during the solo.

This is followed by the three  minute vocal take of “Since I’ve Been Loving You”of which many collectors question its authenticity.  The following six tracks date from rehearsals for the third album and its location and date isn’t clear.  The two versions of “Friends”, “Poor Tom”, “Bron-Yr-Aur” and “Hey Hey What Can I Do?” sound like they date from the Bron-Yr-Aur cottage since it contains only Page and Plant playing guitar and bongos. 

“Immigrant Song” and “Out On The Tiles” are full band rehearsals and bootlegs have always attributed them to the third album rehearsals in Headley Grange.  However the sequence of events after the cottage is first a rehearsal  session at Plant’s farm in Worcestershire.  Afterwards they convened in Olympic Studio to record “Friends” and “Poor Tom” and afterwards continued rehearsals in Headley Grange.  It is difficult to determine which set of rehearsals those two tracks date from, but if indeed all six tracks come from the same rehearsal then they were recorded at Plant’s farm. 

The two full band electric rehearsals are fascinating to hear as the band work on them.  “Immigrant Song” contains the famous screaching and inaudible lyrics different from the viking saga the song developed into.  The final studio version doesn’t have a guitar solo, but the rehearsal has one that is short and primitive.  “Out On The Tiles”, John Bonham’s song, has the basic melody and only the chorus present (“all I need from you / is all your love”).  The final track on disc two is “Poor Tom”, Led Zeppelin’s interpretation of Robert Wilkins’ “Prodigal Son.”  This was recorded on May 5th, 1970 and the version here is the same as what appears on Coda but in much worse quality and without lyrics.

Disc 3:  I Wanna Be Her Man, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, Hey Hey What Can I Do?, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, Down By The Sea Side, unknown song, untitled instrumental, unknown song, unknown song, unknown song, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, Poor Tom, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, That’s The Way, That’s The Way, That’s The Way, That’s The Way, Bron-Yr-Aur, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental (Bron-Y-Aur, Wales, UK – May, 1970)

The third disc contains an important tape in the story of Led Zeppelin.  After their tour of the U.S. in the spring, which saw the last date cancelled because of Plant’s exhaustion, the singer and Page retired to Bron-Yr-Aur cottage in Wales.  The intent was to have a working vacation where they can write songs together and to add a folk dimension to the band’s sound.  Several vinyl releases document this tape like Rehearsals 1970 and Hiawatha Express (Stash 2304). 

On compact disc, part of the rehearsals appear on A Tribute To Johnny Kidd And The Pirates on Scorpio, along with the 1973 rehearsal tape.  That release is interesting since the label actually invented names for some of the tunes on the tape like “Snowdonia”, “Wind In The Willow” and “Who Remembers Davey Graham?”  The tape has seen releases also on  Another Way To Wales (Black Swan BS-03), Led Zeppelin III (Tarantura Trantic CD 19128) Hiawatha Express on CD (Toasted Condor #1980), and Scorpio Rising (Akashic AKALZ-Studio-002) as well as the third disc of the Antrabata set.  The sound quality on Studio Sessions Ultimate is again excellent given the age and condition underwhich the tape was produced. 

Most of the disc is devoted to Plant and Page playing acoustic guitar, producing some interesting meditative harmonies.  Some parts become familiar like some melodies that will be used for “Over The Hills And Far Away”, “Gallow’s Pole”, and a cover of Crosby, Stills And Nash’s “Suite:  Judy Blue Eyes.”

What this tape reveals is that “Down By The Seaside” is perhaps the earliest song written at the cottage.  It certainly is the first one with lyrics.  Also among these doodlings is the earliest idea for “Stairway To Heaven.”  Tracks 33 to 45 have a different sound quality than the first 32.  It is more dull than the rest and comes from a different tape source. 

This tape has more developed and familiar melodies including “The Rover” two years before it appears onstage in Sydney.  Also by this stage “That’s The Way” has had taken a more recognizable form with lyrics close to the final version.  “Bron-Yr-Aur” is much slower than the final version that appears on Physical Graffiti, lasting three minutes, and is played as a Page and Plant duet.  Given its importance, collectors are fortunate that not only have some of these tapes survived but have been circulating for many years now.  The fourth disc moves on to the sessions associated with the fourth album. 

The sequence of events is similar to the third album with Page and Plant spending some time at the cottage in Bron-Yr-Aur followed by the entire band meeting at Island Studios.  Early on though they decided to record in a rural setting as a band this time and chose the three-story house Headley Grange aided by the Rolling Stones’ mobile studio and the Stones’ Ian Stewart.  This is the location where Fleetwood Mac recorded and where Genesis would later record The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.  The acoustics in the cavernous hallways and the spooky atmosphere (John Paul Jones remembers he saw ghosts there) were conductive to producing some of Zeppelin’s best ever work for their classic LP.

Disc 4:  Stairway To Heaven, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, Black Dog, Black Dog, Black Dog, Black Dog, Black Dog, No Quarter, Stairway To Heaven, Stairway To Heaven, Stairway To Heaven, Stairway To Heaven, untitled instrumental, Stairway To Heaven, Stairway To Heaven, The Battle Of Evermore, When The Levee Breaks (Headley Grange, Hampshire, England – January, 1971) Four Sticks, Black Dog (Island Studios, London, England – January, 1971)

Afterwards the band returned to Island studios to finally record and mix the album.  The earliest titles with this material were on vinyl including Rehearsals January 1971 (Rock Live 2-A-B) and Inedits (LZ1-2).  On compact disc these sessions have appeared on many titles such as All That Glitters Is Gold (Celebration CSM-001A/B), Another IV Symbols (Tarantura TCD-4), Hairway To Steven (Invasion Unlimited IU9645-1), Led Zeppelin IV Outtakes (Tarantura), Stairway Sessions (Silver Rarities SIRA 71), Studio Haze Vol 1 (Laughing Skull), Ultra Rare Tracks Vol. 1 (Missing Link ML-001), Stairway To Heaven Sessions 1970-1971 (Live Storm LSCD 52631 and also on Zoso’s Company ZOSO-9301/2), Sessions (The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin Vol. 49) and on the sixth disc of the Antrabata set. 

Scorpio made an error on the track listing that needs to be noted.  The first “Stairway To Heaven” is followed by three untitled instrumental tracks followed by five “Black Dog” rehearsal tracks.  Scorpio list the second two instrumentals as “Black Dog” giving the impression there are seven tracks to the song and not five. 

The first take of “Stairway To Heaven” and the following three instrumental tapes feature Page on guitar and Jones on electric piano.  “Stairway To Heaven” is a three and a half instrumental run-through of the opening theme played at normal speed, faster, and then returning to normal.  The following jam features Jones playing a happy theme on the keyboard and Page accompanying him with a bouncy, catchy melody.

The recording is clear enough to be from Island studio, but it could also date from Headley Grange.  What are clearly from the house are the “Black Dog” rehearsals.  It sounds as if it was recorded on a two-track, sounding heavy with the echo.  “Black Dog” at this stage has yet to be fully worked out and Plant is improvising lyrics on the spot (something he would continue to do on stage for many years, come to think of it).  It gives a fantastic aural snapshot of the band creating a classic track in the studio. 

By the third take, the band are clearly having difficulty mastering the difficult riff until Jones shouts out instructions and leads the band on the bass guitar.  Page, followed by Bonham hit into a groove with Bonham shouting, “YES!”  The final take is a very confident delivery.  “No Quarter” again dates from Headley Grange and is the earliest reference to the Houses Of The Holy song, three years before its official release.  Even in this primitive state the basic melody and structure of the song is present although it is a bit too up-tempo.  Plant scats vocals and Page plays a solo before the tape runs out. 

The next seven tracks come again from the “Stairway To Heaven” sessions.  The first four rehearsals feature Page and Jones again working on the breaks and tempos of the piece.  The untitled instrumental is a minute long doodle with nothing interesting.  The final two “Stairway To Heaven” tracks are joined by Plant adding vocals to the rehearsals and Jones adding recorders at the beginning, bring the song closer to the final, recognizable version.

An important story in Zeppelin mythology is about the spontaneous nature of the lyrics to the classic song with Plant claiming the words just came to him.  There is some truth to this claim since, besides some minor variations and differences in the melody; it is very close to what appears on the fourth album.  The song in this take approaches the traditional ending but returns to the opening theme.  The final take of “Stairway To Heaven” comes from a different tape than the previous ones and sounds brighter and clearer.  Bonham joins the band to lay down a drum track and the song sounds even closer to the final version. 

There are smaller variations in the lyrics (“when she gets there she knows/ if the stores are all closed / she can call in and see…”) but still mostly correct.  The song builds into a crescendo and Page switches his guitar and rips out a solo with ideas that will find their way into the live performances of the piece for the next decade.  The song still doesn’t have the closing verse (“there was a lady we all know / who shines bright light…”) but has the soft ending and the track closes with amazement with Bonham saying “bloody ‘ell!”  They spoke to the press about developing an epic to replace “Dazed And Confused” and they know they wrote an excellent song. 

“The Battle Of Evermore” contains the final instrumental track and has Plant singing lyrics, with some variations from the final version, without Sandy Denny’s contribution.  The sound quality of this track is below the others on this disc and the vocal is located in the right channel so it is a tough listen. 

The final three tracks, “When The Levee Breaks”, “Four Sticks”, and “Black Dog” are the variations of the final tracks that first surfaced in 2001 on The Lost Mixes EP Vol. 1 (Empress Valley EVSD-89) and were quickly copied by Watch Tower on Control Monitor Mixes EP, a bonus with their Salt Lake City release and released by Celebration on All That Glitters Is Gold (Celebration CSM-001A/B).  These are pristine quality versions of the official releases with some minor variations in the mix. 

“When The Levee Breaks” begins with inaudible studio chatter and the opening drums are missing, beginning with the first verse.  Absent also is the second verse and some guitar overdubs.  The bass and drums are louder than the final mix.  “Four Sticks” begins with Bonham playing the rhythm on drums, stopping and speaking about the sound being “African” before the tune begins again.  This does sound slightly clearer than the final version.  “Black Dog” begins with the same guitar tune-ups but there is a Bonham count-in before the vocals begin.  Bonham’s time keeping on the sticks is louder and the ending of the song contains a solo that was omitted from the final version before the fade.

Disc 5:  Friends, Friends, Friends, Friends, Friends, Friends, Friends, Friends, Friends, Friends, Friends, Four Sticks, Friends, Friends, Friends (take 1), Four Sticks (take 1), Four Sticks (take 2), Four Sticks (take 2) (Bombay, India – March, 1972) Walter’s Walk (Stargroves, Berkshire, England – May 15th, 1972), No Quarter, No Quarter, No Quarter, No Quarter, No Quarter, No Quarter, No Quarter (Island Studios, London – 1972)

The fifth disc focuses upon material from 1972 and contains the complete Bombay sessions from March, following their tour of Australia.  These sessions appear on All That Glitters Is Gold, Bombay (CG 40), Bombay India, The Complete 1972 Bombay Sessions (Tecumseh TRC-003), Sessions (The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin Vol. 49), Studio Haze Vol 1 (Laughing Skull), first disc of The Smithereens (AKA-Studio-003) The Lost Sessions Vol. 2 (EVSD-165) and disc seven of the Antrabata box.  This tape is one of the most often often released and popular outtake. 

Page and Plant recruited famous Indian musician Vijay Ragav Rao to assemble an ad hoc orchestra comprised of both western and Indian instruments.  What can be clearly heard are both Jimmy Page and Robert Plant speaking to Rao, and Rao translating their instructions to the musicians.  The orchestra tries their best but the different takes reveal missed cues and misunderstandings.  This is the first time they tried to interpret their musical ideas to anyone other than members of the band and they have difficulty in explaining what they want. 

Rehearsals exist only for “Friends”, as well as a very good final take with vocals.  For “Four Sticks”, the other eastern inspired tune they practice, only more polished takes without vocals exist.  “Walter’s Walk” is the instrumental track recorded on May 15th, 1972 at Stargroves during the rehearsals and recording of Houses Of The Holy.  This track would find its way into “Dazed And Confused” on the following U.S tour and would be resurrected on Coda.  Plant recorded vocals at that time for Coda and this represents his final recorded vocal performance as a member of Led Zeppelin.

The “No Quarter” sessions close this disc and these first surfaced on Studio Daze on Scorpio and were last issued on The Lost Sessions Vol. 6 (EVSD-325).  This tape has recordings of the session that produced the final version as it appears on Houses Of The Holy.  Ever since the first Scorpio release it has been attributed to Electric Ladyland Studio in New York during June 1972. 

In reality this comes from Island Studios in May of that year, before they left for the eighth tour and features John Paul Jones working with John Bonham to nail down the rhythm.  The first “No Quarter” opens with Bonham banging the sticks singing “Pictures Of Lily” before Jones begins the familiar cold organ intro.  This is a complete seven and a half minute run-through without vocals or guitar solo, but with the same timbre of the official version. 

The second take is thirty seconds and is aborted by Jones with a giggle.  This is followed by another attempt stopped after twenty seconds since Jones hits a bum note.  This is followed by the second full run-through, lasting eight minutes.  Again no vocals, guitar solo or grand piano is present, but Jones and Bonham change the rhythm during the solo.  After two more aborted takes, with Jones hitting a really nasty note, we are rewarded with the final take of the song.  This one is complete with vocals, guitar solo, and grand piano flourishes in the solo. 

There are also additional effects and guitars by Page and some Plant moans that were eventually cut out of the final release.  “No Quarter” is one of the greatest Zeppelin songs and to have such clear quality outtakes like this is wonderful to listen to.

Disc 6:  Love Me, Frankfurt Special, King Creole, Love Me (Old Refectory, Southampton University, Southampton, England – January 22nd, 1973) Sugar Baby, Sugar Baby, Sugar Baby, Wanton Song, The Rover, The Rover, The Rover, The Rover, Night Flight, Night Flight, Night Flight, Night Flight, School Days, Nadine, Round & Round, Move On Down The Line, Please Don’t Tease, Move It, Move It, Dynamite, Shakin’ All Over, Hungry For Love, Hungry For Love, I’ll Never Get Over You, Reelin’ & Rockin’ (Chicago Auditorium, Chicago, IL – July 6th, 1973)

The sixth disc contains the two well-known 1973 rehearsal tapes.  The first is a six-minute fragment that comes from either January 21st at the Gaumont Theatre, Southampton or January 22nd at The Old Refectory, Southampton University.  Both dates have been attached to this tape.  With the existence of a soundboard tape from the latter of the two (an interesting show which should be released soon) it most likely is the latter.  It begins with Bonham cursing at a roadie before Bonham, Jones and Plant (no Page) bang out some Elvis hits. 

“Love Me” and “King Creole” are two songs that were never played in any medley so it’s good to have these.  Southampton can be found on the vinyl Hiawatha Express and on the cd title Elvis Has Just Left The Building (LZ 6837-281).  The rest of the disc contains the mysterious hour-long rehearsal tape.  This appeared previously on Magical Mystery Tape (Tarantura TMMT-1), A Tribute To Johnny Kidd And The Pirates, Round And Round (Ghost CD 53-48), Hookin’ And Jabbin’ (TRC 1000), disc two of The Smithereens (AKALZ-Studio-004), and most recently on The Lost Sessions Vol. 5 (EVSD-179) issued in 2005. 

The last one also claimed that Jimmy Page himself will clear up the mystery of its origins, but has so far failed to do so.  (Mr. Page is invited to post the answer in the comments section below).  The quality of Plant’s voice and Page’s guitar points to being from 1973 but the location is not known.  Both “The Rover” and “Night Flight” were released in 1975 but were finished and recorded many years before that.

“Sugar Baby” (or “Strawberry Jam” as it is called on earlier releases) sounds like the funky section of “Whole Lotta Love.”  “The Wanton Song” included on this tape is only a small fraction of the song.  It doesn’t have the main riff nor lyrics, but is only the descending riff leading to the bridge, so it is a bit of a misnomer and it is more accurate to say it is a riff that was later incorporated into the song whose working title was “Desiree.” 

The fourth track listed “Night Flight” is a complete version of the song taken at a faster tempo and reveals that it could have been a compelling stage piece if they bothered to include it in any set list.  The rest of the tape includes lots of rock and roll oldies and tuning beginning with several Chuck Berry tunes.  Plant sings only the final three verses of “School Days”, “Nadine (Is That You?)” and several verses and the chorus of “Round And Round.” 

What follows is the first verse and chorus repeated several times of Roy Orbinson’s “Move On Down The Line,” a song they played in some “Whole Lotta Love” medleys.  What follows is a song that is listed here, and on every release of this tape, as “Love Me Like A Hurricane” but this isn’t accurate.  What they are playing is a cover of Cliff Richard’s “Please Don’t Tease”, a single that spent three weeks at number one on the charts in the summer of 1960.  “Shakin’ All Over” is Johnny Kidd And The Pirates’ 1960 number one hit that was covered by The Who, The Guess Who, and Iggy Pop.  Zeppelin gives a dramatic rendition in this sound check.

Two more Johnny Kidd And The Pirates hits follow, “Hungry For Love” and “I’ll Never Get Over You” before the session falls apart.  Bonham bangs out the beginning of “Rock And Roll”, Plant sings a line from “Surrender” and Jones tunes the organ before the tape runs out.  The sound quality on Scorpio is as good as I’ve heard and this is one of the most remarkable Zeppelin tapes in existence.  Although it will be good to learn the actual date and location, that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the band playing these songs, many of which never appeared in their live act. 

Disc 7:  Lucifer Rising, Lucifer Rising, Lucifer Rising (Boleskine House, England – Nov. 1973) untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental, untitled instrumental (Headley Grange, Hampton, England – Nov. 1973)

The seventh disc contains Jimmy Page alone in various recordings.  The first five minutes is devoted to outtakes from his soundtrack for Lucifer Rising in excellent quality.  This tape is found also on disc eleven of the Antrabata box set and on Midnight Rehearsals (GEJM-0001).  The full Jimmy Page soundtrack is not included and would have been a great addition to this collection.  It was released on vinyl on Solo Performances (RPJP A-B) but has never seen a release on compact disc. 

The many and various Lucifer Rising titles all contain the soundtrack used for the final cut of Kenneth Anger’s film recorded by Bobby Beausoleil And The Freedom Orchestra.  The three tracks consist of violin bow on guitar exercises and Page finding the right harmonics to produce an unsettling effect.  The tape dates from late 1973 but the location of recording, although always attributed to Boleskine House, is unconfirmed.

The final forty-five minutes is devoted to Page rehearsals that are a mystery.  The only other release of this complete tape is on disc four of Antrabata’s set so it is a very welcome addition in this set.  Scorpio date it at the same time as the Lucifer Rising outtakes but Louis Rey dates this in 1971 during the fourth album sessions.  The tape quality changes throughout so it most likely dates from many and various times. 

It consists of Page working out melodies on the acoustic guitar.  Many of the melodies introduced on the guitar are then played on piano.  The piano playing is very good and causes questions as to whether or not it is Page playing or someone else.  There is no further evidence on tape that he even plays the instrument.  Nevertheless some of the melodies are recognizable including the fast break found in 1976’s “Hots On For Nowhere” and an embryonic version of “The Rain Song.”

Disc 8:  untitled instrumental, Ten Years Gone, Ten Years Gone, Ten Years Gone, Ten Years Gone, Ten Years Gone, Ten Years Gone, Ten Years Gone, Ten Years Gone, Ten Years Gone, Ten Years Gone, Ten Years Gone, Ten Years Gone, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight (Headley Grange – Nov. 1973)

The following disc continues with more of Jimmy Page’s personal demos.  The first track is a three minute long mellow acoustic number which never went past the developmental stage.  This is followed by thirteen takes of the Physical Graffiti number “Ten Years Gone.”  These appear on the third disc of Brutal Artistry (Midas Touch 72731/2/3), but are not very interesting to be honest.  The first track captures Page practicing one of the themes on acoustic guitar.  The rest are of Page piling electric guitar lines on top of one another, working on the transition between the second guitar solo (after Plant’s “did you every need somebody”) and the reiteration of the main theme at 4:06 in the finished version. 

The next hour is devoted to Page working on the famous lost Zeppelin epic “Swan Song.”  Scorpio labels this “Midnight Moonlight” and that is correct since it did finally surface in the early eighties with The Firm.  This tape appears on Dangerous Relation (Medusa JP 2-1.2) and the second disc of Brutal Artistry, but not on the Antrabata set.  But it is an important piece of Zeppelin’s history too, giving the band the name of its record label, and deserves to be acknowledged as such.  This recording has Page playing acoustic guitar over splashes of mellotron.  He works on themes that have been heard onstage for years in his “White Summer” improvisations, and over the hour or so he runs these themes through many different textures and variations.  The twenty-first “Midnight Moonlight” is an eight minute long variation of the old Yardbirds track, bending it past any recognition.

Disc 9:  The Wanton Song, The Wanton Song, Take Me Home, Take Me Home, In The Morning, Trampled Under Foot, Trampled Under Foot, Trampled Under Foot, Trampled Under Foot, Trampled Under Foot, Trampled Under Foot, Trampled Under Foot, Trampled Under Foot, Trampled Under Foot, In The Light, Sick Again, The Rover, untitled instrumental, In My Time Of Dying, In My Time Of Dying, In My Time Of Dying, In My Time Of Dying, In My Time Of Dying, In My Time Of Dying, In My Time Of Dying  (Headley Grange Nov, 1973 – July 1974) The Wanton Song, Trampled Underfoot

The ninth disc continues with Physical Graffiti material and corresponds almost exactly with the ninth disc of Antrabata’s outtakes box set.  It contains the rehearsal tape from Headley Grange in the autumn, 1974.  This tape first surfaced in the eighties on the vinyl releases Tangible Vandalism (TV A-D) and In Through The Outtakes (Widget Recordworks 7800).  On compact disc it appears on the first disc of Brutal Artistry (Midas Touch 72731/2/3), Alternative Graffiti (CSM-002A/B), Headley Grange (Immigrant IM-003), In Through The Outtakes (Musichen) Physically Present (House Of Elrond), Totally Tangible (Blimp BL001), and Tangible Vandalism (Goblin CD 3011).  

This tape is very popular because it offers a fly on the wall perspective of Led Zeppelin working together as a band jamming and working on songs of one of their greatest albums.  The sound quality is very good for being a rehearsal tape and some of the discussions are audible.  “The Wanton Song” is much more complete than in the 1973 sound check tape with lyrics close to the final version and plenty of missed time signatures. 

The second “The Wanton Song” is the same descending riff from the earlier tape capturing the band nailing down that difficult transition with the track ending with Bonham saying “hold on, hold on.”   What Scorpio list as an “unknown song” has been labeled on other releases as “Take Me Home”.  It has a country picking beginning before landing on a Zeppelin groove very similar to “The Wanton Song” with Plant singing about someone wanting to leave or some such.

The second take reaches almost five minutes and is more of the same.  Zeppelin wrote two songs, “The Wanton Song” and “Sick Again” about the groupies on their previous tour of the US and this sounds like a third such with its slutty groove.  The next track is labeled “Take Me Home”, but this is an error.  What is on this release labeled “Take Me Home” is an early version of “In The Light” with its original diatonic arrangement and lyrics about singing a song of salvation. 

The next nine tracks are the band working out “Trampled Under Foot.”  None of the tracks is longer than three and a half minutes and they try different tempi over Jones’ clavinet melody.  Following this is another five-minute stab at “In The Light”, called “In The Morning” at this point.  Jones plays grand piano over Plant’s lyrics before the band kick in.  “Sick Again” is an early rehearsal of the closing track of the LP.  The following untitled instrumental begins with Robert Plant saying, “… and John Paul Jones is produced by Mojo.” 

John Bonham follows with “Without whom nothing would be possible.”  Jones replies to Bonham by saying, “Without whose help this album would still be on sixteen track tape.”  What follows is a three minute rhythmic workout that at times is very catchy and has the ironic underpinnings that are completely absent from Physical Graffiti but are found on Presence in spades.  This song, had it gone anywhere, would have fit on the follow-up perfectly.  The track ends with Plant teaching his daughter Carmen the ABC’s. 

The “In My Time Of Dying” rehearsals consist mostly of Page working with Bonham to get the correct rhythm down.  The third “In My Time Of Dying” is an almost complete take lasting eight minutes and breaks down by the end.  The last couple of tracks reveal some tensions with Bonham.  “You’ve got to have a count,” he says after one take.  “There’s got to be a count.  It would be easy but the way Rob…”  “Just do it again and see” Page says to the drummer trying to calm him down. 

“Now just a minute, Rob’s vocals never come in.”  Page plays the riff and Bonham responds with marching patterns on the drums before it all come crashing down and Bonzo saying still “we gotta have a count.  We’ll give Robert there his freedom and it doesn’t matter what Rob does we can still do it.”  Plant asks, “but where are you counting from now?”  

“Well I can’t count where he stops because your vocals might be different.  I mean, your voice might go half a beat and we’re gonna be fucked” Bonham shouts.  

Plant responds, “Ah, but if you do that it will be like ‘Black Dog’, it gives me time to move.”  Bonham shouts back, “but the reason we did ‘Black Dog’ is because we counted and you did it afterwards.”  They attempt it again but the tape cuts out after half a minute.  It is this kind of material that makes collecting just plain cool.  Even a great band like Led Zeppelin can sound like a bunch of idiots in the garage arguing over the songs.

The final two tracks on this disc first surfaced on The Lost Mixes EP Vol. 1 on Empress Valley and are included on Watch Tower’s Control Monitor Mixes EP and Celebration’s Alternative Graffiti.  Both songs are the final mix done at Olympic Studios that appear on Physical Graffiti but with minor variations in the mix.  “The Wanton Song” has a count in and is perhaps a bit more raw in the vocals than the final mix. 

“Trampled Under Foot” has a very soft count-in from Jones.  There are subtle differences in the guitar mix and additional guitar dubs in the end.  This version also fades out whereas the final mix ends with a sustained chord.  Since these are more polished outtakes they probably would have fit better on disc ten rather than nine, but are here probably for space considerations. 

Disc 10:  Trampled Under Foot, Kashmir, Custard Pie, In The Light, Midnight Moonlight, Midnight Moonlight (Olympic Studio, London – 1974) Ten Years Gone, Ten Years Gone, Ten Years Gone, Ten Years Gone, Boogie With Stu, Boogie With Stu, Boogie With Stu, Boogie With Stu, Boogie With Stu, Boogie With Stu, Boogie With Stu, Boogie With Stu, Night Flight, Night Flight, Night Flight, Night Flight, Night Flight, Night Flight (Olympic Studio, London – 1974) The Wanton Song (WLIR)

The first six tracks on the tenth disc are also from Olympic Studio. They have appeared on releases Brutal Artistry, Physically PresentPhysical Graffiti Alternate Trax on Tarantura but in mono instead of stereo, and Swan Song Sketches (Achillies Records CD001).  They appeared after the release of the Antrabata set so weren’t included.  “Trampled Under Foot” is another mix of the final version and “Kashmir” is the instrumental rhythm track used in the final version. 

“Custard Pie” is again the final mix but without the harmonica at the end.  “In The Light” is a perfectly mixed polished version of the version heard on the Headley Grange rehearsal tape.  It is amazing to think how far this version got before they scrapped it in favor of the arrangement used on Physical Graffiti.

I’m sure that sessions for the official version of “In The Light” is on everybody’s wish list for future outtake material and would be an event if they ever did.  The following two tracks are perfectly mixed versions of “Swan Song”, but with no vocals.  It was a revelation when it first appeared since nobody knew just how far the band went with it.  Collectors’ reaction to this gave the name “Oh My God!” to this tape.  Since the band spent the time to record and mix “Swan Song” in the studio, it begs the question why it was never completed with vocals. 

There were some stories in the press that Page was working on a suite based on the four seasons and this was one of them, but that project never got off the ground.  It is also amazing to think it sat in the vaults for the final five years of the band’s existence with no attempt to use it on subsequent releases.  This tape got released because Plant himself gave it to someone who passed it around and we are all fortunate to have it available to listen to and enjoy.  It is truly the greatest of Zeppelin’s lost tracks and deserves an official release, even in this form, in the future. 

The bulk of this disc is devoted to mix downs for three songs from the album.  “Boogie With Stu” was not recorded at Olympic Studio in 1974 but at Headley Grange in 1971 with Ian Stewart of the Rolling Stones on piano.  These appeared on Ultra Rare Trax Vol. 2 (Savege Beast Music SB-969631) and with “Night Flight” on Brutal Artistry 2 (Midas Touch 72811).  The final track is “The Wanton Song” from WLIR radio on Long Island.

Disc 11:  Royal Orleans, Tea For One, Don’t Start Me Talking (SIR Studios, Los Angeles, CA – Nov. 1975), Carouselambra, unknown song, Wearing And Tearing, Fool In The Rain, Hot Dog, In The Evening, South Bound Saurez, Darlene, Fool In The Rain, Carouselambra, All My Love (Polar Music Studio, Stockholm, Sweden – Nov. – Dec. 1978)

Disc eleven begins with the only rehearsal in common circulation for the Presence LP.  This fifteen-minute tape dates from the initial sessions at SIR studios in Los Angeles in November 1975.  The band were supposed to be on tour at this time but couldn’t because of Plant’s accident in Rhodes in August.  The instead placed their energies in a new album instead to be recorded later in Munich in December.  This tape appears on Brutal Artistry 2, Bizarre (Tarantura RH-001) and disc eleven of the Antrabata box.  It is a cassette recording in the rehearsal studio of the entire band playing together. 

“Royal Orleans” is only twenty seconds of the opening riff.  The following “Tea For One” is called the “Hootchie Cootchie” version.  The final song is a slow blues dirge, but this is at a faster pace with Plant singing the hootchie cootchie lyrics over the plodding rhythm.  

The final five minutes of the tape show the band jamming on some blues oldies before the tape cuts out.  It is valuable since this is all we have from such a tumultuous time but doesn’t really reveal all that much. 

The rest of the disc is occupied with alternate mixes of songs from the Stockholm sessions in late 1978 that produced In Through The Outdoor.  These sessions were released before on vinyl as Out Through The Back Door (Amazing Stork ITT A-D) and on compact disc as All My Love (Tarantura NO 16000), Alternative Coda (Ritual 003), Different Mixed Coda (Pot 010/011), In Through The Outtakes (Musichen), Out Through The Back Door (Exile CD4016) and disc two of The Lost Sessions Vol. 4 (EVSD-308/309).”Carouselambra” is the instrumental track used for the final mix without vocals.  This is the last of Zeppelin’s great epics and incorporates new wave and disco elements within a bombastic idiom that only Zeppelin could pull off.  Hearing the music only reveals the depth of textures used to convey meaning.  This sounds brighter than the final version and doesn’t end in a fade out. 

The “unknown song” that follows is an eight second fragment of God knows what.  “Wearing And Tearing” was going to be a special EP to commemorate the Knebworth concerts but was scrapped and wouldn’t be released until 1982’s Coda

This is the final version of the piece with a count-in by Bonham and additional Plant interjections throughout the song.  “Fool In The Rain” begins with a count-in from Bonham.  And Plant, referring to the Latin flavor of the song, shouts “quartro!”  There is an additional “oh yea” by the beginning but the whistle, Plant’s vocals in the bridge and guitar solo are missing. 

“Hot Dog” is the same as the final version except with the guitar solo missing and Plant throwing in funny interjections like “that’s my kind of music” and “c’mon Mr. Philips you can do it again.” 

“In The Evening” sounds dull and fuzzy compared to the others.  Since it has the vocals, guitar solo and vocal and guitar overdubs this is the final product but has a drone introduction rather than the one used for the final take.  The second “Carouselambra” begins with a snort and giggle and contains the final take of the lyrics.The final track, “All My Love”, is one of the greatest outtakes from these sessions to emerge.  It begins with giggling and tuning before Jones counts the band in.  After an abrupt stop and another giggle, the band begins again.  There is a deeper drum sound than on the final version but the vocals are the same. 

This version is missing the trumpet fanfare solo in the middle and unlike the version on In Through The Outdoor comes to a stop instead of a fade.  What is chopped off is some of Page’s most lyric and sublime playing on record.  It is well known that he and Bonham didn’t care for this song, but it is a mystery why the final edit chose to omit these beautiful and delicate riffs.  Collectors have singled out this track repeatedly and it’s obvious why. 

Disc 12:  Fire, Carouselambra, Carouselambra, Carouselambra (Clearwell Castle, Forest Of Dean, Wales – May 1978), White Summer, White Summer / Black Mountain Side, Kashmir, Achilles Last Stand, Achillies Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven (Victoria Theatre, London, UK – May 1980)

The final disc in this collection begins with seventeen minutes of an armature recording from Zeppelin’s first rehearsal after the death of Plant’s son in 1977.  In May 1978 they convened at Clearwell Castle by Wales to work on new material.  This tape appears on Rehearsing Clearwell Castle (CG), Midnight Rehearsals (GEJM-0001), and Missing Links (TDOLZ Vol. 81) among others.  This tape covers two songs. 

The first is an amazing fragment named “Fire.”  This sounds like the beginning of what would be an epic track written and dominated by Page.  It stands in contrast to the keyboard dominated numbers that would form the final album with Bonham’s loud drums and Page taking flight over the chaos.  The number breaks down for some conversations before the tape cuts out.  This song unfortunately never went past the rehearsal stage and, to the best of our knowledge, was never recorded in studio. 

There are three takes of the John Paul Jones written “Carouselambra.”  The three takes go as far as the first section.  The other two, the slow moving bridge played on the double neck and the fast paced “disco” sections wouldn’t be written until much later.  It is claimed Zeppelin rehearsed this for the Knebworth concerts and the following summer tour of Europe but never made it to the set list.  It is also said this was going to be featured on the North American tour in late 1980 and early 1981 but with the end of the band we’ll never know. 

It is a shame it was never brought to the stage, but this is the closest we have to a live version of this piece and is enjoyable to hear them play it with abandon. 

The final part of the Scorpio box set is the soundboard rehearsal tape from Victoria Theater in London in May 1980.  Editions of this tape appeared on vinyl The Last Rehearsal – Bonzo’s Last Stand (OZNOB A-B) and the Strange Tales From The Road 10 LP box set.  CD versions include Last Rehearsal (Missing Link ML-002) with two songs from Copenhagen, 1971Strange Tales From The Road and 1980 Rehearsal (EVSD-39) on Empress Valley.  On this tape are the epic numbers that were included in the set list on Zeppelin’s final tour.  “White Summer”, which by July would sound wandering and incoherent, sounds pretty good here, as do the two takes of “Achillies Last Stand.”  “Stairway To Heaven”, which Plant hated by this point, sounds stale.  He said they used to do a reggae version in rehearsals which would be great to someday hear.  The sound quality again, even though there is some surface noise (all CD releases come from vinyl), is excellent and the proper way to end this massive set. 

Studio Sessions Ultimate is packaged in a cardboard box with a photo of the Hindenberg on the front cover.  The discs are packaged in white sleeves with the clear window on the front to allow easy identification.  Also included is a four-fold insert with the track listing which is generally accurate. 

Some of the new tapes which surfaced in the past couple of years didn’t make their way into this collection, including:  the four minute Led Zeppelin II tape from The Lost Sessions Vol. 2:  Led Zeppelin In India (Empress Valley EVSD-165) which would have fit perfectly on disc one. 

Also, the drum sessions from In Through The Outdoor that are found on the first disc of The Lost Sessions Vol. 4:  Led Zeppelin In 1978 (EVSD-308/309) are absent, although their authenticity is questioned.  The various “The Battle Of Evermore” mixes from Sessions on The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin weren’t included, and finally the “pre-vocal masters” of “Hey Hey What Can I Do”, “Celebration Day”, “Out On The Tiles”, “Four Sticks”, and “When The Levee Breaks”, which appear on The Lost Mixes EP Vol. 3 (EVSD-307) and on The Smithereens, are also not included. 

Those five tracks actually sound like they come from a karaoke tape and their authenticity is disputed.  More outtake material by Led Zeppelin should be surfacing in the future (and let’s hope “St. Tristan’s Sword” and “Lost In Space” finally appear).  Hopefully Scorpio can keep on top of them and keep this box set current.  The bottom line is this is a fantastic, well thought out box set by Scorpio and is a worthy and essential upgrade to own.

N.B.:

The initial pressing of this box set had digital noise on discs 1, 5, and 6.  Scorpio corrected the mistakes and copies of this boxset now have the fixed discs.  They can be distinguished by looking at the inner ring on the playing side of the discs.  The error dics have only the matrix number of the disc, while the corrected version has the matrix number plus “SCORPIO STUDIO SESSION.”      

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Led Zeppelin - Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio LZ-07001~12), 2.8 out of 5 based on 11 ratings

11 Comments

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  1. tmoq says
    June 4, 2012, 7:30 am

    Thanks!!

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  2. gsparaco says
    June 3, 2012, 5:40 am

    There were defects on several discs in the initial run. They were corrected and replaced. I don’t recall if there are different matrix numbers, but at this point, five years later, it shouldn’t be a concern.

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  3. tmoq says
    June 2, 2012, 4:26 pm

    Can anyone provide some info on this release regarding a possible error/glitch/defect on Disc 1 ( I think it was Disc 1 if I remember correctly)?
    I seem to remember that Scorpio fixed the problem and either re-issued the box or had replacement discs made to replace the defected disc in question.
    If this was the case, can anyone tell me if the re-issued discs have a different matrix #, etc.? I was thinking of purchasing this set and would like to know if I can tell the difference between the old defected disc and the new replacement. Thanks in advance for your help.

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  4. DLee says
    August 20, 2009, 8:31 pm

    Anyone possibly know of any other studio CD titles that aren’t too old or long-out-of-print (relatively not too hard to track down & don’t have considerably inferior sound quality, that is) that have more material from their 2nd album, such as incl. the song “Heartbreaker”, or ones that cover most of the material from the last 2 discs of this Scorpio 12-CD release (the 1978-80 sessions)? If anyone’s able to help in any way at all, it’ll be greatly appreciated – thanks.

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  5. DLee says
    July 5, 2009, 6:49 pm

    OK – I’ll try to do that soon. Thanks.

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  6. July 3, 2009, 2:34 am

    PM DLee, maybe I can help you with this one…

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  7. DLee says
    July 2, 2009, 9:13 pm

    Sadly, it appears to have sold out in the places I’ve checked, but the advice is nevertheless still-appreciated.

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  8. silverdisc says
    July 2, 2009, 11:51 am

    I regret not picking this one up when I had the chance. You snooze you lose.

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  9. eric99 says
    July 2, 2009, 9:10 am

    I’d buy this if it was still available.

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  10. July 2, 2009, 1:46 am

    Hey, grab this boot if you can, there’s nothing better nowadays as it comes for studio stuff. Trust me.

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  11. DLee says
    July 1, 2009, 7:53 pm

    All these reviews are well-appreciated, but the problem with this particular one for me is that 12 discs is too many for me to deal with, especially at this time since there are already numerous Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix Experience boot CD’s that I want to add to my predominantly (Pink) Floyd-only boot CD collection, and I imagine this particular Scorpio release is already sold out in most places. So far from cyber-searching the ‘Net, the only relatively easily available Led Zep studio boot CD’s that have turned up are ones that are specific to either their 4th album or “Physical Graffiti”. I’ll probably be ordering a couple of those sometime this summer, but meanwhile should I take it that there are currently no fairly comprehensive L. Zep studio boot CD’s that are no more than 6 CD’s and also relatively not difficult to find/acquire these days? It’ll be well-appreciated if anyone could let us know – thanks.

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