Wembley 1995 (no label)
Silver pressed titles from Page & Plant’s tours in the mid-nineties were a staple in the industry with a majority of shows appearing on disc and many in massive, deluxe editions. Releases have been few and far between in the past decade.
This is due both to waning interest in this project and the fact that most of the best sounding tapes have already been released and are in circulation. Wembley 1995 is a four disc set with new, previously uncirculated audience recordings of the two Wembley gigs. Both were made by the same taper and are good and clear recordings.
Wembley comes at the very end of their European tour and before a two month break before they started another tour of the US and ending in Japan. Unlike the Led Zeppelin era, the setlists were changed each night with many songs rarely or never played in the seventies forming the basis. But after being on the road for most of the year, the final two nights have identical set lists and none of the new songs from Unledded such as “Yallah” and “Wonderful One” are played.
Wembley Arena, London, England – July 25th, 1995
Disc 1 (62:00): Egyptian Violin Intro., Wanton Song, Bring It On Home, Ramble On, Thank You, No Quarter, Battle Of Evermore, Hurdy Gurdy Solo, Gallows Pole, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Member Introduction,The Song Remains The Same, Going To California
Disc 2 (38:58): Whole Lotta Love incl. Calling To You, Kashmir, Black Dog, In The Evening
The first two discs contain the July 25th show in a good to very good sounding recording. The show can be found with a superior sounding tape on Return To Electric Magic (Two Symbols TS 001-A/B) and Get Rid Of The Smoke (London First Night). This tape is nowhere near the quality of the older sources.
It is also cut several seconds into “Friends” eliminating most of that song, “Four Stick,” and the tape runs out four minutes into “In The Evening” missing most of the track. If this were the only tape available for this show it would be great but is the inferior of the three tapes in existence.
For the final two nights the show gets off to a quick start with searing versions of the “Wanton Song” (with “Immigrant Song” introduction), “Bring It On Home” and the Egyptian arrangement of “No Quarter.” “Tonight we intend to show you some different shades of old pictures” Robert Plant says before introducing Najma Akhtar for “The Battle Of Evermore.” She sang on the Unledded recording and reproduced her role in these two shows only.
Nigel Eaton is introduced for an intense hurdy gurdy solo before “Gallows Pole.” During the member introduction Plant mentions the Wolverhampton Symphony Orchestra supplementing the Egyptian Pharaohs on stage.
“The Song Remains The Same” is played on this tour in an arrangement almost identical to the studio recording which is possible due to second guitarist Porl Thompson. Plant singles Thompson out afterwards, “and with us, in spirit, Peggy Lee.”
Plant discusses world music and Peter Gabriel before introducing the Egyptian Pharaohs before “Friends.” Only the introduction and the opening guitar strum are present before a cut which eliminates the song and “Four Sticks.” The second disc picks up at the end of the second verse of “Whole Lotta Love” and runs through the first four minutes of the encore “In The Evening.”
Wembley Arena, London, England – July 26th, 1995
Disc 3 (60:14): Egyptian Violin Intro., Wanton Song, Bring It On Home, Ramble On, Thank You, No Quarter, Battle Of Evermore, Hurdy Gurdy Solo, Gallows Pole, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Member Introduction, The Song Remains The Same, Going To California
Disc 4 (58:04): MC, Friends, Four Sticks, Whole Lotta Love incl. Smokestack Lightning, Calling To You, In the Evening, Black Dog, Kashmir
July 26th is the seventy-sixth and final show in the initial phase of touring right before a two month break. An excellent quality recording was used for Return To Electric Magic II (Two Symbols TS 002-A/B) and Get Rid Of The Smoke, part of a twenty disc set with the entire British tour.
The new tape source is an improvement over the previous night and is clear, well-balanced and very enjoyable. And also unlike the previous show, this tape has the entire concert with no major cuts affecting the music.
The set list is almost identical. The Egyptian violin intro starts the show before “Wanton Song,” “Bring It On Home,” “Ramble On” and “Thank You” are played all segued together almost in medley. Each of the opening numbers are played as they were recorded and played live in the seventies but “No Quarter” begins the eastern arrangements. Bereft of the organ and piano, the middle eastern sounding guitar tones carry the tune into emotions never hinted before.
Najma Akhtar again reprises her role in “The Battle Of Evermore” before Eaton’s long hurdy gurdy solo is played as an intro to “Gallows Pole.”
“Since I’ve Been Loving You” contains a furious solo by Page in the middle and Plant introduces both him and the Wolverhampton Symphony Orchestra, who are also featured in the following “Going To California.”
Plant gives a long introduction to the Egyptian Pharaohs before their two song showcase, “Friends” and “Four Sticks.” “Whole Lotta Love” has snippets of “Smokestack Lightening” and “Calling To You,” “In The Evening” has the “Carouselambra” interlude and “Black Dog” has a strange “Candy Store Rock” introduction. The final encore is the long “Kashmir” with the Peter Gabriel The Last Temptation Of Christ sounding interlude in the middle.
Wembley 1995 is packaged in a fatboy jewel case and comes with the limited edition cover and the common cover. Overall for those who have the older sets this isn’t an improvement and is recommended for the extreme Page Plant completist.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)