A Young Person’s Guide To Led Zeppelin (Empress Valley EVSD 256~9)
Earl’s Court, London, England – May 25th, 1975
Disc 1 (63:43): Intro by Alan Freeman, Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, In My Time Of Dying, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir
Disc 2 (63:38): No Quarter, Tangerine, Going To California, That’s The Way, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, Trampled Underfoot
Disc 3 (75:24): Moby Dick, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven
Disc 4 (31:32): Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, Heartbreaker, Communication Breakdown
Led Zeppelin’s fifth of five concerts at Earl’s Court is one of their longest and most emotional they delivered. Earl’s Court were the first shows they performed in England for more than two years and would be the final for a while (“who knows, there’s always the eighties” Plant says in his introductory remarks).
A mediocre audience recording circulated for many years and a small fragment of the video soundtrack also existed but five years ago Empress Valley began their “soundboard revolution” by releasing an almost complete, excellent quality soundboard recording in their massive Demand Unprecedented box set covering all five shows over twenty-two discs.
The label subsequently released the final night separately as Zeppelin Physical Express Rocket (EVSD-109/110/111/112) in a quad jewel case.
Afterwards the Watchtower label released their version of the soundboard tape that garnered universal praise on Conquistador (WT-2002097/98/99/100), which was a significant improvement over the Empress Valley with the sound quality being much more clear and with no traces of background noise. That release is rightly said to be among the top ten Zeppelin bootleg releases of all time.
Empress Valley followed Watchtower with When We Were Kings (EVSD – 256/257/258/259) a year later just in time for Christmas along with a new version of the May 24th soundboard Earl’s Court Arena 2405 Evoluzione. To most ears the second editions sound extremely close to their Watchtower equivalents. Both of these titles proved to be very popular and sold out quickly making them very difficult to find.
With Young Person’s Guide To Led Zeppelin (the title obviously inspired by Benjamin Britten) Empress Valley offer a second chance to pick up the final night in an extremely affordable edition.
The catalogue number for this release is identical to When We Were Kings and that title is even printed on the discs themselves and the spine. Little effort was made on the artwork with the common acoustic set photo on the front, a copy of the poster on the back and stark black inserts on the inside with the track listings.
They also did not use the thick glossy paper used for their other releases. But the artwork is reasonable and clean and is not that important compared to the contents of the discs themselves. It is the same excellent quality, mind-blowing recording as before and is a worthy upgrade to those who were not able to afford the high price asked for both the earlier Empress Valley and Watchtower editions.
When this tape first surfaced it caused a re-evaluation of the concert itself. Before it was considered a good but tired end of a very long series of concerts. It is now considered to be one of the better shows they ever performed. Certainly it is one of the longest, clocking in at almost four hours. Knowing it would be their last show for a while (and the interim was much longer than expected given Plant’s accident), they make this a special performance.
The first two hours of the show must be among the most energetic in the mid-seventies. The sequence of “The Song Remains The Same”, “The Rain Song”, and one of the best ever renditions of “Kashmir” ever, is phenomenal and is followed by a classic “No Quarter”.
The opening riff to the future Presence track “Tea For One” prefaces “Tangerine”. “Trampled Underfoot” is very heavy and was used for the official DVD. “Dazed & Confused”, a song that dates from the band’s infancy (as Plant pointed out for years) is played for the final time and it is a shame they play such a poor version.
Page sounds very tired by this point and makes very obvious mistakes which he doesn’t even try to cover up.
Things do recover for “Stairway To Heaven” and the band give the audience a half hour’s worth of encores with Plant throwing in “D’yer M’ker” in “Communication Breakdown”. 1975 was Led Zeppelin at their heaviest and this stunning evidence of that. Given the asking price this is a good opportunity for an upgrade for this great concert.