How Many More Years: The Legendary Fillmore Series-West Vol. 5 (Empress Valley EVSD-430)
Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA – January 11th, 1969
Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA – January 9th, 1969
Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco, CA – April 25th, 1969
I Can’t Quit You, Dazed & Confused, You Shook Me, How Many More Times (includes Smokestack Lightening), Communication Breakdown. Bonus tracks, Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA – January 9th, 1969: Train Kept A Rollin’. Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco, CA – April 25th, 1969: Train Kept A Rollin’, You Shook Me, Communication Breakdown, As Long As I Have You
How Many More Years is the fifth installment of Empress Valley’s Legendary Fillmore Series begun several years ago. The main focus of this release is the well-documented January 11th soundboard recording from Bill Graham’s archives. First to surface was “I Can’t Quit You Babe” and cutting out in the middle of “How Many More Times”. The very first release of this was on the Japanese release Birth of the Gods (Balboa BP-0001) followed by Hampton Kicks on House Of Elrond (MG6741/2). “You Shook Me” appears on Fillmore East (007) on Mud Dogs (incorrectly attributed to Copenhagen, Denmark on September 14th, 1969). Three tracks, “I Can’t Quit You”, “Dazed & Confused”, and “You Shook Me”, appear as bonus tracks on Whole Lotta For Your Love (Pirate Records).
A more complete version of the soundboard with a complete “How Many More Times” and the encore “Communication Breakdown” surfaced on Syonen Zep Zokango (Akashic AKA-Millenium-3) followed by Pb+ (1/69-3/70) on Wild Card, Psycho A Gogo! (Led Note LCD 1504), Streets of San Francisco (no label) and finally Anybody Got a Les Paul? (Equinox EX-00-020). The sound quality of the Empress Valley is comparable to these. It is nice and clear but a bit dull. There is also noticeable tape bleed at the beginning where another band’s music is clearly audible (this isn’t a problem with the Equinox release however). This is earliest soundboard recording in Zeppelin’s career. Two tracks, “Dazed & Confused” and “You Shook Me”, appear on Wolfgang’s Vault radio but attributed to the preceding evening, January 10th which is probably an error.
The sound quality of those tracks is far superior to any bootleg release and there is strong hope that the complete audio (and rumored video) will someday surface. The tape begins during the technical difficulties following the opening track “Train Kept A-Rollin'” (which isn’t present). After Plant asks for a Les Paul for Jimmy.
That comment has always puzzled me since Page was using the Telecaster at this time. He didn’t employ the Les Paul until April. To kill more time Plant speaks about the National Trust before the band launch into a great version of “I Can’t Quit You”. The tape cuts out during the guitar solo in “How Many More Times” and picks up again at the final verse (“I wanna give you lovin'”). Plant goes into a discussion about whether they can do an encore and then nervously leads the band into “Communication Breakdown”.
The bonus tracks begin with the January 9th fragment of “Train Kept A-Rollin'” from the first night at the Fillmore West. It appeared previously as filler on Twinight (IM-002~3) on Immigrant and Whole Lotta For Your Love on Pirate Records. The problem is that Empress Valley didn’t use the real fragment but a higher generation of “Train Kept A-Rollin'” from the April 25th tape that follows in this collection. This can easily be determined by Plant’s early entrance at the beginning of the song among other marks. It would have been nice to hear the legitimate version, but honestly nobody will seek out this title for this filler anyway so who really cares? This sounds fair to good with upper end distortion and goes by very quickly anyway.
The April 25th fragment is the least known and most obscure of the four legendary nights in San Francisco on the second tour. Most attention is focused upon the second night at Winterland on the 26th and the almost complete soundboard for the 27th, but this twenty-five minute tape has appeared only twice before on silver releases, on California ’69 (Lemon Song LS-7206, LS-7207) and Grande Ball on Missing Link (ML-010) where it is attributed to Chicago May 16th, 1969. It is a good to very good audience source which sounds better than the April 26th tape. It captures the dynamics of the performance and is very powerful.
It’s a shame it has only selections from the first set because this performance is absolutely ferocious. “I Can’t Quit You”, “Dazed & Confused” and “How Many More Times” are missing as well as half of “As Long As I Have You.” The version of “You Shook Me” on this night is perhaps the best version ever performed by the band. If the whole show were to surface this, and not the following two, would be the “legendary” show that is essential to own. Overall for this title the January 11th tape has no big improvement over previous releases and the January 9th tape isn’t really here. But the real focus of this should be the April 25th tape. Not only has it rarely circulated but also is one of the most enjoyable tapes from Zeppelin’s second tour to surface and something that really should be in your collection.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)