Led Zeppelin – Just The Crowd And… (Empress Valley EVSD-443/4)

Just The Crowd And… (Empress Valley EVSD-443/4)

Just The Crowd And… collects two fragments from two radically different Led Zeppelin tours in 1970.  In the spring 1970 Zeppelin were still touring off of the sucess of Led Zeppelin II and “Whole Lotta Love.”  The setlist still had the feel of the 1969 set with “How Many More Times” as the set closer with many little tunes in a long medley and with several Jimmy Page set pieces with a foot firmly rooted in psychedelia.    

The autmn 1970 tour came after the sucess of the Bath festival that summer and the imminent release of Led Zeppelin III.  “How Many More Times” had been dropped in favor of “Whole Lotta Love” and psychedelia was replaced  the folk emphasis of the acoustic set.  These two tapes are grouped together since they are from the same year, and they they probably wouldn’t sell on their own.       

What also binds these two tapes together is the tragedy that both of these shows are complete on tape but the missing portions are still being hoarded after all this time.  Given the low maturity level the “Led Zeppelin tape collecting community” and the stupid political back stabbing and bad attitudes any expectation for a future release of the complete tapes looks bleak.   With that said, this is another good release by Empress Valley that is definitely worth having.

Civic Center, Ottawa, ON, Canada – April 14th, 1970

Disc 1:  Dazed & Confused, Heartbreaker, Bring It On Home, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Thank You, Whole Lotta Love

The first disc contains the incomplete fragment of the Ottawa show from late in the spring tour.  This comes from a fifth generation copy of the master cassette and first surfaced in the mid nineties from the same person who also possessed various other tapes from Ontario shows.  Flying Disc were the first to release the tape as Parliament Hill – TMQ Masters Vol 1 (FD 101-105) in a five disc set along with the Bonzo’s Birthday and Three Days After tapes.  

Many were upset over its availability being exclusive to the box set and Elrond devoted half of their second title to this tape on Ottawa Sunshine (MG6740).  This title was released early in 1998 and received rave reviews in Ice magazine at the time.  Empress Valley’s is the first release since and makes available a very good sounding tape with crystal clear sound.  There are numerous cuts on the tape between songs and very people close to the taper cough and talk at various points, but on the whole this is a very nicely recorded show.  About an hour is still missing with  “We’re Gonna Groove”, “What Is And What Should Never Be”, “Moby Dick”, and “How Many More Times” having yet to surface.

Empress Valley restores “Dazed & Confused” to its proper place in the set list.  This source comes from a fifth generation copy and is no big improvement over the older releases but it hasn’t been seen in a while and is a good opportunity for collectors to pick up this fragment.  The concert, which is their penultimate in Ontario, is outstanding.  Coming by the end of their spring tour the band are tight and deliver a ferocious performance.  The violin bow section of the first track is very tense with some creepy moments.  “Heartbreaker” begins with the theremin effects but one of the highlights of the tape is one of the best versions of “Bring It On Home”.  

It sounds like the band has a lot of fun with the drums-harmonica-guitar battle and the audience do too.  It is a shame the tape is a bit muffled at this point but the power comes through just fine.  “White Summer” reached to epic proportions on this tour and this is another with a nascent “Bron-Y-Aur” interlude thrown in the middle.  “Since I’ve Been Loving You”, the new song added to the set list, sounds very pretty and is followed by a strange organ solo that serves as a prelude to “Thank You”.  It is remarkable how this love song that sounds so lyrical in the studio is transformed into a heavy set piece.  The tape ends with the encore “Whole Lotta Love”. 

Milwaukee Arena, Milwaukee, WI – August 31st, 1970

Disc 2,:  Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Dazed & Confused, Bring It On Home, That’s The Way, Bron-Yr-Aur, Since I’ve Been Loving You

The second disc is a re-release of the hour-long Milwaukee tape that first surfaced around the same time as the Ottawa tape and was first released on both SCAT (TDOLZ Vol. 56) and Latest Summer (Jelly Roll JR09).  The Akashic label also released this tape in late 1999 on Milwaukee (AKA-16) along with a special chocolate candy bar as a bonus.  This tape is a fifth generation which is very good although somewhat distant from the stage. 

It captures the atmosphere of the event perfectly being very dynamic and enjoyable.  This concert was originally scheduled to be on August 27th but was moved back several days so John Paul Jones could attend the funeral of his father.  “Immigrant Song” and “Heartbreaker” are the new set openers and is followed by a unique version of “Dazed & Confused”.  During the improvisation Plant sings about ruling the world before Page gets into a rolling, descending riff that sounds very interesting. 

Plant commands the audience to get their guns out during the call and response portion of the song before ending with completely different lyrics in the second verse.  The acoustic set is met with silence and isn’t as well recorded as the rest of the tape, but the version of “Bron-Y-Aur” is simply outstanding and it is good to have another version of this rarity on tape.  The tape ends with a heavy version of “Since I’ve Been Loving You”.   

Another title by the currently budget conscious Empress Valley, this is good value for those who have not yet acquired these tapes since the older releases are now scarce.  Although there is no significant improvement in sound quality over the other versions this is no worse than the others either and the label didn’t try to “improve” them either, which could potentially ruin what are otherwise very acceptable tapes.

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