Live At Royal Albert Hall:Jimmy’s Birthday Party (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD 421/422/423/424)
Royal Albert Hall, London , UK – January 9, 1970
Disc 1 and 3: We’re Gonna Groove, I Can’t Quit You Baby, Dazed And Confused, Heartbreaker, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick
Disc 2 and 4: How Many More Times (includes The Hunter/Boogie Chillun’/High Flyin’ Mama/Leave My Woman Alone/The Lemon Song/That’s Alright Mama), Bring It On Home, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown, C’mon Everybody, Something Else, Long Tall Sally (includes Bye Bye Baby/Move On Down The Line/Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On)
Bonus track on Disc 4: Communication Breakdown
Fragmented bootleg titles have been released from this concert on both audio and extremely poor quality video countless times in the past. The official release on DVD from Atlantic Records in 2003 put all previous bootlegs to shame being professionally remixed with the film footage painstakingly cleaned up. “Heartbreaker” is reported as having unaccompanied visuals and is the reason they used only part of the song during the menu/credits. “Long Tall Sally” was part of the original bootleg film portion, not included on the DVD, and it wasn’t until Empress Valley released The Lost Mixes EP Vol. 7 in 2005 that we got a superb sounding audio source for it, although largely edited. This was allegedly mixed in 2002 for the DVD project. “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and “Organ Solo/Thank You” were also not on the official release for reasons unknown but fragments of the “Organ Solo” and “Thank You” do appear as part of the menus and extras on the DVD.
Discs one and two primarily sound excellent but they do contain sections of tape edited in from various lesser quality sources. I’m assuming that EV wanted to try and present the show in its most complete form. They include the “Heartbreaker” segment taken directly from the credits of the official DVD. “How Many More Times” has several edits where they restored missing sections of tape and “Communication Breakdown” has the second half of Page’s solo spliced back in, as well. “Long Tall Sally” from disc two is much more complete but entirely from the fair sounding video soundtrack.
Discs three and four sound superb all the way through and are missing the sections edited into discs one and two. This presentation of the show, I suspect, was mostly copied from the DVD. The version of “Heartbreaker” here on disc three is longer than the version on disc one and features two minutes more than what the DVD offers, including the song’s introduction. Why they wouldn’t use the longer one in both versions is beyond me. Both of them sound excellent. “Communication Breakdown” is featured twice on disc four. The first is unedited, containing all of Jimmy’s solo (consistent in sound quality), and the bonus track is the edited version that matches the DVD exact. The bonus version is irrelevant and redundant, in my opinion. “Long Tall Sally” is basically the same one used for EV’s The Lost Mixes EP Vol. 7 with slightly more time after the song.
This is a great show with some rarely played encores and is another document of early Zep at their best. Nothing beats watching the DVD, but listening to the audio alone brings a new perspective to this truly incredible performance. I’m surprised Atlantic Records didn’t release a CD version of this show but there is always hope for the future. They could certainly expand on it and maybe include some of the tracks not featured on the DVD.
Empress Valley packaged this in a double gatefold digipack housed in a slip cover and includes many black and white photos from the show. The songs have also been placed in their proper running order. The packaging, superb sound, and inclusion of “Heartbreaker” and “Long Tall Sally” make this title well worth owning. (WGPSEC)
I just finished listening to discs 1 and 2 of this set and both of them contain static throughout. So far disc #3 doesn’t contain this problem.