The Lost Sessions Vol. 5 (Empress Valley Supreme Disc 2005 EVSD-179)
Sugar Baby, Wanton Song, The Rover, Night Flight, School Days, Nadine, Round & Round, Move On Down The Line, Love Me Like A Hurricane, Move It, Dynamite, Shakin’ All Over, Hungry For Love, I’ll Never Get Over You, Reelin’ & Rockin’, Surrender.
“ALL TRACKS FROM A MISTY REHEARSAL SESSION IN EARLY 70’S. SOMEONE SAY THESE ARE FROM CHICAGO AUDITORIUM 1973 OR MINNEAPOLIS 1975. BUT THE TRUTH WILL BE CLEARED BY MR. JIMMY PAGE VERY SOON. PLEASE ENJOY GREATEST VERSIONS OF Church Berry’s, Cliff Richard’s AND Johnny Kidd & The Pirates’ NUMBERS BY THE GREATEST ROCK BAND ON THE EARTH!!!”
Thus the people at Empress Valley promote the fifth title in their ambitious Lost Sessions series. The release of this tape is a bit of a letdown after the stunning fourth title where we heard previously unreleased rehearsal material from the In Through The Outdoor sessions. However the tape sounds as good as any previous release, and it has seen many in the past fifteen years.
Confounding collectors has been the specific provence of the tape. The Tribute To Johnny Kidd & The Pirates on Scorpio attributed the tape to the rehearsal in Minneapolis in 1975 since there are many famous Neal Preston photos of the event and the inclusion of three songs from Physical Graffitti. That was dismissed because the health of Plant’s voice wasn’t the best at the beginning of that tour, and the numbers from Physical Graffitti actually dated from much earlier in their career.
“The Rover” was recorded in the spring of 1972 at Stargroves and “Night Flight” in winter 1971 at Headley Grange. “The Wanton Song” listed on the tape isn’t the complete song, but merely the descending riff that goes into the bridge. Louis Rey placed the tape in Chicago, July 6th, 1973. He never offered an explanation in his books why he thought that or who might have told him.
Dave Lewis & Simon Pallett in The Concert File express their disagreement with Rey. They argue that it’s from 1973 since the opening “Sugar Baby” sounds much like the improvs in “Whole Lotta Love” from the US tour, but Plant’s voice was significantly damaged for the Chicago concerts to be confidently placed there. They offered Atlanta at the very beginning of the US tour for the source of the tape. The latest theory about this tape was stated last autumn by the Akashic label.
They included this tape in their massive The Smithereens set and they posit a June 25th, 1972 date. The reasoning for this would have to be Plant’s statement that the band had a rare rehearsal in the Forum where they played through the entirity of Elvis’ Golden Oldies Vol. 1. The flaw in Akashic’s reasoning is that the tape isn’t all Elvis. And again, Plant doesn’t really sound like Plant on the 1972 US tour.
Whatever the case this tape is an essential purchase for any Zeppelin fan. Rehearsals were rare, and them being taped even more so. And on this tape you hear the band play songs that have never been hinted at in live performance. “Night Flight”, a relatively obscure number, is played with such charm that you wonder why they never attempted it.
“The Rover” only appeared as a riff played as a bridge. The rehearsal here disolves into the “Bouree” that Page played in the “Heartbreaker” solos and some “Stairway To Heaven” exercises thrown in. The oldies section of the tape is equally impressive with never before attempted versions of “Hungry For Love” by Johnny Kidd & The Pirates and “I’ll Never Get Over You”; and the longest version of “Schooldays” by Chuck Berry.