Led Zeppelin – Vive Le Zeppelin (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD 75/76)

Vive Le Zeppelin (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD 75/76)

Centre Sportif, Paris, France – April 2nd, 1973

Disc 1 (53:19):  Rock and Roll, Over the Hills and Far Away, Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dancing Days, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, The Song Remains the Same, Rain Song

Disc 2 (49:32):  Dazed and Confused (incl. San Francisco), Stairway to Heaven, Whole Lotta Love

The audience recording for Zeppelin’s April 2nd Paris show used on Vive Le Zeppelin surfaced and has been pressed exclusively by Empress Valley.  A poor sounding complete source exists, but the newer one is in very good to excellent stereo.  It has a richness of detail that captures the crunchy timbre of Zeppelin’s sound on this tour.

Unfortunately it isn’t complete.  Its in during the opening of “Rock And Roll” and takes a few sections to become stable.  It cuts out six minutes into “The Rain Song” eliminating the song’s final two minutes, cuts in again right at the first verse of “Dazed And Confused,” and cuts out agin eleven minutes into the “Whole Lotta Love” medley cutting out half of that and the “Heartbreaker” encore.  EV were criticized at the time of its release for not editing in the poor sounding tape for completeness and that would be a project that would still be much welcomed among silver collectors.

After touring for months and experiencing conflict in other dates in France, the last show is a devastating yet in some ways reserved performance.  It is also the last time they employ the setlist, which opens with “Rock And Roll” and “Over The Hills And Far Away.”

The effects of the violence and poor promotion in France is felt in Plant’s dealing with the Parisian audience.  He’s quips are kept to a minimum and he spends most of the time doing crowd control, telling the audience to take it easy and calm down.  

“Misty Mountain Hop” is about hashish in this show and is followed by a devastating “Since I’ve Been Loving You.”  The Houses Of The Holy track “Dancing Days” is played for one of the final times live by Led Zeppelin.  It would appear as a rare encore in Detroit in July and be referenced several times on the 1977 tour, but after this it would never again be part of the regular set.  Its omission is a shame because this version shows just how heavy it can be live.

“Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp” is played for the final time for four years, until the acoustic set is reintroduced.  This version contains the short reference to “That’s The Way” in the solo.  “The Rain Song” is sloppy and Page loses his place about five minutes into the song.

“Dazed And Confused” reaches the same heights as other versions on this tour with Page dueling with Bonham’s lyric drumming through the course of the thirty minute improvisation.  After “Stairway To Heaven” they finsh the set with “Whole Lotta Love.” 

There is some commotion in the audience and a short delay.  Plant says, “here’s something that you can do that to” before the start.  The long medley, which had been introduced in “Whole Lotta Love” three years prior, would be scrapped after this show.  Only John Lee Hooker’s “Boogie Chillun'” would remain for the US tour the following summer.

The recording unfortunately cuts out fourteen minutes into the song when the band are finishing up “(Baby You’re So Square) I Don’t Care,” cutting out “Let’s Have A Party” and “I Can’t Quit You” and the encore “Heartbreaker.” 

Vive Le Zeppelin is packaged in a bulky booklet with liner notes written in Japanese and in an English translation.  Utilizing the older tape source, as poor as it is, would have been a good idea to fill in the gaps and make this a complete and definitive version of the show.  As it is, this is a good title for the Zeppelin completist but hardly essential to own and hopefully some label will edit the two tapes together and produce the definitive version of this historic show. 

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