Conquistador (Water Tank WT2002097/98/99/100)
Earl’s Court Arena, London, England – May 25, 1975
Disc 1: A Quiet Before The Storm, Alan Freeman Introduction, Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, In My Time Of Dying, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir
Disc 2: No Quarter, Tangerine, Going To California, That’s The Way, Bron-yr-aur Stomp, Trampled Underfoot
Disc 3: Moby Dick, Dazed And Confused
Disc4: Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, Heartbreaker, Communication Breakdown
Led Zeppelin played five shows at Earl’s Court in May 1975 which would be their first shows in England since the UK Tour in the winter of 72/73. The original dates scheduled were May 23rd, 24th, and 25th but due to high demand the band added May 17th and 18th.
Empress Valley first unearthed the soundboard recording from Zeppelin’s final night at Earl’s Court as part of their “Soundboard Revolution” in 2002 and was part of their massive 22CD box set titled, Complete Earl’s Court Arena Tapes documenting the complete run of show. The same discs were also issued as a 4CD set from Empress Valley as Zeppelin Express Physical Rocket. Audio fragments from an inferior video source had been available previously but these new titles were from excellent sounding soundboard tapes. Watch Tower came out with their version as Conquistador in what seemed to be a healthy competition between the two labels, both releasing a lot of the same shows at the same times.
Many collectors considered Conquistador to be slightly superior in sound quality so much so that Empress Valley turned around and issued this two more times. First as When We Were Kings in 2003 and later on in 2006 as a budget release titled Young Person’s Guide To Led Zeppelin. These two titles ironically matched more closely to Watch Tower’s sound. Conquistador from Water Tank is identical to Watch Tower’s version in every way and even has the same disc times and matrix numbers. A more technical breakdown of these titles can be found on the excellent Bootledz site but I can tell you that the differences are marginal.
The soundboard source runs from Alan Freeman’s introduction through most of “No Quarter” where the old video source is used for the last two minutes. The video source continues with “Tangerine” until the final 30 seconds or so where the audience source is used to complete the track. The soundboard returns for the start of “Going To California” and thankfully lasts through the rest of the show. The recording is almost perfectly mixed with the exception of Jimmy’s acoustic guitar being very low in the mix for “Going To California” and “That’s The Way”. The final show for Earl’s Court differs only for the fact that “Heartbreaker” and “Communication Breakdown” were added for the encore.
The packaging for Water Tank’s Conquistador is a fatboy quad jewel case with double sided covers and an insert with some photos and the track list on it. Water Tank used a very thick high gloss paper stock that looks very nice and is usually what you would see from the premium labels. Overall, this is a very nice version to own with some of the best sound quality available for this source and is very reasonably priced.
I would recomend that you at least investigate their titles ESPECIALLY when they ( Beelz) remaster a SB recording. I have some of their titles in my mostly silver release collection and have been pleasantly surprised a few times, just as in the above case.
I have honestly never heard Beelzebub’s Zep Triumphant Vol.1 as I usually avoid Led Zeppelin CDR titles considering all the silver options out there. If their mastering of this source is really that much better than perhaps a silver label should copy and release it.
My impresion of this title is that Bonzo is way down in the mix. So down that sometimes he is inaudible and you know that when you can’t hear Bonzo there’s something wrong going on!
I finally got Beelzebub”s ZEP TRIUMPHANT VOL 1 and Bonzo was there!! In this case Beelz reputation for giving SB recordings a more “punchy” and louder sound sure did work in their favor.
I greatly respect Luis Rey’s opinion but I think he blew it by putting this show down. It is a great show.