All Is Safe For Rock And Roll (Eelgrass EGL20280/81/82/83)
The Forum, Inglewood, Los Angeles, California, USA – March 24, 1975
Disc 1 (53:19) Introduction by JJ Jackson, 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 (57:33) No Quarter, Trampled Underfoot, Moby Dick
Disc 3 (72:05) Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, Heartbreaker
Disc 4 (43:53) Bonus Disc: Met Center, Bloomington, MN, USA – January 18, 1975. The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir, The Wanton Song (cut), The Wanton Song (Studio Outtake # 1), The Wanton Song (Studio Outtake # 2), The Wanton Song (Studio Outtake # 3), Candy Store Rock, Candy Store Rock (Both from unknown master source)
As we have come to expect the Eelgrass label was quick to come to market with their version of the most recent Empress Valley soundboard, the excellent March 24, 1975 performance at the famed Forum in Inglewood, aka The L.A. Forum. I was quite happy to see a full soundboard get released, the past couple releases of Empress Valley’s “Soundboard Revolution” have been sadly incomplete. Not to be outdone, the Eelgrass label has added a few extras to help make their title even more appealing, if the lower price tag was not enough, they have added the Bloomington, MN, January 18,1975 soundboard fragment as well as the studio outtakes that accompanied the original releases.
First off the main portion of this release, the March 24, 1975 soundboard, was released a little over a month ago by Empress Valley as The Awesome Foursome Live At The Forum (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD-1282/83/84). The excellent soundboard of the aforementioned Forum gig during the band’s 1975 North American tour, like other titles in the “Soundboard Revolution”, came in two packages, the three disc The Awesome Foursome title and a 4 disc deluxe set that came housed in a box and included a book and bonus CD featuring a couple of previously unheard studio outtakes of Candy Store Rock, this release was called Jesus (Empress Valley EVSD-EVSD-1282/83/84).
First off the sound quality is the same when comparing the Eelgrass to the Empress Valley title The Awesome Foursome. Excellent soundboard that has been hit too hard with compression that gives the cymbals that swishy sound, certainly not a deal killer and with a simple lowering of the treble makes the title more enjoyable to listen to. Like the EV, this title sounds great loud and to my ears, did not hear any difference. What I do hear, and this was corroborated by the excellent Bootledz website, is that at the track changes there is a digital tick as it transitions, Bootledz refers to it as a cut although no time is removed. Bootledz refers to the previous 9/28/1971 Please Please Me Complete 928 Eelgrass title as having the same issue, I do not own that title. It should be noted that the Eelgrass titles go for roughly a third of what the Empress Valley titles go for, so there is a bit of compromise there. I did not detect any other issues with this set other than at the track changes.
The 23 minute soundboard fragment from the first gig of the 1975 North American tour at The Met Center in Bloomington, MN, on January 18, 1975 came out of nowhere during February of this year. The sound is excellent and similar to what we have been getting from EV’s Soundboard Revolution, perfect balance of instruments and vocals. Like the recent EV boards, the use of compression boarders on overbearing but once you tone it back with lowering the treble, it’s bearable. This recording, along with three different outtakes of Wanton Song, were released as Wanton Song 1975 Met Center (No Label). This Eelgrass version also struggles from the same affliction as the previous three, that hiccup glitch at the track changes, this issue does not afflict the No Label release. The performance is really good, one assumes with being the beginning of the tour, sloppiness or sluggishness in the playing, but really just the opposite. One would also assume that Plant’s voice would be rough, it’s actually really good, 1975 good. It should be noted that the band had been onstage for around 20 minutes by this point so they are warmed up.
Plant’s voice is good and Jimmy’s playing really good, damaged finger not hampering his playing on what is here, The Song Remains The Same is solid, Bonzo’s drumming is great, sounds strong in this recording. John Paul Jones’ bass playing is solid as ever, his bass playing on TSRTS is always so fun to listen to. The Rain Song is its own gentle beauty, Robert’s voice is not super strong during the heavy section but he maneuvers around it nicely, typical for 1975 but certainly better than the other January 1975 shows. Kashmir is really good on what is probably only its third live performance, Robert introduces it as “another first attempt” but we know for a fact it was played a week earlier in Brussels. The mix is perfect, very heavy and not too bright, sounds absolutely incredible, I wish more versions sounded like this one. Robert does not push his vocals either, this adds to the heaviness of it, keeping the song in front of him so to speak. The last song is about the “ascetic beauty of a woman” and we get a short snipped, 37 seconds of The Wanton Song. I guess it’s better to have heard than to have never heard it before, so sad because it’s over before you get a feel for it other than it sounds very powerful. It should also be noted that a snippet of When The Levee Breaks from this recording surfaced shortly after this release, like Wanton Song is very incomplete but still cool to hear a soundboard version of the song. This Bloomington fragment is very interesting as it was not released by Empress Valley but shows the same overbearing compression added which lends me to believe it is added by the source of all these great soundboards. That being said, I would love to hear the complete Bloomington show as well as any of the Chicago shows in this quality.
The Wanton Song Outtakes are as follows, the first one is from Headley Grange in January-February 1974 and is found on the Godfather Studio Magik box set on CD 14 track 13. The second version was played on WLIR 92.7 radio found on Studio Magik Disc 16 track 1.The last version is also on Studio Magik Disc 16 and is track 2 listed as being from a WPLJ 95.5 radio broadcast. These two versions are extremely similar to each other, the latter one is in much better quality and both sound like they were recorded from the radio broadcast. The two versions of Candy Store Rock are the bonus tracks from the Jesus version of the 3/24/75 set from EV. They sound almost identical, interesting but not earth shattering by any means. Considering there is precious little material from the Presence sessions they are great to have.
The packaging is typical for Eelgrass, full color inserts with standard photos of the band captured onstage, nothing fancy but gets the job done, it should be noted that the “Introduction by JJ Jackson” is not present on the SB recording, it is just Bonzo doing a quick drum check before they begin. There is an insert with a press review of the concert, a nice addition to the set. Overall a good release, the soundboard is a great listen and the addition of the Bloomington soundboard fragment and studio outtakes make is convenient to have all in one set. The flaws at the track changes are what they are, this is a budget release after all. That being said, the issue could easily be rectified with a little bit of quality control, with labels like Moonchild getting into the cheaper releases perhaps Eelgrass needs to tighten their quality up a bit.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)