Led Zeppelin – Countdown (Boogie Mama)

Countdown (Boogie Mama)

(78:01):  Shepperton Studios – November, 2007:  Good Times Bad Times, For Your Life, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Rock And Roll. 

Led Zeppelin II isolated tracks:  Whole Lotta Love (bass), What Is And What Should Never Be (guitar), What Is And What Should Never Be (vocal), Heartbreaker (drums), Ramble On (vocal), Whole Lotta Love / Heartbreaker / Ramble On (various). 

Southampton soundcheck – January 22nd, 1973:  drums & mellotron tuning, Love Me, Frankfurt Special, King Creole, Love Me (reprise). 

S.R.I. Studios, Hollywood, California – November, 1975:  Royal Orleans, Tea For One, Don’t Start Me Talkin’. 

Royal Albert Hall, London, England – January 9th, 1970 (tracks mixed for Coda LP):  Bring It On Home, How Many More Times

Countdown is a rare Led Zeppelin title that offers something which hasn’t been out before.  A bulk of the release has been out before, but a good portion offers newly surfaced tapes making their silver pressed debut.  

The first four tracks come from the rehearsal for their reunion set at the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute concert at the O2 Arena in London on December 10th, 2007.  The gig has been released many times on both audio and video, but this is the first for the pre-concert dress rehearsal.  It comes from a very clear soundboard recording.  Jimmy Page’s guitar is slightly low in the mix, but is perfectly audible and enjoyable.

Although the exact date isn’t printed on the cover (most likely December 5th), it’s obvious it is close to the show date because the four songs sound extremely tight and rehearsed.  The tape starts off with the newscast about the 1973 Tampa show found on the bonus disc of The Song Remains The Same and also played as an introduction at the reunion gig before “Good Times Bad Times.”

“For Your Life” sounds more tentative than the others with noticeable hesitation in one of the transitions.  It sounds really nice, however, and remains one of the strangest songs ever written by Zeppelin.  “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” with Plant trying to sing the Led Zeppelin III melody as closely as possible, and “Rock And Roll” follow.

Boogie Mama follow with very rare Led Zeppelin II outtakes.  Five isolated tracks surfaced recently in excellent condition.  The first is a short, minute long fragment of the bassline for “Whole Lotta Love.”  Thirty-five seconds of the slide guitar and then thirty-six seconds of the vocals for “What Is And What Should Never Be” follow.  

A forty second clip of drums from “Heartbreaker” follow, and then a ninety second vocal clip from “Ramble On” closes out this segment of the disc.  Much like with the Beatle, George Harrison and Queen isolated tracks that have surfaced over the past couple of years, it is interesting to hear the pieces of the songs.  Boogie Mama finish complete this portion of the release with the four minute long fragment with “Whole Lotta Love,” “Heartbreaker” and “Ramble On” which first surfaced in 2003 on The Lost Sessions Vol. 2 (EVSD 165).  These fragments haven’t been released since and the EV is expensive and hard to find, so Boogie Mama offer a viable alternative.

The rest of the disc contains very common material.  All of it keeping in the “rehearsal” theme and all in very good sound quality.  The Southampton soundcheck has been in circulation for many years and was last included in the Scorpio box set.  It’s interesting hearing Bonham yelling at his roadie while setting up his drum set.  The little Elvis medley contains some rarities like “Frankfurt Special,” sung only in the Frankfurt 1980 show and “King Creole,” never attempted live before.

The following tape is taken from the initial rehearsals for Presence.  Several months after Robert Plant’s car accident in Greece which canceled the rest of their US tour, they met in Hollywood California to start writing their next album.  Contained on the amateur recording is a thirty second attempt at the main theme for “Royal Orleans,” a fast tempo “hootchie coochie” version of “Tea For One,” and a five minute, ramshackle version of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Don’t Start Me Talkin’.”

The final two tracks are “Bring It On Home” and “How Many More Times” from the January 9th, 1970 Royal Albert Hall show.  These two are from mixes intended for the Coda LP in 1982, but were abandoned.  They sound a bit more raw than other recordings, and were originally included on Lost Mixes EP Vol.7 (Empress Valley EVSD 335).

Countdown  comes packaged in an attractive gatefold digipack sleeve with many photographs from the rehearsals printed on the interior and exterior.  It is a great Boogie Mama release with the center of interest being the 2007 Shepperton rehearsal.  And, even though the complete two hour tape has surfaced subsequent to this release, this is still worth having because of the rare Led Zeppelin II rehearsals.

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