For Badge Holders Only (SODD 088/089/090)
The Forum, Los Angeles, CA – June 23rd, 1977
Disc 1 (68:02): The Song Remains The Same, Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Over The Hills And Far Away, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter
Disc 2 (62:05): Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Black Country Woman, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, White Summer, Black Mountain Side, Kashmir, Trampled Underfoot
Disc 3 (64:14): Moby Dick, guitar solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll
When SODD announced the release of For Badge Holders Only it struck me as a redundant rehash. This is one of the all time great Led Zeppelin show with several excellent audience recordings and it begged the question of why we need another one. SODD took a different tactic in handling this show which turns out to be a blessing for collectors. Instead of utilizing the Mike Millard recording, they instead use the excellent audience recording that surfaced back in the late seventies on the Dragonfly vinyl label. This was done several times in the past but they are either out of print and hard to find or extremely expensive.
SODD utilize the Dragonfly source and fill the cuts with the rare fair to good audience recording for the most part. The the alternate tape is most noticeable for “The Song Remains The Same,” 6:37 to 7:06 after “Over The Hills And Far Away,” 8:56 to 9:01 after “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” 19:03 to 19:30 in “No Quarter,” 5:05 to 6:08 in “The Battle Of Evermore” and the Millard source is used and fifteen seconds after the song, 5:58 to 6:30 in “White Summer,” and several seconds after “Kashmir.” The edits are not poorly handled between the sources.
The concert is one of the most laid back, loose and exciting of the entire eleventh tour. There were many problems beginning with Jimmy breaking his guitar strap during “The Song Remains The Same”. He had to finish playing the song sitting on the drum riser and is the cause for the break before “Sick Again”. John Paul Jones misses a cue two minutes into “Kashmir” causing a breakdown in the song until they get it together again, and Page loses his guitar in “Trampled Underfoot”. But none of that detracts from the great performances contained in this set. Many consider this version of “No Quarter” to be the greatest ever version of the piece. The arrangements of this song was unique to this tour where the improvisational middle was divided into the “boogie” first half and the “heavy” second half. A perfect expression of the “light and shade” ethos and the contrast in this version work perfectly. “Ten Years Gone” and the acoustic set are carried along by Plant’s running joke about the badge holders referring the band’s entourage and their groupies.
The show is also famous for Keith Moon crashing the stage during “Moby Dick” and playing along with John Bonham. This is the only time they ever played together onstage and is one of those spontaneous moments that make us thank God for bootlegs. Page includes both the “Star Spangled Banner” and “God Save The Queen” in his guitar solo leading into a ferocious version of “Achillies Last Stand”. “Stairway To Heaven” is also very good with an interesting guitar solo played over the grand piano. Moon joins the band onstage again for the encores accompanied by Plant banging on the drums and brings to end a unique concert that is an essential part of any collection. SODD offer an excellent alternative to what is normally done with this show. They also didn’t not remaster the tape either as they sometimes do with their Rolling Stones releases. This is one of the better titles released on this label.