The Forum, Inglewood, CA, USA – June 21, 1977
Disc 1 (70:03) Intro, 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 (53:29) MC, Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Black Country Woman, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, White Summer / BlackMountain Side, Kashmir
Disc 3 (74:56) MC, Over The Top, Heartbreaker, Guitar Solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll
If there is one concert in Led Zeppelin’s illustrious touring history that has risen to almost mythical status it would probably be the famous June 21, 1977 date at the world famous LA Forum immortalized by taper Mike Millard. His vivid recording has come to be known after its bootleg name, “Listen To This Eddie” and features a performance that rivals its sound quality for sheer excellence. In fact the recording is so famous even Jimmy Page acknowledged its greatness and used a portion of the recording for a menu on the incredible 2003 DVD collection simply titled Led Zeppelin.
In the unofficial collectors circles there have been a massive amount of releases on both vinyl and compact disc, many of the compact disc versions use an alternate recording that fills small gaps, most famously in Ten Years Gone. Little is known about the alternate recording except all that circulates is Ten Years Gone, so one can assume that the full recording remains in the hands of hoarders. Much to our surprise, in November 2017 on a well known torrent site a third source for this legendary concert appeared under the moniker “Listen To This Erik”. With full acknowledgement of the original taper and his gift to the Led Zeppelin community, I think that it is appropriate to provide the background to the recording, its name, and the incredible work of the JEMS archivists that brought this new recording to the masses.
So this is directly from the torrent file:
“Forty years after the band’s legendary performance, one of the most iconic Led Zeppelin bootlegs of all time, Listen To This Eddie, gets a companion with the first-ever release of GaryB’s mono master tapes from The Forum, June 21, 1977. This newly uncovered second recording of the show complements the work of legendary taper Mike Millard (whose tape is the source of the LTTE bootleg) to provide an alternative perspective and a fresh, compelling way to listen anew to this fantastic and familiar show. For decades, Millard’s recording stood as the only document of the show to surface, though GaryB and friends have been listening to his recording since the day after, especially his buddy Erik who, having taken some “mood enhancers” prior to the show, woke up the next day with almost no memory of what took place. Because Erik couldn’t remember much, GaryB titled his tape Listen To This Erik.
GaryB’s title implies that he was familiar with the famous Eddie bootleg, and indeed he was. In fact, it was because of Millard’s tape/the Eddie bootleg that GaryB never felt there would be any desire for his recording, since he deemed the quality of Eddie to be superior to Erik. For that reason, his tape of the show went unheard by Zeppelin collectors at large until a couple months ago when, to recognize the show’s 40th anniversary, GaryB posted an incomplete and cobbled together MP3 of his tape to YouTube. The response from Zeppelin fans was immediate: WHERE DID THIS COME FROM and HOW CAN WE GET THIS?
What Zep fans were responding to both in YouTube comments and on message boards was atmosphere. As great as Millard’s Led Zeppelin recordings are, one thing they don’t unmistakably capture is the electric atmosphere of the crowd, something those who were there remember so clearly. “From 8:15 to 9:45 pm,” GaryB recalls, “every time a song on the pre-show tape began to fade, the crowd started cheering. By the time they came on, insanity.” He continues: “The electricity of the crowd always stood out to me. Springsteen once said that the very word ‘concert’ means BOTH the audience and artist are engaged. On this night, both Zeppelin and the crowd brought their A game and the result was an epic show. I thought the band just fed off the crowd and kicked it up to a rarely seen level. Listen to the audience when Page is introduced: the ovation was crazy. I tell my wife and kids that when I’m old and I can’t remember anything, just put on my concert recording of 6/21/77 and I’ll have a huge smile on my face.”
GaryB’s tape captures that atmosphere brilliantly from the get-go, as we get over 90 seconds of ecstatic audience build up before Jimmy hits that preamble chord then launches into “The Song Remains the Same.” There’s plenty of appealing audience response throughout, and while the quality of GaryB’s recording is not quite at Millard’s level, it is still better than many ’77 audies, sounding especially clear in quieter songs and holding up respectfully when the band is at full power. It was made on a borrowed recorder that we haven’t been able to fully identify, but GaryB says was a substantial piece of gear, with solid metal parts and a brown leather case. He knew he was in for a long show, so he snuck in two Memorex 120-minute tapes, which he says he copied off many years ago and avoided playing to help preserve them.
During the show, GaryB and his brother Dave took turns holding the recorder, which had to be held up relatively high all night because the microphone was built in. Gary adds, “Like me, Dave also had to keep quiet the whole show because we were taping. Very hard not to react on a night like that!” The YouTube and message board posts prompted Gary to seek someone who could properly transfer the masters and JEMS was lucky enough to be recommended for the gig by our dear friend BW with whom I had the following email exchange:
(September 25, 2017 at 5:48 PM) Fwd: Led Zeppelin 1977 Forum recording
Just got this email request. Is it something you would be interested in doing?
(September 25, 2017 at 5:52 PM) Re: Led Zeppelin 1977 Forum recording
Absolutely! I am the man for the job.
(September 25, 2017 at 5:54 PM) Re: Led Zeppelin 1977 Forum recording
Wow, what took you so long to respond? :)
Gary shipped the tapes to JEMS South and the work began. Those who have experience with 40-year-old, 120-minute cassette tapes know they are temperamental to say the least. GaryB had re-shelled one of the tapes (i.e. moved the actual interior tape and reels from the original cassette shell into a newer one) at some point in the past and that needed to be done again, as the pressure pad was gone on tape two and it wasn’t running smoothly. The new shell helped, but it still took multiple passes and a lot of hand-winding to capture the entirety of both sides. Tape one, while fussy in its own ways, played through relatively well given its age, the condition of its original shell and pad still viable. With great relief, I informed GaryB that the transfer was successful.
But there was still plenty to do. We have taken the rare step of noting this recording as “restored.” This is due to the work undertaken to repair several dozen short audio dropouts (likely due to movement of the tape deck during the show) inherent in the master. Using the latest iZotope RX software, we were able to fix the dropouts in a manner that should be relatively transparent to many listeners in most instances and substantially lessens the auditory defect. The manner of recording also required re-sequencing of parts and multiple pitch adjustments have been made to fix speed issues throughout, though most pronounced in the show’s final 30 minutes (“Achilles” to the end) when batteries were beginning to fail, slowing the recording, which then sounds sped up on normal playback. The fixes aren’t perfect by any means, as the speed change grows highly variable, but they are a marked improvement to the original.
We are presenting the final product in two forms. For the 16/44.1 edition, we have mastered GaryB’s restored recording to offer what in our opinion is a high-quality listening experience. For the purists out there (and surely to the delight of many Japanese bootleg labels: Maido arigatou gozaimasu!), we present a high-resolution, 24/96 restored but unmastered edition.
Speaking of Japanese bootlegs, there is a title which patches the missing portion of “Ten Years Gone” on Millard’s recording with a second source, but no other audio of the second source was released. We don’t believe GaryB’s tape was the mystery source, but we hope a knowledgeable collector will let everyone know.
This project was a labor of love for me and everyone involved. First and foremost, GaryB has been an absolute pleasure to work with and get to know. It is through his generosity that we get to hear a different version of one of our favorite Zeppelin shows of all time. Thanks for trusting JEMS, Gary. We hope you like the result. Thanks as well to BW, who made the introduction to GaryB and whom I love dearly. The stalwart mjk5110 stepped up as he always does, this time contributing critical feedback and countless hours to fix the pitch and speed issues in addition to his vital, on-going, post-production support. I would also like to recognize the work of the late Mike Millard, whose recording of this show and so many others have been critical listening to Zeppelin fans since the ‘70s. Over the years, we have met folks who knew Mike personally (including our own Stan, the S in JEMS), and they tell us that the Mike Millard described on the internet is not man they knew. He had many good friends and wasn’t at all the dour loner those descriptions would have us believe. Here’s to another amazing example of finding “lost tapes.” Let’s hope there are still many more to come”.
Great story, I really enjoy listening to tales of old tapers and history of their experiences from back in the day, where houses of the holy were filled with rabid rock fans there to enjoy the music. No cell phones and other distractions, back when it seemed music was the only thing that mattered. Let’s get into sound quality of GaryB’s tape. It is more distant that Millard’s but is very clear with a nice range of frequencies, there are occasional changes in sound as GaryB and his brother took turns holding the recorder coupled with the movement of the crowd being the culprits. All instruments and vocals are clear and you get a really nice music to audience mix, in fact that is one of the highlights of this tape, we all knew that the first show in Los Angeles was incredible, this recording give more of a complete perspective from a fans view so to speak. The band and audience seem to have a conjoined existence at this concert, the band gives off great vibes, the audience gives off great vibes and the whole thing is like an orgy of ones aural senses.
The tape had some issues, most of them were addressed by the JEMS group, the speed reconstruction is certainly the work of gifted hands, so cheers to them. The other issues were the tape cuts, JEMS left them alone so the folks at No Label have addressed them by using Mike Millard’s recording to fill the gaps. The first gap comes in at 12:27 to 12:45 in No Quarter, the GaryB recording during the John Paul Jones Grand Piano solo is very clear so the switch of recordings is not harsh to ones ears. There is another 15 second gaps during Robert’s introduction and the first seven seconds of Ten Years Gone. There are several tape cuts on the third disc, first one being in Heartbreaker, first from 3:09 to 4:58 then from 5:08 to the last three and half minutes of the song as well as 30 seconds of crowd noise and the complete 16:31 of Page’s guitar solo and the first 48 seconds Achilles Last Stand followed by another cut from 8:53 that lasts from the last 25 seconds of the song until the beginning of Stairway To Heaven. Not done yet, there is a cut in Stairway from 10:22 to 10:36 right in the hard rocking section. The edits are very well done, the transitions from tape to tape is seamless although at times a few are noticeable due to the difference in sound quality between the two.
What can one say about this famous concert? Certainly top three concerts from 1977 and for most, top ten concerts from Led Zeppelin’s entire live career, it’s just that good. This recording really gives you the vibe of being at a shit hot Led Zeppelin concert, there are the occasional comments near the taper, or possibly even by the taper and his friends as one would expect. Very rarely in 1977 do you get a great recording of a superb performance, other than the second night in Cleveland and the other Millard recordings from LA come to mind. This is not to say there were not other great concerts on this tour, there are, but most have average audience recordings or the rather dry soundboards. I read an interesting comment about the soundboards, someone was commenting on Page’s thin sound and another person chimed in about Page’s use of the ambient hall to give him the fuller sound you hear on many audience recordings, makes sense I guess. This concert was one of the first I bought years back, on vinyl picture disc Listen To This Eddie (Rock Solid RSR 202A-B), for those who have it page 261 of Robert Goodwin’s 3rd Edition Illustrated Collectors Guide To Led Zeppelin, (boy I wish I didn’t sell my old vinyl) and like most others, has been a favorite for the past three decades.
The packaging is typical for the No Label titles, full color inserts featuring live shots of the band circa 1977, picture CD’s, numbered sticker all housed in a fat boy jewel case and at least where I bought this from, very reasonably priced. A very nicely produced title and while the thanks goes to GaryB and JEMS for their work, the folks at No Label have done a nice job honoring this new recording, if you love the Millard recording, you will certainly enjoy this alternate view.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)