Led Zeppelin

Earls Court

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This European pressing of Led Zeppelin's live performance at Earls Court Arena is a strong entry in the long list of Zeppelin bootlegs. Recorded May 24th, 1975, the repertoire includes an equal number of compositions from each of four albums: Led Zeppelin III, IV, Houses of the Holy, and Physical Graffiti, the album the band had released just three months prior to the show.

Most of the material is faithful to its original studio counterparts, and the sound quality is merely adequate. The music seems distant and cloudy, with distorted higher frequencies that induce speaker crackling. Despite the rhythm section's lack of clarity, the music's impact is still powerful. Many of the renditions greatly exceed the originals in length, despite their seemingly rushed presentation. At over 21 minutes, the dark "No Quarter" includes a lengthy John Paul Jones grand piano solo (both classical and blues) followed by an equally long Jimmy Page guitar solo. And an 11-minute version of "Stairway to Heaven" affords the band room to stretch out during an extended instrumental section near the close.

Standout numbers include the acoustic foot-stomper "Bron-y-aur Stomp," the heavy blues of "In My Time of Dying," and the driving keys, pounding drums, and crashing cymbals of "Trampled Underfoot." To close the set, Zeppelin create a very heavy, "No Quarter"-like atmosphere in which to present Joni Mitchell's classic "Woodstock." Her song is nearly unrecognizable, musically, as Page churns out the power chords with maximum electricity.

A double-LP package, Earls Court clocks in at just over 100 minutes. The recording is pressed on yellow vinyl, and the album cover is comprised of three photos of Zeppelin on stage during a performance (but probably not this performance).

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