The Diagrams of Led Zeppelin (TDOLZ) is an underground label that, in the 1990s, dedicated itself to Zeppelin bootlegs exclusively; during that decade, Diagrams provided over 30 bootlegs by the influential heavy metal/hard rock band. All of Diagrams' releases contain live performances (no studio outtakes, rehearsals, demos, etc.), and almost all of them are two- or three-CD sets. Like other bootleggers, Diagrams isn't going after casual listeners; the label caters to the most obsessive Zeppelin collectors -- and only a truly obsessive collector would want a copy of Vive la France. Some Zeppelin bootlegs boast high-quality soundboard recordings, but this two-CD set isn't one of them. Recorded at the Palais des Sports in Paris on April 1, 1973, Vive la France is plagued by poor sound quality -- not terrible, but definitely poor. The person who taped this Paris show obviously used the sort of mono cassette recorder that was great for dictation in an office but not great for recording music. These days, bootleggers can easily sneak a small digital mini-recorder into a concert hall and get a good, if imperfect, recording. But back in the early '70s, it wasn't uncommon for a bootlegger to use any old mono recorder that he/she had available. Consequently, many bootleg recordings from that era would cause an audiophile to cringe, although it's important to stress that there are also a lot of Zeppelin bootlegs that offer decent or excellent sound. So if you're a Zeppelin worshipper who wants to hear 50 live versions of "Whole Lotta Love" or "Heartbreaker," you could easily accomplish that goal without putting up with the type of inferior sound quality that plagues this double CD. Vive la France is for completists and no one else.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson