This list consists
of a very detailed bootleg discography and is divided into three separate
large parts. The first one is dedicated to vinyl albums. Much larger
part is dedicated to the CD titles, which consists of thousand of different
titles. Third is visual discography, capturing the real DVD format but
also VCD and even VHS. All three sections are simply expanded as full
relational discographies and they may be easily navigated just by the
clicking bewlo categories:
say that there's no band that can compare to Led Zeppelin in concert.
The energy, the power and the presence of the band live is all part
of the legend. Despite this, there has been no official concert recording
of the band released for years. The closest thing to a live album has
been for the long time the soundtrack of the film "The Song Remains
The Same". Then, after twenty one years later "BBC Sessions"
was released in 1997. However, since both titles are a compilations
from a number of nights and the material edited (including overdubs),
it can hardly be considered a true representation of the band in concert.
Through the years there have been rumors of an official live collection.
These rumors, like those of a reunion tour, have been squashed by all
three living members of the group, who have voiced his objection to
both, although in May 2003, after many years of waiting, Jimmy Page
finally released the Led Zeppelin live collection. Slated for a simultaneous
2003 release were "DVD", a two-disc set, and "How The
West Was Won", a three-CD set. Long sought-after by Zeppelin devotees
and collectors, this marks the first-ever official release of these
rare and legendary performances, which span the group's entire career.
Much-rumored and eagerly anticipated, the DVD and CD sets each contain
entirely different material, so there is no overlap between the two
releases. Behind this, one has still to turn to the scourge of the record
industry - the bootleggers: friend of fans and foe of Feds.
When it all started
late 1968 a couple of California teenagers stumbled upon several reels
of tape that had been recorded in Bob Dylan's house. How they came to
acquire these tapes has never exactly been explained and is the stuff
of legend. Before the 1960's, record companies usually held onto all
tapes from artists' recording sessions. But artists like Dylan and the
Beatles took more control of the process of making records, recording
where they felt like it, in a house in Woodstock, for example and the
record labels lost control of the process.
tapes these two teenagers stumbled upon contained some previously unreleased
Dylan songs and alternate versions of some songs that had already been
released. Open-reel tape decks were expensive at the time, and beyond
the budget of these kids, so they approached a record manufacturing
plant to master and press the tapes in the lowest quantity allowed,
which was 100 pieces.
the 1960's, cassette tapes were not commonly available, and everyone
had a turn-table, so it was not unusual for people to make records to
pass on information as they do with tapes today. High school bands made
records of their annual concerts and church groups made records of their
favorite hymn performance. Pressing 100 records was considerably cheaper
than buying a tape deck and at the time there was nothing illegal about
kids made these 100 Dylan records, thinking of them more as novelties
rather than as albums per se. They gave them away to friends and soon
friends of friends began to inquire about them. People began to offer
money for the discs, which were packaged in a plain white sleeve. A
record store approached the kids to ask if they could have 100 copies
at $4 a piece. So the kids made 500 more, started to sell them for a
couple of bucks each, and the modern American bootlegging industry was
record became known as "The Great White Wonder" and over the
next decade it sold so many copies some claimed it should have made
it onto the Bill-board charts. The teenagers went on to form the Trade
Mark of Quality (TMQ) record label and to become the biggest bootleggers
in music history. Today we recognize The Great White Wonder as the first
significant bootleg album.
itself began back with the invention of the cylinder phonograph; the
earliest bootlegs were of opera legend Enrico Caruso. But bootlegging
didn't begin as an industry until the late 1960's and it continues to
this day as a quasi-underground record industry. And with the exception
of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, no other group in history has
interested bootleggers as much as Led Zeppelin. (The very detailed history
of all the early vinyl bootleg labels, including a history of persons
responsible for these labels, can be found on The
Pink Floyd Vinyl Bootleg Guide excellent site. You can also
visit Wikipedia site, where a history of bootlegs is available.)
Legal or illegal
bootlegging began in the late 1960's, it was not illegal. Those first
copies of The Great White Wonder were sold in legitimate record stores
over the counter and were stuck in the Dylan section in the records
racks. In the early 1970's, every hip record store in town had stacks
of bootlegs for sale, and many times they were cheaper and occasionally
better than the regular record company releases. The law changed in
February 1972, when the U.S. Congress passed a bill that outlawed the
exhumation of pet cemeteries for the purpose of road construction. In
an effort to quickly pass a law to deal with the increasing number of
bootleg albums, the recording lobby persuaded Congress to attach an
amendment to the pet cemetery bill making it a felony to manufacture
bootleg, pirate, or counterfeit sound recordings for the purpose of
resale. The law has been open to interpretation over the years and though
court cases are still occasionally fought over the specifics of copyright
infringement involving, bootlegging remains illegal.
What means a bootleg
is important to distinguish between the different forms of music piracy.
A "bootleg" is defined as an illegally manufactured disc or
tape that includes previously unreleased live or studio recordings.
A "pirate" is considered a copy of a commercially available
recording that has been repackaged in its own unique packaging. A "counterfeit",
finally, is a copy of a commercially available recording that duplicates
all aspects of the original official copy, including the packaging.
These distinctions are important because the perpetrators of each different
level approach the project with a different intention. Pirates and counterfeits
are usually made by professionals with the sole intent of high profits.
Most bootlegs are manufactured by fans. Even the Recording Industry
Association of America (RIAA), the body that actually takes bootleggers
to court) admits that bootlegging is small potatoes compared to the
millions of dollars in losses record companies face from pirates and
counterfeits. Usually the RIAA does not distinguish between the various
forms of bootlegging when they report on raids or actions they have
taken, so when you read about 100,000 records being seized they usually
aren't talking about copies of The Great White Wonder. Though the moral
question of bootlegging is one best answered individually, the debate
generally comes down to whether the buying of bootleg albums hurts the
sales of legitimatealbums (as the record companies argue) or whether
anyone who would spend money on a bootleg is bound to have all the legitimate
releases already (as many bootleg collectors suggest).
Rolling Stones Gather No
after the release of "The Great White Wonder", the Rolling
Stones played a concert at the Oakland Coliseum that was the talk of
the West Coast. The show was taped and released in bootleg form with
the title "Liver Than You'll Ever Be." It was an outstanding
recording of a great performance and it was immediately recognized by
fans, and by critics, as far superior to the official Stones live album.
The record was reviewed in many publications and treated with all the
seriousness that a legitimate release would warrant. The record sold
even faster than The Great White Wonder and the legitimate record companies
began to take notice.
or three more titles followed in the next few months, a Donovan disc
and a couple more Dylan titles, and rumor began to spread through the
grapevine about a forthcoming disc from an exciting new live band by
the name of Led Zeppelin.
grapevine was something that Zeppelin manager Peter Grant stayed in
touch with he had virtually created all the excitement for his new band
by word of mouth to start with. Grant heard about this Zeppelin bootleg
and immediately thought it would take money out of his pocket. The group's
label, Atlantic, also was concerned since Zeppelin already accounted
for a high percentage of company profits. Grant set off to stop the
bootleggers before they got started. Grant reportedly traveled extensively
through England and America, went to every studio that the band had
recorded in and to every radio station that had done a broadcast, and
reclaimed any tapes he could find. Shortly thereafter Atlantic drafted
up a stack of cease and desist orders and made it known that they were
ready to deliver them to any stores that sold bootlegs.
the October 3, 1970, issue of Melody Maker the headline read "Led
Zeppelin Hammer Bootlegs." The story reported that "two new
Led Zeppelin albums will shortly be in the shops, both unofficial, illegal
bootlegs. But Zeppelin's management immediately blasted back with a
denial that any tapes were in private hands, and added the threat that
anyone who tries to bootleg the group will be promptly sued. One Zeppelin
album is alleged to be studio recorded tracks, never released, and the
other is a live album from Germany. Phil Carson, European general manager
of Atlantic records told me, 'We will be taking positive legal action
against anyone who is found pressing, marketing or retailing these albums,'
and Zeppelin manager Peter Grant declared this week,' As far as I know
there can be no tapes of Zeppelin available. After hearing some time
ago that there was going to be an attempt to some tapes of the band,
I flew to America. We've managed to retrieve all the tapes and we know
of nothing in existence that can be issued.'" Perhaps no greater
misstatement has been uttered in music business history.
Live On Blueberry Hill
was an understandable mistake to make, though. Up to that time no one
believed that you could make a good tape of a band from a seat in the
audience. It was Led Zeppelin "Live on Blueberry Hill" that
changed that misconception forever. The Dylan bootlegs had been recorded
from either the famous "basement tapes", which were studio
quality recordings, or from television outtakes. The Stones' "Liver"
album was so good that everyone associated with the band, perhaps straight
from the mixing board. But there were no illusions about "Blueberry
Hill". This was definitely an audience recording, complete with
whistles and cheering, but despite that it sounded great.' Legend has
it that the recording was made using a two-track Nagra portable open
reel tape deck with a Sennheiser shotgun microphone. Some argued that
this recording from the audience actually sounded closer to the experience
of the show than the sterile sound on most legitimate live recordings.
Hill" opened the floodgates. The bootleggers realized that they
could get as much material as they wanted, and more important, they
realized that there was a tremendous audience for these recordings.
"Blueberry Hill" is still recognized by many Zeppelin collectors
as being one of the very best Zeppelin bootlegs. It has several unique
features, it was the best recording from the era (recorded September
1970 at the L.A. Forum, one of the band's favorite venues), it is still
the only bootleg with a decent live recording of Bring It On Home, it
is the only bootleg with live versions of Out On The Tiles, Blueberry
Hill and I Saw Her Standing There, and the original tape included a
live version of Page's instrumental "Bron-Yr-Aur", which wasn't
released on the original vinyl bootleg, though it was included on the
CD releases. There have been literally hundreds of Led Zeppelin bootlegs
since that first one in late 1970. Even twenty five years after the
group's demise, Zeppelin bootlegs appear on the collector's market at
an astounding rate. The number of Zeppelin bootleg titles is unbelievable.
I have found nearly 4,000 titles. There were at least a dozen ten or
so album bootleg sets.
infamous Zeppelin bootleg set contains a full 70 different discs. About
325 shows with ten or more repressing on different labels. The original
TMQ bootlegs from the early 1970's are still some of the most desirable
and the most valuable. There were three original TMQ single albums",
Mudslide", "BBC Broadcast" and "Stairway To Heaven."
The label originally issued five double albums: "Blueberry Hill",
"Going To California", "Bonzo's Birthday Party",
"Three Days After", and "V 1/2". "Mudslide"
was actually a reissue of another bootleg titled "Pb "(reissuing
bootlegs is a very common occurrence and something that you'll see confuses
the number of Zeppelin titles greatly) that had been recorded off the
radio in Vancouver, Canada, and is an exceptional mono recording of
a tremendous performance. "BBC Broadcast" was the first of
a multitude of bootlegs taken from the performance at the BBC's Paris
Theatre in 1971.
Going To California
To California" was issued right after "Blueberry Hill "
and was touted as being recorded in Los Angeles, though it actually
was from a show at the Berkeley on September 14, 1971. Bootleggers frequently
mislabel the date and place of the shows contained on their discs, sometimes
out of incompetence, sometimes to purposely throw off authorities as
to who recorded the show, and occasionally simply to try to sell more
copies since shows from the bigger markets usually have more interest
for collectors since the market is larger.
Bonzo's Birthday Party
next title of note went on to become legendary, perhaps because the
title itself was such a classic. It was called "Bonzo's Birthday
Party" and it featured the performance from the L.A. Forum on May
31, 1973. The boot contains outstanding live performances of Heartbreaker,
Whole Lotta Love and The Ocean. It was followed up with the title "Three
Days After", recorded at the same venue on June 3, 1973. This release
also included some leftover material from the "Blueberry Hill"
tape. The next TMQ title was "V 1/2" which was recorded in
Seattle on June 17, 1973. The recording is not outstanding but the performance
makes up for it. These TMQ titles are considered to be the mainstays
of any Zeppelin bootleg collection, though not every release came out
first on TMQ. "Blueberry Hill" was originally issued before
the inauguration of the TMQ label, so the very first pressings were
on Blimp Records and were packaged in two single plain white sleeves
with two insert covers printed in two colors. It was later reissued
on TMQ innumerable times and on several different colored pressings
of vinyl. Colored wax in the early days was a good indication of a title
being an early pressing of a bootleg (and therefore having better sound
than a bootleg of a bootleg), though in modern times it is not always
the case, some first editions of bootlegs are on black wax while later
pressings are on colored wax and are mistaken for original pressings.
The next major
bootleg label on the scene was the Amazing Kornyphone Record Label (TAKRL),
a business that issued a ton of records though only a few of their titles
were Zeppelin discs (supposedly the people behind the label weren't
big Zeppelin fans). The label released three single Zep albums; "Ballcrusher",
a reissue of an album by the same name from Flat Records and taken from
the 1971 BBC concert", Live In England 1976", a reissue of
the excellent European bootleg recorded at Earl's Court on May 24, 1975,
and "Cellarful Of Noise", a poor recording from the performance
at Osaka Festival Hall in Japan on September 29, 1971. The label released
two double albums of Zeppelin material: "Live In Seattle",
a reissue of the TMQ "V 1/2" and "The 1975 World Tour",
from Montreal, Canada, on February 6, 1975. Kornyphone's releases were
some of the most widely distributed Zeppelin bootlegs and pop up in
most collections, but they are not known for being high quality recordings.
early bootleg label was Wizardo Records (WRMB). The only Zeppelin titles
put out by Wizardo were "Plant Waves" (the title was a takeoff
on the Bob Dylan album Planet Waves), and "Caution Explosive".
"Plant Waves" was a compilation of tracks from Detroit and
New York shows on the 1975 tour and the sound quality was variable.
"Caution Explosive" fared a little better since the source
material included, once again, the infamous Blueberry Hill material
along with some from the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco 1969.
the mid 1970's a whole host of smaller bootleg labels had sprung up
including Rubber Dubber, Immaculate Conception Records (ICR), Contraband
Music (CBM), Dittolino Discs, Kustom Records, Idle Mind Productions
(IMP), K&S Records, Berkeley Records, Smilin' Ears, and Ze Anonym
Plattenspeiler. Their product was a thick, black record in a white jacket.
To simplify matters they are referred to in this text as White Cover
Folks (WCF). Most of these labels offered up Zeppelin titles that were
little more than reissues of the early TMQ stuff, though there were
a few notable new releases.
Mind re-released a Japanese bootleg of the show from Osaka 1972 and
called the album "My Brain Hurts", which should win an award
for best title of a Zeppelin boot. The release included a rare and interesting
version of the band covering Ben E. King's "Stand By Me".
was the first label to release the legendary Knebworth shows on bootleg,
and their version of these shows also included material from the BBC
studio sessions and Montreux 1970. Smilin' Ears distinguished itself
by being the first bootleg label to release a four-record Zeppelin box
set, titled "Destroyer". The set originally listed as a Seattle
recording, though it actually featured a concert from Cleveland in 1977.
The set has become one of the best known and loved of all Zeppelin titles
and has been reissued many times.
1979 two new labels debuted with Zeppelin releases that stood above
the others available at the time. Phoenix and Toasted Records put more
effort into packaging their material than other labels had, with full-color
deluxe covers that rivaled the official album jackets. The labels issued
a whole slew of double albums, with four-color covers and featuring
artwork by the noted artist Ginger, including "Absence" (BBC
and Earl's Court 1975)", Spare Parts" (BBC and Copenhagen
1969)", "Knebworth II" (Knebworth August 11, 1979)",
Seattle 73", and "Knebworth 79" (Knebworth August 4,
1979). Most of the material on these labels had been previously released
but the packaging on these records made them desired collectors items.
1985 the RIAA and the Canadian Recording Industry Association, in conjunction
with the FBI, mounted a massive campaign to put an end to the bootlegging
problem in North America. The publicity surrounding raids staged all
across the continent sent bootleggers even further underground. Around
this period most major bootlegging operations moved to Europe or Japan,
where bootlegs continued to come out and get imported into the United
States at ever greater cost to the collector.
The Song Remains The Same
1985 a new bootleg label called Rock Solid/International Records came
into operation and in a very short time issued more Zeppelin work than
most other labels put together, most of it previously unreleased. The
single albums included a reissue of a Japanese album called "White
Summer" from a show in Hamburg 1970, a Honeydrippers show from
1981, and "John Henry Bonham: Session Man", a boot that included
all of Bonham's known recordings for other artists.
multi-album sets included "Listen To This Eddie", "Duck-Walks
And Lasers", "In Person", "In Concert", "Live
On The Levee", "Custard Pie", "Alpha And Omega",
"Winterland". The label even issued two 10-record sets: "Strange
Tales From The Road" and "Led Zeppelin The Can", which
was a 14-inch film can numbered and stickered with live versions of
almost every original song the band ever played live.
saw the rise and fall of Box Top Records. This label re-released many
old classics, most on colored vinyl, from original plates. These came
in a thin cover with a color snap-shot of the artist on the front and
a sticker with the song listings on the back.
saw the short-lived return of Trade Mark Of Quality (TMOQ or TMQ) and
The Amazing Kornyphone Record Label (TAKRL) labels working together
to provide A High Standard Of Standardness. Records came in energic
covers in a variety of colors with the artists name and the album title
on the front and a jacket sized label logo on the back. These were two
separate batches of releases and each had the song listings for albums
in that batch on sheets enclosed in the record jackets.
of the strange things you'll notice about Zeppelin bootlegs is that
the bootleggers weren't afraid to mix material from dramatically different
time periods on the same record (including a 1969 performance on a disc
of mostly 1977 stuff), which confuses many fans as to the original source
material. As if the material from Rock Solid/International wasn't impressive
enough, many of the original bootleggers got back into action in the
late 1980's again and Zeppelin was one of their favorite groups. TMQ
returned and, using the original master plates, repressed Blueberry
Hill, this time with a deluxe color cover. Toasted also returned to
the scene, this time with a number of titles made from unreleased soundboard
recordings of the band, and the quality was phenomenal. Available around
this time were rehearsals for "Physical Graffiti" and "In
Through The Out Door", and the legendary campfire sessions from
Bron-Yr-Aur cottage. Also released in this period were boots of the
legendary performance of "Friends" with the Bombay Symphony
Orchestra, Plant and Bonham's recordings with the Band Of Joy, outtakes
from the third record, and dozens of live concert recordings. On the
back of an album called "Last Stand", featuring the band's
Berlin 1980 show, Toasted publicly announced they would stop making
vinyl bootlegs, though other manufacturers have continued to press their
wares on vinyl.
The Final Option
the late 1980's, Zeppelin bootlegs, and perhaps bootlegs in general,
hit their zenith with the release of the ultimate bootleg of them all,
a package titled "The Final Option". This set featured 70
different albums of Zeppelin material and included pressings of almost
every Zeppelin bootleg previously made, all seemingly stamped from the
original master plates. This set included material from Rock Solid,
Screaming Oiseau, TAKRL, Toasted, Waggle, and other labels and represented
a major organizational effort on the part of the bootleggers. The set
came in a black acrylic box with black and gold stickers over it. Only
150 copies were pressed and they sold out immediately. "The Final
Option" is now considered one of the rarest collectibles in Zeppelin
record lore and commands extraordinary prices on the collector's market.
A New Mark: CD Bootlegs
Final Option" could hardly be topped and that together with Toasted's
announcement essentially spelled the end to Zeppelin vinyl bootlegs
since the compact disc soon became the format of choice, both for legitimate
record releases and for bootleggers. The first Zeppelin CD bootleg was
a European issue of the Zurich June 29th, 1980 soundboard show titled
"Tour Over Europe 1980" and though it was incomplete, the
sound quality was outstanding. New digital technique brought a brand
new standard of records. Earlier available tapes now reissued and revamped
due to the modern technique utilised a new standard of quality. By early
1991, over a 125 Zeppelin CD titles were on the market, though most
of them were reissues of material previously out on vinyl. At least,
their minimal limitation of ones run size for any type 5" silver
discs is 1,000 copies and only a couple of bootleg companies released
their efforts in a highly limited editions. These causes made CDs not
only more compactable but also much more accessible to fans. (Vinyl
have been nearly limited to a few hundred copies.)
Early CD Bootlegs
Zone and Toasted/Condor were the CD labels and the producers of the
CD's only have a partial connection with the earlier producers of the
vinyl labels with almost similar names. All of these labels were USA
based producers. The CD producers used overseas connections to press
their titles and artwork and the vinyl producers mainly pressed their
titles in USA in the days when they could do it in a record pressing
plant. A well connected USA collector acquired the various tapes and
for some of his labels like Neutral Zone and Toasted/Condor he used
a contact from Australia who had connections in Korea and who speak
their language to press the titles. The Australian connection was the
person behind the mid 1990's Apple House/Black Cat labels. Since the
tapes came from the USA collector and he was the one who organised the
labels and paid for the production of the titles it guess we would have
to say the labels were a USA product even though the discs and artwork
were made in Korea. You then have the situation where the Japs copied
the Neutral Zone and Toasted/Condor titles in the mid 1990's and also
later again someone from the EEC copied them also in the late 1990's.
Only the trained eye can pick the difference between the original pressings
and the Japanese copies but the EEC copies stand out as they have inferior
Neutral Zone label has won accolades from several Zeppelin fanzines
for their three discs series titled "Classics Off The Air".
This series features almost the complete BBC performances, all four
shows. As a set this represented for a long time the best way to get
the complete BBC catalog, before the legal release of "BBC Sessions"
and many Japanese releases. Toasted/Condor, another bootleg business,
produced some good titles. Their pairs of "Zeppelin Express/Zeppelin
Ediface" or "World Tour/Wild Side" brought more complete
versions of material available before on vinyl and now remastered from
the original tapes. Punjonian Productions (Korea-based for US distributor),
Quality Compact Productions (Korea-based for US distributor), Sidewalk
Music (Italian) and Widget (Korea-based for US distributor) were another
early outfits that started to produce Led Zeppelin. These Japanese and/or
US labels issued only few titles that copied material known from old
vinyl recordings. Other newly established bootleg labels that have produced
Zeppelin material include Gold Standard Series (GS), Golden Stars (GS
or LA), Great Dane Records (GDR), Kaleidoscopic Music, Koine Records,
Living Legend Records (LLR), Lobster Records, Manic Depression (MDR),
Pyramid/Triangle Records (PY), Seagull Records, and World Productions
Of Compact Music (WPOCM). Many of these labels, although all were from
Europe, operate out of the old continent, where laws allow the bootlegging
of concert tapes from performances a decade old as long as royalties
are paid to the performers. These loopholes in the European laws have
made Europe a hotbed for bootlegging activity and this material inevitably
finds its way around the world.
Early European CD Bootlegs
Rarities (SIRA), UK label that produced a mass of Led Zeppelin albums,
released in the early 1990's a few dozen of titles, some of which are
still actual in the terms of both sound quality and completeness. Their
package was a standard jewel case with cover that utilized many live
photos. A fold-out insert was added to all of their 3CD sets. Their
most memorable record was famous "Listen To This Eddie", issued
for the first time from the first generation Mike Millard cassette tapes,
without any equalization (later rereleased).
very interesting, Silver Rarities producer was the (in)famous Mr. Langley
aka Mr. Toad who was accused of bootlegging in Scottish trial and sentenced
to 20-month jail in 2007. As we know he is a UK resident yet his Silver
Rarities label was produced in Germany. (Mr. Toad used to live in Perth,
Australia in the early 1970's.) He made contact with a German CD producer
but it was Mr. Toad who had the tapes, artwork, finances and distribution
so we would have to say Silver Rarities was a UK label or to make it
easier a EEC label.
the same time a couple of Luxembourg folks under the name of The Swingin'
Pig Records (TSP) issued few titles and with another bootleg label named
Oh Boy also from Luxembourg both produced some good material. Oh Boy's
"Texas International Pop Festival" is still in the Top 10
of the best sounding bootleg releases ever made after more than ten
years after its release. Mentioned above Gold Standard or Great Dane
Records were another European companies that released some good material.
All that labels issued their titles in a standard jewel cases, adding
sometimes a booklet/fold-out insert (Oh Boy).
Disc Music/Ghost were two European bootleg companies spliced together
that produced many releases in the early 1990's. Most of them are playing
with wrong speed and many of them were stolen in the late 1980's from
Jimmy Page's home studio. Wrong speed of most of their releases is probably
due to the copying with high speed dubbing machines. Their titles were
always issued in a standard jewel cases (with the exception only for
5CD deluxe set titled "The Trade Mark Of Quality Masters Volume
1", issued in a form of cardboard hinged open box that consistsed
of four different performances, included rarely reissued stereo audience
source tape for the legendary May 31, 1973 concert, earlier available
only on any of the old vinyl bootlegs), some with a nice artwork but
most titles have no stood the test of time. The tapes were released
often incompletely and sound didn't have the highest quality.
American Concert Series (ACS), Aphrodites Studios, Aulica/Aulica Deluxe,
Big Music, Capricorn Records, Chapter One, Classical Shots On CD, Continental
Sounds, Deep Records, Discomagic (a spin-off from On Stage label), Discurios,
Double Time, Eagle Music, Entertainers, Exile Records, Fancy Pantry,
Flamingo, Grand Pick Records (same company as the Swingin' Pig), Home,
Insect Records, Jolly Roger Records, Kobra Records, Koine Records, Limes,
Live & Alive, Live Experience (The), Live Storm, Luna Records, Men
At Work, Minotaur Records, Moonlight Records, New Plastic Records, OffRoadTracks,
Oil Well, On Stage, Pacific, Post Script, Rock Calendar Records, Roundpin
Productions, Satelite Records, Silver Shadow, Smoking Pig (a spin-off
from Silver Rarities), Sugarcane Records, Tie Dye Records, Tintagel
and Wild Bird Records were another mostly low budget bootleg companies
that issued some rather not worthwhiling titles bewteen late 1980's
and mid 1990's. Often they just copied material from older European
or early Far East labels, adding sometimes bonus tracks taken from worn
vinyl. (Continental Sounds' 3CD set "For Badge Holders Only Part
1-3" copied both parts of old vinyl sets under the same name, where
an excellent sounding stereo audience tape was used. This tape was lost
and the remainding title plus another one, no labelled "For Badgeholders
Only" are the only releases to have this source.)
last Blizzard and Rabbit Records were an ephemerad low budget labels
from Chech Republic that produced only a few Led Zeppelin titles between
1990's and 2000's. Today the only European bootleg companies involved
into production of Led Zeppelin's music are profesionally labelled CD-Rs'
Beelzebub Records and silver pressed Godfather and Tangerine Records.
The Godfather Records found themselfs as deluxe issued packages reissuing
titles known from earlier releases, almost always releasing combos of
sources. Possibly their most memorable title is "That's Alright
New York", that can be called a straight knock-off to Empress Valley's
"Flying Circus" because of extremely upgraded soundboard of
New York February 12th, 1975 show. The label's other titles are also
rather well receipted by the collectors, mostly due to beautiful design
and contents. In the opposite, Beelzebub Records is continuously criticited
for their equalizing job and also the label pressing on CD-Rs instead
of real silvers although their few titles are still worth to mention.
Japan - the land of bootlegs
the mid 1990's the federal law of European Union and the United States
(along with several other countries) forbidden for ever bootlegging.
All European labels such as Silver Rarities, Great Dane Records, Swingin'
Pig Records and a couple of more ended their activity very quickly.
But the bootleggers didn't want to waste the time and money. They had
been looking hardly for the marker free of unprofitable prohibitions
and they found it in Japan.
Since the early
1970's Japan had very independent music market with its own rights.
Many records issued in Japan were unavailable anywhere else. By the
very end of the 1980's Japanese law allowed publishing tapes above twenty-five
years after its date of recording on their own market without obeying
any copyrights. That was something to what bootleggers had been looking
for a long time. Because of these loopholes, and laxity of enforcement
of international copyright laws for sound recordings over there, by
the very early 1990's Japan was just flooded by many unofficial releases,
some of which are still remarkable and unforgettable pieces. There are
certain shops, for example, in certain districts there which are legally
permitted to sell 'illegal' recordings. It doesn't apply in all parts
of the country or to all retail outlets there.
no doubt we can say that there was one person responsible for the flood
of bootlegs in the early 1990's in Japan. Mr. Guru aka Mr. BlackDog
is a long standing collector who has contacts all over the globe going
back to the early 1970's. Well known in the inner circles and very well
connected. He has his own home built professional studio and is a audio/video
digital engineer but music is his hobby. Mr. Guru aka BlackDog's first
title that he made was the famous 4CD "Australian Tour Pt. 1 &
2" on the Australian Black Cat label from early 1990's. At that
time his monkier name was Mr. Guru as that was his nickname given to
him by his friends. Mr. Guru was impressed with production of his first
title. He recently purchased a new bootleg title but found that the
audio on it only had 60 minutes when he knew the tape existed as 90
minutes. (In fact this one and another set titled "Poles &
Sticks" on the Black Cat label was produced by the guy named Gary
and Mr. Guru was contacted by him to access the tapes for his label.)
He hated how some producers were bleeding the collectors with titles
that didn't feature the complete tape that was in existance. Mr. Guru
made contacts in Japan. He offered his tapes to a producer if they would
allow him to have compelte control on the audio and artwork. He adviused
Japan to respect the customer and start producing quality titles that
had correct artwork for the concert audio and correct track listing
and also not to EQ the audio. He suggested that Japan treat boot CD
production the same as any professioanl business and they will then
have a product that can be identified with quality. Mr. Guru suggested
that they should come up with a corporate logo and label name for each
artist so that customers would know which logo/label was for a certain
artist and also customers would know which label to respect if they
produced quality titles. He suggested a new label name of "Immigrant"
and sent them a logo for it to be for Led Zeppelin titles. This was
in the early 1990's. The first title sold out on day one and word got
out in Japan of what Immigrant was all about. Within three months Tarantura
was started up. Whereas Tarantura EQ'd all of their audio they of course
had superb artwork for each title. Immigrant label didn't EQ'd their
audio and made sure the audio on their discs was the lowest generation
available. Mr. Guru didn't ask or want money for his tapes from Japan.
All he asked for was a box of Japanese bootleg CDs every few months
of artists he liked. Within six months many labels were starting up
that were set aside for just one artist and the boot industry in Japan
exploded in the mid 1990's. This was all credited to Mr. Guru's forsight
to force Japan to treat their customers with respect and produce quality
titles. In the late 1990's the Japanese industry had turned on its head
and they were pumping out trash and volume of titles for the sake of
making money so Mr. Guru cut all ties with Japan.
The band and bootlegs
reported in 1999, the British Phonographic Industry released a survey
affirming something all Led Zeppelin fans already knew - that this band
is the most bootlegged act of all time. The record-industry report suggested
there were 384 unauthorized concert and studio recordings of Led Zeppelin
in circulation (no doubt most of them were produced in Japan), although
by Page's own count, that number would be a conservative estimate. An
exclusive interview with Jimmy Page, titled "Page battles the bootleggers",
was found on "Jam!" magazine from March 4, 2000 issue. Page
recalled: "I went to Japan, when we did the (1992) four-CD box
set, to promote it", he says. "I came back with 250 (bootlegs)
the first time ... I went over there again doing press for 'Un-Leded',
and I came back with another 250 to 500. They're all different. I wasn't
just taking things off the shelves, I was taking the ones I wanted.
That includes VHS copies (of live footage), as well ... I have actually
got thousands of bootlegs, plus things that have been sent to me by
anti-piracy people, as well. I have got thousands of them with different
covers and the rest of it ... six CDs from Japan for $1,200, that's
obscene. They've got no overheads whatsoever. Then it is a total ripoff."
that interview, in later part Page said he has no problem with devoted
fans exchanging home-made concert recordings, he has little sympathy
for professional bootleggers, who he said have been brazen in their
attempts to get at his unreleased work. But he said he is opposed to
people and bootleg companies milking big money from the fans. "I've
had things stolen from my house for people to make money on and to basically
take the piss out of you. Well, I'm afraid I don't have any sympathy
for it, and I am not going to endorse it at all ... There are rehearsals
of Led Zeppelin that were stolen from my house ... It was a musical
rape, and I didn't enjoy it and I don't like it and I am not going to
was also asked by officials from the British Phonographic Industry to
visit Glasgow following a raid at the city's SECC in May 2005. It concerned
a seizure of CDs and DVDs from Mr. Langley aka Mr. Toad, a trader/bootleg
producer who had been selling goods at the centre. Page was called to
give evidence as some of the material seized included previously unreleased
performances by his band, such as concerts at Knebworth and in Japan.
What very interesting, during that trial defence lawyer Murray Macara
suggested that the rocker condoned the practice of bootlegging because
he thought it was all right for fans to swap tapes they had made of
the band's music. But the Led Zeppelin star, dressed in black trousers
and jacket with open neck white shirt, said there was a crucial difference
between making a recording for friends and selling it commercially.
"The legitimate part is where fans trade music, but once you start
packaging it up and you do not know what you are getting, you are breaking
the rules legally and morally ... There are some of these recordings
where it is just a whirring and you cannot hear the music ... If you
have something like this that appears legitimate then it is just not
rather different opinion about bootlegs comes from John Paul Jones.
During one of some interview, he explained what are his feelings about
them: "There are a lot of people out there paying a lot of cash
for sub-standard recordings. Most bootlegs sound terrible. You hear
some of these things and the sound is completely distorted, or the mix
is off and all you hear are the drums ... On the other hand, it's hard
for me to dismiss bootlegging outright. I haven't heard that many, but
they usually remind me of how tight and good the band really was. They
also serve the function of preserving history that would otherwise have
been lost completely. For example: Recently I was looking at a book
that catalogued live performances of Led Zeppelin, and I read about
a lengthy mellotron improvisation I perfomed in Nagoya, Japan, in 1972,
during our encore of Thank You. I hadn't thought about that particular
performance in years, but as soon as I read that, I remembered everything
about it. Playing a mellotron solo was a very strange thing for me to
do, and it never happened again in the band's history. It was great
to be reminded of it, and I may even look for the bootleg of it just
to see if it was as bizarre as I remember it to be. That kind of stuff
is of interest - and it's fun, too."
that point it will no mistake to say that every note the group ever
played in the studio and onstage has made it into the underground bootleg
network - either from purloined studio tapes or from recordings made
with recorders secreted into concert venues.
Tarantura old and new
of the first large bootleg CD companies was heavier luxury Tarantura
label. Tarantura was a Japanese label dedicated almost exclusively to
the production of Led Zeppelin bootleg CDs. The original Tarantura was
one of the most prolific label producing Led Zeppelin CDs, having been
responsible for over one hundred titles. Whilst Taranturas could be
bought from Japan by mail order, they were primarily sold from a shop
called Iko Iko, located in a suburb of Tokyo. Jimmy Page was a regular
visitor at the shop before it closed and would naturally be given copies
of all the titles available. It is said that he has two sets, one in
his house in London and the other in his house in the country.
in 1993, the label stopped the production in late 1997 (and a big sigh
of relief could be heard from all hard-core collectors bank managers!).
However in early 2000 production of a few, very limited releases started
up once again under the name Tarantura2000 or most simply, T2K. The
first releases on the label were "Front Row", "Tight
But Loose" and "Long Tall Sally". The label prided itself
on producing CDs from the best possible source tapes, though as has
since been proved, this has not always been the case. Production runs
tended to be in batches of 300, sometimes 500 per title. As the Japanese
home market got the vast majority of the product, usually only a few
copies ever make it abroad to foreign markets. According to Leo Ishac,
he knows of only three collectors in the world who have a complete set
of all the Taranturas released, one of whom is the person who was behind
the label and produced them, Poor Tom. His wife was called Mrs. Stout.
the source tapes and the subsequent mastering of those tapes has not
always resulted in the best end-product when it comes to CDs, generally
speaking, original Tarantura was able to master their tapes better than
other labels at the time and this has resulted in some of their releases
being easily the best versions on the market. Tarantura CDs tend to
be brighter and have a clearer sound when comparing the same concert
with another label's version.
illustrate this, here are some details from someone who is called Mr.Cool
MixMan, reputedly original Tarantura and Akashic Records' sound engineer.
All mono recordings are treated and remixed in a stereo environment
to give them a false stereo feel. Most audio engineers and recording
studios currently only output 24-bit. Cool MixMan has been mastering
at 32-bit for several years due to the higher quality digital working
environment and final audio output that is achieved. Some say 32-bit
is not possible. They are ignorant of the existing digital mastering
capabilities, the process involved and the higher audio quality that
is produced. The audio source is recorded to the computer at the above
line-input settings. Once the audio has been recorded to computer it
is then mastered within the 32-bit resolution environment.16-bit resolution
is the 'default' professional/audio compact disc setting required to
meet the International Red Book ISO Standard for compact discs. Most
compact disc players have a 16-bit resolution, and generally can only
playback audio that is 16-bit. Higher-end CD players can output audio
understanding of 8-bit ~ 32-bit resolution: The number of bits used
in measuring amplitude for an audio sample is defined as resolution.
Choosing 8-bit resolution will provide 256 unique volumes. Choosing
16-bit resolution will provide 65,536 unique volumes, for a 96 dB signal-to-noise
ratio. Thus a much greater dynamic range can be reproduced at 16-bit
resolution than at 8-bit, which only has a 48 dB signal-to-noise ratio.
Obviously working in a 32-bit resolution environment will allow for
a substantially much greater dynamic range than at even 16-bit, thus
achieving a more professional audio output. It is best to remain at
the 32-bit resolution level while mastering the audio and when the final
mix is satisfactorily completed the 32-bit audio is converted down to
16-bit for output to the audio compact disc. Though the audio on the
final CD is at 16-bit resolution to comply with the Red Book ISO Audio
CD Standard the original audio has actually been digitally engineered
at 32-bit. 32-bit resolution is the highest possible bit rate capable
in today's digital audio mastering environment.
the early days Tarantura were not averse to using noise reduction and
equalisation; however in the later years they have usually left any
recording untampered, to shine through very much as per the original
tape. Listeners will also find that Tarantura releases are generally
'louder' than other equivalent releases. This is down to better equalizing,
mastering and setting of recording volumes. They are, of course, not
perfect, and have been known to make an awful job of it from time to
time. Dedicated and fanatical collectors who want a particular release
however would not be swayed by any such arguments, the Tarantura packaging
alone being a collectable item in itself.
scores heavily with their packaging. This has varied from boxes to jewel
cases to shuffle packs, extravagant fold-outs in slip-cases and even
guitar-shaped packaging. No doubt a high proportion of the price you
pay goes towards the cost of such elaborate covers. One thing is for
sure: no other label can match Tarantura for production of the very
best quality packages.
is very easy to take the view that the prices are exaggerated in view
of the product. However they should be approached not only for the music,
but also for the packaging. When compared to Antrabata, another luxury
label, they are not that much more expensive and generally better value.
Also, most of n original Tarantura production runs are in fact limited
to the stated numbers, although certain titles have been over pressed
to meet demand. "Front Row" for example finally ended up at
1,000 copies. Some of the second issues had a yellow or another different
coloured cover to denote this.
it is easy to see which Taranturas are the most valuable and sought
after, it is far more difficult to say which one is the best all round
production for sound and packaging. It is probably a tie between the
following three titles: "The Campaign 1972", "Get Back
To L.A." and "A Week For Badge Holders", all of these
sets being works of art and are truly beautiful artefacts, (hence the
staggering prices asked for them). The 6 CD set of "Knebworth 1979"
should also be mentioned as another truly outstanding package, in a
large hardback book, complete with the poster and colour photographs
from one of the concerts.
the nicest single issue is "Bonzos Birthday Party".
This title has one of the best covers ever, either for an official or
an unofficial release, although it is based on the original Trade Mark
Of Qquality vinyl. This goes to show how inventive and clever many of
the people behind the original vinyl bootlegs were. As a Desert Island
Disc the choice would have to be "A Week For Badge HHolders",
largely for the length, and very high standard of the performances,
together with the sound quality, throughout all six concerts (and except
that they not using all of June 22nd, 1977 performance for some reasons).
four years of activity, the original Tarantura stopped their manufactury.
In 2000 they started once again, this time under a brand new name Tarantura2000,
continuing their work in the old style but some of new titles are still
not free of problems that plagued their old issues. This time their
products were strictly limited (100-300 copies per title) and packaged
in beautifully issued box sets or card sleeves, with the exception for
few only, which were released in standard jewel cases.
few cases, very occasionally, Tarantura likes to issue their products
in very limited outfits under different names. Labels such Flesh or
Nighthawk (see below) and couple of more sometimes rereleased material
known from original Tarantura titles, sometimes adding different mixing
of copied material (as does Flesh's "The Destroyer", whcih
is a straight copy of their "The Destroyers" deluxe box set
but with sound slightly degenerated heavily with equalization).
labels just copied Tarantura titles, like Memphis' releases "Front
Row" and "The Complete Geisha Tape ". European Whole
Lotta Live company issued a couple of titles, which are a straight knock-offs
copys of the original Tarantura's as does Thin Men or Nighthawk. The
affordable prices of these labels were also very attractive to those,
who didn't want to pay a small fortune for a title. At last some very
interesting Tarantura2000's spin-off labels such as Black Dog Rekords,
SharakuLed and Trade Mark Of Quality (TMQ) released few titles in a
strictly limited editions with high quality packaging.
is another luxury Japanese bootleg label started to releasing their
titles near the mid 1990's. Akashic and old Tarantura labels were from
the same stable and their packaging was a highly printed glossy gatefold
issues with sticker too. "P&C" are involved in the production.
The releases have almost always extremely high standard in the aspect
of sound quality (excluding "Going To Auckland", where the
sound was just destroyed heavily by equalization) but also claimed to
be from a completely new show or source tape (although some of titles
may be produced from much lower gen tapes than theirs previous issues).
Together with Tarantura label, Akashic products are now extremely high
expensive. After few years of absence they released some records near
the mid 2000's.
The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin
next historical Japanese label was The Diagrams of Led Zeppelin (TDOLZ).
It was probably the most prodigious bootleg label ever. Diagrams produced
a mass of titles, which many of them are still the most complete versions
of concerts. The packaging varying from a standard jewel cases and glossy
printed cardboard sleeves to a hinged boxes. Their all titles were limited
to 1,000 numbered copies per title with the exception of all their boxes,
which were limited to a few hundred numbered editions. The most remarkable
boxed issue of this label was beautifully printed hinged box titled
"Power & Glory", including six complete concerts from
the legendary June 1977 six-night-stand (a 20-page booklet and poster
were also added). In the time of its release it was more complete than
the ultra-expensive "A Week For Badgeholders". The tape for
June 23rd was now complete and there were no other limitations. Sadly,
it missed part of the original tape of June 22nd, removing "Ten
Years Gone" and replaced it by the same song from a different audience
source for famous "Eddie" show of June 21st. Beside that that
box remains probably the most ambitious project of this label. Another
of their most memorable works was issue of an excellent concert from
Madison Square Garden on February 12, 1975, titled "Can't Take
Your Evil Ways". They put their first issue of this show in 1997
and after a year, they decided to reissued it under the title "Can't
Take Your Evil Ways Un-Cut Version", making this release the definitive
version of this concert. And although equalizing on these both titles
is extremely hard to accept (higher frequencies are just blow your ears),
it remains the definitive version of an audience tape from this evening.
In November 2003, after four years after their final title, they reissued
four titles previously available as a "gold CDs" edition box
sets. The reissues were in a standard jewel cases and were containing
of the following titles: "Rock Of Ages", "The Lights
Go Down ", "Copenhagen Warm Ups", and "Hand On To
Your Heads ". Some of titles are easier to find, some not - it
depends on title's editing limitation.
Antrabata Reference Master
Reference Master was another luxury label that issued some of the finest
releases. Near the mid 1990's this business produced some nicely packaged
and often good sounding titles. Mr. Toad for that matter was once again
the man behind this famous label which is attributed to being a Japanese
label. Similar to the Silver Rarities label, Mr. Toad supplied the tapes,
artwork etc. to his Japanese contact so we would have to say this is
another UK label. Antrabata was started by Mr. Toad as direct competition
to the original Tarantura as Mr. Toad and Mr. Pb of Tarantura had a
long standing dislike for each other going back to the mid 1990's. This
on-going dispute was a waste of talent and energy for them both and
should not have been. Antrabata's many releases copied material known
from the other labels or released a sort of new sources (like five "Arabesque
& Baroque" sets including all five Earl's Court 1975 audience
releases were limited to 325 numbered copies except for "leftovers",
where the number of printed original CDs was much large than its projected
limitation. (Most - if not all - Antrabata titles were created in 1,000
limitation per title. Only 325 copies of each title were issued and
remaining 675 copies of each were expected to be destroyed. Evidently
many of "leftovers" were not destroyed. These "leftovers"
are now available in the following forms: as Antrabata label, as Theramin
Music label, and as unnamed label that published only one title, "Rock
Hour" that in fact belongs to Theramin Music.)
releases were printed as a jewel cases housed inside a highly glossy
printed slipcases with the exception of boxes. "79" was a
hinged box contained of audience sources for all four 1979 shows (both
from Copenhagen and another two from Knebworth). In opposite to this
one, theirs "The Final Statements" (including famous "Blueberry
Hill" show mix of four different audience sources, New York July
28, 1973 and "Destroyer" soundboard sources) and "Grandiloquence"
(including both audience and soundboard of Seattle July 17, 1973, New
York July 27, 1973 and Chicago July 6, 1973 soundboards) were created
as the same type of book, holding CDs in full colour glossy
envelopes. The only opening box from Antrabata to exist
is Sessions, titled in Japanese (?!) and containing 11 CDs
and a small book. Its material is essentially studio outtakes from different
periods. Now all four sets are highly seeking by the collectors.
Roll was another high quality Japanese label that produced some excellent
releases in a standard jewel cases, sometimes using gold CDs. Limited
to 1,000 copies of each title this label was another luxury gem and
tapes released by these guys were always released in a highest standards.
Covers were printed on a heavy cardstocks with a glossy finish. Their
highlight was "Listen To This Eddie Definitive Complete Edition"
of June 21, 1977 LA Forum concert. For a long time this was the most
complete version or so of this amazing performance. It uses a second
audience source making "Ten Years Gone" much more complete
and the sound is extremely superb. In 2002 they returned to the business
and issued "Knebworth Festival 1979" but there are some problems
with sound that distorted this title - similar to Tarantura2000's "Knebworth"
Last Stand Disc
label that came out from Japan was Last Stand Disc (LSD). Last Stand
Disc was once again a highly standard label that specialized in utilizing
their tapes in the highest standard. Their packaging varied from standard
jewel cases up to the hinged and beautifully issued box sets. Limitation
of their releases was often to 300 numbered copies, claimed also that
all tapes are true 24-bit mastered versions without any equalization.
Beside that this label released some outstanding versions. "Complete
Live In Japan" box set (or two boxes titled "Live In Japan
1971" and "Live In Japan 1972") were highest moments
for this company.
Quality (IQ) and Immigrant were another Japanese labels that released
many titles in the mid 1990's. Theirs packagings were standard jewel
cases. (IQ shared for all their releases the same style backround of
a film black negative.) Both companies are still very overlooked due
to the releasing many complete and good sounding tapes. Image Quality's
"A Gram Is A Gram Is A Gram" is a tremedous release of second
source for L.A. Forum March 24, 1975 show. Also their "Fourthcoming"
and "Great Taste Last Night" sets are the only two to feature
the complete audience tapes for memorable May 24 and 25, 1975 Earl's
Court shows. Immigrant's "Lyceum Preview", although it was
copied directly from the old vinyl, is still better sounding than Empress
Valley's release of the same concert. Both labels have stood the test
of time. Image Quality was always limited to 1,000 copies per title
nor Immigrant hadn't official limitation.
Cobla/Cobra Standard Series
Standard Series was a Japanese label that issued their titles in a glossy
printed cardboard sleeves that copied the original vinyl artwork. Limitation
was 1,000 per title with the exception of all CD-R titles, which were
not limited. Between mid and late 1990's this label almost always reissued
material known before from vinyl and early CD releases. Unfortunately,
the heavy equalization distorted most of their items so a big care must
be taken before buying their products. (Beside that, many titles are
still worth having due to the completeness. Furthermore, their "Lyceum"
single CD of October 12, 1969 was taken from an unedited tape and is
bit better sounding than any of the other releases of this show.) For
unknown reasons, few of titles these folks issued as a CD-Rs not original
silvers (as mentioned).
Note was a label that continued the work of Cobla/Cobra and was made
by the same persons whose were repsonsible for that label. Their all
releases were issued in a standard jewel cases and sleeves. Some of
their products are still worth having for their containing, such as
"Fallin' With Love With The Fallin' Angel", which consists
of the most complete release of soundboard tape for Bradford Janunary
18, 1973 concert. "Wild Beach Party" utilises the complete
compilation of three different sources for the legendary Long Beach
June 27, 1972 show.
Celebration Definitive Masters/Electric
and its twin label, Electric Magic were another highly issued Japanese
bootleg labels that released some fine efforts in the late 1990's. Their
packaging was usual jewel case or gatefold sleeves (some were also housed
in slipcases). Celebration was specialzied in issuing soundboard tapes
only and its twin brother, Electric Magic was specialized in utilising
audience tapes only. Some of them have the stood of time (like 12CD
"Landover" box in hinged cover issued by Electric Magic) but
many of their titles were plagued by heavy equalization as was Cobla/Cobra.
Other Japanese labels
early and late 1990's/early 2000's in Japan there were a bunch of low
budget bootleg companies that released sometimes very good releases.
Equinox's 7CD hinged box titled "Thunder Down Under" consists
of four glossy gatefold sleeves that presents all four 1972 Australian
concerts. Although today most of these tapes had been succesfully reissued
more completely, this box still remains a definitive tour-de-force of
Led Zeppelin's Australian 1972 period. Midas Touch also did a big care
with releasing their products. Mastered from the original tapes they
sounds really good and for the most cases representing the most complete
versions. Labels such as Amsterdam, Apple Music, ARMS, Artifact, Atlantic
Ocean Records, Baby Face, Balboa Productions, Black Panther, Black Swan,
Blimp, Blue Hornet, Osoz, Chad, Confusion Records, Crazy Dream,
Digger Productions, Dinopower Records, Dynamite Studio, Evermore Music,
Fire Power, Flagge, Forever Standard Music (People's Choice) (FSS),
H & Y Records (by many called a 'real' bootleg business 'cause they
released titles only in cardboard sleeves without any high printed artwork,
very similar to old vinyl albums), H-Bomb Music, Holy, Holy Grail, House
Of Elrond (what strange, these folks issued two titles as CD-Rs not
original silvers), Keep Out, Le-Mon (Scorpio spin-off label), Lemon
Song (all the releases were highly printed, glossy finished sleeves
except for "Welcome To Disneyland", which was issued in a
standard jewel case), Liver Pool, Mad Dogs (a continuation of Mud Dogs
label that released "DX I ~ X" box set, consisted of very
incomplete and not best sounding tapes), Memphis, Midas Touch (another
rather luxury label that released their efforts in highly printed glossy
sleeves and in a standard jewel cases), Missing Link, MMachine, Moonraker
Records, Mud Dogs, Neptune, Never End, Nighthawk, Ocean Recording Corporation,
Ocean Sound Studio, Off Beat Records, Patriot, Pot, Powerchord, Rag
Doll Music, Red Hot, Right Stuff, RockWrok, Rubber Dubber, SAKA, Sanctuary
(which "Overture" beautifully long digipack gatefold box is
now very rare), Savage Beast Music, Scorpio (this label's name was originally
used back in the 1990's; it's name has been used loosely since then,
but not actually committing their name in print on the titles), Shout
To The Top, Smile Records, Swansong (not a 'real' Swansong label), Symbols
(The), Tattytura (Mr. Langley aka Mr. Toad released the Tattytura label
to spite Tarantura and Mr. Pb released the "Plays Pure Bob"
title as a pun against Mr. Toad because Mr. Toad's first name is Robert
aka Bob.), Tecumseh (early incarnation of Tarantura), Thin Men, TNT
Studios, Toe, Totonka, Wyvern Legend, Zeppelin Live Archives, Zoso,
Zoso's Company and maybe few more also produced some worthwhile titles
in a more or less limitation and with or without highly cover printing
standard. (Flagge's all 1980 shows with the exception of "Sudden
Attack" were made to look like an original Tarantura products.
Tarantura's paper CD jackets were also used. Together with Equinox,
Flagge is still very worth getting due to the completeness and high
quality source standard of their products but all the collectors must
pay no less than ca. min. 30-50$ or more per Flagge's single CD.)
number of these short-lived labels may amazing potential collectors.
But in fact, establishing a silver label is not easy. Once you have
issued the title, then a strong promotion is needed. All of these labels
(minus those, who are already a spin-offs from their more well known
efforts) were only marginally recommended worldwide and, despite of
rather high quality of production and material consisted, were destinated
to be stayed unknown for general customer. Furthermore, only a small
number of them are really worth of having when compared to today standard
of producing bootlegs. Most of them just duplicated material known from
other sources and only few of them were intriguing in covering either
more complete or unreleased stuff.
Thunder Down Under - Australian
most memorable Australian label was luxury Black Cat Records that in
the early 1990's issued five different titles. Australia, which just
recently became a steady source of supply, quite likely has runs as
small as Japan. The packaging was always highly printed, glossy heavy
cardstock long triple gatefold digipack. Although none of their release
have stood the test of time, now all are very hard to find. At last,
this label still remains one of the most beautifully issued bootleg
labels that ever produced Led Zeppelin.
other Australian labels were rather low budget Banana, Blue Kangaroo
Records, Joker Productions and Turtle Records, which released a series
of compilation albums in a standard jewel cases and without any strictly
limitation except for Turtle, where two jewel cases, two long book-size
deluxe boxes and one sleeve package were produced.
person behind the 1990's Apple House/Black Cat CD labels was named Gary.
In the late 1970's thru to the early 1980's he got hold of the original
vinyl boot titles coming out of USA and other parts of the world and
he copied (pirated) the albums including the slick artwork in his new
factory in Korea. He flooded the world with his vinyl boot copies and
to this day you can still find shrink wrapped/sealed vinyl boots that
folks think are new/mint originals when in fact they are Korean copies!
Gary made a mint from his vinyl copies then went legit in the late 1980's.
He then saw the opportunity to make more money when CDs were invented
and he again copied the original boot CD titles and got back into Korea
to make his CDs in the mid 1990's. He found a legal loophole in Australian
copyright law, he then tested that law in the courts and won and he
then quickly started Apple House/Black Cat Records/Joker labels etc.
and mass produced his CD titles copying as many bootleg CD titles that
he could buy and flooded the world market with his cheap "official"
CDs. That loophole only lasted for two years then was closed but in
that time he made a mint again and went back to being legit.
said above, Gary gave the access to Mr. Guru's tapes for his label and
"Australian Tour Pt. 1 & 2" and "Poles & Sticks"
boots were made in the early 1990's. Mr. Guru didn't deal with Gary
anymore as the Gary was focused on money and not the music. Nothing
wrong with that but Mr. Guru wasn't into mass produced titles and money.
Empress Valley Supreme Disc
Valley Supreme Disc (EVSD) is a premium bootleg label out of the Far
East that came to life out of the ashes of one of the most sought after
and collectable Led Zeppelin bootleg labels of all time - an original
Tarantura. Being known for it's premium packaging as well as it's use
of the best available (at the time) source tapes, the original Tarantura
label had since it's 1993 inception issued a prolific library of product
before operations ceased in late 1997. The founder of Empress Valley
also had his hands in the original Tarantura label. He is often referred
to as P+C on some of the online sites and as Poor Tom in the Tarantura
days. Not long after the closure of Tarantura, Empress Valley quietly
came to market in 1998 with the release of an Eric Clapton set titled
"Eric Clapton's Rainbow Concert". It would be another year
though before a Led Zeppelin set would make a debut on this new label.
Empress Valley's productions, like those of the original Tarantura,
have become highly collectable presentations prized and admired for
their high quality audio content as well as the use of premium materials
in their packaging. Unlike other labels that exist only to rehash existing
concerts, Empress Valley is one of less than a handful of manufacturers
currently releasing new product. Concerts that have been published by
other labels in the past are usually treated to some form of an upgrade
by Empress Valley prior to release. This upgrade could entail any of
a number of things such an all new source tape, a combining of available
tapes to present a more complete release of a show, or possibly a re-equalization
of the existing audio. It's been Empress Valley's ability, however,
of unearthing and releasing completely new source tapes that has really
made them a hot commodity with tape traders and bootleg collectors alike.
Recent examples of upgraded shows would include "Lifetime Guarantee"
which contains the best available sound for this concert by far and
is a significant upgrade over the previously considered best version
and "Jamming With Simon Kirke!" which has had the missing
sections of the main source tape neatly filled with an alternate tape.
Some of the sets with debut source tape are "Desert Storm",
"Flying Circus", "Florida Sunshine" and "Bringing
The House Down". While their production techniques are not always
appreciated by the critics, many of their releases are regarded by collectors
as the best available.
only label that released sets that could rival the quality of Empress
Valley has been another Japanese bootleg publisher - Watchtower. While
these two labels had exchanged blows before with their back and forth
releases of the Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego 1973 shows,
the summer of 2002 saw an all out battle erupt between these two heavy
weight bootleg publishers. Almost identical releases from Salt Lake
City 1973, Earl's Court 1975 and Knebworth 1979 were released over a
short 4-month period sometimes within days of one another. As the battle
waged on, collectors were often held captive on the sidelines waiting
for the dust to settle to see which title would emerge in glory before
committing their vast sums of moneys to the winner. Hardcore buyers
actively collecting both labels were inflicted a massive hit to their
wallet in a very short time. Some were forced to jump into one camp
and abandon the other due to financial strains of buying essentially
two copies of the same show in different sleeves from the competing
labels. Watchtower even went so far as to release a free bonus disc
of material in the Salt Lake City and Knebworth sets in an attempt to
woo potential buyers away from Empress Valley. Individual victories
would be claimed on both sides but almost as quickly as it all had begun,
it came to an apparent end. Watchtower is quiet on the Zeppelin front
since the fall of 2002 releasing only a reissue of the Los Angeles June
27th, 1977, "Coherence" set and a Knebworth August 4th, 1979
DVD while Empress Valley still releasing a many new sets including some
new soundboard tapes that stunned even longtime collectors.
getting into the glory, the rarity and the collectibility that is Empress
Valley, time should be taken to address some of the common complaints
and concerns surrounding the label. The Empress Valley catalogue of
releases has been some what marred over the years by questionable and
perhaps deceptive methods by the folks behind the label. While deception
is not a new concept amongst the bootleggers, Empress Valley has explored
new territory in this area. The pros and cons of the procedures described
below are to this day debated by those in the collector community. Some
of the points that will be covered in the sections below will address
their history of stretching concerts out over more discs than are actually
needed, patching gaps in source tapes with material from completely
different concerts, and the reissuing of titles several times over with
each release in unique packaging to milk the release for every penny
possible (this is especially hard on the wallet of the hard core Empress
Valley collector that collects the not only all of the separate titles
but also the package variations) - just to name a few. While these less
than admirable marketing tactics infuriate and annoy casual and hard
core collectors alike, the combination of unusually high quality source
tapes and premium packaging keeps the collectors coming back for more
with each new release. Even their scaled back budget minded sets packaged
in jewel cases are top-notch. One could argue that at least Empress
Valley correctly dates their releases!
Valley's habit of releasing multiple versions of a show under the same
name or reissuing existing titles started almost at the label's inception.
The initial Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin releases - "Rainbow Concert"
and "Bonzo's Birthday Party" respectively, were both released
in two formats each. The Eric Clapton set would be offered in a 4CD
version and also as an ultra limited 8CD box set geared toward the hard
core collector. Led Zeppelin's "Bonzo's Birthday Party" would
eventually be released three times over as many years. The initial two
releases were put out back to back in 1999 and the last release would
be offered in 2002. The original release was a 9CD ultra rare box set,
like the 8CD Eric Clapton affair, this version was geared towards the
hard core collector market. The second issue came as a repackaged 3CD
version titled 'version drei' that contained only the third set of 3CDs
from the original 9CD box set. Finally, three years later the title
would be put out as a 2CD sound board set that carried the added title
"Definitive Version". In the "Bonzo's Birthday Party"
example, the numerous reissues can partially be justified. Not all collectors
are going to want to shell out the big bucks needed to acquire the rare,
excessive and very expensive 9CD box set. Empress Valley reissued the
third set of 3CDs from the big box as a separate set for those collectors
that balked at the cost of the large set. The collectors with deep pockets
got the excessive 9 disc set and the more casual collector could afford
the revamped 3 disc version. The 2CD "Definitive Version"
was a more complete sound board tape released long after the original
box and 3CD reissue sets were released and was a worthy reissue of this
famous show. Alot of the reissued sets can be looked at from different
perspectives. Several of the individual concerts originally issued as
part of the huge 22CD box set, "Demand Unprecedented In The History
Of Rock Music: The 1975 Earl's Court Tapes", have since been issued
in quad disc jewel cases. One way to look at this is that Empress Valley
wanted to milk these sets for every penny knowing that the hard core
collectors and Empress Valley completists will buy both the box set
and the individual releases thus adding more coin to the coffers. Another
take on this would be that Empress Valley simply released the individual
sets to allow the average collector that wouldn't (or couldn't!) spend
the money for the large and costly box set a chance to own copies of
some of these shows without having to shell out the cash for the big
box version. The argument can go both ways. A more recent example of
releasing the same show in more than one format is "Florida Sunshine".
This title was the debut of a brand new and almost complete sound board
tape. Empress Valley chose to simultaneously release the show as both
a limited edition 4CD set and also as a standard 2CD version. The packaging
for both sets was near identical but the limited 4CD set also included
the audience tape source in it's complete form. The 4CD collector set
sold out in Japan at an astonishing rate and almost instantly skyrocketed
in value while the 2CD version can easily be located for under $100.
of the complaints among the label's critics centers around the use of
filling gaps in source tapes with filler tape from a completely different
concert. Case in point is the debut of the March 1971 tapes from Ireland
- "Black Velvet" - containing the first ever live performances
of Stairway To Heaven. The folks at Empress Valley chose to fill the
gaps in the source tapes with tape from the Ipswitch concert in November
1971 causing an outcry from Led Zeppelin collectors worldwide. If there
is not an alternate source tape available from the same show to fill
in any missing sections, collectors argue that Empress should leave
the source tape intact and present it in it's original form. Why you
would feel the need to use tape from another concert (especially from
one eight months later) to fill in the blanks is unknown. Empress Valley
would repeat this procedure in several releases including "Grand
Finale" and "Newcastle Brown Ale".
all of this isn't enough, it's not quite over. The common theory among
the collectors about the unscrupulous practice of stretching shows over
more discs than are needed is that Empress Valley does this to "artificially"
inflate the issue prices of their releases thus earning the label additional
profit in return for the minor added production cost. Hypothetically,
let's say it costs Empress Valley $2 to manufacture a single disc when
done in quantities of 300. The difference in the retail price of a 3CD
set vs. a 4CD set might be much as $35 (or perhaps more - it really
varies from release to release). By simply adding a single (but completely
unnecessary) disc to a set, the issue price can now be bumped from,
say, $125 that the original 3CD set should have sold for to an inflated
price of $160 for the artificially extended 4CD set. It only cost the
label $2 in added manufacturing costs to add this extra disc but it
returned $33 in additional profit. Multiply this by 300, which is the
average production run of a premium label release, and one can see why
it benefits Empress Valley to perpetrate these kinds of tactics. Some
of the titles that employ this trickery include "Deep Striker",
"Feelin' Groovy Definitive Version", "Copenhagen Warm-Ups",
"Year Of The Dragon" and several of the sets contained (and
later reissued individually) in "Demand Unprecedented In The History
Of Rock Music: The 1975 Earl's Court Tapes" box set.
the flip side of all of the complaints, Empress Valley has somehow also
managed to release some exemplary titles. "Lifetime Guarantee"
presents the earliest known tape of a Led Zeppelin concert in the absolute
best audio to ever surface for this concert. A number of tapes never
before known to be in existence have seen the light of day through Empress
Valley. Now considered to be the ultimate Led Zeppelin sound board tape
in existence, "Flying Circus", presented a February 12th,
1975 New York show in stunning audio quality and came packaged in a
premium trifold digipack case housed in a card stock outer sleeve. Other
sets worth mentioning include the sound board tape from Orlando 1971
("Florida Sunshine") and a rare sound board recordings from
1975-1977 era ("Conspiracy Theory", "Snow Jobs",
"Bringing The House Down" and "Powhatan Confederacy").
None of these fantastic source tapes had been in circulation prior to
being released by Empress Valley, although the New York 1975 show had
been available in lesser quality in the past. Perhaps the most lavish,
over the top set produced to date would be the limited edition release
of "Demand Unprecedented In The History Of Rock Music: The 1975
Earl's Court Tapes", a 22CD set that covering all five performances
in London in 1975. This massive boxed set is packaged in a hard-shell
cube box identical in format to the official "Complete Studio Recordings"
from Atlantic. The box houses the 22CDs in six individual deluxe gatefold
paper sleeve sets worthy of being released without the box. Also included
were replica concert tickets from all five shows, a mini replica tour
booklet and a T-shirt with the Earl's Court program artwork. The source
tapes used are some of the highest quality tapes available for this
string of shows being eclipsed only slightly by the Watchtower releases
for the May 24th and May 25th shows. Not all of the jewels are massive
or exceptionally packaged sets. The Empress Valley version of the San
Diego 1973 show, "Three Days Before", contains more of the
sound board tape and is by far more complete with less tape cuts than
the Watchtower version making it the favored release by collectors.
looking at Empress Valley, or any premium label for that matter, a buyer
must take into consideration that a part of the final price that you
are asked to pay reflects the added cost of the premium packaging used
on most releases. Even titles issued in plain jewel cases still contain
high quality package materials and not simply a flimsy paper J-card.
Although not as daring in their use of packaging as Tarantura was in
their heyday, Empress Valley has issued some absolutely stunning presentations
over their career. Packaging has included hard-shell hinged boxes, hardcover
books, replica LP sized gatefold sleeves, deluxe paper sleeves, obi
strips, elaborate fold out paper sleeves, digipacks, and the standard
jewel case. Promotional "gimmick" pack ins include T-shirts,
lapel pins, replica tour programs and concert tickets to name a few.
The elaborate packaging is partially to blame for the staggering asking
prices of some of these sets and this should be taken into consideration
when premium label sets are being considered for purchase. Another selling
point used, but not advertised on any of the sets that I am aware of,
is the occasional use of gold CDs in some releases. Noteworthy sets
with stunning packaging are: "Grand Finale" (a large hardback
book with hard cardboard disc sleeves and a 17 page booklet were bound
to center), "Demand Unprecedented In The History Of Rock Music:
The 1975 Earl's Court Tapes" (came in a hard-shell cube box that
opens to reveal 6 individual deluxe paper sleeves holding 22CDs. Bonus
pack-in items included a mini replica tour booklet, replica tickets
from each concert, and a T-shirt with Earl's Court graphics), "Burn
Like A Candle" (the original release came in a large replica gatefold
LP sleeve and included a promo T-shirt with the cover art reprinted
on the front of the shirt), "Bonzo's Birthday Party" (the
9CD version came packed in a hard-shell hinged box that opens up to
reveal 3 individual trifold paper sleeves and a motion card insert affixed
to the inside of the box lid) and much more. One thing Empress Valley
can't be accused of is using cheap package materials. As noted previously,
even the Empress Valley titles packaged in plain jewel cases still ooze
class. The J-cards have been lavishly printed on heavy, expensive papers
using a variety of printing methods ranging from textured surfaces,
embossed text and graphics, high gloss finishes or even metallic like
foil processes that are rarely found on any of the other labels still
issuing Led Zeppelin sets.
slowing economy in a post September 11th, 2001 world coupled with rampant
CD-R trading by music fans worldwide had probably cut significantly
into the ability to continually market high dollar product. Late in
2002 Empress Valley started to issue the occasional "budget"
title under the "Lifetime Achievement Award" banner. The sets
released under this moniker have so far been reissues with scaled back
packaging or have been compilations of tapes that probably wouldn't
have sold well on their own merit. The "Burn Like A Candle"
2nd version is a good example of a reissue with scaled back packaging.
They discarded the first pressings large LP-sized gatefold sleeve and
promotional T-shirt and placed the set in a more reasonable normal CD
sized gatefold paper sleeve with no gimmick pack ins. Empress Valley
did bulk this set up from a 3CD release to a 4CD release with a bonus
disc containing a chunk of the sound board tape from the Long Beach
June 27th, 1972 show to tempt buyers into purchasing an additional copy
of this show. "Heavy Machinery/The Dirty Trick" is another
"Award" release. This 4CD set is comprised of two 1973 concerts
utilizing newly discovered fair/good quality audience source tapes.
These two tapes, while being previously unreleased, probably wouldn't
have sold well on their own merit as the quality of the audio wasn't
the best. Empress Valley keenly bundled these shows into one plain quad
jewel case set and slashed the normal 4CD asking price in half.
The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin or even Watchtower, Empress Valley cannot
be so easily purchased outside of Japan or even online. Each release
is usually limited to 200-300 copies (some sources state that these
are generous numbers) and the vast majority of these go to collectors
in Japan. Of the few outlets that do offer Empress Valley sets to overseas
collectors, the prices tend to fluctuate a bit from one outlet to another
on available titles. Be aware that there is not a set price based on
the number of discs contained in a set. One 3CD set might cost $125US,
another 3CD set might set you back $155, while a 4CD "Lifetime
Achievement" release might sell for as low as $75. Some of the
more elaborate packages will command more money in part to cover the
added cost of that elaborate packaging. When shopping around for the
some of the limited edition sets or titles now out of print, do so knowing
that certain releases are going to be harder to locate and generally
expensive. Be be prepared to spend some time searching for that elusive
title and once you do find it, take a deep breath and crack open the
piggy bank. The "Bonzo's Birthday Party" 9CD set mentioned
earlier is one of the more difficult to find items, commanding in excess
of $700US in mint condition. "Deep Striker", a 4CD release
that contains one of the best release to date of the final Los Angeles
concert from 1977 is incredibly difficult to obtain. Expect asking prices
to approach $850-1000 range for this set provided you can talk someone
into selling. The 4CD limited edition version of "Florida Sunshine"
sold out in Japan almost immediately and has already seen the low $700US
price range on the Japanese after market only a few weeks after it was
released. Demand for some of these sets simply exceeds the available
supply in most cases. A collector may spend months trying to track down
a single set as some titles were released in quantities as low as 200
total copies for global distribution. Some discs are impossible to locate
while others command astronomical dollar amounts well beyond the means
of the masses. Unfortunately most of the big money sets will never be
seen in their original format by most collectors. Ballpark figures were
established around known worldwide selling prices.
is a label came out from Japan that reissued a few of Empress Valley
titles in a cheap form of a standard jewel cases. It debuted in 2003
and the first four titles were simply a straight audio knock-offs of
Empress Valley releases bearing also the same names. In fact the only
information that this is a reissue not an original Empress Valley title
is "e g" printed on the discs of "Orlando Magic"
Tower from Japan started producing their releases in early 2000's as
a set up in competition to Empress Valley and was run by the same people
as Scorpio. It's the only true rival to Empress Valley in putting upgrating
releases. In 2003 both labels each released the same concert in opposition
to each other. In some cases, Watch Tower's version was more enjoyable
and great sounding than Empress Valley's, as on the last two Ear's Court
May 1975 nights. "To Be A Rock And Not To Roll" and "Conquistador"
are still definitive versions of these memorable performances. Also
their "Welcome To The 1979 Knebworth Festival" was a big improvement
over Empress Valley after as Watch Tower decided to fill the gaps in
soundboard by an audience sources to making these concerts more complete.
Sadly, some of their releases are married by heavy digital mastering
and some "clicks" and "pops" can be heard. Overall,
this is another luxury label that brought many interesting discoveries.
Now it's seems to be that label is out of business.
Another Japanese labels
the early 2000's couple more Japanese bootleg companies started to producing
their items with the music of Led Zeppelin. Cannonball Records issued
in 2004 two Zeppelin titles: "MSG" and "Hampton 1971"
and only their second title is an improvement. Amusingly named Cashmere
label also issued some very good titles in the mid 2000's and sometimes
still adding another new. Live Remains and Masterport adding few new
titles to the Zeppelin bootleg collection too, rereleasing material
known from the older releases but with a high sound quality standard.
opposite to these labels, the Magnificent Disc started releasing their
products as CD-Rs and then started to producing original CDs in premium
prices. In a market only producing premium priced titles such as Empress
Valley or Tarantura2000, news of non-premium label going all the collectors
many. However, the label has proved to be a total waste. Their efforts
were always been plagued by the metallic background sound and often
these folks just rereleased shows that have been presented before twice
times or more.
was another new Japanese label that released another good sounding titles,
which almost always reissued material known from the earlier releases
but - in the opposite to the Magnificent Disc - some of albums released
by this business are still a big improvement in the collector's market
(as Long Beach March 11 and 12, 1975 shows available on "Taking
No Prisoners Tonight" and "California Sunshine" triple
CD packages, where both of audience sources were spliced together to
make these concerts much more complete). Metallic sound is present only
on their first title", V1/2 Extravaganza".
other low budget Japanese labels involved into production the music
of Led Zeppelin around this period were (or still are) as follows: Beat
& Beat, Black Dog Rekords (Tarantura2000 spin-off label), Boleskine
House Records (Tarantura2000 spin-off label), Boogie Mama, Budgie, Bumble
Bee, Flesh (Tarantura2000 spin-off label; this could be an upgrated
version to that label but their reissue of 6CD "Destroyer"
deluxe package is one of the worst bootleg products ever - the heavy
equalization plagued both April 1977 tapes available there, making these
concerts almost impossible to easier listening), Further Along, Graf
Zeppelin, Grand Lodge, Mandala Records, Nasty Music (Scorpio spin-off
label), Neverland, Original Master Series, Pirate Records, Power Archives,
Reel Masters (as reported, the label's name implies the music is sourced
directly from the masters but it may or may not be true.), Scorpio (still
producing - this label's name was originally used back in the 1990's;
it's name has been used loosely since then, but not actually committing
their name in print on the titles), SharakuLed (Tarantura2000's spin-off
label), Sodd Singer's Original, Sugar Mama, Trade Mark Of Quality (TMQ
- Tarantura2000's spin-off label), Wardour, White Summer, and Wild Card.
(very rarely) other countries are involving into producing Led Zeppelin
music too, as ephemerad Noise Generation and Starbone Records low budget
labels from Canada that released in the early 2000's only two titles,
"A Cellarful Of Noise", copied all what is available on any
of old vinyl bootlegs for Osaka September 29, 1971 show and "Vienna
1970", a two source mix known from other releases of this show.
Red Devil - although many reported to be from Japan - is another rather
ephemerad outfit from the Far East. "Stroke In Stoke" and
"Robert's Last Stand" have no mention of label credit other
than the familiar "P&C" (as on premium Japanese labels
such as Empress Valley) and both have the same artwork theme. CDs are
professionally labeled. The rest of titles credit Red Devil as the manufacturer.
"P&C" is not mentioned. They also share the same artwork
theme as the above mentioned two titles. SRS Records from Spain rereleased
Watch Tower's "Conquistadir" deluxe set. Whoopy Cat issued
twice the same title, "Plays Pure Blues", copied famous Texas
Int. Pop Festival August 31, 1969 soundboard tape.
next rather low budget labels involved or still involving into production
of Led Zeppelin's unauthorized music includes a bunch of unlabelled
titles plus Alternative Edge, Fundamental Rock Records, Hard Rock Classic
Records, The Home(r) Entertainment Newtork, Kiss The Stone, Monument
Records, Planet and Tuff Bites from Europe.
Records is another Japanese label started to putting their releases
into the market in 2003. The releases of this label are in a standard
jewel cases, some are also housed in obi. As for the sound the main
problem is "metallic" background noise presenting on their
early releases. As Watch Tower or Empress Valley Supreme Disc, Wendy
utilizes many released before shows and completing them adding some
never before released fragments or filled gaps by using another sources.
Most of their titles are not any improvements because they ripped off
material known from different sources. Wendy also has its spin-off label,
Flower that debut with the Yardbirds New York March 30th, 1968 show.
An Italian label,
founded in ca. mid-2000s, is focusing on multiple artists, and extensively
releasing Led Zeppelin tapes in quite excellent fashion. Sometimes critized
of heavy editing/equalization, in fact some of Godfather titles are
huge upgrades to many older releases and their luxury produced boxes
are warmly welcomed by many collectors, making this label as a potentially
true rival to exclusive Empress Valley and Tarantura products.
Started as just
another Italian-based record label, soon it was known widely as one
of premium European labels specilizing in releasing many unreleased
or upgraded sources, including Led Zeppelin. Their first new titles
are just reissues of material known from earlier titles (Paris 1969
FM broadcast, New Orleans 1973, Dallas 1969 etc.); however, from 2010
label had changes its profile and started issuing their products with
either previously unreleased material or much upgraded versions of tapes,
issuing their products in single gatefold gatefold sleeves or large
hinged open boxes. Godfather's version of full run of California 1972
dates, titled eponymeously "Welcome Back: How The West Was Won
Tapes Revisited (Complete Californian Summer 1972 Diaries)", still
remains as definitive collection for all three shows the band did between
June 22nd and 27th in the Bay Area. "Ascension In The Wane: The
January 1973 Soundboards" is another example of their hard-dedicated
work, collecting all available board tapes from group's peak era in
a really stunning quality and design. "Studio Magik (Sessions 1968-1980)",
as title reflects, contains literally everything that has surfaced so
far from studio vaults, presenting each session in chronological order
and adding some unique material (such as officially released "Lucifer
Rising" soundtrack and outtakes, previsouly available only on limited
LP via Jimmy Page's official site). Their latest large set, "Throwing
The Wild Seeds (Nassau Coliseum 1975 Complete Tapes)" has two superb
sounding soundboard recordings recorded in February 13th and 14th, 1972
in New York. Originally released by Empress Valley and plagued by many
technical issues (such as unnecessary heavy brickwalling), both tapes
are fully restored and completed by using alternate audience sources
to provide most complete version for each of shows included in box.
The Chronicles Of Led Zeppelin
is the newest output from Japan. Established in June of 2008, The Chronicles
Of Led Zeppelin is well-designed as an original successor to the now
legendary The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin label and is set to release many
uncirculated sources from the Led Zeppelin live catalogue. From what
is reported, the main intention of this newest effort is to release
all the tapes without any heavy equalization or editing. The label is
planning a big series of albums sourced directly from the masters dedicated
to the collectors that are looking for unaltered and straight copies
of low gen tapes. It seems that TCOLZ is interesting to be a true rival
to Empress Valley Supreme Disc and Tarantura. The main intention of
TCOLZ is to start at the point where TDOLZ have stopped releasing their
albums and indeed, TDOLZ's first two releases, "How Many More Years
Gone With The Wind" and "Long Drive To Seattle" seem
to proved that theory because both covered shows that were not released
anywhere else on silvers. (In fact, their second title contains the
entire alternate audience source of Seattle March 21st, 1975 show that
was previously used by H-Bomb Music on "No Quarter" set to
complete the encores.) The artwork is very simple and relating to the
old vinyl albums, where the band's name and album's title were stamped
on the jacket. Their few latest titles are well welcomed by the collectors
and always covered something yet unreleased, such as their massive six-disc
set "We're Playing Our Balls Out", where the complete, second
audience source for Los Angeles March 27th, 1972 mammouth show was presented
altogether with famous Millard tape or "One Night Stand In Paris",
where, for the first time, pre-FM source of Paris October 10th, 1969
was issued. For the first time in the history, after two years of activity,
because of rather poor sale and lack of good promotion outside of Japan,
the label disappeared, issuing "Final Winterland" (consisting
of all available sources for November 6th and 7th, 1969 appearances)
as their last title in early Spring 2010.
A brave new standard: DVD
the mid of 1990's couple of bootleg companies started to releasing their
efforts in totally new way, copied many old 8 and 16mm cameras as well
as pro shots (which most of them were available only on home-made VHS
releases with the exception of Holy Grail and Celebration companies)
to DVD, making a brand new standard. Labels such Akashic, Bad Wizard
(Scorpio spin-off label), Boogie Mama, Cashmere, Celebration Definitive
Masters, Cosmic Energy (which started as DVD-R/VCD-R outfit that published
their 1969-1980 catalogue of various amateur and pro shots), Dadgad
Prod. (another DVD-R label), Digital Line, Empress Valley Supreme Disc,
Eye Thank You, Genuine Bastard, Hercules, Holy Grail, Kanji Flying Dragon,
New Depression Music, Room 101, Seymour Vision, Silent Sea Productions,
Sugar Mama, Tarantura2000, Toasted Condor (very possible this is not
a legendary Toasted/Condor label continuator), Watch Tower, Way Of Wizard,
Wendy Records and others done fantastic job in utilizing these important
moments of Led Zeppelin history. And although a couple of shots are
still not available in DVD format, most of circulating video material
is now available in truly upgrating versions. Totally new stuff is also
discovered (August 4, 1979 Knebworth full video).
last an extremely interesting Genuine Masters label taking us to an
extremely new standard of DVD-Audio releases (they also producing DVDs).
The label isn't a Japanese product but totally created in Australia
by Mr. Guru aka Mr. BlackDog. Each of his discs are digital masters
not clones off master plates. Each title will only be released if uses
the original analogue source so he can ensure his disc title hasn't
been butchered by other peoples EQ tampering.
The main profit
of a DVD format is the length. The maximum length of each CD was 80
minutes. This time we have for the first time a great opportunity to
listen to the whole concert without unnecessary disc changes during
playing. But not only the Length is the main value. Since all the CDs
are 44.1kHz, the DVD format offers much more - 48kHz, the spectrum that
was previously attributed to DAT tapes only. With this, today is the
highest quality audio format. Genuine Masters label always uses the
best possible ways to find audience or soundboard sources and compiling
them with an excellent visual work (as stated above). The sound is always
the best and the overall results are always incredible. All titles issued
by this label are a great improvements.
Home-made CD-R/DVD-R albums
early 1990's few less or more professional amateur bootleg companies
that produced CD-R albums were available on the underground market.
Cyanine Records, Dadgad Productions, Disc Exploitation, Gusto Productions,
Royal Record Productions, Small Fish, Winston Remasters, and Zeppelin
Digital - all released or still releasing a bunch of rather nice titles,
sometimes using alternate low gen tapes to source released earlier on
professional CD bootleg labels. Some - as Disc Exploitation's "The
Garden Tapes" (whcih features New York July 29, 1973 complete audience
tape) contains material only partially released today on CD.
first truly professional CD-R/DVD-R label is Beelzebub Records, established
near the mid 2000's, that issuing many excellent sounding titles, all
with professional equalization and highly printed artwork. Beelzebub
sometimes debuts with completely new and undiscovered source (as on
September 4, 1970's "Good Times In L.A.", where a complete
tape was used and later reissued only by premium Empress Valley and
Tarantura2000 labels). Beelzebub's 9CD-R set titled "A Rock 'N'
Roll Institution" - together with fan-made CD-R tape transfers
- still remains only complete recording of all three nights at Madison
Square Garden July 1973, where all available audience and soundboard
tapes were used to provided the most complete versions of these legendary
performances. The other home-made labels that should be mentioned are
Dadgad Prod., Small Fish and Winston Remasters. All are released many
very interesting reissues of material previously known from silver pressed
boots but in a much higher quality. Their productions such as Winston
Remasters' own version of Los Angeles June 21st, 1977 famous "Eddie"
show is considered as one of the best if not the best version of this
concert available so far.
Music and Vintage Masters are another professional CD-R labels that
run out of Japan. They are primarily a CD-R labels but they sometimes
release silvers as on Vintage Masters Premium. Vintage Masters was responsible
for the old Highland, Gypsy Eye and Heartbreakers labels from years
ago but find it more lucrative to produce CD-Rs.
all, what more we could ask for? Probably for undiscovered tapes that
are sometimes published by Empress Valley or The Chronicles Of Led Zeppelin.
Hope that Genuine Masters will get back and remain the leader of publishing
the best quality products. But there's one more thing we would want
for sure: many companies should realized that it is the music, not the
package, that is the most important thing for any fan.