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4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive "Official Bootleg", 11 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Glimpses 1963-68 (Audio CD)
And, now a more thorough review of this box. The set is packaged in an attractive 7" x 7" box, which contains 5 CD's(in cardboard sleeves similar to those used for CD singles), plus a full colour 7" x 7" booklet with liner notes by compiler Greg Russo & music journalist Mark Paytress. Also included is a clear envelope with miniature reproductions of several concert posters or adverts, and(with the initial production run) a 7" vinyl single(though the two selections are not exclusive. They are also included in CD 1).

The recordings are mostly from radio & T.V. performances. The sound quality limitations for some of the T.V. performances are in the original sources, but the sound quality limitations for many of the radio performances is because the broadcasters didn't save the recordings, and they now exist only as off the air tapings. None of these off-air recordings sound worse than existing bootleg CD releases, and, in many instances, low-fi as they are, they are slightly better than what fans already had.

One thing I am baffled by, is why the box set proclaims "Stereo" on the outer box & the five individual CD sleeves. All but 3 of the tracks are in mono sound.

Disc One opens with a genuine find: an alternate version of "Honey In Your Hips", recorded at the Mike Vernon-produced sessions that included "Baby What's Wrong". This take of "Honey In Your Hips" predates the Giorgio Gomelsky production. "Baby What's Wrong" follows, sounding better than previous releases. Too bad that a digital mastering fault lops off part of the first guitar note. The same fault appears when "Baby What's Wrong" appears on the bonus vinyl single. A Mike Vernon edit of Giorgio Gomelsky's first production of "I Wish You Would" follows, also with part of the opening guitar note lopped off(and this fault also appears on the bonus vinyl single). Next is the unreleased studio version of "You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover", another great addition to our Yardbirds collection.(it comes from the same session that produced the rare first versions of "A Certain Girl" & "I Wish You Would" which are available on the box "The Yardbirds Story"...which I compiled!). Next, you get the entirety of the 7-song live CD "Live Blueswailing, July 1964", though it's now been discovered that it was actually recorded in August. It's now revealed that the abrupt ending on "Someone to Love Me" wasn't a recording fault, but rather the group's performance broke down. A re-edited version of the song(to simulate a complete take) appears later on this disc. Immediately after this show, singer Keith Relf's health faltered, and a series of replacement singers were used while Relf recovered from a punctured lung. A 7-song set with singer Mick O'Neill follows, and it's a very low fidelity off-air taping with fades outs at the end of each song. Still, I'm happy to have the recording, which is slightly better quality than what I had previously. O'Neill sings in Relf's style, a bit lower pitched than Relf.

Disc Two opens with six Jeff Beck-era selections from the BBC archives, sounding quite good. these include a previously unheard alternate BBC version of "You're a Better Man Than I", and a previously unavailable complete BBC version of "Smokestack Lightning". The BBC has only an edited version of "Smokestack Lightning", but the missing section(a harmonica solo) has been reinserted from an off-air recording. This CD also has nine previously(officially) unreleased UK radio performances from off-air tapings. While certainly BBC recordings, it is unclear whether these broadcasts were from the BBC in London, or from regional affiliates. They are not described as BBC recordings, possibly for legal reasons. The off-air recordings are complete, and with acceptable sound(similar to the off-air tracks included in The Beatles BBC set). The disc is filled out with performances(of varying sound quality) from American & Dutch T.V.(the shows are not identified), plus 2 tracks from an unidentified Nov. 1965 UK show, and three August 1965 tracks from the "Fifth National Jazz & Blues Festival" in Richmond, England.
The disc closes with an advert for an American Toothpaste company, and this track sounds fine.

Disc Three opens with the regular studio versions of "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago", "Psychodaisies" & "Stroll On", still in mono sound. As a bonus tag, "Stroll On" adds an excerpt of the group miming to it(with added sound effects) in the movie "Blow-Up". The "Great Shakes" advert follows, sounding fine. Versions of "I Wish You Would" and "I'm a Man" from an unidentified American T.V. show follow, then June 1966 performances of "Train Kept A-Rollin", "Over Under Sideways Down" & "Shapes of Things" from Music Hall de France. As fans know, several tracks on the mono edition of the group's "Roger The Engineer" album had longer intros or endings. For this set, new re-edits of "He's Always There", "I Can't Make Your Way" & "Turn Into Earth" have been prepared, which splice the longer mono intros or endings onto the stereo versions. They aren't really remixes(as claimed), because it is unlikely that the original 4-track tapes exist. Versions of "I'm a Man", "For Your Love" & "Heart Full of Soul" from an unidentified American T.V. show follow. Then you get a version of "I Wish You Would" from the Paliais De Sports in Paris. The group's 2-song performance("Paff...Bum" & "Questa Volta") from the 1966 San Remo Song Festival are next, and they are some of the worst sounding tracks in the box, but at least(unlike bootleg releases) the speed is steady . "Train Kept A-Rollin" & "Shapes of Things" from the 1966 NME Poll Winners concert follow. 8 more UK radio broadcast tracks(from an unidentified station) follow, and these are off-air tapings, though the sound on the last three ("Spoonful" "Bottle Up and Go" & the Keith Relf solo track "All The Pretty Little Horses") is fairly poor.

Disc Four gets into the 4-piece Jimmy Page line-up, opening with the 4-song 1967 performance from Germany's "Beat Beat Beat" T.V. show. The sound is fine. An already released 8-song Swedish Radio concert is next, and the sound quality for this performance is also fine. Live recordings of "Train Kept A-Rollin'", "Dazed and Confused" & "Goodnight Sweet Josephine" recorded March 1967 in France follow next. They are likely soundtracks from a T.V. performance. The sound effects-only from the song "Glimpses" is also included and the disc is rounded out with a brief Jimmy Page interview from a U.S. Army radio program, a rough mix of "Think About It" & a version of "Dazed and Confused" from an unidentified UK venue January 1968.

Disc Five is a collection of 26 BBC studio recordings, mostly full-fidelity, except tracks 24,25 & 26 which are off-air tapings. Of the three off-air tapings, "White Summer" & "Dazed and Confused" were already heard on EMI's 1-CD expanded edition of "Little Games", and final off-air track is an alternate BBC version of "Think About It" which is new to my extensive Yardbirds collection. "The Sun is Shining" features a rare lead vocal from non-singer Jeff Beck. The version in the BBC archives is an edit which omits one verse where Jeff sang particularly badly. The missing verse has been reinserted from an off-air taping.

By the way, the "ring mark" on the rear of the box(and on the rear of the individual disc sleeves) is an intentional artistic effect intended to simulate the appearance of a worn single sleeve. The pressing on the bonus vinyl single is excellent, and it features a small spindle hole(as UK 7" singles of that era did). The digital mastering fault which lops off part of the opening note on "Baby What's Wrong" and the early R.G. Jones demo version of "I Wish You Would" (both on CD One & the vinyl single) is unfortunate, but luckily "Baby What's Wrong" and the full unedited R.G. Jones demo of "I Wish You Would" are available elsewhere with their intros intact.

The Easy Action label generally did the best they could to enhance the quality. It's unlikely that there are any better sounding sources for the worst sounding tracks. But I do wish that the booklet had listed the names & dates of all the T.V. programmes that the U.S.A., Holland & France performances are taken from.That info is probably omitted for legal reasons. Whether Easy Action could have obtained better sources by contacting(and seeking permission) from those broadcasters is the one question mark that hangs over this set.

Still, the set is very comprehensive, and there's almost no overlap with either of The Yardbirds box sets that I compiled("Train Kept A-Rollin':The Complete Giorgio Gomelsky Productions" & "The Yardbirds Story By Giorgio Gomelsky")

This is for hardcore fans. Be ready for the fact that half of the songs have sound quality equivalent to a fair to middling bootleg.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Dec 2011 00:21:10 GMT
Paul '66 says:
Thanks, Philip, for your insigtful, informative review. I ordered this set based on your information. The only drag here is the omission of the (now MIA) Cumular Limit tracks. Oh well, such is the fate of the Yardbirds fan.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Dec 2011 00:32:58 GMT
The ownership of the 1968 CBS/New York tracks may never be resolved. For the tracks that featured original Yardbirds-owned compositions, the group may be able to claim defacto ownership. Otherwise, it's an issue of whether Sony Music(which posesses the tapes) owns the recordings, or whether the group's contract with RAK Productions was still in effect at the time of the sessions, in which case EMI would own the recordings. As for the one song from the 1968 sessions not included in the "Cumular Limit" 2-CD set, "Knowing That I'm Losing You", there is the issue of how the songwriting would be credited. It is an early version of the song "Tangerine",later recorded by Led Zeppelin, but with different lyrics. Jimmy Page stopped the release of "Knowing That I'm Losing You", out of concern that Jim McCarty, Chris Dreja & the estate of Keith Relf might insist that Led Zeppelin's song publisher revise the songwriting credit for "Tangerine" to include McCarty,Relf & Dreja.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jan 2012 08:19:39 GMT
Ben Koerner says:
"Jimmy Page stopped the release of "Knowing That I'm Losing You", out of concern that Jim McCarty, Chris Dreja & the estate of Keith Relf might insist that Led Zeppelin's song publisher revise the songwriting credit for "Tangerine" to include McCarty,Relf & Dreja."

And doesn't that say everything you need to know about Jimmy Page!

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jan 2012 21:08:22 GMT
And Page's lawyers have been going around threatening websites that offer downloads of permanently unreleased Led Zeppelin concert recordings.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Feb 2014 03:01:54 GMT
taiaha says:
An interesting boxset, and a good review. I was very disappointed to see that Tony 'Top" Topham, the band's first lead guitarist did not even get a mention in the booklet ...
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