A Garden Tapes special feature
by Eddie Edwards
The Garden Tapes » Led Zeppelin DVD
The original Garden Tapes study of The Song Remains The Same was not something that I consciously set out to create. It came together gradually over more than two decades, beginning in 1976 when I first heard the album and saw the film and spotted, like many fans, that there were differences in the musical content.
During the remainder of the '70s I listened to the album countless times and went to see the film frequently at the cinema, becoming increasingly curious about the differences. I know I'm not the only fan to have bootlegged the film soundtrack (purely for my own use, naturally!) by taking a cassette recorder into a movie theatre, partly to obtain recordings of the songs that were not featured on the album but also, I confess, so that I could pay some more attention to those pesky differences. At some point in the mid-'80s I picked up a horrible pirate video at a record fair and then, eventually, the film was officially released on VHS. Pinpointing the differences between the film and the album was becoming a much easier task.
Then came the bootlegs! Audience and soundboard recordings of all three nights began to make their way into my collection. With reference to these, I realised, it should be possible to figure out exactly which parts of the concerts had been used in the official releases. I began to make a few notes, but still only in a very informal fashion.
It was the internet that spurred me into finishing the project in 1997. Barely a week would go by without a post to one of the Zep mailing lists or newsgroups asking which night some song or other was from, followed up with any number of well-meaning but usually vague or inaccurate replies. It became clear that I was not the only one fascinated by this subject.
The reason I'm telling you all this is so that you understand the spirit in which The Garden Tapes was compiled and written. From beginning to end, the purpose was simply to satisfy the curiosity that continually nagged at me over many years. I can't make the same claim about Led Zeppelin DVD and that is why I have to admit to having had reservations about setting out to pick it apart almost as soon as I got my hands on it, but I can say with all honesty that the motivation was the same as before. I wanted to know where the cuts and edits were purely because I was interested, not because I wanted to make any kind of point about it. I just got round to figuring it out a little more quickly this time!
So, enough of the attempted justification and down to business. As with The Song Remains The Same, I'm concerned primarily with identifying the sources of the music. The visuals don't always match the audio but, apart from an occasional comment in passing, this is outside my scope.
It's a great relief to note that not only the pitch but the genuine correct running speed has been preserved for all material, regardless of its original source, on both the NTSC and PAL versions of DVD. This is no straightforward task and involves compromising the video quality to some degree but for a music DVD it's hugely important. This means that timings are virtually the same on both formats of DVD although they do drift out by a few seconds in some places. Where necessary I've given separate time references for NTSC and PAL but if only one time is quoted then it applies to both formats.
Beginning, then, at the beginning...
Royal Albert Hall 1970
Madison Square Garden 1973
Earls Court 1975
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