Since the start of 2021, a quiet revolution has been taking place inside the forums and chatrooms that serve as online hangouts for Led Zeppelin fans.
A passionate group of collectors has released a blizzard of previously unheard audio recordings, video footage and photographs, putting Led Zeppelin’s limited official fiftieth anniversary releases to shame.
This group, which shares its name with its Discord chatroom “The Dogs of Doom,” has released many recordings of interest to fans, including the only known recording of Led Zeppelin’s July 5, 1969 performance at the Atlanta International Pop Festival and the first recorded live performance of “Bring It On Home” from November 7, 1969 in San Francisco.
Logging into the group’s server on Discord reveals a rollicking, fast-moving conversation filled with in-jokes and memes of Led Zeppelin band members.
The tone may be light-hearted, but the handful of members of the Dogs of Doom group that has worked tirelessly on these releases speak reverentially about their work.
“We’re all huge Zeppelin fans, and I think to a degree we’re all a bit frustrated with the band’s lack of output in the wake of their fiftieth anniversary,” says the group member known as “Z” who also publishes synchronised Led Zeppelin footage online under the username “LedZepFilm”.
“The goal is quite simple – to reach out to as many tapers, photographers, and filmers as possible – new and existing – to release as much material out to the Led Zeppelin community as possible,” he continues.
“We’ve been fortunate to have a decent backlog of material to sustain the liberation series over the past few months, but I can’t guarantee a new release every week – it will remain an ongoing series as we find more material.”
The group’s releases, which they have called their “liberation series,” have made up for a lack of official live releases from Led Zeppelin.
The band last released previously unheard live material in 2016 when an expanded edition of The Complete BBC Sessions included eight unreleased tracks.
The 2018 re-release of the 1972 live recording How The West Was Won even removed material that was present on its original release in 2003. Jimmy Page told Mojo Magazine at the time of the album’s re-release that he decided not to add unreleased songs because he didn’t want to “mess with the album.”
Fans had hoped for more official live material to be released as part of the 2018 celebrations for the fiftieth anniversary of Led Zeppelin’s formation.
Comments made by Page promising “all manner of surprises coming out” spurred fan interest, but the anniversary resulted in official material that was limited to a 7” vinyl single featuring two alternate mixes of studio tracks, an official coffee table book and a $749 Led Zeppelin snowboard.
The relentless pace of Dogs of Doom releases, with new tapes emerging almost weekly at one point, has been the most significant event in years for many Led Zeppelin fans who have been starved for new content.
The February release of the Atlanta Pop tape was a landmark moment for the group. It was the first show from Led Zeppelin’s 1969 US tour to emerge since a tape of the August 8, 1969 San Bernardino show was released in 1994.
“I actually stumbled across this tape while looking for leads in the Dallas area,” says June72, another member of the group. “I found someone who mentioned attending and taping the Texas Pop festival, and while discussing [that] further [he] revealed he had attended the Atlanta Pop festival earlier that summer, and had taped acts there including Led Zeppelin.”
“The taper only took about a week to share his tapes with us, and the very next day after receiving them we released the Led Zeppelin recording. The only condition we had from the taper regarding the release of his recordings was that we don’t share his name, to which we obliged given how generous he was in sharing what he had.”
“This was the tape that had officially launched the liberation series, an idea which we had been mulling around since we had released a few unheard audio recordings and 8mm in 2020.”
As well as the Atlanta Pop tape and the November 7, 1969 tape, The Dogs of Doom have also released a recording of Led Zeppelin’s January 18, 1975 show in Bloomington, a new audience source of the band’s February 27, 1972 Sydney show and previously unseen photographs of the band’s June 22, 1977 Los Angeles performance.
The group has also dabbled in video releases, including a “Badgeholder Blues” 1977 compilation.
Led Zeppelin fans are likely to be familiar with LedZepFilm’s video edits of footage released through their YouTube channel. These brief clips are impressively synchronised to live recordings.
“It all comes down to an immense knowledge of the band, their stage show, and my many years of musical experience,” LedZepFilm says.
“After a while you start to see patterns in their light shows (especially in later years), stage movements, instrumentation, outfits, etc and that contributes immensely to the process of syncing up all these films. I was quite the amateur back in the day – when the Bath 1970 8mm footage dropped, that was a total butcher – but I got better, and I’m very happy with where I stand with my work now.”
The “liberation series” has, in a handful of months, accomplished what Japanese bootleg labels such as Empress Valley have taken years to purchase, master and release in the country’s grey market of live recordings.
Sure enough, Empress Valley has been keeping a close eye on the activities of the group. The Dogs of Doom released the recording of Led Zeppelin’s 1969 Atlanta Pop Festival performance on February 6. Empress Valley had produced its own CD copies of the recording by February 12, with copies for sale in Japanese record shops by February 19.
“The first time I was bootlegged, I took offense to it,” LedZepFilm says. “It was a Royal Albert Hall video project that I created, and when I saw that a Japanese bootleg label was making money off it, I felt discouraged.”
“That was in 2014, but now I really could not care what the labels do. I’ve accepted that no matter what anyone puts out, there’s going to be someone that’s prone to bootlegging it. The intent of our group is to get these materials shared freely, and what’s done with that is frankly out of our control.”
The Dogs of Doom group has become a new source of previously unheard Led Zeppelin recordings. Previously, fans had to rely on the slow pace of official releases, the semi-annual release of Japanese bootleg albums or rare incidents of fans stumbling upon their old recordings and releasing them online themselves.
Now, this group of fans has professionalised that last source. Instead of leaving things to chance – tapers uncovering films in their attics or garden sheds, for example – members of The Dogs of Doom scour the internet and other places for signs of unreleased Led Zeppelin material in the hope of being able to eventually liberate it for others to enjoy.
“A lot of these people do not realize the value of what they have,” LedZepFilm says, “that’s why gems like Atlanta Pop and the Cleveland 1977 8mm film took people like us to get out, and generally the tapers are very happy to see their work getting such a warm reception.”
Lloyd Godman filmed part of Led Zeppelin’s February 25, 1972 performance in Auckland, New Zealand. He published some screenshots of the footage online and was contacted by a member of The Dogs of Doom about the stills, he told RNZ.
“He said, ‘Look, if this is from a film, we’ve tracked down a copy of the soundtrack of that concert’. And he said ‘Can we have a go at syncing it?'”
Sure enough, the group released the synced footage online on February 24.
The exact methods used by the group are closely held, with members unwilling to discuss exactly how they have managed to track down and release potentially valuable recordings.
“It would be a lie to say that we do not have a lot of amazing things we’re working on in the pipeline,” LedZepFilm says.
“Whether if we’ll see everything released or not, I would say no – unfortunately, between tapes being lost (we’ve found leads on long lost tapes for Portland 1970, Philadelphia 1970, Syracuse 1971, and more), hoarded (Perth 1972, Greensboro 1977, 8mm footage at the Pontiac Silverdome), and inactive leads, it’s hard to say that absolutely everything will make its way out. That’s not to say we’ll keep trying, though!”
“I couldn’t be happier with the response from fans from what we’re doing,” he adds. “They’re the reason we’re doing this, and it’s about time there’s a constant flow of new materials rather than it ending up in the hands of hoarders.”
The Dogs of Doom group is keen to hear from any Led Zeppelin fans who might have leads on uncirculated recordings of the band. They don’t seek payment for releasing material and they return original tapes back to their source.
“If you have any Led Zeppelin recordings, photographs, or footage that you have taken – whether it circulates or not, as upgrades are welcome – please send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org,” LedZepFilm says.