who wants an outstanding playing copy of this classic album then…?
Very nice copy of “Octopus”/”Golden Hair” for sale on eBay if anyone’s interested…!
I’ve now had the opportunity to listen to the whole of Led Zeppelin III test pressing. I can see why Jimmy Page rejected it! As well as the treble dropping out of “Immigrant Song”, the same problem occurs part way through “Since I’ve Been Loving You”. Also, the whole LP (both sides) has a different EQ balance to the final master that was approved, A5/B5. Obviously, with this test pressing being A3/B3, Page was also not happy with the next version either! I can imagine his frustration at having to reject A4/B4 too…
As previously mentioned, the only known test pressings of Led Zeppelin III (2401002) were A2/B2 versions, no other known copy of A3/B3 has ever been documented as being sold on the open market (nor A1/B1 and A4/B4).
Just how many copies of A3/B3 were pressed? Given that Jimmy Page had the final approval on the band’s sound, maybe just one copy was pressed for his personal approval…so perhaps this was the only copy and was once owned (albeit briefly) by Page himself. Perhaps he then returned it to the Polydor pressing plant in disgust! My guess is that in subsequent years, someone at Polydor had a ‘clearout’ of white label test pressings and simply gave a batch away without knowing or caring what they were…we’ll probably never know. But I bet you’ll never find another one of these…
Yes it’s a white label test pressing. I have been incredibly fortunate today to listen to this amazing rarity. This is an A3/B3 test pressing of Led Zeppelin III – no other copy of this version has so far been documented. Two A2/B2 test pressings have been sold (one in 1987 and one in 2014) but no A1/B1, A4/B4 and until now, no ‘third’ test pressing copies.
Jimmy Page rejected the first four test pressings of Led Zeppelin III for various reasons and was only happy with the fifth test – which he then personally ‘signed off’ by hand etching the matrix in the dead wax with the famous Aleister Crowley quotes.
It’s speculation of course, but obviously only a handful of the first test pressings are likely to have been done (presumably given to the band members and probably a record company copy), but with the A1/B1 being rejected and subsequent A2, A3, A4 pressings it is entirely probable that only one or two (at the most) copies of the A3 and A4 tests were done; given to Page for approval (he was producer and band leader after all, and therefore had the final say on what his recordings should sound like), rejected by Page as not good enough and either returned to the pressing plant or simply kept by Page.
Why was A3/B3 rejected? Very simply, the opening track, “Immigrant Song” has some real sound issues, namely the treble seems to ‘drop out’ in a few places and there also seems to be some weird stereo phasing going on. Research of the A2/B2 pressings reveals that the same issue was occurring on that pressing too, so Jimmy Page must have been annoyed and disappointed that the problem had not been rectified on this third version – and maybe, speculating again, it was still occurring on the fourth version?
I will be playing the test pressing again in full to analyse track by track if any other audible differences are present and will report back in due course.
For now, the full details of the test pressing are these:
vinyl weight: 139g (compared to my ‘first pressing’ A5/B5 which weighs 149g)
matrix: machine stamped 2401002 A▽3 1 1 1
and 2401002 B▽3 1 1 1 (compared to hand etched A5/B5 of the commercial release)
Initial playback reveals the audio errors as described above but also the test pressing is a much louder cut than the commercial release. Full track by track analysis to follow.
And if anyone is interested in acquiring this super rare Led Zeppelin test pressing, the owner is looking to sell it! Watch this space for more exciting news on when this LP will be going on sale…
Amazon have pulled their finger out and my latest book on Harvest UK Vinyl Discography is now live, you can order it here:
Don’t forget, it’s in full colour throughout (as you can see from the pictures above), and includes tons of great background info on the bands and the recordings as well as vital 1st pressing information – and it’s 230+ pages too!
Just waiting on Amazon to pull their finger out and list the paperback version of my latest book, but for those who can’t wait (or who’d rather have the digital version), the PDF format (contains all the exact same content as the print version) is available to download here: