Monday, September 30, 2019

Led Zeppelin - 2018 - The Overture: The 1972 Japanese tour

Led Zeppelin
2018
The Overture: The 1972 Japanese tour




Over the past few years Empress Valley have released some really nice box sets focusing on specific runs of concerts that are important milestones in Led Zeppelin’s concert history, Thunder Down Under – The Complete 1972 Australian And New Zealand Recordings, The Garden Tapes – The Song Remains The Same Concerts, and Earl’s Court – The Final Option. For their newest effort they chose to focus on Led Zeppelin’s second trip to Japan, a short tour consisting of six concerts that took place in the fall of 1972. After the success of the first Japanese tour in September 1971, plans were made for a return visit with Led Zeppelin again playing multiple nights in Tokyo and Osaka plus one date in each Nagoya and Kyoto. Compared to the previous year, the concerts were rather low key and subdued. The set list would go through changes as they were developing new pacing and dynamics of the concerts. They had been playing the same basic format for the past two years and this new sequence would feature Rock And Roll as the new opener, Dazed and Confused as the showcase number and Stairway To Heaven as the culmination of the set. The songs from the forthcoming, as of yet untitled, fifth record would be a major part of the set and Whole Lotta Love with its rich rock and roll Medley would retains its spot as encore. The tour did garner much attention from the tapers, multiple audience sourced documents/recordings exist for all six of the concerts, Led Zeppelin’s live prowess had quickly become legend.

This tour has also gotten much attention in the collectors markets with all six concerts being released multiple times and the premium labels have put together some very nice box sets documenting the entire tour. In 1992 the original Tarantura label released a deluxe 14 disc collection entitled The Campaign 1972, the set boasted front cover art based upon the famous “The Effect is Shattering” Houses of the Holy Advertisement featuring a powerful blast to the head and individual CD sleeves featuring traditional Japanese artwork with a Zeppelin somewhere in the scene. A wonderful set that continues to draw hefty prices. The last complete collection of this material dates back to 1999 when Last Stand Disc released Live In Japan 1972, a 12 disc box set featuring upgraded sound compared to the Tarantura but with less extravagant packaging, a hinged box with the “The Effect is Shattering” Houses of the Holy Advertisement featuring the head between two train car couplers and CDs housed in plain sleeves. Empress Valley has never presented this material in a collected form until now, in June 2018 the label released Complete Live In Japan 1972, a 12 disc set featuring the best recordings from each of the concerts with gaps filled by the next best source. The box has the same dimensions for the Ally Pally and History Lesson and several other sets, it comes in two different editions, The Campaign features “The Effect is Shattering” gun blast art on the cover, The Overture features “The Effect is Shattering” train couplers art, both have a slight holographic shimmer to them. Both versions have the same content, the CD’s are housed in three full cover sleeves (two concert per sleeve) featuring a live shot from the tour, looks like the Budokan October 3 concert. There are four stage pictures in a small envelope from the same concert, a fold open flyer with traditional Japanese art work that is quite beautiful and lastly let’s not forget the OBI. The packaging is beautiful, simple and effective.



Led Zeppelin
October 2, 1972
Budokan Hall
Tokyo

01. Introduction
02. Rock and Roll
03. Over the Hills and Far Away
04. Black Dog
05. Misty Mountain Hop
06. Since I've Been Loving You
07. Dancing Days
08. Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp
09. The Song Remains the Same
10. The Rain Song
11. Dazed and Confused
12. Stairway to Heaven
13. Whole Lotta Love
14. Crowd Anticipation
15. Heartbreaker
16. Crowd Anticipation
17. Immigrant Song
18. Communication Breakdown
19. Outroduction

The first night of the tour finds Led Zeppelin playing to a capacity audience at the world famous Nippon Budokan in Tokyo. There are eight known audience recordings in varying degrees of quality and completeness, Empress Valley uses the best recording as a basis for this concert. The recording has been released many times previous, early vinyl titles like Live At Budokan 72 (New OG 1149-50A-B), Live In Tokyo 10/2/72 (Toasted 1901 A-D), and Live In Tokyo Oct 2-3 1972 Budokan Big Hall (LLX 1233-4-5-6). On compact disc we have titles like No Use Greco (Tarantura GRECO 1), Dancing Days (Aphrodite Studio AS 91LZ002-3), Eastern Front (Great Dane 9226A/B), The Campaign (Tarantura 1972-5-1-12), Live In Japan 1972 (Last Stand Disc LSD 65/78), Presentation 1972 (Patriot 002-1/2), The Overture (Sanctuary TMOS-97201 A/B), Led Zeppelin Is My Brother (Empress Valley EVSD 319/320), and Budokan 1972 1st Night (No Label).

The recording is a near perfect, excellent audience recording, the taper was close to the stage and captured a clear, detailed and very enjoyable capture. The concert is virtually complete, there are a few cuts in the tape but none during the music, those few gaps are filled with other sources making as complete overview of the concert as possible. I pulled out my old go to version of the concert, EV’s Led Zeppelin Is My Brother, this new version is just a bit clearer and brighter. It does not sound like manipulation rather a better transfer, the very slight amount of tape hiss is still present as well. The second disc is also longer as the label has patched the missing parts of audience cheering, the transitions are very smooth and well handled.

The concert itself is merely a “nice starter”, the set list has had a near complete makeover, Rock and Roll is a natural opener and is played stand alone style yet hard to replace the Immigrant Song > Heartbreaker salvo from the previous year. This song would be the opener for the next couple years, not until the American tour in 1973 and the Rock And Roll> Celebration Day> Black Dog sequence would it be most effective. Starting their concerts with a killer one two punch has been a tradition since their earliest performances.

After being played very sporadically, Misty Mountain Hop finally gets a full time slot in the set, linked with Since I’ve Been Loving You, albeit with a pregnant pause, this would soon develop into a moment of high drama with Page playing a show stopping flurry of leads, here it is just good. The band have added even more previews from the fifth record, The Song Remains The Same and Rain Song get their inaugural performances, fully realized and very effective, Robert refers to it as Zepp on this night. This concert also marks the first time the Mellotron was used by John Paul Jones, the tape replay machine was used to allow Jones the ability to mimic the string arraignments during The Rain Song, the first version of the song is superb, the heavy section is very dynamic and quite impressive.

The Whole Lotta Love medley is a typical concert high point, Elvis numbers are always fun for the audience (and myself also, big Elvis fan), they play a great version of My Baby Left Me, Page rips some of his most tasty leads of the night during the song. Like the 1971 tour, the band digs out some very old numbers as well, Plant forces a bit of Killing Floor, aka the Lemon Song and after the group gets it together they manage an impressive version. The crowd awakens for the encores, Heartbreaker is well received and after a long period of clambering for more, the group returns with Immigrant Song and Communication Breakdown to end the concert proper, Jimmy hits the Wah pedal during Communication Breakdown and elicits a loud cheer from the audience, and me!



Led Zeppelin
October 3, 1972
Budokan Hall
Tokyo

01. Introduction
02. Rock and Roll
03. Black Dog
04. Over the Hills and Far Away
05. Misty Mountain Hop
06. Since I've Been Loving You
07. Dancing Days
08. Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp
09. The Song Remains the Same
10. The Rain Song
11. Dazed and Confused
12. Stairway to Heaven
13. Whole Lotta Love
14. Crowd Anticipation
15. Immigrant Song
16. Crowd Anticipation
17. The Ocean
18. Outroduction

The second night at Budokan is another somewhat tentative concert by the band and follows a similar pattern to the previous evening, that of the performance building and by the time of the encores, the old building has been really heated up. A staggering nine separate recordings exist from this concert, again in varying degrees of completeness and quality. For this version EV uses “source 3” as its foundation, this recording has been released on a few compact disc titles, 2nd Night In A Judo Arena 1972 (Tarantura T2CD-6-1,2), The Campaign (Tarantura 1972-5-1-12), Live In Japan 1972 (Last Stand Disc LSD 65/78), and Tokyo 1972 2nd Night (No Label), the label uses source 4 to fill gaps due to it being sonically similar and a bit of two other sources as well. The recordings are very good, again clear and detailed with the main source being a bit bass heavy that gives low end rumble but it has a very powerful sound because of it, it seems to accent Bonzo’s drumming, The Hammer of the Gods. The upper frequencies offer some crisp detail and all instruments and vocals are cleanly defined, both recordings are a bit more distant so the overall feeling is much more ambient than the previous evening, the audience sounds more animated.

For those who are familiar with the older Tarantura and LSD titles will find the sound much improved, the older circulating copies sounded like they had some sonic manipulation done to them, this version sound like a more direct, non tampered with version of the tape. I was somewhat surprised with this as EV had released the concert as part of their “Rock Explosion” series using the near excellent source 6, after several listens of both sources I find both compliment each other nicely and surprisingly I prefer this version of the concert, by the time the band are playing Since I’ve Been Loving You I was hooked by the sounds, sometimes the best sound is not always the best listening experience.

For the second night in Tokyo, the band moves Black Dog to second spot after Rock And Roll, yet both are not connected but makes for a stronger opening. Black Dog would retain second spot for the remainder of the tour. Other than some brief tuning, the band waste little time with chatter and seem content to just hammer the set out. Page is harassed by his acoustic guitar prior to Bron-YR-Aur Stomp, he can’t seem to get it in tune and Plant fills in the gap by asking “just one moment Gentlemen and Honorable Ladies, and Geisha’s”. Gone are the long acoustic sets of previous tours, the singular acoustic number is a perfect excuse for a hoedown, the audience clap along and enjoy the looseness of the song.

The Song Remains The Same is called The Overture at this concert, this version reminds me of the studio version, Plant’s vocals have the soft high sound to them, like a warm summer day. The Mellotron is clearly heard in this version, it sounds like Jones has to cohere then a bit at the beginning, once they get going it adds the needed orchestral vibe. Dazed and Confused is missing from source 3 so we get a nice chance to hear and enjoy source 4 for Dazed And Confused. It sounds like the taper was in a similar position to source 3 but this version does not have much bottom end and favors upper frequencies but is very clear and detailed. There is just a bit of audience noise making for a nice ambient recording, Plant’s vocals are in the forefront so we get to hear all his scat vocalizations. You can hear a couple source changes sporadically, just a few seconds, the splices are perfectly done and if not for the timbre change, you would not know it. The playing in Dazed finds the band shaking off a bit more of the cobwebs, Jimmy plays some great leads during the fast section after the bow solo and the rhythm section of Jones and Bonham are their typically perfect for this era.

Whole Lotta Love continues to change and evolve, Plant teases Elvis’ Blue Suede Shoes just before they launch into it eliciting cheers and laughs from the audience. Everybody Needs Somebody To Love now has lyrics and continues to evolve, by the next year it will become a powerful force during the European tour. The band continues the Elvis tribute with Let’s Have A Party and get into a killer bit of You Shook Me, as with the previous night, Page uses these songs to just soar by playing almost lyrical and quite fluent lead guitar. The encore cheer is interesting, someone close to the taper has what sounds like a cowbell they consistently beat on until the band returns and someone else has a clown horn that alternates with the bell, sounds like a crazy circus cheer. Immigrant Song is an encore mainstay, the song was very popular in Japan although it sounds a bit out of place when not coupled with Heartbreaker, old habits die hard I guess. The Ocean makes its one and only appearance in Japan as the final encore, amazingly you can clearly hear John Bonham counting in “One…two…three” yet sadly no “We’ve done four already” bit, again the temperature is raised by Whole Lotta Love and the encores!


Led Zeppelin 
October 4, 1972 
Festival Hall 
Osaka 

01. Introduction
02. Rock and Roll
03. Black Dog
04. Over the Hills and Far Away
05. Misty Mountain Hop
06. Since I've Been Loving You
07. Dancing Days
08. Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp
09. The Song Remains the Same
10. The Rain Song
11. Dazed and Confused
12. Stairway to Heaven
13. Whole Lotta Love
14. Crowd Anticipation
15. Heartbreaker
16. Immigrant Song
17. Outroduction

The first night in Osaka and the band seems to be more relaxed, perhaps the jet lag was behind them and they have adapted to their surroundings so to say. There are three known recordings from this date, all falling into the good to very good range. EV uses a mix of all three recordings using the second and best source as a basis, it is clear and detailed and supposedly been taped in the 5th row. Previous editions of this material can be found on such compact disc titles as Osaka Tapes: Raw Tapes (Amsterdam AMS 9610-2-1/2), Connextion (Amsterdam AMS 9612-2-1/2), The Second Daze (Mud Dogs 011/012), The Campaign (Tarantura 1972-5-1-12), Live In Japan 1972 (Last Stand Disc LSD 65/78), Moral Reader (Wendy WECD 94/95), and most recently Osaka 1972 1st Night (No Label). I have the recent No Label that uses source 3 as its foundation and this version is easily its equal.

The band hit the stage and get to it, very little chatting from Robert, in fact he introduces Over The Hills And Far Away while Jimmy is playing the beginning, after getting into some tasty leads during Black Dog, Page seems to have hit a bit of a stumbling block during Over The Hills, always on the edge…but effective! The transition from Misty Mountain Hop to Since I’ve Been Loving You is spot on, Jimmy was ready and nails it, in fact this is one of the best versions of the song from this tour, Page is in no hurry and he plays some nice quiet notes, not pushing at all, only adding to the drama. Plant does not seem to be pushing his voice, he sounds good just keeping it simple and not going to the high sustained notes, not having to battle the loud instrumental machinery (Nice Luis Rey Reference) he sounds joyous on Bron-YR-Aur Stomp.

Dazed and Confused is superb on this night. Page plays an embryonic passage that will soon evolve into San Francisco, even in this early stage it has an eerie sound with Plant’s moaning scat in the background. The post bow solo has Page seemingly improvising several themes trying to connect them all without loosing coherence, easy for him to do with the steady rhythm section of Jones and Bonham laying the foundation. Very enjoyable version of Dazed, made even more enjoyable by the great recording.

Other than the orchestra needed for The Rain Song, the Mellotron is also used for the flute like beginning of Stairway To Heaven, giving the piece a pastoral feel. Again Whole Lotta Love steals the show, Bonham kills it during the jam right before Everybody Needs Somebody To Love unleashing a thunderous barrage letting the band know he means business. The medley feature some more Elvis standards, it is documented that the band caught one of The King’s concerts at Madison Square Gardens prior to the stop in Buffalo in June and must have been an inspiring experience. Heartbreaker makes its second, and last, appearance in the first encore spot followed by the now obligatory Immigrant Song ending a superb, and vastly underrated concert.



Led Zeppelin
October 5, 1972
Kokaido
Nagoya

01. Introduction
02. Rock and Roll
03. Black Dog
04. Misty Mountain Hop
05. Since I've Been Loving You
06. Dancing Days
07. Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp
08. The Song Remains the Same
09. The Rain Song
10. Dazed and Confused
11. Stairway to Heaven
12. Whole Lotta Love
13. Crowd Anticipation
14. Mellotron Solo
15. Thank You
16. Outroduction

Fourth concert of the tour has the Zeppelin boys playing their only live concert in the city of Nagoya, while the rust has been shaken off the band seem in a hurry, after this concert they have a three day mini vacation. There are two known recordings from this concert, both incomplete but when edited right we can hear the full concert. This title uses source 2 as its foundation with source 1 filling a few gaps in the main set and for the encore. The Campaign (Tarantura 1972-5-1-12), Live In Japan 1972 (Last Stand Disc LSD 65/78), Live In Nagoya (Smile TOE 001), The Geisha Boys (Akashic AKA-9), Rock N’ Roll Springtime (Image Quality IQ-053/054), Dragon (Flagge), Sakura Looking Up! Great Discovery (Jelly Roll 10/11), High Noon (Wendy WECD 56/57), and Rock Explosion ’72 Live at Nogoya Kokaido (Empress Valley EVSD691/692) are all compact disc titles featuring this material.

Source 2 is a good to very good recording, it is a clear and fairly detailed document, the lower frequencies are a bit muddy but it captures the atmosphere perfectly. Source 1 is merely a fair more distant recording. For this version EV uses a similar mix as their Rock Explosion title with significantly upgraded sound. The hiss is greatly reduced, the volume is a bit louder and the sound is significantly clearer, it is not the mastering but a far better generation tape used, we can now enjoy this concert in best quality to this point, in fact this is the one recording that really surprised me, happily I might add.

The audience sound excited to see the band. As soon as they start Rock And Roll, they quiet right down. The sound quality improves and by the time the band plow into Black Dog it is clear and enjoyable. Page gives the solo a great workout and the audience duly rewards him with a nice ovation at its conclusion. The is the only concert on the tour not to feature Over The Hills And Far Away that usually follows Black Dog, yet Roberts opening remarks he states “Very nice for English boys to be in Nagoya…here is song off fourth LP…it’s called Misty Mountain Hop”. Page’s guitar seems to drown out Jones’ organ a bit giving the song a heavier sound that is really great, again he plays a great transition solo into Since I’ve Been Loving You that instantly changes the mood, he seems to toy a bit with the audience before playing the main guitar lead and the whole effect is like hearing the band in some subterranean small and smoky blues club.

Page has to do a bit of tuning prior to Dancing Days, they sound as if they are playing to an empty hall, the Japanese audience is extremely quiet as they listen to the song for the first time. “Too many Geisha’s spoil the broth…Here is song with John Bonham singing” is Robert’s chatter prior to Bron-YR-Aur Stomp. The recording is so clean you can almost make out the onstage chatter as they set up chairs at the front of the stage. It immediately gets the crowd involved as they clap perfectly in time with the song making for a very enjoyable version of the song. The Song Remains The Same is called The Overture on this night and sounds a bit tentative.

Dazed and Confused is again a show stopper, an audience member laughs with joy upon hearing the beginning bass line, Page is in no hurry to get things going and again seems to toy with the audience and sounds like he even throws Robert a bit out of time. The real journey begins once they begin section 3 and the instrumental wizardry weaves its magic on us. The song features an instrumental version of The Crunge and at 19:20 Page begins to play a bit of As Long As I Have You, pure nostalgia for sure. Stairway is very well received and they get a nice ovation as Robert begins singing, Jones’ Mellotron drowns out the guitar during the first few minutes.

The place gets hopping with another brilliant Whole Lotta Love and the audience begins to get loose. The Theramin section gives way to a great Everybody Needs Somebody To Love and the medley of oldies is great. Robert works the crowd up before Let That Boy Boogie and has a blues “conversation” with them, the bass seems to overpower everything but the vocals, Page lets it rip for his solo that is extremely fluent. As usual the band gets into a bit of Elvis with Let’s Have A Party and another ‘69 flashback with You Shook Me to round out the medley section in superb fashion. The encore is unique, the only version of Thank You from the Japanese 72 tour, Jones does his organ solo as a prelude and includes the traditional folk song Sakura Sakura (Cherry Blossom Cherry Blossom) that is very well received by the audience, a fantastic ending to a well played, very laid back concert by the band.


Led Zeppelin
October 9, 1972
Festival Hall
Osaka

01. Introduction
02. Rock and Roll
03. Black Dog
04. Over the Hills and Far Away
05. Misty Mountain Hop
06. Since I've Been Loving You
07. Dancing Days
08. The Song Remains the Same
09. The Rain Song
10. Dazed and Confused
11. Stairway to Heaven
12. Moby Dick
13. Whole Lotta Love
14. Crowd Anticipation
15. Stand By Me
16. Immigrant Song
17. Outroduction

After three days of rest, the band is back in the familiar city of Osaka for the best concert of the tour. The playing is sharp and inspired, so much that John Bonham even revives his Moby Dick solo…the vibes are real! There are four know recordings from this concert in varying degrees of completeness and for the most part they all have passable sound. For this set EV uses Source 2 commonly referred to as the H-Bomb source along with filler from sources 1 and 3. The taper was positioned in the fifth row and was able to get a great recording, albeit slightly unbalanced, he must have been in front of Jimmy’s amp as the guitar is slightly in the forefront, the rest of the band can be clearly heard and is really a nice document. There have been several recordings using this source dating back to vinyl on titles like Live (No label / matrix#), My Brain Hurts (Idle Mind IMP 1115A-B) and its reissues by Jester and renamed as Dedicated To John Henry Bonham. The concert has seen steady distribution on compact disc as Let Me Get Back To 1972 (H-Bomb HBM95R01/2/3), Tapes From The Darkside (H-Bomb HBM9301-3), Live In Japan 1972 (Last Stand Disc LSD 65/78), most releases of this concert use mixes of several sources as does this new version, The Campaign (Tarantura 1972-5-1-12), My Brain Hurts (Tarantura TCD-16-1/2), Moby Dick (Bolkskine House BHRCD-10), and Stand By Me (Wendy WECD 50/51).

Digging deep was needed to access this version, I needed to dig up an old version of the H-Bomb title Let Me Get Back To 1972 (many thanks to WGPSEC). This new version is a significant upgrade and is sourced from a very low generation of the tape. The old H-Bomb source was rather dull and had some noticeable tape hiss and had speed problems, the section around Everybody Needs Somebody To Love was very evident on the H-Bomb source, this new version does not have this or any speed issues. The sound is louder, cleaner, greatly reduced hiss and one can instantly notice is not heavy handed mastering but a much better version of the tape. I’ve been listening at a loud volume and it delivers a strong enjoyable sound. It seems the band really enjoyed playing in Osaka, the previous year provided two of the best concerts of all 1971 and while the playing thus far has been solid, the second night in Osaka is really special, the band delivers on all fronts.

The concert hits the note from the first song, although it seems there is some equipment adjustments needed as after Rock And Roll Robert talks of a problem and judging by the vocal levels, guessing a PA issue, Black Dog is the answer, then the best version of Over The Hills And Far Away follows, Plant’s voice has warmed up and the instrumental machinery is warmed and running like a precision machine, Page flies during his solo. Plant manages to get an introduction in for Misty Mountain Hop due to some tuning by Page, he talks of getting busted, something that can’t be talked about in England or America. Dancing Days is consistent with the other shows on this tour, the song has been a solid part of the set throughout. Bron-YR-Aur Stomp has been, sadly, dropped from the set, perhaps they knew Bonzo wanted to do a drum solo. Robert talks of being in Hong Kong over the previous days and then introduces The Song Remains The Same as “The Campaign”. Like the other tunes from the forthcoming fifth record, both The Campaign and The Rain Song have been very strong, although Page’s guitar is a bit out of tune prior to the solo that renders this version a bit flat, The Rain Song is superb though.

Dazed And Confused is excellent, the best version of the song from this tour. The beginning has that mysterious quality to it, Bonham is amazing, he does a couple short fast fills, pauses then hits the gong to great effect. The quiet section before the bow solo has Page working with San Francisco, this bit of improvisation inspires Robert who starts singing lines from Neil Young’s Down By The River, the audience gives them a nice round of applause for their efforts. During the slapping with the bow, Page seems to be in some unspoken dialog with the audience, the short section has a very intimate feeling. The audience seems to hang on every note and sound emanating from Page’s guitar, the Grand Sorcerer of the Magic Guitar in complete command. The fast section is good as well, as with the other shows from this tour Page plays a bit of The Crunge and seems to be working out new places to go making for an interesting, and well received version clocking in at close to 30 minutes.

Plant does a bit of hoedown improvisation prior to Stairway To Heaven, the intimate setting of the 2,700 seat Festival Hall sounds like a gathering of friends for those short few seconds. I love the Stairway’s from 72, they play it with confidence and it’s not yet a burden, Plant hits the highs as well, his voice has recovered sufficiently. Robert introduces “Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight we have an added pleasure John Samurai Bonham” in a moment of sheer hilarity, until you hear the drum solo. He plays with precision and the 16 minute solo is fast and intense and by far one of the more enjoyable Mody Dick’s I’ve heard. Whole Lotta Love is again a show highlight, it’s nice to hear it without the speed issues. Page gets into some cool riffs, he plays a couple notes of The Stones’ Satisfaction, Etta James’ Somethings Got A Hold On Me, Robert conjures up his Elvis roots again with Milk Cow Blues, Heartbreak Hotel, and Wear Your Ring Around My Neck and the medley ends with a superb Goin’ Down Slow, Page going from slow to incredibley fast and detailed leads that tease the audience to their delight, the last few seconds are sadly cut. The encores are interesting, first the band play a stand alone version of Ben E King’s hit Stand By Me that has Robert introducing Bonzo who does add backing vocals here and there, such are the happy feelings shared by group and audience. The song meanders along for 6 minutes and while an interesting oddity, never really hit me like Blueberry Hill. With just a minute to catch ones breath they plow into Immigrant Song full force and it’s a spectacular ending to a really great concert.



Led Zeppelin
October 10, 1972
Kyoto Kaikan
Kyoto

01. Introduction
02. Rock and Roll
03. Black Dog
04. Misty Mountain Hop
05. Since I've Been Loving You
06. The Song Remains the Same
07. The Rain Song
08. Dazed and Confused
09. Stairway to Heaven
10. Over the Hills and Far Away
11. Whole Lotta Love
12. Crowd Anticipation
13. Immigrant Song
14. Outroduction

The final concert in Japan is a quick one, the band further cut the set down, Dancing Days is the latest casualty. While being the shortest of the six concerts the playing is really good and quite inspired, the band hammers the gig out in record time like they have a train to catch. There are three known sources for the Kyoto gig, the first is rather poor sounding and used on very early titles like The Campaign (Tarantura 1972-5-1-12), the second main source and third filler source are much better and have been used on the following titles, Live In Japan 1972 (Last Stand Disc LSD 65/78), The Last Night In Japan (The Diagrams of Led Zeppelin TDOLZ 078), Mirage (Flagge), Live In Kyoto (Empress Valley EVSD 693/694), The Old Capital (Wendy WECD 66/67), and Evil Spirits in Kyoto (Tarantura TCD 170-172).

The sound quality of the main source 2 is overall very good and noisy, the vocals and guitar are in the forefront, the bass and drums are audible just not as clear and they are just a bit thin and raw sounding. Compared to Live In Kyoto its hiss is louder but it’s clearer, brighter and sounds more natural, you can hear the noise reduction on the older EV title and for me, not a huge upgrade but a more natural sounding one although not as significant as the Nagoya and second Osaka shows. “Nice to be in honorable Kyoto” is Roberts intro, albeit a bit prematurely as even Bonzo starts his drum intro to Rock And Roll then stops till the others are ready.

Misty Mountain Hop is introduced as being about “Japanese grass”, again the smaller venue has an intimate sound and feel to the concert, this is highlighted during a killer Since I’ve Been Loving You. Jones’ organ is clear in the mix, an essential element as it helps lay the blues foundation and Page lays down a passionate solo coupled with Robert’s moaning is perfection. The Campaign is played quite fast and the version of The Rain Song is just wonderful. When I look back at each of the six concerts, The Rain Song has been a highlight each of the times it was played. Dazed and Confused clocks in at just over 18 minutes, a compact version but still retains its intensity, perhaps a bit more. No “San Francisco” or Crunge workouts but the bow solo was great and the fast section was, well fast. In a bit of hilarity, after the song ends Plant says “If the man who’s sleeping in the front row will you please stand up”…who could sleep after that?

Another curiosity of the set is that Over The Hills And Far Away is played after Stairway To Heaven, Robert introduces it as “honorable track of fifth LP” while pointing out someone taking pictures. Whole Lotta Love has many a highlights, Freddie King’s Hideaway, Elvis’ That’s All Right Mama, and a rare version Brenda Lee’s Lets Jump The Broomstick along with the usual boogies. The sole encore is Immigrant Song, and like the previous night in Osaka, contains a bit of the old Yardbirds nostalgia You’re A Better Man Than I.

Final thoughts, Empress Valley have nailed this set. They present each concert using the best tapes for each and filling gaps with the next best one making for a very pleasurable listening experience. What I like about this set is that there is no unnecessary filler found on previous box sets, I do not need poor sources mixed with better sources done in redundancy and they gave us the best of the best. Speaking of sound quality, the label has done a great job by using low generation tapes and not tweaking the hell out of them, we get nice, natural sounding recordings. There are several upgrades in this set, Nagoya, and the second night in Osaka have been significantly upgraded, the other four are easily on par, and if anything a bit better than what has been released before. The mastering of the sources and edits are smooth and well done. The packaging is simple yet effective, while some expect more from a premium label like Empress Valley, we do get some cool extras and by keeping it simple it can be offered at an attractive price. Great box set and well worth seeking out.


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Saturday, June 15, 2019

Led Zeppelin - 1975-03-24 - The Forum, Inglewood, CA (Soundboard)

Led Zeppelin
March 24, 1975
The Forum
Los Angeles, CA


The Night Stalker / EVSD
Soundboard

01. Rock And Roll
02. Sick Again
03. In My Time Of Dying
04. The Song Remains The Same
05. The Rain Song
06. Trampled Under Foot
07. Stairway To Heaven
08. Whole Lotta Love
09. Black Dog

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Led Zeppelin - 1977-05-22 - Fort Worth, TX (Texas Hurricane / EVSD)

Led Zeppelin
May 22, 1977
Tarrant County Convention Centre
Fort Worth, TX 



Texas Hurricane
EVSD 737-739


101. The Song Remains The Same (6:33)
102. The Rover / Sick Again (7:06)
103. Nobody's Fault But Mine (7:33)
104. In My Time Of Dying (13:42)
105. Since I've Been Loving You (9:05)
106. No Quarter (21:47)

201. Ten Years Gone (12:05)
202. The Battle Of Evermore (6:44)
203. Going To California (5:49)
204. Black Country Woman (1:42)
205. Bron-Y-Aur Stomp  (1:17)
206. White Summer / Black Mountain Side (5:30)
207. Kashmir (10:34)

301. Out On The Tiles  / Moby Dick (27:27)
302. Guitar Solo (10:56)
303. Achilles Last Stand (10:40)
304. Stairway To Heaven (12:38)
305. Whole Lotta Love (1:23)
306. Rock And Roll (5:44)
307. It'll Be Me (4:32) (with Mick Ralphs)



Led Zeppelin’s concert at the Tarrant County Convention Center during their North American tour in 1977 has circulated with three distinct audience sources. The earliest CD versions, Polished Performance 1977 (Pot), Song Of The South (Capricorn), and Unbooted (Tarantura) were all incomplete, coming from a single source and contained only about an hour from the end of the show. It’ll Be Zep (Silver Rarities), Complete Tarrant Concert (Wendy) and Jamming With Mick Ralphs (Empress Valley) all use mixes of the three audience sources to present the longest possible version of the show.
Zeppelin collectors have been truly blessed with the plethora of soundboards that have been slowly leaked over the last decade and we can now add Fort Worth 1977 to the fold. This is another excellent soundboard with a fairly even mix between the instruments similar to the other boards from 1977. The recording has a heavy feel in the low end (good for Jones and Bonham) and Page’s guitar sounds a little crunchier/fuzzier than normal.

Led Zeppelin was a little over a month and a half into their tour and “The Song Remains The Same” sounds very tight. Sometimes Zeppelin needed a couple of tracks to warm up before hitting full stride but tonight they get into it quickly. Plant addresses the audience after “Sick Again” and the band rolls into the first track from the new album, “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”. The start of “In My Time Of Dying” is stopped and has to be started again due to Jimmy’s guitar cutting out. This is a great version with the simple exception of a near train wreck during the coda. Page starts playing a few bars behind the rhythm section and it is rather hilarious at how long they go on before finally reconnecting. “Since I’ve Been Loving You” redeems with some nice “light and shade” moments and they all turn in some fine English blues. “No Quarter” is typically excellent with great interplay between the musicians and during John Paul Jones’ lengthy piano solo they break into a loose version of “Nutrocker” which keeps up the excitement. Page has some magical moments in his solos.

Disc two starts off with Jones on his triple neck acoustic. We are now able to hear the complete “Ten Years Gone” and “The Battle Of Evermore” which were sadly missing from the audience sources all these years. Jimmy’s execution of the main solo in “Ten Years Gone” is very nice.

The 1977 tour featured a long four song acoustic set and Plant offers a “cross-section of the acoustic stuff that we’ve done…trying to break the name of heavy metal” as he puts it. He talks of the border struggles in English history before “The Battle Of Evermore” adding “and I believe you Texans had a bit of trouble with that too”. He describes “Going To California” as more American than English and throws in “it must have been a Yellow Rose” in reference to the “flowers in her hair”. “Black Country Woman” runs non-stop with “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp” which is unfortunately cut after only 1:17 and in return misses the first minute and a half of “White Summer” as well. “Kashmir” storms across the stage and is interesting as Bonzo throws in a couple extra fills in a few spots even though the Mellotron sounds slightly out of tune in places.

During Plant’s extended introduction of John Bonham, Page perfectly plays the opening lick to the “Heartbreaker” solo and clearly rouses the audience before the “Out On The Tiles” intro (It sounded so good it even got me excited). “Over The Top” is definitely the best way to describe this, Bonzo’s playing is monstrous from the start and he continues for a staggering 25 minutes or so. The electronic trickery during the tympani section sounds like a motor speedway at times. Page’s guitar solo follows. I have always found the effect he uses very noisy and the solo very boring up until the violin bow section. Perhaps you had to be there.

Page has some trouble with his tuning in “Achilles Last Stand” but he does his best to mask it. Bonzo is on fire again here but it is not enough to keep it from being a mere average performance. “Stairway”, on the other hand, is epic on every level and Page has a nice solo break before bringing the main set to a close.

“Whole Lotta Love” (featuring a prominent backing vocal from Jimmy) makes its tour debut tonight. It is used as a brief intro to “Rock And Roll” where Bonzo teases the drum intro many times before committing. If this isn’t enough, the band returns for a second encore and feature a cover of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “It’ll Be Me” with Mick Ralphs from Bad Company on second guitar. A rare Zeppelin moment.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Led Zeppelin - 1975-02-28 - Baton Rouge

Led Zeppelin 
February 28, 1975
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Rampaging Cajun, 3cd by Empress Valley (#EVSD-534/535/536)
source: soundboard recording

101. Rock And Roll
102. Sick Again
103. Over The Hills And Far Away
104. In My Time Of Dying
105. The Song Remains The Same
106. The Rain Song
107. Kashmir

201. No Quarter
202. Trampled Underfoot
203. Moby Dick

301. Dazed And Confused
302. Stairway To Heaven
303. Whole Lotta Love
304. Black Dog



The second leg for Led Zeppelin’s tour in 1975 started on February 27th in Houston, but no tape is in circulation for that concert.  Baton Rouge is the second date and has been in circulation thanks to one of the best audience tapes from the era.  Rampaging Cajun on Eelgrass is the first release of an excellent quality, nearly complete soundboard recording. 

Like the other soundboards from this tour, it has remarkable depth and liveliness in contrast to the rather dry professional tapes from other eras.  There is good mix between the vocal, drums and guitar and the audience reactions to the music is clearly heard.  Some of the minor imperfections are some distortion at the beginning of “Rock And Roll” due to high volume overload of the bass and a drop in the guitar during “Sick Again” starting at the 0:52 mark.  Crackling is audible during the rocking part and ending of “The Rain Song,” some static where the volume runs too high on Bonham’s drums and Plant’s comments before “No Quarter” are missing.

Despite the imperfections this is one of the better soundboards to surface from this tour and offers another perspective on what is a very strong show. 

Zeppelin took close to a two week long break after concluding the first half of the tour on February 16th in St. Louis.  They started off the second half in much better health and with much more confidence than the first, setting a high standard in their performance.  The show starts off with “Rock And Roll” and the new song “Sick Again” before Plant explains the program for the evening, speaking about the “cross-section of musical color that we’ve managed to get together in the last six and a half years. Some old stuff, some new stuff, some cool, and some pretty raunchy stuff too. So hang on to your heads.”

A groove is reached with “Over The Hills And Far Away” where the guitar solo sets the precedent for continued experimentation by Page later on in the tour and “In My Time Of Dying” is the first announced song from Physical Graffiti, “that’s just it’s finally been … the egg has been laid .. or it it the guy who got laid?”  “Kashmir” is another and is dedicated to “quite a few people who passed our way. Mr. Royston, who’s travelling with us, Mr. Harold, who’s travelling with us, and many other folks who’ve given us inspiration from time to time.”

“No Quarter” is the first epic and is changed somewhat from the first leg.   John Paul Jones played the electric piano during the solo in the early dates, but now switches to grand piano.  One can assume the first such arrangement was in the previous show in Houston, but Baton Rouge is the earliest tape with this.  This version is very confident with an economic delivery and concise ideas from Jones making this one of the more effective performances from the tour.

“Trampled Underfoot” follows which Plant describes as “about a motor car, but as you people know, the guys who used to sing the songs back in the thirties, like ‘Terraplane Blues,’ and things like this, they used to sing about a motor car, but all they were talking about was boogying, you see? Does anybody know anything about boogying? … So this is an English version of the southern yazoo delta boogy song.”

The second long epic of the night is twenty-five minutes of “Moby Dick” featuring “the man with a bicycle clip caught in his sock, the greatest percussionist since Big Ben, John Bonham.”  The showpiece of the set is “Dazed And Confused,” lasting thirty-five minutes long and featuring CSNY’s “Woodstock” in place of Scott MacKenzie’s “San Francisco.”  Page attempts several unique riffs during the long improvisation.

“Stairway To Heaven” closes the show and Plants has a long, strange speech where he calls Led Zeppelin “just a fun bunch of boys” who “really intend that every gig that we do should be really, we really intend to have a good time every time we play. Otherwise, you’d understand that we wouldn’t be on the stage anymore together. It wouldn’t be true, you know what I mean? True, true, true, true, and if what you’re doing you don’t do with conviction, then you’re lying to yourself, right? So I wish we could all join hands and sing this together, but as there ain’t enough room, here it goes.”

Page expended much energy in “Dazed And Confused” and delivers a sloppy version the closing track.  He hits a few bum notes during the verses and can seem to generate many new idea in the solo.  The encores include the first long theremin solo as a link between “Whole Lotta Love” and “Black Dog” which will be greatly expanded in a few weeks time to include “The Crunge.”  Page again delivers a painful to listen to solo in the final song “Black Dog.”  Plant thanks the audience and says, “I’m gonna smoke such a sweet cigar. Good night Baton Rouge.”

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Pink Floyd - 1972-04-15 - Hollywood, FL (Moon Over Ocean - Golden Eggs 55/56)

Pink Floyd
April 15, 1972
Sportatorium
Hollywood, FL 



101. Speak To Me
102. Breathe
103. Travel Sequence
104. Time
105. Home Again
106. Mortality Sequence
107. Money
108. Us And Them
109. Any Colour You Like
110. Brain Damage
111. Eclipse

201. One Of These Days
202. Tune Up
203. Careful With That Axe Eugene
204. Tune Up
205. Echoes
206. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun


In a review of Pink Floyd’s concert in Atlanta, Georgia on April 18, 1972, local hip underground newspaper The Great Speckled Bird had this to say, “Pink Floyd is one of the few bands, perhaps the only one now, to maintain the integrity of electronic and psychedelic music, primarily because of their inventiveness.” The key word in there is inventiveness. The creation of Dark Side Of The Moon is most certainly the step forward in musicality and songwriting that really took Pink Floyd from cult act to mainstream Rock super-stardom. In my mind that’s why I enjoy the 1972 concert recordings so much. Who else would come out and play 45 minutes of new music that was not yet studio recorded? In fact it was not yet even ready, the band was continuing to flesh the piece out night after night. This year long gestation would allow the band to produce one of the most fluid pieces of music in the history of the medium.

This brings us to the latest release from the Golden Eggs label, a performance in Hollywood, Florida. There are two recordings that circulate for this date, the first and most complete was released some six years back on the Florida 1972 (Budgie 001/002) title. The recording is virtually complete, only missing the final song. The second recording features the tail of Dark Side and the entire second set. This new Golden Eggs title uses both recordings to present the complete concert. The first recording is easily very good, all instruments and vocals can be clearly heard and is very atmospheric. The tape sounds a bit distant and there is a bit of tape hiss present but this only adds to the warmth of an analog recording. The second recording was probably a bit closer to the stage and has more tape hiss with a more muddied sound yet clear enough that all instruments can be heard.

The audience is not settled as the performance begins, you can hear some sort of altercation between two attendees near the taper during Breathe, the band is not settled either. Based upon the liner notes, The Floyd did not like playing the concrete and metal buildings as it made it difficult to achieve the sound they liked. Dave is a bit rusty and flubs a line in Breathe but as they move into The Travel Sequence they hit a groove, the taper makes a mic placement adjustment and one can settle in and properly enjoy the performance. This recording picks up the sound effects nicely, the clocks come through clearly and get a small round of applause. Really like Nick Mason’s drumming in the song, very busy at the beginning and during the solo spot, his drums are captured well in the recording and even get a bit of punch to them at times. The Mortality Sequence is really dense, almost like a sensory overload, one could imagine having partaken in certain substances and hearing this in its quadraphonic glory, the voices, the animals…

The cash register sounds distant and Roger starts the iconic bass riff to Money with zero fan fare, typical for this time in history but boy how things would change (no pun intended). The song is well received, yet the audience seem to be getting restless, as the quiet beginning of Us And Them is playing, conversations are happening and the distant sounds of fireworks can be heard. Brain Damage and Eclipse are very strong and bring an end to the piece, the assorted lunatics in the hall give a nice ovation.

The blowing winds soundscape seems to get the audience moving and inspires them to clap along with One Of These Days as they settle in. The band plays a blistering version of the song, fast and corrosive and quite pleasing. The restless crowd talk and holler during the three minute tune up, Roger intros the piece as “This is an oldie, it’s called Careful With That Axe, Eugene…it’s got a very quiet beginning”. The tuning is our first taste of the second recording, the splice is seamless. Mason’s steady beat is interjected with sporadic fast cymbal work, Wright uses a swishing like soundscape sounding like someone trying to shush Eugene’s inner demons. Great scream, great jam afterwards and another patch from 6:49 to 7:23, as the song quiets back down, Richard plays a nice little flourish on the organ, very subtle. Another quick tune up patch for the tune up, the crowd is again restless at the beginning of Echoes as there was no real applause as the song begins, although once settled they get into it and it receives the biggest ovation of the evening. A twelve and half minute version of Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun is the final song, the crowd near the second taper are more well behaved and in tune with the Space Rock.

The packaging is beautiful, Hollywood, Florida is in the southern part of the state and is nestled between Ft. Lauderdale and Miami on the picturesque Eastern shore. The label uses band photos superimposed over a moonlit shore with a blue hue and a full moon, very visually pleasing. The inner jacket folds open to reveal liner notes from the Fish Bowl Swimmer. Golden Eggs has not only done justice to the performance but also the tapes themselves by presenting them in a naturally sounding fashion.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Led Zeppelin - 1975 - Throwing The Wild Seeds (Nassau Coliseum 1975 Complete Tapes)


Led Zeppelin

Throwing The Wild Seeds
Nassau Coliseum 1975 Complete Tapes
The Godfather Records





Led Faces Over Coliseum
February 13, 1975 
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Uniondale, NY



101. Stage Introduction (1:43) 
102. Rock And Roll (3:50) 
103. Sick Again (6:22) 
104. Over The Hills And Far Away (8:35) 
105. In My Time Of Dying (11:39) 
106. The Song Remains The Same (5:33) 
107. The Rain Song (9:06) 
108. Kashmir (9:58) 
109. No Quarter (19:17) 

201. Trampled Underfoot (9:10) 
202. Moby Dick (26:36) 
203. Dazed And Confused (41:28) 

301. Stairway To Heaven (15:27) 
302. Whole Lotta Love (5:53) 
303. Black Dog (8:37) 
304. Communication Breakdown (with Ron Wood) (8:14) 


The tape begins with the usual announcement of "the American return of Led Zeppelin." The crowd erupts as Rock and Roll crashes into motion. Page shreds through the guitar solos during Sick Again. As the song ends, Plant tells the crowd "tonight we are feeling good," and it shows. Page solos wildly as Bonzo and Jones hold down a funky groove during Over the Hills and Far Away. In My Time of Dying is outstanding. There is a slight cut near the beginning of The Song Remains the Same. There are some minor speed fluctuations during an otherwise excellent performance of The Rain Song

No Quarter is absolutely fantastic. Jones's dramatic piano solo is followed by a flawlessly epic guitar solo from Page. An amazing performance, one of the best thus far. Before Dazed and Confused, Plant tells the crowd "we got together a long time ago in a little tiny room, couldn't afford a big room... and one of the first things that we did made up our mind to stick together... and this was it." The San Francisco interlude is hauntingly beautiful, one of the best iterations of the piece thus far. The band is absolutely on fire during the marathon guitar solo/workout section, led by Page's maniacal, lightning-fast soloing. He once again includes the riff from Walter's Walk briefly before a slight cut in the tape. The Mars, The Bringer of War section is utterly devastating. The forty-one minute epic reaches its climax with the blistering outro jam. A stellar performance, quite possibly the best thus far. Undoubtedly the longest and most complex.

Whole Lotta Love is played nearly complete for the first time this tour. The frenzied theramin freakout is linked nonstop with the Out on the Tiles intro to Black Dog. Page shreds erratically through the guitar solo. As the band returns to the stage, Plant introduces "a good friend of ours, Mr. Ron Wood!" joking "we're going to have a happening." He hints at Roll Over Beethoven before introducing Communication Breakdown as "an old Led Faces number." Page and Wood trade licks during a fantastic funky breakdown leading up to the frenzied finale. A phenomenal performance. Must hear.

Few Hours With St. Valentine
February 14, 1975 
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Uniondale, NY



101. Stage Introduction (1:45) 
102. Rock And Roll (3:50) 
103. Sick Again (7:09) 
104. Over The Hills And Far Away (9:29) 
105. In My Time Of Dying (12:05) 
106. Since I've Been Loving You (9:31) 
107. The Song Remains The Same (5:29) 
108. The Rain Song (9:46) 
109. Kashmir (9:33) 

201. No Quarter (23:45) 
202. Trampled Underfoot (9:46) 
203. Moby Dick (21:49) 

301. Dazed And Confused (37:03) 
302. Stairway To Heaven (16:40) 
303. Whole Lotta Love (6:06) 
304. Black Dog (7:48) 
305. Heartbreaker (10:25)


The band's final night in New York begins with a brief soundcheck before Rock and Roll explodes out of the gate. Plant sings about "the New York queens" during Sick Again. The thunderous rhythm section pummels the crowd as Page blazes through the guitar solos. The combined onslaught threatens to destroy the taper's equipment. As the song ends, Plant tells the crowd "today is one of the last of the pagan traditions that is carried on into the twentieth century, it's the day for... sewing wild seeds" before dedicating the show to Saint Valentine himself.

Prior to Over the Hills and Far Away, Plant announces "we intend to take a knife and cut right through the glorious ice cream of Led Zeppelin and give you a little bit of vanilla, a little bit of chocolate, a little bit of color, a little bit of everything." He mentions Swan Song for the first time before In My Time of Dying, which includes some great slide work from Page. Plant tells the crowd "there's a lot of numbers that we haven't done for such a long time that we've nearly forgot them, but there's a few people that we see here night after night... and so, for those people, we're gonna play you somethin' and who knows what it's gonna sound like!" before the first appearance of Since I've Been Loving You since 7/29/1973. The band seems a bit hesitant at first, warming up as the song progresses. Page is especially subdued, unsure if his injured finger can take the strain. As the song ends, Plant announces "despite our depleted physical forms, we intend to shake this building," adding "and as you're fully aware, we can't shake this building by ourselves."

The Song Remains the Same is somewhat disjointed with both Page and Plant getting a bit lost early in the song. Kashmir is introduced as "one that the regulars who come here every night know quite well." Plant delivers a strong performance, having regained control of his voice. As the song ends, Page makes a brief reference to Train Kept a Rollin'. No Quarter is fantastically epic. The climax of the instrumental section is explosively chaotic. An excellent performance. Page is on fire during Trampled Underfoot, soloing wildly at every opportunity with Bonzo close behind. A blistering performance, the best thus far. A large portion of Moby Dick is missing from the tape.

Plant dedicates Dazed and Confused to "all the people who've been good to us in New York." Page solos wildly during the lead-in to the bow solo, getting the band into a frantic jam prior to the hauntingly beautiful San Francisco interlude. Unfortunately, there is a cut in the tape during the heavy section, leaving us near the beginning of the bow solo. Page is absolutely on fire during the guitar solo/workout section. His fingers fly across the fretboard as Bonzo and Jones race along at top speed. As the song ends, Plant hints at Tangerine before admitting he's forgotten the words. Stairway to Heaven is introduced as "a song that supersedes our wildest dreams." There is a cut in the tape just as Page begins an excellent guitar solo. The theramin freakout during Whole Lotta Love is surrounded by a funky jam. As the band returns to the stage, Plant tells the crowd "we'd like to thank you for New York being New York." Heartbreaker is preceded by a heavy jam with references to Ricky Nelson's If You Can't Rock Me. The a cappella solo is followed by an impromptu rendition of Elvis Presley's A Mess of Blues. Page shreds through the fast guitar solo. Bonzo gets lost during the final verse, resulting in a unique stop-start arrangement. An incredibly loose performance.



Armed with a new double album, Physical Graffiti that would be in stores soon, Led Zeppelin prepared  for their much anticipated 10′th US tour.  The tour was to be broken into two legs following two European warm-up shows in Brussels and Rotterdam.  In keeping  with rock shows of the day, this tour was to be much more grandiose, incorporating a massive  light  show and laser bean effects for Jimmy’s violin bow solo during Dazed and Confused. And, for the very first time Bonzo and his drum kit were perched high atop a riser.

The first leg of the tour was plagued with ill health. Jimmy injured a finger which forced him to develop a new “3 finger” technique. This also meant that Dazed and Confused would  be put on the shelf, only to be replaced by How Many More Times.  Robert had the flu, and ongoing voice  issues while  Bonzo struggled with stomach problems. John Paul Jones  it seemed was the only member of the band to remain healthy throughout.

Songs from the new album that were added  to the setlist were Sick Again, In My Time Of Dying, Kashmir and Trampled Underfoot, with Kashmir quickly becoming one of the highlights of the show.  As Plant would often mention during the  shows, the  set list had been constructed to highlight a broad cross section of material from the groups six and a half years.

After what I consider to be the best show of the tour to that point at Madison Square Garden on February 12′th, the band must have been feeling quite good about themselves as they set up camp for two shows at the Nassau County Coliseum in Uniondale New York.

The February 13′th show was very good. By this time, Dazed and Confused was back in the set list as Jimmy’s finger problems appeared to be much less problematic.  This show is historically notable  due to the fact that Rolling Stone Ron Wood joins the band during the Communication Breakdown encore. For fans that are used to seeing Jimmy handle all the guitar work , it is interesting to see the interplay between the two of them as they both take rather long solos.  February 14′th was another energetic and forceful performance despite Robert struggling with his voice again in the early going. Highlights on this night were the inclusion of Since I’ve Been Loving You into the set as well as John Paul Jones at his improvisational best during No Quarter.

Soundboard tapes for the February 14′th show have circulated for quite some time already and have been released by various labels. The big excitement though was the discovery of the soundboard from February 13′th which surfaced only just recently. With this discovery, Godfather Records saw the perfect opportunity to package both these  superb shows into a single deluxe box set.

As for the sound quality, that is always a very subjective thing from one listener to the next, so speaking for myself only, I feel this release does contain the best available  sound and is very close to rivaling an official release. I’m not an audio engineer so I can’t give you the details of what Godfather have done to the sound, but trust me…it sounds good!

Never one to disappoint on the packaging front, Godfather has created another visually appealing box set. Enclosed in the outer box are two trifold cardboard cases, one for each night, as well as two miniature tour posters and a beautifully illustrated 18 page booklet.

If you have always been a fan of the New York shows as I have this box set will make a wonderful addition to your collection. Both visually and aurally  stunning it gets high marks from me.


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Led Zeppelin - 1975-02-12 - New York City (40th Anniversary Edition - EVSD)

Led Zeppelin
February 12, 1975
Madison Square Garden
New York City, NY




Flying Circus - 40th Anniversary Edition 9CD Box
Empress Valley Supreme Disc



Audience and Soundboard Matrix




01. Rock And Roll
02. Sick Again
03. Over The Hills And Far Away
04. In My Time Of Dying
05. The Song Remains The Same
06. The Rain Song
07. Kashmir

01. No Quarter
02. Trampled Under Foot
03. Moby Dick

01. Dazed And Confused
02. Stairway To Heaven
03. Whole Lotta Love
04. Black Dog
05. Heartbreaker


Stereo Audience Source




01. Rock And Roll
02. Sick Again
03. Over The Hills And Far Away
04. In My Time Of Dying
05. The Song Remains The Same
06. The Rain Song
07. Kashmir

01. No Quarter
02. Trampled Under Foot
03. Moby Dick

01. Dazed And Confused
02. Stairway To Heaven
03. Whole Lotta Love
04. Black Dog
05. Heartbreaker



Stereo Soundboard Source




01. Rock And Roll
02. Sick Again
03. Over The Hills And Far Away
04. In My Time Of Dying
05. The Song Remains The Same
06. The Rain Song
07. Kashmir

01. No Quarter
02. Trampled Under Foot
03. Moby Dick

01. Dazed And Confused
02. Stairway To Heaven
03. Whole Lotta Love
04. Black Dog
05. Heartbreaker

Led Zeppelin’s February 12th Madison Square Garden show is among the most famous shows the band every gave. This is due to its long history of unofficial releases dating back to the days of vinyl using one of the all time best audience recordings ever to surface. The soundboard recording surfaced in 2002 several months after the release of the complete Earls Court boxset which had a previously unknown soundboard tape for the final night.

When Flying Circus (Empress Valley EVSD-185/186/187) was released, it was the first complete soundboard to surface for the American tour that year and caused considerable excitement. In contrast to the dry soundboards from the 1973 tour this had the depth and balance of an official release and many speculated this was a final mix by Eddie Kramer. In the subsequent years soundboards have surfaced for both Dallas shows, St. Louis, San Diego and Vancouver.

Empress Valley reissued this tape in 2003 on gold discs and in 2007 on a budget release. Eelgrass first issued it soon after the initial release and due to its popularity has gone into a second pressing. There are cuts 9:39 in “Moby Dick” and after Plant’s “good night” after “Stairway To Heaven.”

Considering the slow start of the tour, this is one of their best performances. Plant’s voice sounds good and Page is on too. The band’s introduction is cut and the tape picks up with the opening “Rock And Roll” and “Sick Again.”

“We came four blocks in the snow to get here you realize that? People were calling me up on the telephone today saying, ‘is it gonna be on, is it gonna be on?’ For a minute I wondered about my anatomy and then I realized there is some discrepancy about the weather. Isn’t it good it snows? Doesn’t it change the vibe of the city?” “Over The Hills And Far Away” is dedicated to the “keeper of the seasons, whoever and where ever he may be.” Great version of the difficult track and Jimmy Page duel with John Bonham in the middle of the solo.

Before “In My Time Of Dying” Plant again becomes very loquacious, saying: “This is what we would consider to be the last of the New York concerts. We got the Nassau County ones but we’ve always really dug playing in the Garden. So tonight we’re gonna have a really ecstatic one. This is codependent on two things: us and you. I’m in the mood to do a lot of talking but that’s not what it’s all about. We have a new album coming out shortly called Physical Graffiti. The likes of which we left in California.”

Page’s slide is devestating and afterwards Plant speaks in admiration of the piece by saying, “Ironically that’s what one might call an old folk standard. They become folk songs when nobody writes the music to them anymore and are passed on by memory. Can you imagine ‘Whole Lotta Love’ ending up like that?”

“The Song Remains The Same” and “The Rain Song” follow next. It is interesting that, despite Plant’s nightly announcement that they plan to play a cross section of all their material, the middle ninety minutes of the concert (from “Sick Again” to “Trampled Under Foot”) come from either Houses Of The Holy and Physical Graffiti.

There is a short delay after “The Rain Song” where Plant says, “It says: happy birthday, Abe. Sorry about that small intermission. This is a track from Physical Graffiti which once again takes the vibe of travel and experience and flashes of environments like the one we’re getting right now. This one is called ‘Kashmir.’”

The first very long epic of the night is “No Quarter.” Reaching twenty minutes, the versions on the first leg of the tour are long variants of those found on the previous tour with Jones remaining on the organ throughout the song’s duration. Later on he would introduce the grand piano changing the nature of the piece.

Plant introduces Jones by saying, “The next track features the impeccably clean fingernails of John Paul Jones. The man who make Monty Python’s Flying Circus a flop in New York. This is again about a journey…we never seem to get off of them.” At thirteen minutes Jones and Page get messed up and wind up playing in different keys making it sound horrible. After “Trampled Under Foot” they play the second epic of the night, a very long version of “Moby Dick.”

“Dazed And Confused” goes back to their “immaculate conception…referring to Jimmy, of course.” The band play a rare (for this tour) version of “Walter’s Walk” during the long improvisation. The band play a few bars of “Whole Lotta Love” as an introduction to “Black Dog.” They reward the audience with the second encore of “Heartbreaker.”

The band get into Elvis’ “That’s Alright” in the middle of the solo. Overall this is a very joyous experience which, despite the long epics, seems to fly by. This is a concert that is worth having in both the excellent audience and excellent soundboard recordings as well as the superb matrix of both sources. 


Sunday, February 10, 2019

Led Zeppelin - 1975-02-10 - Landover (Soundboard)

Led Zeppelin
February 10, 1975
Capitol Centre
Landover, Maryland



Hellfire Club
Eelgrass – EGL20262/63/64
Stereo Soundboard Recording

101. Introduction
102. Rock And Roll
103. Sick Again
104. Over The Hills And Far Away
105. In My Time Of Dying
106. The Song Remains The Same
107. Rain Song
108. Kashmir

201. No Quarter
202. Trampled Underfoot
203. Moby Dick

301. Dazed And Confused
302. Stairway To Heaven
303. Whole Lotta Love
304. Black Dog
305. Heartbreaker


Press Reports: Led Zeppelin Delights and Disappoints
Last Monday night, Led Zeppelin destroyed the Capital Centre.

Playing material both old and recent, and several cuts from their upcoming album, Physical Graffiti, the concert was close to rock heaven: with hard-driving guitar work, a powerful rhythm section, amazing vocal performance, flashy, sexual stage presence, solid keyboard and mystic Mellotron playing, and to top it off, a stunning array of stage gimmickry, the Led Zeppelin concert was certainly one of the most exciting and musically com¬plete in Washington in over a year.

But it was also a disappoint¬ment. The problem with Led Zeppelin is that they used to be a blues-rock band, carrying on the tradition they inherited from the Yardbirds. As a blues-rock band, Led Zeppelin made two out¬ standing albums, Led Zeppelin I and Led Zeppelin II, both in 1969, which are classics in that genre.

After achieving commercial success with the second album (helped along with the AM success of "Whole Lotta Love," a grueling six American tours in two years, and an overgrowing FM following), the band almost completely abandoned their Chicago blues roots, and made three albums which attempted to establish their own musical identity.

For the most part, it has been a failure. Led Zeppelin III was acoustically oriented and a disap¬pointment, lacking for at least one stellar effort. Their fourth album had a heavy metal crunch to it, and wasn't a bad album, but just couldn't hold its own against Led Zep I or II. Their last album, Houses of the Holy, was a trendy vinyl (reggae, Mellotrone), and a piece of pretentious garbage.

In context to albums by other good bands, the last three Led Zeppelin discs would be con¬sidered solid works, but con¬sidering that the same band in a blues format had accomplished a good deal more musical creativity and virtuosity, then Led Zeppe¬lin's last three outings have indeed fallen short of fulfilling their potential.

But the magic of Led Zeppelin has been able to keep their blimp from running into the ground. Their five albums have sold more than 11 million copies on Atlantic Records, outselling the Rolling Stones 2 to 1.

They have broken all sorts of concert attendance records, even those set by the Beatles. The Capital Centre con¬cert sold out in a record three hours. In New York, 120,000 tickets for six shows sold in thirty-six hours. Boston was sold out in one hour and twenty minutes. When the tour is com¬ pleted next month, Led Zeppelin will have grossed over 5 million dollars.

But don't let anyone think it wasn't a good concert. On stage were four competent musicians, who used to be four fantastic musicians. For the most part, they played well, but the musical perfections they once were showed clear signs of erosion.

Robert Plant, a disciple of Alexis Korner, is perhaps one of the best blues singers to come out of England. However, his singing of the concert opener "Rock and Roll" was awful. He was weak as well on other songs, but he also sparkled on some, particularly his delivery of "The Song Remains the Same." The stallion-like Plant evoked a stage presence which gave his lyrics greater impact, constantly swaying and flowing with the movements of the songs.

Drummer John Bonham and bassist John Paul Jones held together a strong rhythm section. But Bonham's drum solo during "Moby Dick" was rather point-less, despite the eerie sounds created when he hooked up the drumskins to a synthesizer. Jones demonstrated his depth as a musician by handling the key-board chores, which included organ, synthesized piano, synthe¬sizer and Mellotrone (a keyboard apparatus which has all the instruments of the orchestra on tapes).

But certainly it is guitarist. Jimmy Page that is the howitzer shot that made Led Zeppelin heard 'round the world. Playing both the six string and eighteen string guitars, Page filled the Capital Centre with three hours of guitar thunder and lightening. Firing his axe from his crotch, Page sent out scortching solos and frenzied blitzes via a variety of phase shifters', echoplexes, wah¬whas and other gadgets, proving why Mr. Page is one of the most important rock guitarists of the past thirteen years.

But, like the other musicians, Page was inconsistent, often find¬ing progressions in solos leading to nowhere, and being out of step with the others. Typical was "Dazed and Confused," which was both electrifying but yet at times sloppy. It was quite a visual display, as the guitarist tossed aside his pick and played his Gibson with a violin bow.

"Stairway to Heaven," "Black Dog." and "Heartbreaker," were done well, and Page's ripping into the opening chords of "Whole Lotta Love" brought back memories of Led Zeppelin at their best.

For a concert, it was great. For a Led Zeppelin concert it was marginal, a far cry from their performance five years ago at the Meriweather Post Pavilion when they opened the concert for the Who.

But most of the 18,000 at the Capital Centre were seeing Led Zeppelin for the first time, and the sometimes faulty musicianship was so easily diverted by the very presence of the band. Over two dozen engineers bathed the Led Zeppelin in a variety of multi¬colored lights. Concert "toys" were added, including a huge flashing "Led Zeppelin" logo on a backdrop screen, dry ice machines, smoke bombs, flashing lights, mirrors, and, my God, even a laser!

Back in the days when Led Zeppelin remained true to their musical capabilities, one would not find an elaborate concert show. Instead, only the band, their instruments, amps, and a big empty stage.

But those were different time's. People listened to Led Zeppelin then because they played some really great music. Today, people listen to Led Zeppelin because they're, Led Zeppelin. (J.Ramsey|3-75)




Rock And Roll finds the band playing well early on, Plant’s voice is rough as expected and he does not push it but the worst for him is yet to come, the instrumental “machine” is thundering along with Page playing a great solo. Sick Again follows and Plant’s voice sounds very rough, almost makes you cringe when you first hear it, thankfully it starts improving by songs end. Showing no signs of an injured finger Page’s playing early on as they continue the “dream” during Over The Hills And Far Away, his solo starts out a bit slow but quickly evolves into a nice laid back journey and Robert’s voice is starting to recover. Robert talks of new material “falling out of us” and asks the crowd if they have heard any on FM radio and they play something from their roots. In My Time Of Dying is a complete band song, the interplay of the musicians is spot on, Page lays down some of his best leads during this song.

Robert is chatty during this show, The Song Remains The Same gets its usual introduction and Plant mentions Kuwait, something that made me reflect on the world today and how years ago, a couple of hippy musicians from England traveled in the Middle East enjoying the culture of these regions, and in speaking of Kashmir, having the indigenous music influence their creativity. I prefer the 75 versions of Kashmir, more focused and heavy, Plant does not force the high notes, yet some of his oohh’s sound a bit painful. The introduction for No Quarter is a bit screwed up, the majority of it is on the tail end of the first disc, it sounds like Page is having some technical problems, he seems tentative in getting into the middle section and it hampers his solo at the beginning and while he recovers some fluidity, he never manages to fully get it off the ground. This carries over into a somewhat lack luster version of Trampled Underfoot where Jimmy struggles to sync with the rhythm section and boarders on erratic during his solo with some really interesting results.

Robert’s introduction to Moby Dick finds him referring to him as “ultra precise” and making a reference to Karen Carpenter, who Bonzo came in second to in Playboy magazine’s music poll. While it sounds like Jimmy needs as break, Bonzo sounds like he is just getting warmed up and plays a very enjoyable drum solo, he plays a phased section that reminds me of space during a Grateful Dead concert. Dazed And Confused clocks in at over 30 minutes, Heavy Zeppelin at its best. Since making its return to the set a week earlier the song is still a work in process as Page recovers his finger strength, the oriental riffs section is slow and mysterious and works well with Plant’s vocal effects as he swirls through Page’s mists. The fast middle section is really good with Page being pretty loose and fluent and the music is recovering some of primitive fury. Stairway To Heaven is the culmination of the show, Page plays a great solo yet Plant does not push it during the hard rocking finale as his voice is rough and raspy for the ending.

The encores are typical for the tour, Whole Lotta Love sounds a bit under whelming and Page’s fingers struggle with the complexity of Black Dog yet he manages to lay down a great solo. As we know from the audience source, the intensity of the audience leaves the band empowered and they play a second encore of Heartbreaker, Page plays an almost stuttered riff at times making for an interesting version but thankfully John Bonham is behind him and gives the song a kick in the ass making for a strong ending.