Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Led Zeppelin Is My Brother (Tokyo, October 1972)

zeppelin_my_brother_fFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Budokan Hall, Tokyo, Japan – October 2nd, 1972

Disc 1: Introduction by Goro Itoi, Rock and Roll, Over The Hills And Far Away, Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dancing Days, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song

Disc 2: Dazed & Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love (incl. Everybody Needs Somebody To Love, Boogie Chillun’, My Baby Left Me, Killing Floor, I Can’t Quit You), Heartbreaker, Immigrant Song, Communication Breakdown, outroduction by Goro Itoi

Given the sheer number of unique tape sources, and the number of bootlegs documenting these sources, this show is one of the most popular Led Zeppelin shows. It certainly is one of the most important shows because this is the beginning of the middle period of their career. The band used this tour of Japan to introduce a new set list and paradigm that would last the band for the next couple of years.

Gone is the devastating set opener of “Immigrant Song/Heartbreaker”, that served them well since the Bath Festival, and in is “Rock And Roll” and any number of tunes segued right behind it. In this show “Over The Hills And Far Away” serves as the second number although “Black Dog” would also serve in that capacity.

The most interesting part of this concert is the stage debut of “The Song Remains The Same” and “The Rain Song” played back to back as on the official release Houses Of The Holy. It’s very apparent on this excellent audience recording the band’s apprehension in approaching and playing the songs, and this is perhaps the only time one can hear arrangements almost identical to the studio release. They would drop some of the melodic augmentation in future performances for a more solid attack. But it’s interesting to hear and the entire tour would reveal further experiments with the songs. Another introduction is the bizarre “Misty Mountain Hop/Since I’ve Been Loving You” medley which will be played until the summer tour in 1973.

The energy and confidence picks up in more well known numbers like “Dazed & Confused” and the “Whole Lotta Love” medley. It’s interesting to note that “My Baby Left Me” was one of Jimmy Page’s earliest sessions in the sixties and he duplicates the famous solo very well. And the band includes “Immigrant Song”, one of their most popular songs in Japan, in the encores. Overall this is a milestone performance by the band which is at times devastating but also is very nervous.

This release by Empress Valley uses the tape source that has been utilized for the most number of releases including No Use Greco (Tarantura); Live In Japan 1972 (Last Stand Disc), Eastern Front (Great Dane) and Dancing Days (Aphrodite Studios). The sound quality is very loud and clear. It is packaged in the cardboard gatefold sleeve which the label has been utilizing with greater success of late with some photos from the tour. In general this is definitely worth having, especially if you want only one version of the show in your collection.

Advertisements

April 1, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Is My Brother | , | Leave a comment

The Rolling Stones Lonely At The Top (Outtakes, 1970’s & 1980’s)

lonelyFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

(65:50): Living In The Heart Of Love, Drift Away, Sweet Home Chicago, Dancing Girls, Munich Reggae, Lonely At The Top, Munich Hilton, What’s The Matter, Gangster’s Moll, Hang Fire, Claudine, We Had It All, Let’s Go Steady, Save Me, Drift Away

For the number of rare and unreleased songs and of their interest, Lonely At The Top ranks among the top three Rolling Stones titles of outtakes along with Bright Lights Big City and Accidents Will Happen. The vinyl Lonely At The Top (Nondon Records Ling Records KOK 1-5831) first surfaced in 1983 and has been copied onto several compact disc titles in the following years including on Vinyl Gang Product (VGP-057), The Swingin’ Pig (TSP-CD-199), Dandelion (Dl 040), and Home Entertainment Network (HEN 033) as a digipak.

The vinyl release contained nine songs (and under various different alternate names such as “Living Is A Harder Love” instead of “Living In The Heart Of Love” and “Linda Lu” for “Dancing Girls.”) To the original nine, DAC add on six more songs to fill out the disc all in excellent sound quality. They range from sessions in over a seven year period, dating from early 1972 to the latest tracks from 1979.

The first two songs come from the same sessions in February 1974 in Munich. These were recorded at the same time they were working on the LP It’s Only Rock N Roll and feature Mick Taylor on guitar (in fact, these would be his final sessions with the Stones). “Living In The Heart Of Love” is a predecessor to “Luxury,” sharing a common melody.

“Drift Away” was a big hit for Dobie Gray at the time. While it’s not at all surprising to hear the Stones cover the song (they did like to keep current), given there are two studio takes indicates they played with the idea of officially releasing the track. Nicky Hopkins plays piano and Billy Preston organ in the recording. The first take is a rudimentary runthrough. The second recording, included by DAC as a bonus, was recorded later that year at Stargroves and is more polished.

The next two tracks date from Emotional Rescue sessions in early 1979 in Nassau. ”Dancing Girls” is a great piece of Rolling Stones rock and roll which uses the “Brown Leaves” riff in the verses from the previous year and ”Sweet Home Chicago” is not a cover of the Robert Johnson classic, but sounds like an original blues with Jagger saying to his woman “I’d sure hate to see you go…sweet home Chicago.”

“Munich Reggae” is a Black & Blue outtake recorded in in the March, 1975 Musicland sessions. The actual tune is a basic reggae rhythm with very little development in the melody. Wayne Perkins, who was working with the band in the interim between Mick Taylor and Ron Wood, can be heard playing.

“Lonely At The Top” comes from the same Emotional Rescue as “Dancing Girls” and “Sweet Home Chicago.” It’s a mid-tempo thumper which Jagger would later use for his first solo album She’s The Boss (and even sing it on national TV at Live Aid that summer). The Stones recording is a bit slower with longer guitar passages in the middle. It is also interesting to note that this recoding actually came out two years before Jagger’s recording.

“Munich Hilton” comes from the same sessions. This versions has basic lyrics, but it never developed into anything. It’s interesting to note how several months later the New Barbarians rehearsed the song in preparing for their only tour that summer. The melody of their arrangement is carried by saxophone.

“What’s The Matter” dates from the early 1979 sessions and is an unreleased mid tempo blues. There are very basic lyrics (Jagger singing “hey, what’s the matter?” in the chorus) and Jagger shouts out the keys during the transitions.

“Gangster’s Moll” is the last song from the original LP. Recorded in the summer 1979 sessions for Emotional Rescue, it’s a mid-tempo ballad with country and western influences in the slide guitar. Jagger shouts out the chords and other directions as he sings the songs of the gangster’s moll, a reference to perhaps one of their groupies or other hanger-on in the Rolling Stones entourage.

“Hang Fire” dates from the same sessions as “Gangster’s Moll.” This is the third take, very close to the version as it appears on Tattoo You.

“Claudine” dates from the early 1978 sessions for Some Girls at Pathé Marconi. A ballad about Claudine Longet, this is the second of two arrangements of the unreleased song existing in the tapes. The first version is an eight minute long slow version, but this is a three and a half minute version taken at a very fast pace. Richards gives the song a melodic two-step melody and solo.

“We Had It All” is a cover of the Troy Seals/Donny Fritts, a big hit for Waylon Jennings in the early seventies and which has become a standard. There are several takes on tape, but this one is the most polished of them all. Keith Richards handles vocals on this, and Sugar Blue plays a haunting harp below the mix. Some have suggested that Richards’ is the best cover of the song, but his vocals are too limited and stiff to handle the weight of the tune and it sounds too stiff and insincere. The Stones were smart to bury this recording.

“Let’s Go Steady Again” is another song which dates from the early 1979 sessions. It’s a cover of the J. W. Alexander song with Richards on vocals. It wouldn’t be released by the Stones, but would be included in the New Barbarian tour later in the year.

“Save Me” (aka “Criss Cross,” “Criss Cross Mind,” and “Criss Cross Man” depending upon what you think Mick is singing in the chorus) dates from the Dynamic Sound Studio in Kingston, Jamaica in late 1972 and is a raunchy piece of unreleased Rolling Stones smut.

Lonely At The Top was released in March 2010 and is the first of their current obsession with Rolling Stones outtake bootleg LPs from the eighties. They duplicate the cover art on the front and back inserts. Many consider this to be a vast improvement over the older CD issues of the same disc, a judgement that is always disputed in the world of Rolling Stones recordings. Whatever the case, the sound is really nice and it’s worth having.

April 1, 2013 Posted by | The Rolling Stones Lonely At The Top | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin LZ Au Gala De L’Ecole (Paris, December 1969)

20130402_cfe1ceJapanese label Graf Zeppelin is due shortly to release LZ Au Gala De L’Ecole. This will be 4CD set consisting, similar to non labelled title, of raw and remastered versions of this tape source.

GRAF ZEPPELIN LZSC-015A/B/C/D
CD1: Good Times Bad Times Intro/Communication Breakdown/I Can’t Quit You Baby medley incl. It Hurts Me So/Heartbreaker medley incl. Bouree/Dazed And Confused/White Summer medley incl. Black Mountain Side
CD2: You Shook Me/Moby Dick/How Many More Times medley incl. The Hunter, Smokestack Lightning, Whole Lotta Love, Improvisation based on Good Times Bad Times theme, Wee Baby Blues, Hideaway, Move On Down The Line, Boogie Chillun
CD3: Good Times Bad Times Intro/Communication Breakdown/I Can’t Quit You Baby medley incl. It Hurts Me So/Heartbreaker medley incl. Bouree/Dazed And Confused/White Summer medley incl. Black Mountain Side
CD4: You Shook Me/Moby Dick/How Many More Times medley incl. The Hunter, Smokestack Lightning, Whole Lotta Love, Improvisation based on Good Times Bad Times theme, Wee Baby Blues, Hideaway, Move On Down The Line, Boogie Chillun
Recording: Very good mono audience. CD1-2 raw version. CD3-4 remastered version. Source: Piston 70, L’Ecole Centrale Chatenay-Malabry, Paris, France Dec. 6 ’69. Comments: Japanese bootleg. Deluxe jewel case.

April 1, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin LZ Au Gala De L'Ecole | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Les Rendezvous De Paris (December 1969)

96045Les Rendezvous De Paris is Empress Valley’s newest title due next week sourced from newly surfaced audience tape for Paris December 6th, 1969 awesome show. Double disc set is issued as glossy paper sleeve and has obi.

Les Rendez-vous de Paris – 2cd by Empress Valley (#EVSD 376/377)

December 6th, 1969
Ecole Centrale (Piston 70), Chatenay-Malabry, France

Disc 1 (52:30):
Good Times Bad Times (0:22)
Communication Breakdown (4:08)
I Can’t Quit You (6:42)
Heartbreaker (6:11)
Dazed And Confused (18:17)
Tuning (2:21)
White Summer / Black Mountain Side (14:26) Disc 2 (51:20):
You Shook Me (12:52)
Moby Dick (16:09)
How Many More Times (22:18)

Source: mono audience

Sound quality: ***1/2
Performance: ****1/2

Notes:
this previously uncirculated recording was kindly made available for free on the internet on March 2013. Empress Valley is the first label to release it as “silver pressed” cd.

April 1, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Les Rendezvous De Paris | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Centralien (Paris, December 1969 & Kansas, November 1969)

LZ_CentralienWendy Recordsa have released their own version of newly surfcaed Paris December 6th, 1969 audience tape, adding Kansas November 5th, 1969 recording as bonus track and titled their effort simply Centralien. This is Wendy’s standard double disc jewel case with obi.

April 1, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Centralien | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Goodbye 69 & Flying High With Led Zeppelin (Paris, December 1969 & Dallas, August 1969)

367-368369-370Beelzebub Records is due shortly with two new titles.

The first is Goodbye 69, concerning on newly surfaced Paris December 6th, 1969 tape released as standard gatefolf double disc set. Tous En Scene June 19th, 1969 tape is added as bonus.

The second title, Flying High With Led Zeppelin rely on remastered soundboard from famous Dallas Pop that took place on August 31st, 1969 and adds bonus DVDR with few newly discovered amateur videos from Atlanta and Dallas 1969 (this is, in fact, the only video that has been floating around for years and is included in this compilation for collectors purposes), Bath 1970, Chicago 1971 and Sydney 1972. Most of videos have sound synched.

April 1, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Goodbye 69 & Flying High With Led Zeppelin | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin This Is Jimmy (Paris, December 1969)

Front coverThis Is Jimmy is Boleskine’s own attempt to this particular show and, as all titles that came out from this spin-off label from famous T2K factories, we should expect heavy tweaking job that is sometimes hardly criticized by more advanced collectors.

All in all, it is safety to say that – even in the time of freely available downloads – there’s still big demand on commercially pressed bootlegs nowadays.

April 1, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin This Is Jimmy | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin No Cancellation! (Paris, December 1969)

Led-Zeppelin-No-CancellationFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

CD1: Good Times Bad Times Intro/Communication Breakdown/I Can’t Quit You Baby medley incl. It Hurts Me So/Heartbreaker medley incl. Bouree/Dazed And Confused/White Summer medley incl. Black Mountain Side

CD2: You Shook Me/Moby Dick/How Many More Times medley incl. The Hunter, Smokestack Lightning, Whole Lotta Love, Improvisation based on Good Times Bad Times theme, Wee Baby Blues, Hideaway, Move On Down The Line, Boogie Chillun

Recording: Very good mono audience. Source: Piston 70, L’Ecole Centrale Chatenay-Malabry, Paris, France Dec. 6 ’69. Comments: Japanese bootleg. Deluxe glossy gatefold sleeve. Limited edition. Includes sticker.

No Cancellation is two-disc set of Akashic label and this is label’s first new release since more than ten years! Classic gatefold glossy sleeve and limited edition makes this release a collectors gem.

April 1, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin No Cancellation! | , | Leave a comment

Genesis Selling England By The Pound (1973)

25785From genesis-news.com

Steady work, frequent album releases and almost permanent live performances paved Genesis’ way into the hearts of European and British fans. The band were slowly making the step from an insider band to a cult band with growing numbers of fans. This also meant that expectations grew as well as the pressure the band was under. The next album had to be nothing less than another masterpiece like Foxtrot. It became Selling England By The Pound, a records fans rank among the big classics to this day. During this period tensions in the band began to grow…

Relentless touring to make the band better-known brought them new fans but also had its disadvantages. When the band started writing the successor for Foxtrot they did not have many song ideas. Tony Stratton-Smith decided to close the gap between studio albums with the Live album – a solution the band felt was less than ideal. Between October 1972 and September 1973 Genesis released three albums: Foxtrot, Genesis Live (their first foray into the UK Top Ten) and Selling England By The Pound. Creatively they seemed to have backed into a corner, though. Steve Hackett tried to work his way out of there by disregarding full song structures and experimenting with riffs. One of those riffs he would play endlessly on soundchecks became the basis of I Know What I Like. Steve Hackett was very involved in the writing process, in part also because it allowed him to flee from his marriage problems. Steve’s input for Selling England became larger than for any album before or after, and he often called it his favourite Genesis album.

Phil Collins, on the other hand, found the band’s situation and the hard-going work on the new album frustrating. Mike Rutherford and Tony Stratton-Smith would later admit that they rather feared Phil would leave the band. Instead he found a musical outlet in the short-lived band Zox And The Radar Boys which involved, amongst others, former Yes guitarist Peter Banks. Genesis seemed to lose their spontaneity, their ability to achieve those magic moments when they jammed together. As tensions within the band grew two factions developed, and Steve and Phil frequently found themselves backed into a corner by the other three band members.

The album was finally written in a mere six weeks, with several roads leading to Rome: They had songs that were finished when introduced (e.g. Firth Of Fifth by Tony Banks), they put together songs that were brought by several band members (Dancing With The Moonlit Knight was based on piano pieces by Peter Gabriel and a guitar melody by Steve Hackett). Some songs also developed in jam sessions (Mike, Tony and Phil wrote the instrumental section of The Cinema Show that way). Genesis tried hard not to repeat themselves too much. The plan of merging Dancing With The Moonlit Knight and The Cinema Show into one long song was soon scrapped because the band wanted to avoid comparisons with Supper’s Ready.

The band’s continued cooperation with producer John Burns paid off and resulted in the Genesis record with their best sound so far. The formation had not changed for two years, and these two years of stage experience had finely attuned each musician to the other. It certainly showed on the record. Some even thought it sounded too polished, and the studio sessions for Selling England By The Pound were deemed a little sterile compared to its successors and predecessors; that, of course, would be different in the live performances. The record plays an important role in the history of Genesis. They borrowed the title from the Labour Party’s programme of the time, which pointed at the main theme of the album, i.e. the decline of traditional British culture and the crisis of the British middle class. I Know What I Like became their first pop single and chart success (#21 in the UK charts). The band declined a possible live performance in the British chart show Top Of The Pops. Charisma were shocked, and today the members of the band smilingly remember the youthful arrogance with which they made that decision. Genesis remained an album band, and Selling… is a collection of songs that either became huge classics or are almost forgotten today.

Dancing With The Moonlit Knight

Folky a-capella vocals by Peter Gabriel and soft, broken chords played on 12-string guitar, organ and piano form the remarkable beginning of the album. What begins as a tender acoustic song in the pastoral vein rapidly turns into a dramatic tour de force. This song is like a complete Genesis concert condensed – full of changes in dynamics, speed, rhythm, varied keyboard textures, driving drums and lyrics that are not always easy to understand. It mixes a number of different styles – near the end Genesis even venture into the jazz rock area. The end picks up the markedly pastoral lines from Trespass, but the tender ethereal outro seems like an afterthought tacked on to the rest of the song.

I Know What I Like

Swirling sounds introduce the most unlikely follow-up to these pastoral sounds. Phil Collins’ drumming oscillates between catchy rhythms and fill that could be in jazz rock or even world music pieces. The lyrics satirize the bourgeois British middle class life that comes to life in the narrator’s character of the “lawn mower”. Britishness is celebrated and ironized in a bizarre way. The chorus has sing-along quality but never descends into shallow pop. I Know What I Like impresses by its simplicity – and the chorus offers one of the best Rutherford bass lines ever.

Firth Of Fifth

Tony Banks never sound so classical before. His piano intro brings a new element into Genesis’ music and makes good use of his training on classical piano. The band comes in rather abruptly, but that makes it just all the more impressive. The big guitar and organ sounds and the powerful drumming make the verses sound massive – cinemascope gone music… The flute takes the lead in an instrumental part in Genesis’ pastoral vein which segues into a very prog synth reprise of the piano intro. Phil brings his predilection for jazz rock to bear in his drumming in this part. The drums turn into a marvellous percussive extension or support of the synthesizer melody that moves into Steve Hackett’s most memorable moment in Genesis: The legendary, unending guitar solo that picks up the flute melody and brings it to a whole new level. The music calms down before the melody returns to the verse so that we can listen to Peter’s aphorism, “The sands of time were eroded by the river of constant change”. A song with a perfect structure, the most symphonic piece in the Genesis catalogue, it remained in the live set until 2007, albeit in increasingly mutilated versions. Hackett himself would play it many times in its entirety.

More Fool Me

Another transition full of contrast. From the bombast of Fifth Of Fifth to Phil Collins’ second lead vocal performance in Genesis. More Fool Me is not quite as intimate as For Absent Friends on Nursery Cryme. The subject matter is quite unusual for a Genesis song from that period, because it is a lovesong. Not an infectious piece, but a celebrated solo spot on the tour – and a glimpse at the things Phil and Mike, the writers of this piece, would write later.

The Battle Of Epping Forest

This is probably one of the weakest Genesis songs from the era. The Battle Of Epping Forest attempts to have a go at a more realistic and modern topic, namely gang wars. Tony Banks remembers that they would keep tacking on new parts every day, and it sure sounds like that. Peter Gabriel admits that he lost himself in the story when he wrote the lyrics. In fact, it took Peter so long to write the lyrics that the others completed the backing tracks without melody and lyrics. This would, of course, happen again during the recordings of their next album. There are a number of fine moments such as the brief synthesizer solo or the honky-tonk piano, but the song as a whole is simply stuffed with too many ideas. The music and the lyrics do not really connect. Many passages are pleasant, but they do not leave an overall impression of a complete song.

After The Ordeal

Whether this piece should be included or not was one of the most controversial decisions the band had to make. Neither Tony nor Peter wanted this instrumental of Steve’s on the record. It still made the cut after a bizarre search for a compromise: Peter wanted to cut away the instrumental part of The Cinema Show, too, and to save that Tony voted for Steve’s composition. A wrong decision, it has to be said. The first half of this piece remains pale and pseudo-classic, and it does not become any more relevant when the band comes in for the second half. Not a special highlight of the Genesis discography.

The Cinema Show

A longer song follows those three weaker numbers. The Cinema Show begins in a familiar pastoral acoustic mood. Mike and Steve bring the wonderful pickings on the twelve-string guitar back again just like the early days of Genesis. The vocal melody is catchy without being shallow. A love story, classical epics and mythology meet in the lyrics. The piece moves away from the song and into an instrumental that moves from one glorious climax to another. Tony Banks plays a full-fledged synthesizer solo for the first time, but it is so well woven into Mike and Phil’s rhythm part that it does not become Emersonian bragging but remains an instrumental performed by the whole band (three of them, anyway).

Aisle Of Plenty

The end of The Cinema Show segues smoothly into Aisle Of Plenty, which is not really a song but a collage that reprises melodies from Dancing With The Moonlit Knight. One pun follows the other, but this bit is more of an appendage than a song in its own right.

Selling… was a moderate success for Genesis, but it is less balanced than, for example, Foxtrot. The songs one remembers best from this album are those that became medium classics (Dancing With The Moonlit Knight) or huge classics (I Know What I Like, Firth Of Fifth, The Cinema Show) in the band’s history. As an album, it was not a perfect selection: All longtracks have approximately the same length, while the other songs, with the exception of I Know What I Like, are fillers. Unlike Steve Phil and Tony do not consider the album particularly memorable – they like individual songs, but Tony in particular called the album “ridiculously long”. A playtime of 53:42 minutes is not impressive anymore in the CD age, but at the time it was very long. It became clear in the end that Selling England marked the end of a development that began with Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot. It was thererefore no surprise that Genesis wanted to go into a different direction after this record and the promotion tour. But before that happened Genesis reached #3 in the UK album charts. Genesis had reached a new degree of fame and popularity.

April 1, 2013 Posted by | Genesis Selling England By The Pound | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Great Chicago Fire (April 1977)

Great_Chicago_Fire_sl2_FFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Chicago Stadium, Chicago, IL – April 6th, 7th, 9th, and 10th, 1977

Disc 1: April 6, 1977: The Song Remains the Same, The Rover Introduction/Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault but Mine, In My Time of Dying, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter

Disc 2: April 6, 1977: Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Surrender, Black Country Woman, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, White Summer, Black Mountain Side, Kashmir

Disc 3: April 6, 1977: Out On the Tiles/Moby Dick, Guitar Solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway to Heaven, Rock and Roll, Trampled Underfoot

Disc 4: April 7, 1977: The Song Remains the Same, The Rover Introduction/Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault but Mine, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, Ten Years Gone

Disc 5: April 7, 1977: The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, White Summer, Black Mountain Side, Kashmir, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway to Heaven, Rock and Roll

Disc 6: April 9, 1977: The Song Remains the Same, The Rover Introduction/Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault but Mine, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, Ten Years Gone, Announcements

Disc 7: April 10, 1977: The Song Remains the Same, The Rover Introduction/Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault but Mine, In My Time of Dying, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter

Disc 8: April 10, 1977: Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Black Country Woman, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, Trampled Underfoot, White Summer, Black Mountain Side, Kashmir

Disc 9: April 10, 1977: Moby Dick, Guitar Solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway to Heaven, Rock and Roll

DVD: April 9/10, 1977: The Complete 1977 Chicago Stadium Tapes Bonus DVD, Slideshows From 1977 North American Tour

The first of four nights in Chicago has Robert Plant speaking to the crowd about fire crackers before the first note even gets played. The recording from this night is plagued with distortion and a very harsh top end. A real shame because it sounds like the taper was close to the stage and turning the levels down may have resulted in an excellent, much cleaner sound. Plant’s comments between songs are easily heard and he’s in a playful mood singing bits of Elvis tunes, among other classics, in between songs.

This is the third show into the tour and Led Zeppelin still sound as if they are getting back into the swing of things (Plant even mentions this before “Ten Years Gone”). A few missed cues and a couple of near disasters show the band trying to chip through the rust. The tape from April 6th also suffers from the most tape problems. “In My Time of Dying” contains many drop outs and garbled sections of tape as does the acoustic section and “No Quarter” has two cuts near the end where a small section of tape runs backwards. A very heavy sounding “Since I’ve Been Loving You” is dedicated to all the great blues man that come from Chicago as it will be on some of the following nights. Plant’s emphasis on Willie Dixon seems to get the biggest reaction from the crowd. Jimmy seems to be having trouble keeping his guitar in tune for “White Summer/BMS” and “Kashmir”.

The second night in Chicago sees its first release on silver disc. It’s not as harsh as the previous nights recording but is more distant and echoey, still having a very nice atmosphere, though. Robert’s voice is still warming up for the tour and Page’s playing is choppy, but not entirely in a bad way. Page always had a way of pulling out some great moments even on some of his worst nights. Perhaps the audience recording helps to hide his imperfections.

This recording from April 7th is far from complete. Part of the acoustic section, drum solo, guitar solo and much of “Achilles” are all missing. A few missed cues again with “The Song Remains” and “Nobody’s Fault”. “Since I’ve Been Loving You” is not listed on the sleeve but is present and comes directly after “Nobody’s Fault” (thanks to gsparaco for catching this one). “In My Time of Dying” must have been dropped as there doesn’t appear to be a cut between “Nobody’s Fault” and “Since”. The end of “No Quarter” also cuts into “Ten Years Gone”. It’s too bad tonight’s recording is not more complete; it’s probably the best sounding of these Chicago concerts. As usual, John Paul Jones and John Bonham are excellent and deliver solid performances throughout all these Chicago shows.

Disc six has the complete show from April 9th. The recording, like the first night, has harsh top end and distortion in places. This is the infamous “food poisoning” incident that had Jimmy unable to continue after the first 60 minutes. There are moments throughout tonight’s show that indicate something was going on with Page. He seems very distracted at times and it shows throughout the recording. He also launches into “Since I’ve Been Loving You” prematurely, waiting for the band to follow, but Jones, not behind the piano, has his bass on expecting “Nobody’s Fault”. Plant passes it off with a joke calling this a blues night. Robert’s voice is strong for “Nobody’s Fault but Mine” and Jimmy takes a different, very spontaneous approach to his solo in “Since”. The main source used for this show is the better sounding tape with slight cuts during “No Quarter”. Empress Valley have spliced in the secondary source for completion. After a rough “Ten Years Gone”, Robert announces they will be taking a five-minute break only to be followed by another announcement telling the fans to hang on to there tickets for a makeup show that apparently would never happen.

The last three discs are from the final night in Chicago and are also featured on silver disc for the first time. The source is somewhat distant, distorted, and lacking top end leaving the recording sounding flat and dull. Listenable, probably a six out of ten as the mix is often cluttered. A better performance than the previous night, Page seems to be recovering. Plant mentions Jimmy’s illness and some comments made by a local radio station claiming Page had been drinking the previous day. Comically, he demands an apology along with a crate of alcohol. The set list has been modified with “Trampled Underfoot” being moved to the middle of the set instead of the encore. Plant’s intro to “Over the Top” cuts directly to the “Moby Dick” ending, missing the entire drum solo.

The DVD contains all known amateur film footage from the event (very fragmented) plus slideshows from the 1977 tour. The music used for the slideshows and menus are from various soundboard sources available from the same tour. Overall, not the greatest soundings tapes and a rocky start to the tour but as with every Zeppelin show, the highlights overshadow the shortcomings. No matter what the condition of the band, songs like “Since I’ve Been Loving You”, “No Quarter” and “Going to California” were always excellent. This set is recommended to the die-hard Zeppelin collectors only. The average collector would consider this a bit of a rough ride. Until new sources or soundboards surface from these nights, this will probably be the definitive and maybe only updated release of these shows. Considering the source tapes; a nice job and an excellent presentation from Empress Valley. (WGPSEC)

April 1, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Great Chicago Fire | , | Leave a comment