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Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Concert Review: Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati, April 1995

SignFrom oldbuckeye.com

Cincinnati was the place to be last night! It was an absolutely incredible show – it exceeded my expectations! For those of you that want to skip all of the descriptions and go straight to the set list, you can find this at the bottom of this message. Page and Plant put on an incredible 120 minute performance that left the audience in complete awe. Most notable was the absence of any new additions to the set list from the concerts previous in the tour, or any inclusion of the new P/P tunes like Yallah, City Don’t Cry, etc. Yes, this was almost a Led Zeppelin concert.

The band had had a 15 day hiatus, and they really looked well rested, and full of energy. Plant was all over the stage. At one point Robert was spinning around and he knocked a guitar amplifier mic over with his mic stand. Page danced about on many occasions, as well. Plant’s voice was in top shape, I think he cracked only once. Page was just a little, shall I say, sloppy, a couple of times. But, I’m being too critical here. The band has even improved since the filming of UnLeded, they are much tighter musically, and looser emotionally. Everyone in the band was really having a great time and smiles could be seen from them all night long.

Our seats were not real good. We were all the way back in the arena, up high, on Charlie Jones’ side of the stage. I brought binoculars, and it helped immensely. At the top of the stage was a large projection television screen where they showed action of the stage, and blended it with pre-recorded video clips and wild images. This screen really made the show so much better – it was great to see close-ups of Jimmy’s fingers as he blistered through the solos. The sound was very good for the arena, which suffers from the typical reverberations of most arenas in it’s class. The mixing was done excellently, and most importantly, Jimmy’s sound was never drowned out, like in the recent past (so I’ve read).

Of noticeable disappointment was the lack of any good Plantations. He did mention Cincinnati by name a few times, but I didn’t hear a whole lotta humor, as compared to other times. Also, I could NOT find the Miller Genuine Draft Led Zeppelin Memorabilia truck. We went looking for it earlier in the afternoon, as well as right before the show. Oh well.

The concert itself started promptly at 7:30 with the warm-up group. I never did hear what their name was! They were not Rusted Root, since this was a four-piece, all-male group. Could this have been Tragically Hip? The band kind of had a Seattle sound to it. Everyone except for the bass player had short hair and the blonde-haired guitarist didn’t move very much. The band was, for me, okay, at best, and we all gave them an obligatory applause, knowing what was ahead. This band exited the stage at 8:00.

I went down and got a Page/Plant coffee mug for $10. As I got to my seat, at 8:25, the lights went down again. This was it! The Tales of Bron poem was read in the dark, as people screamed and cheered. I couldn’t make out too much of the poem. Then the music started as the band launched into Thank You. Jimmy had his legendary Sunburst Les Paul. [Fashion Report: Robert had on a denim vest, open at the chest, with tight leather pants, and gray snakeskin boots. Page had on a semi-ghastly orange, baggy, shirt, with normal looking dark pants and shoes.] Porl was no where to be found until the band went into Bring It On Home. Next, Jimmy strapped on his gold Les Paul with the transperformance (sp?) tuning gizmo for Shake My Tree. Included in this tune was a famous theramin solo from Jimmy. Robert didn’t seem to mind singing this Coverdale/Page tune, as reported in past posts. Robert did a much better job, too, than Coverclone. Next was a showcase tune for Porl, Lullaby, the Cure tune. Charlie switched to a stand-up bass for this one. People began to sit down for this one.

The people who had just sat down, however, were back up quickly, as Robert and Jimmy sat down now, for No Quarter. This tune featured Plant and Page exclusively, with incredible video shots of the two intertwined with the video of an eagle’s view flying over a lush forest, a la the No Quarter (NQ) video. Plant’s voice wasn’t quite as processed (flanging, echo, etc.) as it was in the NQ video. Jimmy was playing his 12 stringed acoustic guitar. Next, Jimmy switched to his 2-neck acoustic and they launched into Gallows Pole, much to the audience’s delight. In mid song, the rest of the band joined in, including the first appearance of Nigel Eaton, the hurdy gurdy man. This was followed by a hurdy gurdy solo, which, when Robert introduced, said that perhaps this was the first time this instrument had been played in the city. People will not forget this either. Nigel made a very positive impression with this strange instrument. Then came Nobody’s Fault But Mine, the new NQ version. Page, still with his double neck acoustic, launched into some strumming that is quite familiar to us all, it was Hey, Hey What Can I Do. The crowd danced in the isles and sang along with Robert. Nigel played mandolin for this one.

Jimmy then switched to his famous red Gibson double neck electric. It was The Song Remains The Same. Jimmy let Porl play about half the solos on this. Next Robert introduced the Cincinnati Symphony and Symphonium, about a 20-piece orchestra. Jimmy, drenched in sweat, led off the familiar notes of Since I’ve Been Loving You. Porl, who must have had too much of a workout with the solos of the previous tune, took a break. This song, which is one of my favorites off of the NQ show, for me, didn’t seem to be quite as hot. Jimmy was a little tired, but plowed ahead, with some stunning fret work.

Robert then introduced the Hossam Ramzy Ensemble, or as he called them: the “Egyptian Pharaohs”. These guys were loads of fun. They should hire out to do parties! My favorite one is Ibrahim Abdel Khaliq, the guy that does the finger cymbals, and has the protruding teeth. He is always dancing about. At times it looked as if he were doing Robert Plant imitations, with the mystic hand motions and such. They also threw their tambourines high in the air and caught them, and Robert did this too (no drops that I saw!). The band launched into Friends, with page on an acoustic, and Porl still resting somewhere.

Calling To You, a Plant solo from Fate of Nations, was next, as the video screen showed footage from Egypt and other far-away lands. Page was playing a cherry-red Les Paul, and hey, Porl was back, even getting a solo! This song went into an extensive, all-out jam, progressing into the Door’s Break On Through, Dazed And Confused, and back to Calling. Plant, singing the Doors tune an octave higher than Morrison, gave the song a refreshing change. At this point, the crowd was absolutely wild, at the first notes of Dazed, we were all in ecstatic.

Page, back to his double neck acoustic, and Jones with his stand-up bass, went into Four Sticks. Michael Lee, who I neglected to mention had done an absolutely powerful and tight job on drums, with his ever-present smile, started in with two sticks in each hand. Next, with a intro that included some tribal-sounding drums and violins from the Pharaohs, the band launched into In The Evening which led seamlessly into a bit of Caroselambra and back into Evening. Jimmy brought out a Fender Stratocaster for this one. After quite a bit of powerful jamming through this one, the lights went out. It was 10:05, and we finally had a chance to catch our breath! The lighters were out in full force, as the place lit up like a smoky, stary night.

The band soon reappeared. Robert dressed the same, with Jimmy wearing a black Second Harvest T-shirt. “Hey Hey Mama” was the so familiar chant that opens Black Dog, as the crowd was louder than ever. The crowd sang along and sang the responsive “ah ah” parts. But through the loudness of the crowd, Robert’s voice emerged quite strongly and all-out powerful, even for all of the high notes. I was very amazed that he still has it in him to hit those notes at that power level! I have bootlegs of Led Zeppelin, even 20 years ago, where he had trouble hitting those notes. Perhaps a newer lifestyle has helped his throat and lungs recently, I don’t know. At then end of this tune, Robert appeared to be drinking a beer, a Corona or a Miller, clear glass, anyhow. Page strapped on his Gold Les Paul (with the transperformance) and slipped into Kashmir. Personally, I had always thought this song was over-rated, but since the re-arrangement of it in the NQ version, I have a new-found fondness of it, greater than before. The whole orchestration of it really brings the tune to new heights. For everyone on stage, this was just an all-out jam. The Hossam Ensemble’s Wael Abu Bakr had a wonderful violin solo, much like he did in the NQ video. This song was a stunning conclusion to a wonderful night. I guess it had to end somewhere. It was now 10:30. Page, Plant and the band members (without the Orchestras) all joined at center stage, arms interlocked, and bowed to the audience, first in front, then to the sides, then the back of the arena.

They came, they jammed, they went. It will never be forgotten. It was unreal.

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April 4, 2013 Posted by | Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Cincinnati 1995 | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Amsterdam 1972

amsterdam1972_fFrom collectorsmusiceviews.com

Oude R.A.I. Amsterdam, The Netherlands – May 27th, 1972

Disc 1 (70:28): Intro., Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Celebration Day, Stairway To Heaven, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, Dazed and Confused

Disc 2 (52:20): What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, Rock and Roll, Communication Breakdown

After touring Australia and recording Houses Of The Holy, Led Zeppelin played two high profile warm-up gigs in Europe before touring the US for the eighth time. The May 27th Amsterdam show is the first of the two and exists on a good but dull audience recording. The vocals and guitars are higher in the mix and the rhythm section is somewhat buried.

There are several minor cuts scattered throughout the tape between numbers. But there is a big, painful cut about seven minutes into “Stairway To Heaven” eliminating half of the solo and final verse, “Going To California,” “That’s The Way,” and quite possibly “Tangerine” (which was not played in Brussels the following night but was included in the acoustic set in Australia and the US).

The tape surfaced in the early nineties on Running Bear (Gold Standard LZ 72). It was copied on Dancing Bear (Tarantura BEAR001-2) with improved sound quality. MMachine released Amsterdam 1972 in the summer of 2000 sounding as good as it is capable of sounding and being a bit longer.

Two years after Amsterdam Warmup (Magnificent Disc MD-7202A/B) was issued and was a typical butcher job Magnificent did on all their releases, boosting the sound so high that there is an annoying metallic crunch over all the music. To this day, given the sound quality, completeness and availability the MMachine version remains definitive.

Amsterdam is a warm up gig, after being off the road for two months, and it sounds it. There are no changes in the set list (there wouldn’t be until the fall). The tape opens with announcements before a small cut in the tape. Plant can be heard saying “It’s very nice to be back again. It’s been a long time” before they play the opening salvo of “Immigrant Song” and “Heartbreaker.” The solo in the latter contains references to Bach’s Bouree and Simon & Garfunkel’s “59th Street Bridge Song.”

“Celebration Day,” after being a constant in the set the previous year had pretty much been removed. It appears in the Brisbane show in Australia and is played in Amsterdam after “Since I’ve Been Loving You.” It’s a clunky, difficult song to digest standing on its own and on this night Plant gets lost several times, coming in early singing “there’s a train that leaves the station” into where Page’s solo starts, and again misses the cue with the third verse.

The song would be dropped the following night in Brussels and would be played only one more time until it was reinstated for the US tour in 1973 (in a much more manageable arrangement).”Stairway to Heaven” is introduced as “something that we’ve become quite proud of.” It’s a shame there is a big cut since it sounds like another classic performance.

“Dazed And Confused” is twenty-five minutes long and sounds much funkier in the improvisation than in the Australian tour. The set ends with a very long “Whole Lotta Love” medley. At this point “Boogie Chillun,” “Hello Mary Lou” and “Going Down Slow” were regular inclusions in the medley, appearing every night.

A rarity for this night is “Running Bear,” the tune written by the Big Bopper and recorded by Johnny Preston. It was released in August 1959, seven months after the Big Bopper’s death and became a hit. After “Running Bear” they get into a strange version of “That’s Alright.” The tape becomes more distorted at this point but clears up for Page’s Scotty Moore guitar solo.

Plant has fun doing a Muddy Waters impersonation for “Hootchie Cootchie Man,” singing: “On the seventh hour, of the seventh day, on the seventh month, the seventh doctor said: ‘He’s born for good luck, and I know you see; Got seven hundred dollars, and don’t you mess with me.’” Like all “Whole Lotta Love” medleys they slow down for the majestic blues flourish. “Going Down Slow” held this spot during they year.

Zeppelin play “Rock And Roll” as the first encore and, before playing another Plant has to cool down the audience saying, “So cool it, otherwise we go.”

Overall this is a good performance in reasonable sound quality. MMachine’s artwork for Amsterdam 1972 is very strange: a series of photos of the equipment taken before the Melbourne show in February. It’s not attractive, but their presentation of the music is good enough to recommend this title.

April 4, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Amsterdam 1972 | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Valkyries Vigil (Stockholm March 1969, Paris October 1969, BBC April 1971 & Southampton January 1973)

The_Valkyrie's_Vigil_FFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

It’s been pointed out on these pages before that Led Zeppelin fans are fortunate to have so many soundboards and professionally recorded shows and radio broadcasts in excellent quality to enjoy. This is something not shared by other bands like The Rolling Stones or The Who. Tarantura cap a successful year by gathering together four professional recordings into one gorgeous boxset The Valkyrie’s Vigil. Covering a four year period between 1969 to 1971, the only aspect these tapes have in common are the band (obviously) and that they all come from fantastic sounding recordings.

For the four shows gathered in this anthology, Tarantura use the best available sources and have been remastered to sound more loud, clear and enjoyable than anything else on the market. Generally speaking these shows are in close to definitive shape as possible.

The four shows are packaged in cardboard sleeves, single pocket sleeves for the first two shows and gatefold sleeves for the last two. The four fit into a slip cover with a magnetic seal as has been used before on Led Zeppelin Bootleg License (Tarantura TCD-77, 78) and Eric Clapton & Jeff Beck Two Birds From The Yard (Tarantura TCCEDJB – 1, 2). On the front is a reproduction of the painting The Valkyrie’s Vigil by Edward Robert Hughes (1906) and the back cover has a reproduction of A Valkyrie speaks with a raven(1862) by Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys.

Plays Gothic Blues (Tarantura TCD-97)
Konsertthuset, Stockholm, Sweden – March 14th, 1969 (afternoon show)

(46:34): I Can’t Quit You, mc, I Gotta Move, Dazed And Confused, How Many More Times. Bonus tracks, Winterland, San Francisco, CA – April 25th, 1969: Train Kept A Rollin’, You Shook Me, Communication Breakdown, mc, As Long As I Have You

The earliest tape in the set is the radio broadcast of the afternoon show from the Tivolis Koncertsal in Copenhagen, Denmark on March 16th, 1969. Confusion has always circulated about this tape with many releases, including this one, attributing it to March 14th early show in the Konserthuset in Stockholm. The twenty minute tape was broadcast on radio on “Rock fran underjorden” (“Rock From Underground”) in 1982 and 1985.

The tape contains complete renditions of “I Can’t Quit You,” “Dazed And Confused” and an improvisation called “I Gotta Move.” It has been featured on numerous releases including Missing Links (The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin TDOLZ Vol. 081) and Super Session At Tivolis Koncertsal (Empress Valley EVSD-445), which is a very nice edit of the radio broadcast and an audience tape from the show.

Plays Gothic Blues contains only the twenty minute radio broadcast in excellent sound quality. The radio station apparently didn’t record the first song “Train Kept A Rollin’.” The broadcast then begins with “I Can’t Quit You” which is actually the third song of the night. Page broke a string during the first song and Plant, Jones and Bonham improvise on “I Gotta Move” which is “a thing from Otis Rush” according to Robert. Truth is, there is no Otis Rush song called “I Gotta Move.” This is a simple jam on a common blues theme.

The highlight of the short broadcast is a pristine version of the early 1969 “Dazed And Confused” which by this time already has been expanded past the boundaries of the studio version. The tape ends with Plant’s introduction in “How Many More Times” before the end. The first disc has a nice bonus, excerpts from the twenty-five minute excellent audience recording of the April 25th Winterland show from the Good Old Led Zeppelin (Tarantura TCD-89~92).

In The Act Of Invoking The Spirit (Tarantura TCD-94)
L’Olympia, Paris, France – October 10th, 1969

(77:51): Introduction, Good Times Bad Times, Communication Breakdown, I Can’t Quit You, Heartbreaker, Dazed And Confused, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, You Shook Me, How Many More Times

The existence of the October 1969 Paris radio broadcast has been the object of speculation until it was finally rebroadcast in October 2007 as a celebration of the O2 reunion. It presented most of the show (“Moby Dick” is rumored to have been omitted) and was marred by DJ comments in French spoken over the music in some places. Nevertheless silver pressed releases surfaced about a week after the original broadcast. Many of them such as Paris Olympia 1969 (Wendy wecd- 104), Olympia 1969 (no label), Ain’t No Fool (Black Dog Records BDR-02) and Paris Par Excellence (Empress Valley EVSD-510) presented the unedited broadcast with DJ comments. Other labels like L’Olympia (Godfather G.R.248), Good Times Bad Times(Scorpio LZ-08015) and N’est Aucun Imbecile(Black Dog Records BDR-003) carefully edited out the comments and lost some music.

It was almost by accident that The Chronicles Of Led Zeppelin came upon a true pre-FM master tape of the broadcast that did not have the DJ comments and was not missing any music (except for the still AWOL “Moby Dick.”) They released this find on One Night Stand In Paris (TCOLZ 029/030) along with a second disc with the actual broadcast. In The Act Of Invoking The Spirit is the same source as used on disc one of the TCOLZ but is slightly more loud, clear and lively.

It isn’t known if this is all that was taped or if the rest of the show, which some say includes “Moby Dick” was also taped and are still sitting in the vault. It is said they played for an hour and a half leaving a half hour still unaccounted. More likely than not they also played ”What Is And What Should Never Be” since that was a regular inclusion in the set. The set list as it appears in the radio broadcast also differs from the list reported in the latest edition of The Concert File, which places “You Shook Me” before “White Summer” followed by “Dazed And Confused.”

The set begins with the devastating opening bars of “Good Times, Bad Times” serving as a prelude to “Communication Breakdown.” Only at these shows was this arrangement used as they were trying to achieve the most overwhelming sound they could muster. This tape includes the earliest reference to “Heartbreaker” introduced by Robert Plant, saying, “We’d like to carry on with something on the new Led Zeppelin II album, which is eventually coming out in England and America. It’s called ‘Heartbreaker.’”

This version sounds close to the studio arrangement and Page uses heavy distortion during the guitar solo. Page’s ”White Summer” was still played at this time and is introduced by Plant saying, “right now we’d like to feature…” Page can be heard behind him saying, “wanking dog.” Plant continues, “wanking dog…Jimmy Page on guitar. This is a combination of several things. It goes under the collective title, as Percy Thrower would say, ‘White Summer,’ Jimmy Page.” What follows is a virtuoso epic crammed into ten minutes.

“You Shook Me” must count among the heaviest versions on record with Bonham keeping time with a sledgehammer on his drums. This sound would remain in the set list, in one form or another, for the next couple of years before being abandoned. But the best is the long improvisation during “How Many More Times.” By this time it had already been expanded into a long, distinct medley of oldies, but they really don’t follow any rules in this concert.

The long improvisation starts off very dark and includes references to Holst’s “Mars, The Bringer Of War” and a very slow version of The Yardbirds’ “Over Under Sideways Down.” Some people shout to Plant while he’s in the middle of “The Hunter” and causes him to say, “shut up!” There is a long “Boogie Chillun’” part with a reference to Ainsley Dunbar and “Needle Blues” where Plant sings, “I got my needle in you babe, and you seem to think it’s alright. Why don’t you roll over baby, see what it’s like on the other side. I think that was Brownie McGhee.”

Plant is trying hard to shake up the audience with suggestive lyrics and obscure inside jokes. Maybe Plant is seeking revenge for the tepid reaction they received in the summer. It is said that Zeppelin were not as well received in France as in other countries. Maybe this is the reason why it took Zeppelin more than three years before they returned to the capital?

Never Was Angel In Heaven (Tarantura TCD-95-1,2)
Paris Theater, London, England – April 1st, 1971

Disc 1 (55:04): interval, introduction, Plant mc, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Plant mc, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Plant mc, Black Dog, Plant mc, Dazed And Confused, Plant mc, Stairway To Heaven, Plant mc

Disc 2 (54:06): Plant mc, Going To California, Plant mc, That’s The Way, interval, false start, What Is And What Should Never Be, Plant mc, Whole Lotta Love, Plant mc, Thank You, Communication Breakdown, John Peel mc

Led Zeppelin’s BBC “In Concert” appearance in 1971 has countless releases going back almost forty years. The most recent releases are the competent BBC Archives (Scorpio LZ-040171), a four disc set with two mixes of the broadcast and The Complete British Broadcasting Corporation Radio Sessions (Empress Valley EVSD-410/411/412/413). Empress Valley attempted to present the definitive BBC set on four discs but their remaster of this show was an unmitigated disaster and is perhaps the worst version on CD.

The cleanest, most centered sonically and enjoyable version is BBC In Concert on Forever Standard Series released in 1999 and it is this version Tarantura most resembles. Page’s guitar is based in the right channel and Plant’s vocals are centered in the middle and it’s extremely clear and enjoyable.

This appearance on the BBC was Zeppelin’s last. It occurred right after their “Return To The Clubs” tour in the spring. It was originally scheduled for March 25th but was pushed back a week due to Plant’s voice giving out. In fact, the tape starts off with Plant offering an apology, “First of all, I better say sorry about last week, but we did about eighteen dates in about six days, no well, about twenty days, and my voice just gave up altogether. So we hope it’s all in condition tonight, but if it’s not, cheer cause you’re on the radio.”

What follows is their current stage show with three songs from the unreleased fourth album, “Black Dog,” “Stairway To Heaven” and “Going To California.” The only thing they didn’t play was John Paul Jones’ organ solo before “Thank You.”

With host John Peel, Zeppelin deliver a very “tight but loose” performance for the radio. There are lots of jokes and comments between songs and a running gag about fifty-two million people in the audience. One of the highlights is an eighteen minute version of “Dazed And Confused” which Plant calls “a fusion of material.”

The radio premier of “Stairway To Heaven” is delayed by equipment problems, “This is another thing off the fourth album. It’s called Stairway to Heaven….The gap is caused by John tuning in his bass pedals, if we can explain that. I’ll take this time for just a quick swill of tea, hang on…I can’t really tell you you, fifty two million of you. It sounds like Bridget the midget, doesn’t it? That’s why I said fifty five million, or fifty two million, or whatever cause there’s a lot of, you know, effort required.”

He brings Peel into the shtick, saying, “Anyway, with the help of John and everybody else, we’re gonna get by I think. Right, he’s got his medallion, and his leather suit I believe.” Peel jokes, “I was really knocked out that so many people came to see me tonight.” Plant jokes, saying, “Rory Gallagher said that they shouldn’t wear spacemen’s suit. There’s an effort not even worth speaking about.” The Gallagher joke is one I’ve never understood.

The two song acoustic set was still a risky feature of the set in 1971. Plant’s comments before the first song are rambling about drinking tea, the leads, and the New York gig the previous September. “What Is And What Should Never Be” is started in the wrong key and ends with laughter and Plant joking, “Mailbag on the Melody Maker would have had a treat. I can imagine it. I bet they’re here now. Joe Public, how do?”

The ”Whole Lotta Love” medley includes some of the regular tunes such as “Honey Bee,” “Mess O’Blues” and “Boogie Chillun’.” Zeppelin give a nice surprise with a pristine cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” a song they would sometimes cover. They play two standard encores from this year, “Thank You” (minus the organ intro) and a quick “Communication Breakdown.” For many years this was the best recorded Zeppelin concert in circulation and it remains still one of the best. It is one of the most vivid documents from early 1971, a period that is very obscure. This is much more valuable than the official BBC release because it is complete both musically and with Plant’s comments between songs to the radio audience.

In The Old Refectory (Tarantura TCD-96-1,2)
The Old Refectory, Southampton University, Southampton, England – January 22nd, 1973

Disc 1 (77:41): Introduction, Rock And Roll, Over The Hills And Far Away, Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dancing Days, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Dazed And Confused

Disc 2 (77:04): Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Heartbreaker, Thank You, How Many More Times, Communication Breakdown

In The Old Refectoryis the latest incarnation of the January 22nd, 1973 Southampton University gig that surfaced on multitrack in 2007. Previous releases of this tape include The Great Lost Live Album (Nasty Music NM-1973-01/02/03), Live At Southampton University Working Tapes (EVSD-493/494), Any Port In A Storm: The Lost Soundboard Show (Godfather GR223/224) and Tarantura’s prior release of this show Swastika (Tarantura TCD67-1,2). Southampton University 1973 (no label) was released in the spring of 2008 and had the tape speed adjusted, slowing the tape down 1.5% compared to all of the other releases making this one two minutes and ten seconds longer than the others and sounding at the correct pitch.

Tape speed normally isn’t an issue below 5% and the older releases all sounded good. But this little adjustment was a dramatic difference compared to the earlier release. In The Old Refectory follows this release in running at the correct pitch and having the channel drops inherent on the tape smoothed over. It also corrected a mistake in the old label version by including the few seconds after “Dazed And Confused.”

A review of this concert appeared in the Wessex News afterwards in an article titled “LZ Live At Clive’s” written by John Clark. He wrote: “For two days, Southampton was blessed with the presence of the world’s top rock band. On the first, it was the turn of the town, with Led Zeppelin blowing the minds of 2500 fans at the Gaumont. But the next day, our heroes came to the Union, and played to us in the Black Hole of Calcutta, or Old Ref. as it is sometimes known. The Gaumont concert had been pretty tight, but not as good as I would have expected from a band that had been on the road for the past two months. But all my doubts were dispelled the next day. I don’t know if it was the atmosphere, or just being right at the front of the audience, but the Old Ref. concert was just fantastic. There’s no other word for it. They enjoyed it, and we enjoyed it, and that’s what matters.

“As usual, they were a bit slow to warm up – in fact ‘Rock n Roll’, their opening number, was very rough, and the next, ‘The Lady’, a track from LZ 5, wasn’t much better either. ‘Black Dog’ followed, and the audience joined in instantly on the ah-ah-aaah chorus, whereas it took the Gaumont audience a couple of goes to get it right. LZ were beginning to cook. ‘Misty Mountain Hop’ and ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ came next, giving John Paul Jones a chance to show us his dexterity on the keyboards. Until ‘Loving You’, Jimmy Page had been churning out the riffs to make his numbers boogie, but on this one he gave us his first solo, very fast one second, and slow the next, getting everything out of each note.

“Just to watch him moving his fingers up and down the fretboard made me very envious – he must have some natural gift. ‘Dancing Days’ and ‘The Song Remains The Same’, the two new numbers were the next, the first, a straight rocker very much in the LZ style, and the second, a longish complex number starting and finishing with some low tempo-melodic guitar playing, and connected with a heavy rocking bit and a superb organ solo from John Paul Jones. The next number Robert Plant dedicated to the manager of the Gaumont – ‘Dazed and Confused’. This, a track from their first album, was used as a showpiece for Page’s long guitar solo. For part of this he used a big bow, and the highlight was when he hit the strings and got the note to echo back to him. When he’d been playing for about 10 minutes, the rest of the band joined in and stretched the number out to about 25 minutes.

“Next was a beam of clear, white light, as Plant called it, ‘Stairway To Heaven’. Plant’s vocals, which had been a bit hidden by page’s guitar before, came through beautifully, the song gradually rising to the peak of that superb rocking ending. That got everybody on their feet, and shouting for every LZ number under the sun. But Plant asked everybody to shut up for a moment, while he told them about his visit to the toilet. On the bog wall, he saw this name – Alan Whitehead – and this next number was dedicated to him. It was ‘Whole Lotta Love’. The band went into a number of old rock and roll tunes, then ‘I Can’t Quit You Babe’, and back to ‘Whole Lotta Love’ for a tremendous climax to the show. A few minutes clapping, and they were back to give us ‘Heartbreaker’, and then ‘Thank You’, featuring John Paul Jones with a long organ intro., and back for a third time.

“Plant said how much they’d enjoyed the gig, and then they proceeded to play ‘How Many More Times’, the first time they’d done it for two and a half years. But youd’ never have known it, it was so tight. Straight into ‘Communications Breakdown’, and then it was all over. See you again, they said, and a very nackered goodnight. This was the only gig they recorded on the whole tour – because they reckon the acoustics of the old Ref are good – and after the show Jimmy Page said there would probably be a live album later this year. Let’s hope so – it’d be a great souvenir of a great show.”

“Rock And Roll” sounds a bit sluggish, but the following song “Over The Hills And Far Away” is very good with an animated solo by Page in the middle. Before “Black Dog” Plant says, “And it’s a good evening. I believe we came here before. I don’t know if it was as warm then. We’re going to have a good time tonight. This is about a Labrador who became rather – rather dodgy with lumbago. The only thing he could do was boogie. He was a black dog. Black Dog!” The “Misty Mountain Hop” and “Since I’ve Been Loving You” pairing follows immediately afterwards. Before “Dancing Days” Plant explains, “This is a bastard actually. This is a track from the new album. It’s a track that was written in the height of last year’s summer on July 6th. It’s a song about school days and little boys that never grow up. It’s called ‘Dancing Days’.” This is usually a great live piece but this version sounds tired with Page playing a bland solo at the song’s conclusion.

“Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp,” which normally follows “Dancing Days,” is dropped: “we don’t know it to be honest,” Plant explains. “Besides we can’t maneuver about.” The band play another new song, “The Song Remains The Same” instead. The right channel of the stereo flickers at eleven seconds into the track and becomes a bit weak at twenty-two seconds, but improves soon afterwards with another flicker at 2:51. at the end of “The Rain Song” Plant says, “That was John Paul Jones, ably assisted by the Haleigh Orchestra which we managed to press into this small 3 X 26 box.” A power surge can be heard on the tape and there is a short delay while the roadies work on wiring onstage. Page plays a bit of the Tarantella while Plant caution “you can get a shock you know, Cerano.” Plant jokes with the audience about the show the previous evening at the Gaumont Theater before the band play a twenty-eight minute version of “Dazed And Confused.”

The recording preserves the dynamics of the piece and the song is very enjoyable in this show. Plant is out of tempo during the “San Francisco” section and Page takes his time finding his violin bow. Bonham plays the cymbals under Plant’s moans in the interim before the violin bow section begins. The sounds are soft, reminiscent of the Liverpool tape, but also very creepy. “Whole Lotta Love” lasts for a half hour and the medley is typical for this tour with no surprises. There is a small cut on the tape at 19:47. They play the longest set of encores of the tour. “Heartbreaker” is first followed by the John Paul Jones mellotron arrangement of “Thank You,” this is an experiment he first introduced in Nagoya the previous October and played it several times since, but this is the best recording we have of this unusual piece.

At the song’s end Page plays some pretty figures on the guitar before Plant introduces the next number. “This is one of our early tunes and God knows if we can remember it.” They play an eight minute version of “How Many More Times” for the first time in two years which segues directly with the final encore of the night “Communication Breakdown.”

The Valkyrie’s Vigil is the final Led Zeppelin release this year from the Tarantura label. Although there are no new tapes, the mastering of these tapes insures they are as close to definitive as possible. The packaging of the discs, both the individual shows and the entire box, is also one of the prettiest sets produced by the label. It is limited to one hundred fifty numbered copies which sold out on pre-order alone. It is a testament to Tarantura since they still produce some of the rarest and most desirable titles in the world today. This one is close to flawless and is worth hunting down.

April 4, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Valkyries Vigil | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin A Gram Is A Gram Is A Gram (LA Forum, March 1975)

gram_fFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

The Forum, Los Angeles, CA – March 24th, 1975

Disc 1 (55:02): Rock and Roll, Sick Again, Over the Hills and Far Away, In My Time of Dying, The Song Remains the Same, Rain Song, Kashmir

Disc 2 (56:13): No Quarter, Trampled Underfoot, Moby Dick

Disc 3 (72:38): Dazed and Confused (incl. Woodstock), Stairway to Heaven, Whole Lotta Love (incl. The Crunge), Black Dog, Heartbreaker

Most titles with Led Zeppelin’s first Los Angeles Forum show in 1975 use the excellent quality Mike Millard tape. Only one release, Deep Throat, utilizes the second tape source to fill in the cuts on the better sounding source. But A Gram Is A Gram Is A Gram is the only release to go with the alternate tape source. It is clear but distant and would be acceptable if it were the only tape available for this show. It does exist in the shadow one of the best sounding Led Zeppelin tapes and is good for completists.

Image Quality don’t use the entire second source for this release, however. IQ use the Millard recording for the encores on disc three.

The show begins with J.J. Jackson making the introduction before “Rock And Roll” and after “Sick Again,” Plant tells the audience that ”we’ve been in California a little while, but let me tell you, this is the place….these are the last three gigs on our American tour and so we intend them to be somewhat of a very high point for us and that can’t be really achieved, obviously we really don’t achieve that without a little bit of vibe, which I can already feel, and a few smiles.”

Plant continues to little the show with his humorous comments like before “In My Time Of Dying” telling the audience that there are ”a few developments in the camp and a few camps in the development. Bonzo decided not to have the sex change after-all, and ah, we got a new album out.” The first real high point occurs during the “No Quarter” marathon, the first one in the set. The grand piano and electric guitar improvisation had reached a height by this time and these versions are among the best executed and recorded.

“Dazed And Confused” is “probably about the first thing that we had a go at, apart from the secretary.” It’s obvious Page is trying hard to expand the improvisation as the piece stretches past a half hour, but there are several rough spots and it comes off as rather sloppy, the worst of the three Forum shows.

“Stairway To Heaven,” which is “for all our English friends who’ve arrived at the continental Riot House…. and this is for you people here who’ve made this a good gig.” The encores are the longest of the three with a full version of “The Crunge” before they play “Black Dog,” and this is the only one to have the rare second encore “Heartbreaker.” A Gram Is A Gram Is A Gram is a good title, but not a replacement for a good copy of the Millard recording.

April 4, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin A Gram Is A Gram Is A Gram | , | Leave a comment

Robert Plant Moody Guy Moments (Tokyo, February 1984)

robertplant-moodyFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Sun Plaza Hall, Tokyo, Japan – February 26th, 1984

Disc 1 (63:22): In The Mood, Pledge Pin, Messin’ With The Mekon, Moonlight In Samosa, Thru’ With The Two Step, Burning Down One Side, Wreckless Love, Worse Than Detroit

Disc 2 (72:41): Like I’ve Never Been Gone, Big Log, The Young Ones, Change Your Story. London rehearsals: jam #1, jam #2, Thru’ With The Two Step #1, Thru’ With The Two Step #2, Messin’ With The Mekon, Rockin’ At Midnight / Young Boy Blues #1#2

Robert Plant ended his first solo tour of Japan in 1984, and his first visit to Japan in twelve years, with two shows at the Sun Plaza in Tokyo on February 25th and February 26th. Moody Guy Moments on Image Qualit contains a very good audience recording of the final night of the tour. There are several cuts between songs that eliminate some of the Plantations and the tape cuts out in the end while he’s introducing the final encore of the night “Honey Hush.”

The cuts could have been handled better by the label, but they pass by quickly and the music is unaffected by any disturbance. This is a overall a very good Robert Plant release and the only one of this particular show.

The title comes from the overall mood of Robert Plant’s first foray into solo composition. Both Pictures At Eleven in 1982 and Principle Of Moments the following year were adventurous explorations of various moods, most of the melancholy.

The show starts off with very long versions of “In The Mood,” “Pledge Pin” and ”Messin’ With The Mekon.” These elongated versions are a perfect statement of the musical prowess of this outfit and before “Moonlight In Samosa” Plant says: “This is the last Japan show. No more playing in Tokyo…but it’s been very very remarkable and very nice and the people I’ve met here have been warm and remarkable Japanese people. Thank you for your hospitality and your kindness and at the pleasure you give us…good night.”

The performances are startling throughout, especially “Wreckless Love” and “Worse Than Detroit,” which is expanded with quotes from “Can’t Be Satisfied.” After this number Plant says: “okay we’ll be back next time…Mr. Udo is in the dressing room right now … talking about the next Japanese tour. Let’s hope he’s got the speaker on and can hear us while we talk. We’d love to come back Mr. Udo. Next time it will cost you” Plant jokes. “Of course we’ll come back. It’s been very nice coming here. Goodnight, goodbye, this is the last number” before the set closer “Like I’ve never Been Gone.”

“Big Log” is the first encore and afterwards Plant gushes about Cliff Richards, who is an “evergreen” star. Plant is interrupted in the middle when someone hands him a note. Plant reads the note: “Dear Robbie, the babys’ doing fine.”

At the very end of the tape Plant is saying: “Now that was rock and roll. That was part of the start and so was Cliff Richard. And in Chicago Leonard Chess had formed the Chess label and in New York Ahmet Ertegun was driving around and in the trunk of his car he had records by Big Joe Turner…” The tape cuts off there unfortunately, but given the introduction it’s apparent he was introducing “Honey Hush,” a hit for Turner in 1953 and a cover tune Plant performed several times.

Image Quality include a half hour long rehearsal tape. It doesn’t give much information except they occurin London. Given the presence of the horn section and that half of the tape is occupied with “Rockin’ At Midnight” and “Young Man Blues,” two songs normally played during the Honeydrippers set on the Shaken N Stirred tour in 1985, means this rehearsal dates from the spring of that year. Plant speaks about his stance on the stage during the set and the band jam a bit. It’s an interesting little tape to have and works well as a bonus.

April 4, 2013 Posted by | Robert Plant Moody Guy Moments | | Leave a comment

Oasis Definitely Maybe (1994)

DefinitelyMaybeOasis2PR200712From jerryseinfeld.hubpages.com

On thousands of occasions since the release of Oasis’ first album, commentators have suggested that the beauty, the danger and the absolute brilliance of it has never been repeated. It has become almost passé to suggest that Definitely Maybe is the best that Oasis ever produced, indeed it has become a cliché in music itself for erstwhile fans to claim preferring an artist’s “earlier stuff” but now, over a year after the demise of the band, and just weeks from the first release by Oasis spin-off Beady Eye, it seems like the perfect place to start the series of Retro Review.

The album, Definitely Maybe is ingrained in British consciousness, like The Stone Roses , as a career defining tour de force; the album, intensely awaited (it became the fastest selling debut album of all time in the UK on its 1994 release) and retrospectively revered is simply 11 – 13 if you have the Japenese version, 12 if you have the vinyl version – supreme examples of British music rooted, so clearly, in The Beatles, The Jam and The Who.

The album opens with Rock ‘n’ Roll Star , a five minute riot of a slow burner where lead singer, a 22 year old Liam Gallagher, gets to live his dreams of superstardom. There are no hints at that point to suggest this is a debut album and that Oasis are just warming up, this feels like Oasis are already the biggest band in the world; as an opener to an LP career the track is a mission statement that demands the undivided attention of the listener. The title, Rock ‘n’ Roll Star , sets you up for a cheesy glam rock number but by the time you have gotten to the end of the it you have forgotten whatever else you may be doing and Oasis have got you just where they want you.

Over a recording career of 14 years, Oasis suffered mainly unflattering comparisons with The Beatles. Mostly it was of their own doing as a lot of the material subsequent to their debut release was part tribute, part homage (and no small part pastiche) to their heroes. Some of the criticism and comparisons, however, was lazy journalism, the type that also saw Oasis compared with The Smiths and The Happy Mondays just because they were famous bands from Manchester. On Definitely Maybe , Oasis show a range of styles almost entirely absent from the rest of their career with the playful melodies of Up In The Sky and Digsy’s Dinner , the lyrical postcard home of Shakermaker (see also the early b-side Fade Away) and the beautiful anti-love letter Married With Children . The easy transition from one style to another is reminiscent of The Beatles and, if the songs themselves don’t always hold up in comparison, bear in mind that one man wrote Definitely Maybe single handed while The Beatles output was written by four.

Oasis were a band hyped out of all proportion before their first record, leading of course to massive sales, which was partly due to the buzz surrounding their live performances. On the face, Oasis were five men who stood on the stage, hardly moving, while racing through their set-list before disappearing, not a word spoken in between. This is a fallacy borne of those that had not experienced Oasis first hand and had therefore never experienced the unmoving, unnerving power, like a Mike Tyson stare, of those early ‘performances’. The closest you can get to a live Oasis performance on this LP is Bring It On Down . Over the years this track, more than any other on the album, has been criminally underplayed by fair-weather fans but at the same time has been held up by others as an example of the best of early Oasis. At just over four minutes long, Bring It On Down has the form and length of a pop song but the snarling delivery of not only the vocal but the guitar, bass and drums, gives you Oasis, live in your stereo.

There are four songs on Definitely Maybe that Oasis played right until the very end; Live Forever, first single Supersonic, Slide Away and Cigarettes & Alcohol. It is these songs that define the Oasis sound, one that lead guitarist and songwriter Noel Gallagher would always dream of escaping (see his work with The Chemical Brothers and the soundtrack of The X-Files); a sound that can only really be described as ‘Stadium Anthems’ (the trick was repeated time and again but most successfully on their second album with Wonderwall, Don’t Look Back In Anger, and Champagne Supernova). They are great songs bursting with an energy that belies their relatively slow pace and in the context of the album serve to raise Oasis high above their contemporaries and competitors.

At the time, Definitely Maybe, was seen as an aperitif to whet your appetite for things to come; the band spoke often of The Beatles and, when put side to side with Please Please Me, their first release was rammed with promise. But it was that promise that was to become a burden. Two further releases followed in the next three years; the mega selling, stadium filling (What’s The Story) Morning Glory, itself a pale imitation of its predecessor and the bloated, unwieldy disappointment of Be Here Now.

It has been pointed out, rightly, many times before that debut albums are the result of years of song writing and development and so are honed to supersonic perfection, and that trying to write subsequent albums while touring and promoting can see any artist filling out a catalogue of ennui. This proved to be the case for Oasis as over the years they tried, unsuccessfully, to recreate the verve and wonder of this first release, eventually becoming themselves an Oasis tribute band.

If you have never heard this album, or have never heard anything by Oasis and you are looking for a couple of pointers, listen out for Rock ‘n’ Roll Star, Supersonic, Digsy’s Dinner and Married With Children. This is a very, very good LP, make no mistake but I believe that these four songs showcase both the charm and the power of early Oasis.

What of the extra tracks on the Japanese version? Sad Song is beautiful and gives Noel the opportunity to break the hearts of listeners, an opportunity that he grabs with laconic enthusiasm. The second extra track, Cloudburst was a b-side in the UK and, good as it is, is another example of Noel’s magpie like approach to music. Whether it is stealing a melody from a Coca Cola advert (Shakermaker), a T-Rex song (Cigarettes & Alcohol) or, as in this case, a Stone Roses number, Gallagher Snr. has often found himself unable to resist lifting sounds he likes almost verbatim and reproducing them under his own name.

Definitely Maybe is wonderful; it is exciting, loud, beautiful and optimistic. Oasis could never live up to the promise on show in this record, but few ever can when the promise is this great.

April 4, 2013 Posted by | Oasis Definitely Maybe | | Leave a comment

Genesis Selling England By The Pound (1973)

25785From donignacio.com

If this isn’t the greatest prog album of all time, then I don’t know what is. I must have heard it well over 100 times, and it continues to fascinate me. No other record in my collection or out of my collection (that I’m aware of) contains such a rich variety of arresting textures, hooky melodies, and pure emotion.

I can even say that I get excited about listening to this album in the first two seconds of its opening song, “Dancing With the Moonlit Knight.” That’s not because I’m particularly thrilled about Peter Gabriel singing a Medieval folk ballad a cappella, but I greatly anticipate the journey that it’s about to take me on. That song is a perfect example of how majestically well Gabriel-era Genesis were able to smoothly interweave a variety of constantly evolving textures and emotions. If I were to play snippets of it in random places, they would seem like they came from completely different songs, but as I’m actually listening to it from beginning to end, everything fits together flawlessly. It’s amazing sitting through that song, and it must be heard to be believed.

Genesis were not only on top of their game as songwriters, but also as instrumentalists. They are even more amazing than they were in Foxtrot! If you want proof of that, you needn’t look further than “Firth of Fifth.” There, you’ll find Peter Gabriel delivering a rather uneasy, somewhat paranoid flute solo, Tony Banks dazzling the crap out of us with a few chord-heavy keyboard solos, and Steve Hackett playing a guitar solo that sounds bigger than the universe. Not only do these solos have a distinct personality, but they’re just as melodic and memorable as one of Peter Gabriel’s vocal melodies, which are as memorable and melodic as Genesis has ever been or will ever be again.

Although not all these epic prog outings are quite so wildly developing. The 11-minute “Cinema Show” starts as one of the most sweetest, gentlest folk songs I’ve ever heard, and it very gradually turns into something more dramatic and thunderous. That’s quite a song, too; it must be the most warmest, nostalgic pieces of music I’ve ever listened to. I can’t help imagining Peter Gabriel singing its fairy tale lyrics to his children on a snowy day by the fireside. Of course he ends up scaring the children with its rather tense and scary ending, but that’s just like all the other fairy tales we were told as kids.

Phil Collins deserves a lot of the flack that he gets, but I don’t quite understand what so many people have against “More Fool Me,” a rather loose, three-minute folk ballad. Sure, it sounds like a demo and it’s not one of the grandiose progressive epics, but it has a catchy melody and Collins’ lead vocals seem genuine and sweet. Any song with those qualities would qualify as a great song in my book.

I am about as attached to this album as a pet owner is attached to a pet, and it’s impossible for me to try to imagine what my life would have been like without it. Whether I listened to it passively while driving in the car or listening to it intensely with my headphones, it have always greatly treasured its diversions as I soak up its rich variety of textures. Sometimes the album sweet and angelic and other times it’s tense and dramatic; through all its twists and turns, I’ve always manage to hold onto its every move.

I think you might have guessed it by this point, but Selling England By the Pound is one of my favorite albums of all time. I didn’t even get to talk about everything I wanted to in the main portion of this review! But instead of making this review twice as long as it already is, I figure I’d better shut up and give you a chance to experience it for yourselves. If you haven’t heard this album before, then don’t let another second go by. If you have heard it and you thought it was boring (which is a fairly common reaction), then I urge you to take another close and unhindered listen. If there’s even an inkling of a chance that you might come to see the treasures I see in this that I see, then your efforts would surely pay off.

April 4, 2013 Posted by | Genesis Selling England By The Pound | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Lilli Marleen (Hamburg, March 1970)

zep_marleenFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

It is unusual to have so many listenable tapes from a band’s tour so early in their career, but Zeppelin’s first proper tour of the continent in the spring of 1970 is very well documented. From the first date on February 24th in Helsinki, Finland, seven of the eleven shows have extant audience tapes and all have been released in one form or another including the famous “Nobs” show in Copenhagen on February 28th.

Only the two Göteborg, Munich and Amsterdam concerts are missing from the archives. Several years ago the March 7th Montreux and the March 12th Dusseldorf appearances received several releases on competing labels.

On Lili Marleen, Tarantura have issued perhaps the definitive release of the two Hamburg dates from the end of the short tour. Neither of these tapes sound as good as Montreux or Dusseldorf, but they are better sounding than Vienna and overall this release is an improvement over the previous titles covering these two tapes.

Musikhalle, Hamburg, Germany – March 10th, 1970

Disc 1, March 10th, 1970: We’re Gonna Groove, I Can’t Quit You, Dazed & Confused, Heartbreaker, White Summer/Black Mountain Side

Disc 2: Since I’ve Been Loving You, organ solo / Thank You, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, How Many More Times (incl. The Hunter, Eyesight To The Blind, Boogie Chillun’, Cumberland Gap, Rollin’ And Tumblin’, Down By The River, Traveling Riverside Blues, Long Distance Call Blues, The Lemon Song), Whole Lotta Love

The first two discs, subtitled “Down By The River” by Tarantura, contain the first show in Hamburg on March 10th. The tape source is distant but clear taped a fair distance from the stage with moderate levels of hiss.

This tape surfaced in the mid-nineties and was quickly booted by the Japanese label Immigrant on Hamburg 1970 (IM-024~25), followed by Mystery European Gig (BS 38/39) by The Symbols. Zeppelin were scheduled to play in Frankfurt on this date but it was cancelled after riots broke out at a Jethro Tull concert several weeks before and deliver an interesting performance in the first of two shows in Hamburg.

“We’re Gonna Groove” is a bit distorted but that disappears by the guitar solo and by the time the band reach “I Can’t Quit You” the tape becomes very listenable. There is a tape crinkle about 12:55 in “Dazed & Confused”. After a small cut in the tape Plant introduces the next song “from the second album, called ‘Heartbreaker’”. After a collective gasp of horror and fascination from the audience he tries to calm them down and Page plays the opening riff very softly before the band crash in. “Black Mountain Side” has a hint of “Swan Song”. “Thank You” is cut after the guitar solo eliminating the final verse.

“How Many More Times” is simply a masterpiece of construction. During the tense guitar solo at the nine-minute mark Plant chants lyrics from Ricky Nelson’s ”We’ve Got A Long Way To Go” followed by the heavy marching pattern leading into “The Hunter”. Sonny Boy Willimason’s “Eyesight To The Blind” and John Lee Hooker’s “Boogie Chillun’” are played together before the boogie guitar solo leads into “Cumberland Gap”.

Plant sings lyrics from Elmore James’ version of “Rollin’ And Tumblin” and Neil Young’s “Down By The River” together before the band slow down a bit and play, for the only known time, the original arrangement of Robert Johnson’s “Traveling Riverside Blues” (with the audience clapping along) which is segued with “Long Distance Call Blues” before wrapping up with “The Lemon Song”. “Does everybody feel alright?” Plant asks to almost silence. “Both of you!” he replies before the song concludes with the main theme. This is one of the best-recorded versions of the song and the encore sounds anticlimactic afterwards.

Musikhalle, Hamburg, Germany – March 11th, 1970

Disc 3, March 11th, 1970: Introduction, We’re Gonna Groove, I Can’t Quit You, Dazed & Confused, Heartbreaker, White Summer/ Black Mountain Side

Disc 4: Since I’ve Been Loving You, organ solo / Thank You, Moby Dick, How Many More Times (includes The Hunter, Ravel’s Bolero, Needle Blues, Boogie Woogie, Cumberland Gap, Long Distance Call Blues, Shake ‘Em On Down, Lemon Song), Whole Lotta Love

Discs three and four, subtitled “Shake ‘Em On Down”, cover the second date in Hamburg on March 11th. Parts were released on vinyl on the rare German titles Live (Best) and White Summer (Marc) with a reissue also called White Summer (Acid). The only compact disc release is by the Image Quality label on Everybody Everybody (IQ-053/54). The music is louder and is more enjoyable than the first night but the tapers had their levels set too high and the tape is plagued with a significant amount of distortion.

The tapers hold muffled conversations between themselves which aren’t distracting but are noticeable. There are also several cuts in the tape and “What Is And What Should Never Be” is either missing or not played on this night. “When I say good evening, you say good evening back. Good evening!” Plant says. He also complains about the house lights being on; “Lights! Just a minute” as Page and the band play a little ditty to kill time before they start ”Dazed & Confused”. “Feelin’ Groovy” is played as a short introduction to “Heartbreaker” and the guitar solo includes Bouree which elicits a reaction from the audience.

“Since I’ve Been Loving You” is introduced as the first thing they got together for Led Zeppelin III. The “How Many More Times” medley in this show is almost as good as the first night and two minutes shorter, clocking in at twenty-four and a half minutes. Ravel’s Bolero is clearly played and it also includes the only known reference to Bukka White’s ”Shake ‘Em On Down” which would be recycled later in the year for “(Hats Off To) Roy Harper” on the next LP and “Custard Pie” on Physical Graffiti.

“Whole Lotta Love” reaches more than six minutes before having the tape run out at the end. These are two great shows in front of a quiet audience. Lili Marleen is limited to two hundred copies and comes packaged in a gorgeous four fold cardboard sleeve with pictures of the band from the March 12 show on the inside. The set lists are printed on each of the panels but contain some mistakes, so Tarantura provide an insert with the correct ones.

The title comes from the popular World War II era German song “Lili Marleen”. The lyrics of the song are printed (in German) on the inside. Unless better tape sources surface for these two concerts this can be considered definitive and it is great to see these two concerts receive the deluxe treatment.

April 4, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Lilli Marleen | , | Leave a comment

Genesis Foxtrot (1972)

foxtrot280From donignacio.com

This album makes me feel good. I listen to it all the time and perhaps it’s *the* indisputable proof that I am a geek. (I like Selling England By the Pound slightly more than this, but somehow Foxtrot seems geekier.) Genesis dramatically improved their act since Nursery Cryme too; that much you’ll get after listening to the first song. Whereas their instrumentation standards on earlier albums have seemed somewhat amateurish and rough around the edges, they have blossomed so much on Foxtrot that they had surely become among the best instrumentalists in the business.

Maybe they weren’t as technically proficient as Yes, King Crimson or Jethro Tull, but give me their arrangement sensibilities over those bands any time. Listening to the pastoral sounds of “Time Table” for instance is exactly what it’s like to spend a happy day outdoors in the summer sun. There aren’t a whole hell of a lot of songs that give me that impression so distinctly. That’s my favorite song in Foxtrot, by the way, which the vast majority of this album’s fans probably wouldn’t share. But I don’t care! I love it! The vocal melody is just as warm and beautiful as the instrumentation!

Peter Gabriel’s singing has also improved greatly since the last album. He’s more or less play acting through most of this, and I buy everything he does. He sounds so compelling with his dramatic turns throughout “Get ‘Em Out By Friday,” for instance, that I hang onto his every word and never for a moment think he’s being corny or pretentious. I also have to continue my endless appraisal of Phil Collins’ masterful abilities as a prog drummer. Especially his work in “Watcher of the Skies” has me in total awe. I’m not even sure how those incessantly fast and complicated rolls and fills are even physically possible. He must have ingested a magic bean.

I only have one complaint about Foxtrot, and it’s so minor that it’s pretty much not a complaint at all. While “Can-Utility and the Coastliner” is lovely, everything I said about Genesis improving their sound doesn’t apply so much to that song. It’s rather loose around the edges, and the journey it takes us on through different textures and crescendos doesn’t compel me nearly as much as the other songs. I still like listening to it quite a lot, mostly because the vocal melody is sweet, but it seems like they easily could have done more with it. It’s just a minor lost opportunity.

The closing track, “Supper’s Ready” is a 23-minute suite and a pure treat from beginning to end. I suppose the normal people will listen to it and think it’s mostly dull, particularly those slow and quiet spots, but I cannot express enough to you that I am not a normal person. That’s one song that I listen to with my eyes closed, and I let it transport me to a different land! (I try not to do that when I’m listening to it in the car, though.) There is such a wide variety of different textures, moods and melodies in there that I always have a blast with it. It’s even terribly silly in the middle with those Hobbit singers! (Yes, I think those are Hobbits. …I already told you that I am a geek! Get over it!!)

The more I listen to Foxtrot, the more I seem to like it. It is an amazing album, and surely one of the greatest prog works ever made. Not only does it have an amazing array of textures, moods and melodies, but it’s consistently entertaining and beautiful. I have spent many happy years listening to, dissecting, and loving this album, and I plan to spend many more years continuing that. Many, many, many years. (Somebody please play “Time Table” at my funeral… It’ll cheer everyone up, and I think my corpse would like it, too.)

April 4, 2013 Posted by | Genesis Foxtrot | | Leave a comment

The Who Keith’s Final Live (Toronto, October 21st, 1976)

110503011241From collectorsmusicreviews.com

Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario, Canada – October 21st, 1976

Disc 1 (45:02): I Can’t Explain, Substitute, My Wife, Baba O’Riley, Squeeze Box, Behind Blue Eyes, Dreaming From The Waist, Magic Bus

Disc 2 (64:08): Introduction of Tommy, Amazing Journey, Sparks, The Acid Queen, Fiddle About, Pinball Wizard, I’m Free, Tommy’s Holiday Camp, We’re Not Gonna Take It, See Me Feel Me, Summertime Blues, My Generation, Join Together, My Generation Blues, Who Are You, Won’t Get Fooled Again

At the end of another busy year with live performance, the final live show of the year was at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on October 21st, 1976. After almost two years of solid touring, the band would afterwards take a long break while writing and recording the follow up to The Who By Numbers called Who Are You and working on their documentary The Kids Are Alright.

With long breaks in 1977 and 1978, and with only two private shows for filming purposes, until Keith Moon died in September 1978 means that the 1976 show in Toronto is the final Who concert with him on drums before a public audience. For Who collectors it carries much import.

A paragraph from The Concert File is printed on the artwork, stating that “The tour had initially set two dates in Toronto, the second gig books for Friday, October 22, The Who played one night only. Also scrapped was a concert set for Montreal on the 23rd and a provisional date for a third concert back in Toronto on the 24th.

“The group wrapped up their 1976 tour with a tremendous show, giving the 20,000 fans who packed the Gardens a performance ‘of such nerve shattering power that not even The Rolling Stones four years ago did for the crowd what The Who did last night,’ according to one local reviewer.”

For such an important tape there haven’t been many releases with this tape. Last Stand With Keith Moon (Montserrat Records BRCD 1903/1904) came out more than a decade ago. Keith’s Final Live is a bit more loud and clear, an improvement over the older title.

At the very start of the show the sound is a bit unstable, as if the taper were finding the ideal spot for his recorder. Once he settles down he is able to produce a very clear and enjoyable recording of the entire concert. It is a slight notch below the 1975 Toronto show, but not by much.

The setlist is almost identical to the previous year. ”Boris The Spider” is omitted, as is ”Roadrunner” from the “My Generation” improvisation. Roger Daltrey himself addresses the situation after “Substitute,” telling Toronto that “We’re gonna be playing roughly the same act as we played about a year ago but hopefully we’re playing to people who never seen it before.”

The entire band are loose, but not as loose as the previous year. There are many shouts for John Entwistle before “My Wife.” He is delayed a bit beforehand, and Pete Townshend plays a bit of “The Entrance Of The Gladiators.”

Perhaps remembering the last time in Toronto, Daltrey doesn’t try to encourage the audience to sing along to “Squeeze Box.” Afterwards he intorduces Moon as ”the indestructible” and the drummer scolds them, saying: “Since you refrained from singing on the last number, I’ll do the same on this one. Just for spite.”

“Dreaming From The Waist” features an “out-of-tune bass solo” by Enwistle, and before they start “Magic Bus” Daltrey tells Toronto “Now we really wanna hear ya. And you better be as out of tune as we are.” They all get their licks in during the long improv and Townshend even does his best Travis Bickle impression, saying “you talkin’ to me??”

Moon gives a long introduction to Tommy, pointing out the ballet versions and the film versions were all good, but “I now present for your edification by the original band … the unedited version of Tommy.” The suite is played with breathless perfection and receives a loud ovation as they go into “Summertime Blues,” which sounds trite and banal after the rock opera.

“My Generation” has an excellent Townshend guitar jam. After “Join Together” and the blues arrangement of “My Generation” he plays a primitive version of “Who Are You?” It lacks the keyboard in the melody, but the chords are present, a rudimentary version of the melody and Townshend singing “I want to know, I want to know, who are you?”

At the end of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” Townsend throws his guitar up into the air but misses the catch. He picks it up, gives it a few strums, then proceeded to smash it up on stage. Many loud moans can be heard on the tape coming from the stage at this point. A fitting end to Keith’s final show with the band.

Keith’s Final Live is a phenomenal release. It hits all of the important points in this hobby. It has very good sound, it’s a great performance and the show itself is historically significant.

April 4, 2013 Posted by | The Who Keith's Final Live | , | Leave a comment