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Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Concert Review: Palacio de Deportes, Madrid, July 5th, 1995

SignFrom musicbox-online.com

On July 5th, an azure, crystal-studded zeppelin burst from the placid, unsuspecting Spanish skies to descend on Madrid’s Palacio de Deportes. The strange craft was about half the size of the original that appeared some twenty-seven years ago out of the then-paisley-flamed clouds. Piloting the ship this night, two of rock and roll’s most enduring and controversial legends: Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, in the middle of their world tour to promote their highly-acclaimed 1994 collaboration, No Quarter, Unledded.

Despite the unimaginative title of the album — let’s not forget the ‘other’ member of Led Zeppelin who co-wrote No Quarter, John Paul Jones, who, as I understand it, will receive a postcard from each concert site — Plant and Page were souped up with plenty of high-octane energy for the occasion (could we imagine anything less?) And they even had a few surprises in store for the crowd. In fact, the pair seemed to have more energy than the fifteen thousand or so people gathered at the venue. At one point during the show, Plant, in Spanish, prodded the audience: Talk, talk to me! and at a later juncture, even asked, More? More songs? as if he and his band were obligated to humor a bunch of Las Vegas dinner ballroom fogies.

The show began with a bouncy medley of The Wanton Song, Bring It On Home, and an unfortunately abridged version of Whole Lotta Love. Page then stepped to the forefront, as he would on several occasions this night, and shined like the star he is on Thank You. Thank you, Jimmy! The tempo slowed for a chilling, largely acoustic rendition of the ever-sinister No Quarter, and picked right back up again with Gallows Pole. This number had to have been responsible for at least a few cases of whiplash and strained knees for all the head bobbing and foot stomping it induced. A member of the band, Nigel Eaton, took over at this point and hypnotized the crowd with his hurdy-gurdy, grinding out of the Middle Eastern sounds prevalent throughout theNo Quarter album. Plant and Page returned with a somewhat tiresome When the Levee Breaks, followed by one of the few numbers performed that night that was not a Led Zeppelin song: Yallah, a forgettable cut from No Quarter.

The dynamic duo then pushed the zeppelin beyond the earth’s atmosphere with Since I’ve Been Loving You. Here, Page showed why he is among the all-time masters bleeding out his rock-bottom blues for want of his traded soul. Suddenly, the atmosphere erupted with The Song Remains the Same, and the crowd went berserk. These two songs marked the zenith of the night’s flight (catchy, no?); for ten precious minutes, we were treated to the peak force of Led Zeppelin’s raw power.

Plant then introduced an integral part of the entourage, a band of musicians called the Egyptian Pharaohs, hailing from — you guessed it — Egypt, who set the mood for five minutes with the whines and heartbeats of Middle Eastern strings and tablas, an apropos prelude to Friends. The crowd didn’t seem to know what to make of this song, but I will attest to having seen the Pyramids hovering over the stage. Then Plant slipped into a cut from his 1993 solo effort, Fate of Nations, titled Calling to You. As if to make up for the little-known track, Jimmy Page took over for a solo spotlight, jamming away with Plant whirling and twirling around the stage.

To my complete surprise, the band lurched into a medley of two Doors’ songs, a soporific Light My Fire , then Break On Through, which set the crowd hopping and thrashing their arms like straightjacket candidates. By the time we identified the next song, it was over: Dazed and Confused, perhaps the most explosive and gut-wrenching song in Zeppelin history. This night, they gave us a diluted two-minute tease of their thunderous hallmark, as though trying to format the track for AM radio. It was a colossal disappointment. They recovered with Four Sticks in a curried cous-cous flavor which had everybody shaking their asses. The Egyptian Pharoahs came back for a short spot, and Plant and his soundboard man played awhile with some wah-wah-wah-weeeird voice noises. The show closed with two strong, pounding numbers, In the Evening and Carouselambra. After five minutes of the crowd’s hooting and chanting, the two stars retook the stage for their encore: Black Dog, a genuine crowd-pleaser, and an extended trip to Kashmir (and its elevated outskirts), an appropriate finish to a spectacular evening.

I hoped and prayed to Allah that they would return one final time to perform Stairway to Heaven. My friend Carmen wanted to stick around, even though they’d raised the lights, just in case, and I tried to share her optimism, but Karl, who knew better, said simply, No way — Plant hates that song, he’ll never perform it again. Karl was right, at least for this night. Instead of a stairway to heaven, we faced a crowded stairway to the exit ramps.

Two hours of mystic, Middle Eastern hued, hard-driving rock, 21 songs in all, and yet I couldn’t help feeling a tad disappointed. I have been part of more enthusiastic concert crowds, and Page and Plant didn’t perform THE song. I also would have loved to hear a couple more ballads like Going to California, Tangerine, or The Rain Song, though anyone familiar with Led Zeppelin’s repertoire would feel that way. I solaced myself: the witnessing of two rock gods, in the flesh, performing their wizardry. Page was impeccable, and Plant, even after all these years, has preserved his soulful, screeching voice. Dare I forget to mention the Madrid Philharmonic Orchestra, which provided tasteful string accompaniments on half the numbers?

No black magic, no pubescent, fish-stuffed vaginas, but the Horned One himself, surely in attendance that night, had to be smiling as he watched the mighty airship Zeppelin take to the clouds once more.

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April 5, 2013 Posted by | Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Concert Review Madrid 1995 | | Leave a comment

The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers (1971)

the_rolling_stones_-_sticky_fingersFrom starling.rinet.ru

The album that made it obvious for everybody The Rolling Stones were intent on surviving the Sixties and making the necessary impact on the Seventies, too. It featured something new, too: the good news was that Mick Taylor had finally arrived and took his cool solos from the hot atmosphere of Ya-Ya’s into the more moderate studio atmosphere, where he could work on them and tighten them up until they became completely devastating. The bad news was that the new decade brought new freedom, especially with the establishment of an independent record label, and Mick was finally free to litter the lyrics with obscene lexicon, while the front cover, featuring a pair of jeans with a real zipper, was their most raunchy to date.

Now look here: I’m not a purist, and I really don’t mind obscenity in rock music, but I just think that dirtying up their image was a really cheap trick for The Stones. After all, Let It Bleed was just the same as this one, but back then ‘dirty’ things used to hide behind metaphors, and that’s what looks like true artistry to me – all these ’empty places in my parking-lot’ and ‘brain-bell janglers’ sound oh so cool. Starting with Sticky Fingers, they began to dirty up their records more and more, until it all resulted in Undercover which was really only made for the sake of making a totally dirty record, and its musical value was not thought of. Of course, I understand they had to fuck up their image when faced with the new ‘dirtiness’ standards, especially later, with the punk scene and all that. But did they really have to shift their priorities in such a drastic way? Sacrifice good music for the sake of not looking like old farts? ‘Tis a serious question, indeed; but nevertheless I am decreasing the rating of Sticky Fingers by a whole point as a punishment. So there! Oh well, if you want any reason – ‘I Got The Blues’ sucks, but that’s another story.

The album is approximately divided into a ‘hard’ and a ‘soft’ side, with two exceptions: ‘Wild Horses’ is put on Side A and ‘Bitch’ is put on Side B probably to mess things up a bit. Anyway, the ‘hard’ side is terrifying, with the rockers threatening to beat the very life of you. The classic ‘Brown Sugar’ features some of my beloved Keith chords and enters the Golden Dozen of the band’s favourite stage numbers. Much has been said about the song’s lyrics depicting slave rape and other nasty things, but at least this time around Mick felt the need to mask the ‘fruity contents’ under allegories such as ‘brown sugar how come you taste so good’. Never mind the lyrics, though – the opening distorted, sloppy riff has oft been called the great signature lick of the Stones, and this is probably true. ‘Sway’ has Jagger adopting a unique ‘nasal-barking’ way of singing which really emphasizes the general lazy-depressed feel of the song, plus Mick Taylor solos like a demon; it’s not exactly my favourite, but the song truly has a great, unique, ‘muddy’ atmosphere of despair and quasi-lethargic melancholy to it. Not so with the rip-roarin’ ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knockin”, a seven-minute groove, starting with some raunchy lyrics and turning into a powerful jam soon afterwards, with Taylor’s famous Santana-like soloing.

The Stones rarely jammed on their records to oblivion, and when they did, like on ‘Goin’ Home’, it mostly put off people, but this is one rare case of a Stones jam where you’ll be asking for more: the brass section and Taylor’s Latino licks give the song a scary Voodoo mood that no ‘Dancing With Mister D’ could ever hope to capture. ‘You Gotta Move’ is the obligatory old blues cover set to a very weird acoustic guitar tone (I’d say it’s the hardcorest blues arrangement I’ve ever heard). Finally, ‘Bitch’ has the best riff on the entire record, and Keith really takes delight in chucking out some outchucking Chuck Berry-licks, the only thing letting this number down being Jagger’s silly obscene lyrics (‘sometimes I’m sexy, move like a stud’, really!) Throughout, the playing is so tight, the melodies are so great, the arrangements so impressive and the atmosphere so sincere and straightforward that it’s just plain incredible. Incredible. In the immortal words of Dave Weigel, ‘I want a written excuse why nobody’s writing such songs today’.

But, after all, these guys weren’t just your intelligent analogy of AC/DC. Nossiree. The ‘soft side’ here is not any less attractive. ‘Wild Horses’ is their greatest ballad they ever put out in both the 70-s and the 80-s (never mind the 90-s), with Mick turning in a great vocal performance (since this song is likely to be dedicated to Marianne Faithfull’s return to life after her coma, it might as well be emotional). I still can’t really guess whether the message is more optimistic or gloomy – the verses seem to be terribly depressing, while the chorus has something uplifting about it: ‘wild horses couldn’t drag me away, wild horses, we’ll ride ’em someday’. But who cares? You might just as well take both sides of it.

On the other hand, ‘Sister Morphine’ is, simply put, the most frightening song they ever made – ‘Gimme Shelter’ might scare the pants off you, but this is one tune I’m simply afraid of listening to. It ain’t heavy or devilish or anything, but the atmosphere is so dang creepy… This may be silly, but I’d highly recommend the song for junkies: no other song depicts the drug horror more vividly and convincingly than that one. And what’s the effect achieved with, I ask you? Well, take just some simple, but ‘well-tuned’ vocals, acoustic guitar and some spooky electric lines from Ry Cooder, plus Charlie’s drum part later on, and you’re all set up. And don’t you ever think of listening to ‘Too Much Blood’ after this one, you’ll never want to put that silly Undercover on again. Consolation and relaxation comes up with ‘Dead Flowers’, a very nice country song, again combining some joyful music with lines about death and needles and graves and all that other stuff. And the closing ‘Moonlight Mile’ overdoes the coda a bit, but in general it’s an incredible song, with Jagger rising to the kind of majestic height only The Who could master.

The only real letdown is the pretentious, bombastic ‘I Got The Blues’, which is where Mick really overdid the matter: his ‘heroic’ style of singing here is really fake. If you get deceived by it, you might enjoy it, though. I don’t. It evokes visions of soul singers before my eyes, and I could never picture Mick as a true soul singer. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s a tribute to the Great Old Black Musicians of the days of yore, but gimme ‘Rip This Joint’ over this tripe any time of day.

In other words: this is a mighty solid effort. A truly great album. A record that defines its epoch and defies time. BUT… but this is also the beginning of the end. It’s not an ounce better than Let It Bleed, and rather several ounces worse (I’ve said what ounces, already). Musically, It’s still perfect, but it also shows to what extent they were dependent on Taylor’s guitar. As soon as Taylor departed, music started to decline, and obscenity and mannerisms started to grow.

April 5, 2013 Posted by | The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Blow Away (Seattle, March 1975)

zeppelin_blowawayFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Seattle Center Coliseum, Seattle, WA – March 21st, 1975

Disc 1: Introduction, Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, In My Time Of Dying, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir

Disc 2: No Quarter, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Trampled Under Foot, Moby Dick

Disc 3: Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven

Blow Away is a new release of the March 21st, 1975 Seattle show. This title uses the first audience source only which begins with the long introduction and runs through the first six minutes of “Stairway To Heaven,” being cut right before the guitar solo. It is an excellent sounding tape but flat, lacking in dynamics and a thin bottom end. The no label mastering is one of the best done to this tape and it sounds great. Many past releases complete the show by using the second very good sounding tape, but no label chose not to do so. It is a shame because if they did that, use the second source to fill in the gaps before “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” complete “Stairway” and the encores this could have achieved definitive status. As it is, this is a great sounding but incomplete source for one of Led Zeppelin’s all time legendary shows.

For historic reasons, we’ll post one of the best reviews ever written about this show. From the now defunct Trampled Underground website, this is a review of the Cobra release 214 & 207.19 but goes into remarkable depth and insight about the concert. This was written by Eric Romano twelve years ago:

Comments: This set represents a remarkable document. Zep didn’t gig for the shows to be relived between your headphones. The audio presented here, although stripped of the visual experience and physical presence of the band, resurrects the vibes and substantiates the legend of live Led. The set testifies to Zeppelin’s efforts to keep its interest in the music- they play for themselves as well as the audience. This approach, dubbed by some “tight but loose,” yields tonight the tour’s most extended set, and better still, much inspired interaction.

This tour’s PA mix pronounces Jones more than ever before; he and Bonham add heaviness to the already dark set. John Paul’s R&B riffs keep time and melodically expand “Rock and Roll,” while Page sustains the blue notes in his solo. I find tonight’s preview of “Sick Again” more enjoyable than the album cut, with Jones’s undulating fills high up on the neck, Bonham’s high-hat in the pause between riffs, and the tight outro segment.

Tonight’s “No Quarter” has garnered much praise, although some may mistake the song’s 25 minute length as the trademark of quality. The trademark is never given so cheaply, bought for a few extra minutes of cheap piano arpeggios. Jones noodles away, wandering through parts of his keyboard solo. Overlooking a handful of boring moments, the song’s still beautiful and dynamic. Dig on the main theme before the solo, the decaying echoes from the Theremin, moody piano/ drums action, and Jones taking the lead from Page during Jimmy’s solo.

“Dazed and Confused” features eerie thematic coincidences on law, starting with Plant’s comments on “a discrepancy involving a guitar and a man who’s being held by the police… as we try to maintain law and order in society.” Page once described live performance to an interviewer by saying “there’s so much ESP involved in it… it is a sort of communication on that other plane,” and the first fifteen minutes of this song might convince you. The drama builds with Jimmy’s solo bridge into “For What It’s Worth.” With restraint and purpose, he outlines rich changes. Here Page favors lyrical construction over the riff-based approach. Next, a stylistic crossfade as he bends some blues licks and breaks into an understated rythmic passage. The band joins in. In mournful voice, Plant draws on the police paranoia classic “For What It’s Worth” for some lyrics while Jimmy bows. The singer keeps up his preoccupation with the law, singing the line “I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy,” over a throbbing reggae beat. Page strums on the upbeats and tacks on twenty-odd minutes of guitar mania after the bow solo. They close the track without reprising the main theme. As Plant exclaims afterward, “master guitarist Jimmy Page.”

From one Jimmy to another, they dedicate “Stairway to Heaven” to Hendrix, a Seattle native. Some cute “Louie, Louie” riffs open the song, which inlcudes delicate phrasing and an atypical chordal segment of the solo. Although “the fishing wasn’t as good this time,” they push hard on the encores. You can hear Page singing backup on “Whole Lotta Love” before they slide into “The Crunge.” Although Plant only sings about half the lyrics, Page, Jones, and Bonham strut it out in tight syncopation. Much better than the oft-ragged delivery of other nights near the end of the tour. Plant throws out just a few lyrics from “Licking Stick- Licking Stick” before Jones solos on some tasty staggered riffs beneath the Theremin. Still energetic, Bonzo hammers out some extra “Out on the Tiles” to introduce “Black Dog,” which Plant doesn’t wreck with his voice. He still sounds decent- not many hight notes, but his signature tone has been evident all night! His last “Drive me insane” scream overlaps Page’s “Heartbreaker” intro. Jimmy solos with more fluency and less wandering than other tries from ’75, getting into some blues at the end but nobody picks up on it like the 12 March Long Beach gig. Let me get back to the Edgewater Inn for some room service and a spot of fishing!

April 5, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Blow Away | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Final Daze (Madison Square Garden, September 1970)

lz_finalFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Madison Square Garden, New York, NY – September 19, 1970 late show

Disc 1: Introduction, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Dazed And Confused, Bring It On Home, Tribute To Jimi Hendrix, That’s The Way, Bron-y-aur, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Organ Solo, Thank You

Disc 2: What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, Out On The Tiles, Communication Breakdown, Gallows Pole, The Girl Can’t Help It, How Many More Times

The source for this evening show from Madison Square Garden on September 19, 1970 comes from an internet download first available in 2004 and features Led Zeppelin’s final performance of 1970.

It is a very good clear audience recording with guitars and vocals up front in the mix with the bass and drums slightly on the muffled side.

The early show from this day has been around for ages and was first documented on Maui Wowie from Missing Link (with the incorrect date) and later as American Woman on TDOLZ. Praying Silently For Jimi on Empress Valley and Have You Ever Experienced? on Tarantura 2000 were released in 2004 also containing this early show. Empress Valley and Tarantura 2000′s titles are references to Jimi Hendrix who died the day before and Plant makes mention of this during both shows.

The late show was a very important find considering it was previously undocumented and saw three quick releases to silver disc after being uploaded to the web. Shout That Loud on Electric Magic I believe was the first and followed by Requiem on Empress Valley and Final Daze.

Have You Ever Experienced? from Tarantura 2000 followed shortly thereafter and includes both this and the early show. All but Tarantura were critized for running slightly fast but the speed is off by such a small amount (about 2% or so) that it isn’t really an issue.

As for the performance, every Led Zeppelin show is certainly a unique experience and this one is no exception. A hot performance from the band may be due to the fact they had already loosened up from the afternoon set and tonight includes some rarities not performed in the early show. The extended “Whole Lotta Love” starts with Jeff Beck’s “Rice Pudding” riff and the medley contains more song references than you can shake a stick at.

Not only do you get the usual “Boogie Chillin” and “Bottle Up And Go” but a nice surprise with “Train Kept A Rollin” among others. “Out On The Tiles” is the first encore and is joined nonstop with “Communication Breakdown” which also includes the first live references to “Gallows Pole”. Zeppelin plays a medley of “The Girl Can’t Help It” and “Twenty Flight Rock” and “How Many More Times” contains another version of “Blueberry Hill”, frequently played around this time.

Most of these titles differ only slightly in sound quality and all sound very good. So unless you are particular it probably won’t matter much which version you end up with. Bottom line, this recording is an essential part of any Zep collection.

Packaged in a double slimline jewel case, Final Daze is a good inexpensive way to obtain this great show and shouldn’t be too hard to track down.

April 5, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Final Daze | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Not Warm, It’s Hot (Offenburg, March 1973)

lz_notwarmhotFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Ortenauhalle, Offenburg, Germany – March 24th, 1973

Disc 1 (51:27): Intro, Rock And Roll, Over The Hills And Far Away, Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, The Song Remains the Same, The Rain Song

Disc 2 (40:.35): Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven

Disc 3 (39:22): Whole Lotta Love, Heartbreaker

Led Zeppelin’s final show in Germany on their 1973 European tour is arguably the best recorded and hottest performance of this consistently strong tour. An excellent sounding stereo audience recording was used for the famous vinyl release Custard Pie (Rock Solid Records / International RSR 3224) which was also included in The Final Option and Led Zeppelin Film Can sets. It also appears on No Page Unturned (Nova 102A-B) with material from the April 27th, 1969 show and its clone No Page Unturned (Wendheath Records 102).

On compact disc it can be found on Custard Pie (Cobra Standard Series COBRA 001) and on Cold Sweat (Live Remains LR-04031/2) which was released several years after the TDOLZ. There are several issues with this source since it cuts in at the first verse of “Rock And Roll,” has several cuts between songs, and serious channel fluctuations during “Stairway To Heaven.”

TDOLZ attempted twice to assemble a definitive version of the show by editing this tape with a lesser quality but complete audience tape. Sweet At Night (TDOLZ Vol. 40) makes the edit for “Stairway To Heaven” only. Several years later they produced Not Warm, It’s Hot which make more extensive use of the second source. It is used for the venue announcements and beginning of “Rock And Roll” until the first verse.

Is is used further after ”Since I’ve Been Loving You,” “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp,” for the opening notes for “Dazed & Confused” and to fill a cut between 18:15 and 19:34, for the beginning of “Stairway To Heaven” and beginning of “Heartbreaker.” By this time TDOLZ perfected the art of editing two tape sources together and are seamless and natural sounding. This is as close to the definitive version of the show as currently available on silver.

Judging by Plant’s comments throughout the show they were playing in a sweat-box that night. After “Black Dog” he complains “It’s a bit warm, yes? A little bit warm” and before ”The Song Remains The Same” he says, “it gets warmer and warmer.” But the performance itself is very interest not least for the tightness of the band.

Houses Of The Holy would be released in several days. Upon its release some reviewers compared the music in general, and “The Song Remains The Same” in particular, to Yes with its complex rhythms and time signatures. It is apparent with progressive rock reaching a peak in 1972 this is Zeppelin’s heaviest flirtation with the genera. Each song is approached with new ideas and various interpretations which lend credence to many collector’s claim that this is their absolute peak.

The set list was established the previous October in Japan with little or no variation, but this show is notable for the lack of “Dancing Days,” normally played after “Since I’ve Been Loving You.” Since there is a cut in the tape at this point on the first tape source many speculated it was simply not recorded, but there is no cut on the second tape source and after the long blues Plant says, “Mr. Bonham takes off his shirt! This is a happy song and (as the audience begin to clap in rhythm) I think you’ve got the idea.”

In “Dazed And Confused” Page plays a melancholy melody right before “San Francisco” and Jones and Bonham get into Hendrix’ ”Machine Gun” entering the violin bow episode.

The guitar solo in “Stairway To Heaven” is notable for Page reaching and sustaining several high notes to cut through the track and before “Whole Lotta Love” Plant says, “Danke schöne. Here is a song that everywhere around the world seems to inspire a bit of good times….and we’d like you to have a good time.”

The medley is pretty well established with Plant screaming “cold sweat” before “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love.” Jones and Bonham lock onto some jazzy rhythms threatening to turn the song into a fusion piece. The only encore is “Heartbreaker” which includes Bach’s Bouree in the solo.

Not Warm, It’s Hot is packaged in a fatboy jewel case with several live photos not from the tour. It could have fit on two CDs.

April 5, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Not Warm It's Hot | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Hotter Than The Hindenburg (Frankfurt, June 1980)

lz_hindenberg_fFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Festhalle, Frankfurt, Germany – June 30th, 1980

Disc 1 (62:35) Train Kept A Rollin’, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Black Dog, In The Evening, The Rain Song, Hot Dog, All My Love, Trampled Underfoot, Since I’ve Been Loving You

Disc 2 (66:40): Achilles Last Stand, White Summer, Black Mountain Side, Kashmir, Stairway To Heaven, Rock And Roll, Money, Whole Lotta Love (incl. Frankfurt Special)

Led Zeppelin’s show in Frankfurt can be seen as an extension of the previous evening in Zürich. These shows represent the tightest and most energetic of the tour and are representative of the vision they were trying to achieve. They attack each number with special urgency giving an amazing glimpse into what they were trying to accomplish for their revamped sound for the 1980s. What is immediately striking about this show is their special determination to lay down new conquests! Although there is a very good audience recording, that source has never been pressed on either vinyl or compact disc. All titles come from and excellent sounding soundboard tape. This tape is less dry than many of the other tapes from the tour. It has a certain “bounce” to it with a lively feeling. The negatives are that the audience sounds very far away and there are cuts after “All My Love,” ”Kashmir” and the encores.

This tape was used for the vinyl releases Dinosaur (Waggle WAG 1939) and Moonlight (Waggle WAG 1938) and for the earliest compact disc releases on Moonlight (Toasted Condor 1984) having the first half of the show and and Dinosaur (Toasted Condor 1985) having the second half, both released in 1989. The Toasted Condor has the balance in sound shifting between channels during “Train Kept A-Rollin’,” “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” and “Black Dog.” Plant’s introduction to “Trampled Underfoot” and the last minute of “Kashmir” are cut, the ending of “Stairway To Heaven” is distorted and “That’s The Way” is heard playing backwards during most of “Whole Lotta Love.” Lost Horizon (Lobster Records CD 013/3) copied the Toasted Condor and added additional material onto a three disc set.

Subsequent releases with material from this tape include Blitzkrieg Over Europe (Tarantura T3CD-5), Lost Flight (Tye-Dye 98100-04) which has the same issues as above but also channel problems during “Trampled Underfoot.” Sudden Attack! (Flagge – 1980-18,19) has the complete Frankfurt tape with Nuremberg as a bonus and was released by Flagge in the summer of 1999. “Train Kept A-Rollin’” to “Achilles Last Stand” appear on Hotter Than The Hindenburg (Rockin’ Records LZ-03) which was copied on Hotter Than The Hindenburg (Golden Stars RMCD 1077). “Money” appears on Cabala (CD Company SRL), Another Trip (Big Music Big 4027), and The Cover Versions (Fancy Pantry FP006). The encores appear on Through The Years (Big Music Big4005) and Frankfurt Special (Empress Valley EVSD-314/315) is the latest release which, unlike the other titles, use the audience recording to fill a couple of gaps at the beginning and at the end of “Kashmir.”

Last Stand Disc have issued this show twice. The first was on Tour Over Europe 1980 (Last Stand Disc LSD-29/30) and their final release before closing Hotter Than The Hindenburg (LSD-90/91). The sound is much cleaner and, whereas the first release has a long fade out for “Kashmir,” on the second they chose to just let it run to the cut to preserve all of the available tape. For all the releases of the soundboard only, this is a great sounding, most complete version available. Every LSD title boasts: “DIGITALLY REMASTERING DIRECTLY FROM THE ORIGINAL MASTER TAPES, 24-BIT MASTERING – NO EQUALIZING.” More likely than not this is a piece of propaganda on the part of the label but it does have a nice sound to it and nicer than the soundboard on the Empress Valley.

With Atlantic Records executives Ahmet Ertegun and Phil Carson and with Carlos Santana also in attendance, the opening numbers “Train Kept A Rollin’” and “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” are played with aplomb. Page takes off his suit jacket as he speak to the audience, saying, ”Good evening one and all. Yes, well it’s good to see ya, and it’s good to be seen… Sorry about that strip just now but it’s probably as hot up here as it is down there. ah Next number is an old one, so old I hope I can remember.”

Robert Plant recalls their early shows in Frankfurt before “In The Evening,” saying, “it’s fair to say it’s quite nice to be back in these parts of the woods again. It’s been a long time. It might also interest you to know that we were the first rock and roll band ever to play in this place, and that was when most of you were in your cradles, and prams, and stuff. It also might be a good idea if you didn’t push around so much cause somebody might get a little bit hurt, ok? And without spieling anymore, this is one from the last album.” In first of the new songs almost falls apart in the middle but is another effective performance, as is “All My Love.”

The contrast between that and “Trampled Under Foot” which follows is startling and they play a ten minute version of the song. Later in the set the audience become more bored during “White Summer” and start shouting and moving around, prompting Page to stop playing and beg them to stop and give them a chance. The encores begin with the standard “Rock And Roll” in which Page has some trouble with the solo. Afterwards Plant introduces Carson to the stage, saying, “we have a friend with us tonight who used to play with Dusty Springfield, and then he got senile and shortly after that he became our friend, so we all fit along nicely. Mr. Philip Carson from London. Mr. Phillip Carson from London. This man has one fixation. It’s called ‘Money.’” Carson plays bass while Jones switches to piano as they play the classic.

The only other recorded reference to this song dates from the June 19th, 1972 Seattle show eight years prior. It was played as an in-joke to the executives since they were negotiating a new contract, and also the Flying Lizards covered the song in 1979 and had a hit (although Zeppelin couldn’t duplicate their arrangement). The show ends with a fifteen minute version of “Whole Lotta Love” played as it was on the 1973 US tour. This has the theremin solo after the verses, John Lee Hooker’s “Boogie Chillun’.” In Frankfurt his parent say “that little boy’s reached the age of thirty-one / I do believe it’s time that little boy to have some fun.” Page plays the boogie tentatively but with no glaring mistakes and Plant leads them into a short cover of the Elvis track “Frankfurt Special.” Frankfurt is one of the strongest concerts from this unloved Zeppelin tour and worth investigating. LSD have produced a nice title with the soundboard tape only.

April 5, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Hotter Than Hindenburg | , | Leave a comment

Joe Walsh Barnstorm (1972)

barnstormBarnstorm, Joe Walsh’s first solo album after leaving the James Gang, garnered him fame not only as a guitarist but also as a songwriter. While it’s true that Walsh established himself as a late-’60s/early-’70s guitar hero on the Gang’s more boogie-oriented rock numbers, it’s Walsh’s love of lushly textured production and spacy, open-ended songs featuring both acoustic and electric guitars that is showcased here on this wildly adventurous and forgotten unqualified masterpiece. Recorded at the Caribou Ranch in Nederland, CO, Barnstorm reflects the big sky and wide open spaces.

Accompanied by bassist Kenny Passarelli and drummer Joe Vitale, Walsh freely indulges himself with fat guitars and keyboards, beautiful choruses, country tinges, and pastoral pop hooks, as evidenced by the glorious opener, “Here We Go.” This segues, via the sound of a spooky lonesome wind, into the hauntingly beautiful psychedelic country tune “Midnight Visitor,” with elegantly woven acoustic guitars, fat carnival organ sounds, and – of course – the sound of the wind before it slips out the back door.

And so it goes with the nearly Baroque psychedelic suite of “One and One,” which slides seamlessly into “Giant Bohemoth” (sic) and the rollicking “Mother Says.” Everywhere on the album’s front half, reverie and American mythological archetypes and history weave together, displacing the listener from the here and now.

The openly pastoral country-tinged rock of the album’s second half signifies Walsh’s considerable gifts as a songwriter who uses his guitar as a dreamy, mercurial narrative device, as signified by the masterpiece “Birdcall Morning” – one of the greatest rock & roll love songs of the early ’70s.

It is actually mirrored by the sadness and organic bluesy quality of “Home” and the unabashed pop/rock romanticism of “I’ll Tell the World,” complete with glorious four-part backing harmonies and a crunching guitar crescendo. Speaking of crunch, Barnstorm was also the first place that Walsh’s classic “Turn to Stone” nugget ever appeared.

In its original version, its guitars have far more edge, sinew, and raw power than on its subsequent re-recording. Rather than let it end there, Walsh tips the scales one more time back to the mysterious in the acoustic guitar and harmonica moment “Comin’ Down.” It’s another love song, which evokes the notion of the past as a way of creating a hopeful present.

And it just whispers to a close, leaving the listener literally stunned at what has just transpired in the space of 35 minutes.

April 5, 2013 Posted by | Joe Walsh Barnstorm | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Explosion (Tokyo, October 1972)

explosion_fFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – October 3rd, 1973

Disc 1 (53:03): Introduction, Rock And Roll, Black Dog, Over The Hills And Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dancing Days, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song

Disc 2 (72:51): Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Immigrant Song, The Ocean, ending mc

There are six unique tape sources for Led Zeppelin’s second Tokyo show in 1972. Keeping track of which tape source on which release is confusing compounded by the fact that most of the tapes are incomplete and are supplimented by use of the other tapes for completeness. To make matters even worse nobody is sure how to refer to each of the tapes. Different websites use their own numbering system and translating between the different systems adds another level of confusion.

When Flagge released Explosion in 1999 it represented the silver pressed debut for this particular source and the tapes utilized for the TDOLZ Live At the Big Hall Budokan Oct 3 1972 and Amsterdam’s Live In Tokyo releases to fill in gaps in the beginning, after “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp,” two little gaps in “Dazed And Confused,” and gaps before “Immigrant Song” and “The Ocean.” It is a good to very good mono audience recording with little audience interference and slight amounts of distortion present in louder passages. “The Ocean” has some speed problems.

What immediately strikes the listener when encountering this performance is experiencing Led Zeppelin growing into their new aesthetic in making the transition from heavy blues based hard rock band into one that is more thoughtful, progressive and deliberate. Plant’s voice is still very high and wild on this night (the following night he’ll be more contained) and Page in particular is figuring out how to proceed.

The tape begins with the promoter speaking in Japanese as they come onstage and play “Rock And Roll.” “Black Dog” follows, having been moved up from the third position to second from the night before. “Arigato” Robert Plant addresses the audience. ”And that’s all I know in Japanese. This is a song off fifth LP. It’s called ‘Over the Hills and Far Away.’” The dynamics of the tape work beautifully to highlight the light and shade of this piece. The opening sounding very delicate compared to the combustible middle section.

“Thank you. Here’s one, I might say it is very good to be back in Tokyo. It’s very important I say that cause when group come to Tokyo, group have much fun. So, it’s good to be back. It’s not you who should be clapping. We should clap you. This is one from last year. It’s called ‘Misty Mountain Hop.’” The transition from this to the dramatic “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” an arrangement introduced in the previous night’s show, is one of the strangest and most effective ideas and would last through their ninth US tour the following summer.

The acoustic set was reduced to only one song. Plant speaks about “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp,” saying, “Some old, some new. This is an old one which requires honorable Led Zeppelin to sit down cause we’re getting old. I can hear, for those people who don’t have a good sized understanding of the Welsh language, this is a song about a dog with blue eyes….What we need is a few more personnel. I could tell you a joke. This is quite an experiment for us really cause it features the rather sheltered transvestite vocal chords of John Bonham. Spotlight on Mr. Bonham. This was written in the seclusion of the Welsh mountains, or hills, in a house on the side of a mountain, dog barking.” The audience start clapping in rhythm and Plant continues, saying, “Just one moment gentlemen, and honorable ladies, and geishas, and old irons, and hookers, and everything else. It’s alright, there’s no need for that vibe.”

“The Song Remains The Same” is called “Zep” in this performance. Page plays a couple of very strange heavy metal riffs in the middle of “The Rain Song.” Plant starts off “Whole Lotta Love” by quoting Carl Perkins, “Well, it’s one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready now go cat go.” After the theremin solo they play “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” for the first time with lyrics.

The Solomon Burke song would remain in the “Whole Lotta Love” medley through the European tour the following year. It is played to one of Page’s catchiest riffs which any other band would kill for and build a career out of, but for Zeppelin it was essentially a throwaway. This became so famous that Phil Collins gushed about it more than a decade later when Genesis included the song in their “Turn It On, Again” medley.

During “Boogie Chillun’” Plant gushes “it sure is mucho grande!” The rest of the medley is quite standard with “Let’s Have A Party” and “You Shook Me” played to frenzied proportions. The first encore is “Immigrant Song” followed by the third known performance of “The Ocean.” The tape switch several times as the promoter Udo comes out to thank Led Zeppelin for playing.

Explosion is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with a 1972 photo of Plant on the front and a photo of Page and Plant on the back. Superimposed on the front cover is Dave Lewis’ review of the show for The Concert File. Flagge didn’t number their releases and did not use a cataloguing system, but this was one of their early releases that came out and didn’t cause much interest except for the hardcore collectors. It is a good sounding tape of another interesting, transitional show by Zeppelin and is worth seeking out.

April 5, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Explosion | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (Osaka, September 1971)

img091020151506m_01From collectorsmusicreviews.com

Festival Hall, Osaka, Japan – September 29th, 1971

Disc 1 (66:06): Intro, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Black Dog, Dazed And Confused

Disc 2 (72:36): Stairway To Heaven, Celebration Day, That’s The Way, Going To California, Tangerine, Friends, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick

Disc 3 (64:41): Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown, Organ Solo, Thank You, Rock And Roll

Smoke Get In Your Eyes is the second Scorpio title documenting Led Zeppelin’s first tour of Japan in September 1971. The second night in Osaka, and the final night of the tour, is one of the most frequently released shows dating back to vinyl. Instead of using the well known soundboard recording, Scorpio do a very careful edit between two audience recordings. They use as a basis the tape that first surfaced a decade ago on 929 on The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin and utilize the tape used on 929 (H-Bomb).

They are both good to very good audience recordings taped a distance away from the stage. Neither of the two are as clear as the soundboard recording, but this offers a different perspective on the show. The other tape gives a vivid recording of the band on stage, but this one gives the perspective of being in the audience.

There is four minutes of crowd noise before the band come onstage with “Immigrant Song.” It is an aggressive version and Jimmy Page liberally uses the wah-wah pedal during the solo. And that will be something he does constantly throughout the set. ”Heartbreaker” contains references to both “59th Street Bridge Song” and Bach’s Bouree, both of which are recognized by the audience and are applauded.

Before “Dazed And Confused” Plant makes the strange comment about “common complaint in Osaka, rice in hair. You think I’m joking, right?” He then thanks Japan for their hospitality on their first visit, praising “wonderful glorious Japan, which has been incredible. Great hotels, great bars, great people, and without giving you any…it’s not bullshit really because this is our last night in Japan…and we’re gonna have a good time and I think you will too.”

“Dazed And Confused” reaches the half hour mark in this show. The violin bow interlude produces very intimidating airline crashing noises to bounce off the walls of the Festival Hall. The long improvisation includes a strange reference to the 1930′s jazz standard “Pennies From Heaven.” It has a spaced out coda which is a standard for the song in this year. Plant complains a bit about how quiet the crowd is afterwards, telling them they are “much too quiet, much too slow, too silly, and fast asleep.”

The acoustic set begins after “Celebration Day.” At this point Bonham disappeared from the stage with no word on when he would return Before “That’s The Way” Plant asks, ”where’s Mr. Bonham? Jimmy’s here, he can’t go any further than here. He can’t go over there cause there’s a big hole there.” The first two songs, “That’s The Way” and “Going To California” are expanded to kill time until he retuns. “Going To California” reaches ten minutes!

Plant complains more afterwards, “Where’s Bonzo? Bonzo, Mr. Bonham, Mr. Bonham. Listen, after three everybody say Mr. Bonham. 1,2,3 Mr Bonham. For fuck’s sake, Mr Bonham, what can you say? Mr Bonham went for bath with Geisha, yeah, right on. I’m afraid Mr., where is he? Where’s Bonham? He refuses to come. Fuck you mate. Where’d he go?” They proceed to play “Tangerine” and Bonham returns in time for the anticipated performance of the night “Friends” from Led Zeppelin III. This is their first and only live performance of the piece. Plant begins the first verse too early but otherwise it’s an effective stage piece and it makes one wish they kept it in the acoustic set.

Each of the Japan shows has a unique and wired “Whole Lotta Love” medley. The final night in Osaka reaches closes to forty minutes and contains a complete cover of the Elvis classic “I Gotta Know,” performed by Led Zeppelin for the only time. This leads into a cover of “Twist And Shout” which is also played for the only time live by Zeppelin. The medley reaches its climax with “Good Times Bad Times” and “You Shook Me” from the first album with very long instrumental passages in between.

The encores begin with “Communication Breakdown” which also is expanded with a very long instrumental passage in the middle, pushing what is a three minute track into seven. A four minute organ solo is a prelude to “Thank You” and the show, and the tour, ends with “Rock And Roll” from the as yet unreleased fourth album played for the only time on this short tour. Smoke Get In Your Eyes is packaged in a fatboy jewel case with the concert poster as artwork and with vacation photos of Page and Plant on the interior. This certainly is not an essential title to own but it does provide a good edition of the other audience tapes available for this show.

April 5, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Smoke Gets In Your Eyes | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Chicago 1973 Soundcheck (July 1973)

ledzep-73chicago2From collectorsmusicreviews.com

Chicago Stadium, Chicago,IL – July 6th, 1973 (?)

(56:22): Sugar Baby, Wanton Song, The Rover, The Rover (includes “A Quick One” and “All Along The Watchtower”), Night Flight, School Days, Nadine, Round And Round, Round And Round, Move On Down The Line, Please Don’t Tease, Move It (C’mon Pretty Baby), Dynamite, Shakin’ All Over, Hungry For Love, I’ll Never Get Over You, Reelin’ & Rockin’ / Surrender / Rock And Roll (drum intro.) / organ

The Led Zeppelin soundcheck tape, a recording of “a misty rehearsal session in the early 70′s,” remains one of the most fascinating for Led Zeppelin collectors. The specific provence is elusive, but the performance is excellent with many rarities and scarcely played cover tunes.

Chicago 1973 Soundcheck (no label) is the latest silver pressing of the tape. It’s been out many times but this is the first single release in quite a while. The sound quality is comparable to the past releases, remaining an excellent professional recording.

One of the earliest releases is on Tribute To Johnny Kidd & The Pirates on Scorpio along with some Led Zeppelin III rehearsals to fill out the disc. It can also be found on the famous Cabala boxset, The Smithereens on Akhasic, Rockin’ In Chicago (Moonlight ML 9643), The Lost Sessions Vol. 5 (Empress Valley Supreme Disc 2005 EVSD-179), and twice on Scorpio on Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio LZ-07001~12) and The Atrocity Exhibition (Scorpio LZ-08026) along with the July 6th, 1973 Chicago soundboard.

Whether it’s from Los Angeles 1972 or Chicago or Atlanta 1973 or Minneapolis 1975, this is one of the most fun tapes to have. It starts off with an improvised piece called “Sugar Baby” (or “Strawberry Jam” as it is called on earlier releases) which sounds like the funky section of “Whole Lotta Love.”

“The Wanton Song” is only a small fraction of the song. It doesn’t have the main riff nor lyrics, but is only the descending riff leading to the bridge, so it is a bit of a misnomer and it is more accurate to say it is a riff that was later incorporated into the song whose working title was “Desiree.”

“The Rover” only appears as a riff played as a bridge. The track listing claims Page plays a bit of The Who’s “A Quick One” and the Jimi Hendrix cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower.” It dissolves into the “Bouree” that Page played in the “Heartbreaker” solos and some “Stairway To Heaven” exercises thrown in.

The fourth track listed “Night Flight” is a complete version of the song taken at a faster tempo and reveals that it could have been a compelling stage piece if they bothered to include it in any set list.

The rest of the tape includes lots of rock and roll oldies and tuning beginning with several Chuck Berry tunes. Plant sings only the final three verses of “School Days”, “Nadine (Is That You?)” and several verses and the chorus of “Round And Round.”

What follows is the first verse and chorus repeated several times of Roy Orbinson’s “Move On Down The Line,” a song they played in some “Whole Lotta Love” medleys. They continue with a cover of Cliff Richard’s “Please Don’t Tease,” a single that spent three weeks at number one on the charts in the summer of 1960. “Shakin’ All Over” is Johnny Kidd And The Pirates’ 1960 number one hit that was covered by The Who, The Guess Who, and Iggy Pop. Zeppelin gives a dramatic rendition in this sound check.

Two more Johnny Kidd And The Pirates hits follow, ”Hungry For Love” and “I’ll Never Get Over You” before the session falls apart. Bonham bangs out the beginning of “Rock And Roll”, Plant sings a line from “Surrender” and Jones tunes the organ before the tape runs out.

Chicago 1973 Soundcheck is packaged in a thick single sleeve cardboard sleeve with various shots from the tour on the cover. An insert has several paragraphs written in Japanese. There are m any different releases of this tape included in bigger collections. This is a very nice one disc title with the entire soundcheck at a reasonable price in nice packaging and is worth having for those who don’t have this already.

April 5, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Chicago 1973 Soundcheck | , | Leave a comment