Classic Rock Review

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Led Zeppelin Stroll On! (Milwaukee, July 1975)

stroll_on_fFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Midwest Rock Festival, State Fair Grounds, Milwaukee, WI – July 25th, 1969

(52:49): Train Kept A-Rollin’, I Can’t Quit You, Dazed & Confused, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, How Many More Times, Communication Breakdown

During the summer of 1969 Led Zeppelin were primarily booked to play in festivals all across the country. The documents of these performances are among the most intense and exciting on tape and every one of them can be considered to be essential to own. Their set at the Midwest Rock Festival in Wisconsin exists in a very good and clear audience recording. It seems to capture the entire set, although some sources claim that “You Shook Me” was played before “How Many More Times.”

The bottom is a bit thin with slight distortion but nothing too noticeable. An early vinyl release called West Allison State (Grasshopper GH 104 A-B) contains the performance but is missing “White Summer.” On compact disc Secret History Of Led Zeppelin (Scorpio) contains “Train Kept A-Rollin’.” The entire show was pressed on Stroll On (Green Frog Records) and on State Fair (Digger Productions DP-2676).

TDOLZ came out afterwards and represented a significant improvement over previous releases. There are little cuts scattered between most of the song and what seems like a big and painful one at 12:39 in “How Many More Times.” It is packaged in a single mini LP cardboard sleeve with various Fillmore East photos on the front and back from the first tour (Page with the telecaster, although by the summer he had switched to the Les Paul).

On the bill with Zeppelin were Blind Faith with Eric Clapton on their only US tour who played the following day in the festival. This was the first time Clapton saw Zeppelin live and, when journalist Richie Yorke asked his opinion later in the year replied: “I don’t know about them. I’ve heard their records and I saw them play in Milwaukee – we were on the same bill. They were very loud – I thought it was un-necessarily loud. I liked some of it I really did like some of it. But a lot of it was jost too much. They over-emphasized whatever point they were making, I thought.”

The tape begins with the mc saying “…Zeppelin!!” Plant does a short sound check, “A bit more treble” and sings “Three four and away we go, and we’ve never ever done these things before.” “Train Kept A-Rollin” segues into “I Can’t Quit You” in a perfect light/shade contrast, setting the tone for the evening. Afterwards, as a jet flies over the site, he says, “Right, in that case, we’d we’d like to do with the assistance of Mr. Echo. We’d like to do a thing off the first album. This is a thing that we got a lot of enjoyment doing. This is called ‘Dazed and Confused.’” A spectacular thirteen minute version of the piece follows, already greatly expanded from the Led Zeppelin prototype.

Plant says cryptically, “Phantom of the Opera stool. Good point” before introducing “White Summer” as “a combination of two things.” Page creates controlled havoc during the dramatic eight minutes of the solo piece. “How Many More Times” closes the show. Reaching sixteen minutes on the recording, it contains references to “The Hunter” and ”The Lemon Song” as usual. Page throws in a riff from The Yardbirds’ “Over Under Sideways Down” (about 8:27) during the long improvisation.

The cut at 12:39 is particularly painful since it comes at the climax of the song, but after the cut Plant comes down and quotes Frank Sinatra, saying, “I got youuuuuuuu under my skin” and cracks up the audience. A lightening fast four minute ”Communication Breakdown” is played as the encore. Given the fantastic atmosphere of this recording, it is a wonder that no other label has reissued this tape in the decade since TDOLZ released Stroll On! Since this is an improvement over the older silver pressings, this remains the definitive version of this highly charged concert and is worth investigating.

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May 3, 2013 - Posted by | Led Zeppelin Stroll On! | ,

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