Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Led Zeppelin Concert Memories: Liverpool, November 29th 1971

untitledFrom Underground Uprising, uuweb.led-zeppelin.us

Six of us fifth formers had queued for tickets one Saturday morning a few weeks prior to the concert. Tickets were £1 each which was unprecedented at the time for the venue. The going rate was 70p for the likes of Mott the Hoople and and Free and I remember Black Sabbath being 60p. So there was bit of “A quid and no support band ? Who do they think they are ?”.

The ticket was a big postcard sized affair in amber card with the “Electric Magic” picture in black and the date of the show. Wish I still had it ! Liverpool Stadium was a boxing and wrestling venue which had begun promoting rock shows again and successfully competed with Liverpool Empire and Liverpool University for a few years.

Nearly all the big tours of ’71, ’72 and ’73 went to the Stadium. As it was a boxing venue, the amps was set up on the ring itself which was in the middle although bands did not play “in the round” as they call it today. The audience were all gathered facing one side of the ring with a bit of spillage to each side.

Although we had the albums, such was Zep’s deliberately developed mystique that we didn’t really know much about the band. Before the band came on, Jimmy Husband the Everton forward, sat in front of us which impressed us as much as the anticipated show. We remembered he had said he liked to listen to Led Zeppelin in the Everton match programme one time. We were not used to watching a band without a support act and although scheduled for 7.30, it was running a bit late.

Suddenly the lights went out and BAM! the riff for “Immigrant Song” blasted out at massive volume as the lights came on again revealing Plant screaming away centre stage with the rest of the band behind him. Page was bearded and wearing the same “Zoso” maroon pullover that he wore at Wembley. As “Immigrant Song” ended abruptly they tore straight into “Heartbreaker”.

We just all looked at each other for a fleeting moment before rising as one and tearing down the aisle to the front of the stage and joining a mass of flailing heads. After the “hot” numbers, Page Plant and Jones sat down at the front of the stage and everyone sat on the floor for an acoustic interlude which included “That’s the Way” and “Going to California” before everybody got up again for “Bro-Yr-Aur Stomp”.

Bonham had joined the other three for this one with a stand-up percussion stick of the type used in Morris dancing. At one point Plant went into his rambling introduction mode and said they had played Wembley recently which was a boarded over ice rink and he had caught a cold because of it. Acoustic set over, they played a long “Dazed and Confused” with Page using his violin bow and “What is and What Should Never Be” before launching into Whole Lotta Love.

They had been on stage well over two hours by then and some of us had to leave during the Elvis songs to catch the last train home. That evening they also played “Black Dog”, “Rock and Roll” and “Stairway to Heaven” but I’m not sure if they were before or after the acoustic set.

I went out the next weekend and bought the “Going to California” double bootleg on blue vinyl from Virgin Records (Richard Branson sold bootlegs openly in those days). Again, I wish I still had it ! Liverpool Stadium was quite strict on bootlegging and I cannot recall ever seeing anyone taping a concert there. As far as I know, no boots of this show exist.

Tim Hardman.

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June 2, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Concert Memories: Liverpool November 29th 1971 | , | Leave a comment

Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version Of The War Of The Worlds, The New Generation (2012)

813xuKiKHsL__SL1183_From amazon.com

Jeff Wayne’s original 1978 concept album/rock musical treatment of the H.G. Wells sci-fi classic, “The War Of The Worlds”, remains one of my all-time favorite albums. It’s in my personal Top Five, in fact. It’s masterful blend of storytelling, top-notch voice-acting (spearheaded by the one-and-only Richard Burton as the narrator) and singing (led by The Moody Blues’ Justin Hayward), and, of course, its marvelous musical hybrid of progressive rock, orchestral flourishes and disco beats (it was 1978, after all), not to mention its impressive array of sound effects, all-around handsome production, and the gorgeous artwork in the album’s packaging itself, all adds up to a bonafied classic rock concept album.

Although, let’s be honest: “War Of The Worlds” is primarily a smash-hit album in the UK and other parts of Europe, whereas in North America it’s pretty much a word-of-mouth cult album, though Mr. Wayne’s Martian masterpiece has always *deserved* to be just as huge an album Stateside as it has been in Britain….

Anyways, I LOVE the 1978 original album. I got it on vinyl as well as CD. I was even lucky enough to see the 1990 London Laserium “WOTW” show during my monthlong stay in England. (Yes, long before Jeff Wayne mounted the live “WOTW” show in 2006 for you lucky British & European fans to see, there was the 1990 London Laserium show. That was fabulous!) I have not been able to see the current live “WOTW” tour, but I keep hoping and praying that Jeff Wayne will finally, at long last, bring the show Stateside. Jeff says he wants to, but it’s all about working things out with the concert promoters. Keep trying, Jeff!

In the meantime, there is the 1978 album to enjoy. But….in 2012, Jeff Wayne announced that he was actually *re-making* the original “WOTW” album with an all-new cast, with the new version to be called “War Of The Worlds: The New Generation”. Like many fans, I wasn’t sure that this was such a good idea. I mean, did Picasso ever take one of his paintings off the wall and say, “Hmmm, let me see if I can make this better”? Of course not. But Wayne said he wanted to bring the album up-to-date, expand on the original by adding extra bits of dialogue and music, and re-introduce the work to a whole new audience. Fair enough, Jeff. Good luck, I thought.

And here it is at last: “The War Of The Worlds: The New Generation.” My verdict: while the original “WOTW” album remains the definitive version of the work (how can it not?), this new version of the album is surprisingly great. This new “WOTW”, while it has a few flaws (and I’ll get to those in a minute), is just as thrilling for me to listen to, and I think it compliments the original album very well.

As for the new voice cast, while they don’t erase the memories of the original cast, I’m very pleased with them overall. Liam Neeson certainly had a lot to live up to in taking over the part of the Narrator/Journalist from Richard Burton, but he does so remarkably well. I’ve always admired Liam Neeson’s acting, as well as his masterful speaking voice (he’s also the voice of Aslan The Lion, of course!), so he was an inspired choice to succeed Burton. I won’t say Neeson’s narration is *better* than the outstanding job Burton did on the original….Neeson merely does it differently. But, like Burton before him, Neeson also has a very powerful voice, and I immensely enjoy listening to his performance here. Somewhere, Burton is smiling down on Neeson. Well done, Liam!

As for the new singers….Gary Barlow (from Take That) does a surprisingly good job taking over from Justin Hayward as The Sung Thoughts Of The Journalist. He sounds close enough to Hayward in tone, and does a fine job on “Forever Autumn”, as well as the “chances of anything coming from Mars” refrain. Ricky Wilson (from The Kaiser Chiefs) takes over from David Essex as The Artilleryman, and does an excellent job as well. He sings “Brave New World” spot-on, and he also holds his own against Neeson quite well in the spoken-word sections (I also enjoyed his extended dialogue scene with Neeson just before “Brave New World”). Alex Clare takes over from Chris Thompson as The Voice Of Humanity on “Thunder Child”, and his voice sounds very similar to Thompson’s and his great performance of this classic “WOTW” tune is easily on par with Thompson’s original.

However….it took me a while to get used to the new Beth and Parson Nathaniel on the song “The Spirit Of Man”. Joss Stone, while a brilliant, soulful, attractive singer, doesn’t *quite* nail the singing part of Beth, although her speaking bits work fine. Julie Covington’s Beth from the original album was perfect—she captured Beth’s gentle, loving, soothing, nurturing side, as she tries all she can to be the voice of reason for her Parson husband who has been driven mad by the Martian invasion. While there’s no questioning Joss Stone’s singing prowess, her R&B-flavored take on the singing part of Beth doesn’t quite work. In other words, I hear Joss Stone playing Joss Stone, not Beth. Still, I’ll live with her decent performance.

At least she *technically* sings real good. And the same can be said for Maverick Sabre as Parson Nathaniel. The late, great Phil Lynott from Thin Lizzy was magnificent as the original Parson. He captured ALL of the Parson’s tortured madness on the original album. Maverick Sabre, while technically a good singer, just isn’t *crazy* enough as the Parson. There are little hints of madness in his performance, but only hints. Lynott, however, was totally off-the-rails, just as the Parson should be. Sabre plays it too straight. Still, like Joss Stone, he’s a good singer, so I’ll live with his performance here, which, like Stone’s, can also be described as decent.

And as for the music and presentation, Jeff Wayne uses many familiar elements and musical passages from the original album, but the new instrumental sections and arrangements work very well, as do the new batch of sound effects (probably the best one being when Neeson’s Journalist momentarily dives underwater—very clever!). I didn’t mind the dub touches here and there, and the skillful musicianship is still intact, not only from veteran players like bassist Herbie Flowers, guitarist Chris Spedding, and Jeff Wayne himself on synthesisers from the original album, but newcomers like drummer Gordy Marshall and guitarist Tom Woodstock, who fires off searing guitarwork as The Martian Heat Ray, just as tasty as Jo Partridge did on the original.

It’s hard for me to tell if *every single note* on “The New Generation” is brand-new, or if *some* recorded parts from the original album are re-used, but whether “The New Generation” is a mashing of the two albums, OR a complete note-for-note re-recording, it still sounds amazing to my ears all the same. And of course, what needs to be said of Jeff Wayne’s production work? Brilliant. And finally, the packaging is gorgeous: all new beautiful paintings that help illustrate the story just as wonderfully as the original paintings by Peter Goodfellow, etc., did for the original.

Any last criticisms? While I appreciate the extra dialogue & storytelling that’s been included on “The New Generation”, we probably didn’t need the bit that the Martians can go without sex. Gee, thanks for telling us that. And, in the new version of the closing “Epilogue”, the Martians are given the last line of dialogue….and it’s a bad line. It wasn’t needed, Jeff!

So….the new version of “Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version Of “The War Of The Worlds,” aka “The New Generation”, has it’s share of mistakes. It doesn’t top the original album, but, but, but….it is nonetheless an excellent companion album to the classic original, and it’s quite an amazing achievement all on it’s own. There’s no reason why “WOTW” fans can’t enjoy both albums, even if the 1978 original is still the best. But “The New Generation” is still quite a feast for the ears in its own right, and it’s a wonderful *alternate* way of enjoying Jeff Wayne’s sci-fi prog-rock masterpiece. I’m never going to stop loving the original “WOTW” album, which I will always listen to quite regularly, but this new version of “WOTW” is almost as great, and is a joy to listen to as well. I’m sure I’ll be playing it almost as often as the original.

Thank you, Jeff Wayne, you did it! Now, can you please bring the “WOTW” live show to North America? Pretty please? Thanks.

June 2, 2013 Posted by | Jeff Wayne's Musical Version Of The War Of The Worlds The New Generation | | Leave a comment

Neil Young Don’t Spook The Horse (Santa Cruz, November 1990)

neilyoung_spookFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

The Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA – November 13th, 1990

Disc 1 (49:56): Audience, Country Home, Surfer Joe And Moe The Sleaze, Love To Burn, Days That Used To Be, Bite The Bullet, Cinnamon Girl

Disc 2 (68:02): Audience, Farmer John, Cowgirl In The Sand, Over And Over, Dangerbird, Don’t Cry No Tears (False Start), Don’t Cry No Tears, Sedan Delivery, Roll Another Number, Fuckin ‘Up

Disc 3 (65:14): Audience, T-Bone, Homegrown, Mansion On The Hill, Like A Hurricane, Love And Only Love, Cortez The Killer

Before Neil Young & Crazy Horse toured for Ragged Glory in 1991 the played a few warm up gigs in small venues. The second date they visited The Catalyst in San Jose, a venue they performed in several times since 1975. Young played three sets that night and all were recorded in an excellent stereo DAT audience recording. An earlier silver pressed release came out several years ago on Cowgirl In The Santa Cruz (Seymour-77/8/9).

It has been suggested that this is the greatest Neil Young concert available on any format, legal or illegitimate. After a decade which saw Young start out at the height of his popularity and see him going through extreme stylistic changes and fights with his new record company, he reasserted himself with Freedom and Ragged Glory.

His live performance hearkens back to the his best as well. There are no acoustic numbers in this set but a full electric assault recalling the improvisational mindset, not from the late seventies, but from the early seventies where they would expand songs with endless solos and fun jamming.

At close to three hours, this is also one of the longest Neil Young concerts on record. The first set starts off the familiar “Country Home.” It sets the tone for the evening by being pushed to ten minutes long, almost double it’s usual length. It is followed by ”Surfer Joe And Moe The Sleaze” from Re*Ac*Tor played for the final time live.

The band begins to loosen up by the end of the first set. Neil gives an introduction to “Cinnamon Girl,” saying: “A little bark grew on us while we were gone. A little rust. We’d like to bring this golden oldie out of the pocket for you. From the rust bucket. I hope this won’t prick you now, you’ll get tetanus.”

The second set begins with “Farmer John,” a song that had its live debut the previous night in La Honda. Although it would never be a regular part of the live set, having been played only twelve times, it would be included in some important shows in the intervening years such as Farm Aid in 1994.

“Rattle your brain … Shake the cobwebs out” Billy Talbot says before they embark on a fifteen minute “Cowgirl In The Sand.” Later in the set they play ”Over And Over” for only the second of two times live (the first on the previous night in La Honda), and “Dangerbird” receives its live debut.

The third set starts off with the only live performance of “T-Bone,” with it’s heavy feedback to set the tone for the final extraordinary hour. There is some familiarity in the long jam session of “Like A Hurricane” but “Love And Only Love” caps the evening. At eighteen minutes long, it culminates with all of the mannerism of Neil Young and Crazy Horse which is real fun to listen to. “Cortez The Killer” is played as the encore.

Don’t Spook The Crazy Horse is a fantastic release worth having. It is one of the best Neil Young performances out there and is worth having.

June 2, 2013 Posted by | Neil Young Don't Spook The Horse | , | Leave a comment

Jeff Wayne War Of The Worlds – 30th Anniversary Edition (1978/2009)

13_TWOTWCoverwebFrom amazon.com

Review A double album *rock musical* version of H.G. Wells’ sci-fi classic, “The War Of The Worlds”? Many people would laugh at such an idea.

But in 1978, musician/songwriter/producer Jeff Wayne actually did it, and created one of rock’s most supreme concept albums. Although the album has always been much more popular in Britain and other parts of Europe (even having a multi-year UK album-chart run rivaling Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon”), it nonetheless has a strong cult following here in North America, myself proudly included. I first became aware of the “War Of The Worlds” album sometime in the late 80’s, when I discovered that Justin Hayward, the lead singer for The Moody Blues (one of my all-time favorite bands) was singing on it.

Curious, I picked up a vinyl copy of the album at a used record store, dropped the needle on Side One, and I was instantly hooked. I’d never heard anything like it before. The way the Martian-invasion narrative is brilliantly sustained from beginning to end, and, of course, Jeff Wayne’s incredible music score that matches it. And, completing the “War Of The Worlds” package, there’s the elaborate artwork that accompanies & illustrates the album—simply marvelous to look at. No question about it, “The War Of The Worlds” is quite an acheivement. Nearly three decades later after it’s initial release, the album still sounds just as fresh & exciting now as it did back then.

Besides the legendary, commanding voice of Richard Burton as the album’s narrator, Jeff Wayne’s stunning music rocks (“Horsell Common & The Heat Ray”), rouses (“Brave New World”), has incredible beauty (“Forever Autumn”), and, at turns, is effectively eerie (“The Red Weed”). The musicianship that Wayne has ensembled for the album is first-rate, from great singers like Justin Hayward, David Essex, Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott & Julie Covington, to incredible musicians like Jo Partridge, Herbie Flowers, Chris Spedding, and Jeff Wayne himself.

The album has amazing moods, atmospherics & sound effects, and the surprise twist at the album’s end still gives me goosebumps to this day! There’s no doubt in my mind that H.G. Wells himself would’ve been very happy indeed with this powerful musical treatment of his story. Although Jeff Wayne’s “War Of The Worlds” has never been staged, I was very fortunately blessed to see a Laserium presentation of the album at the London Planetarium back in July of 1990. They presented the *whole* double album, complete with lasers, slides, & pyrotechnics.

There was even an intermission after Side Two! It was a truly spellbinding show, and a great tribute to the album’s timeless appeal. The point of mentioning it is that Jeff Wayne’s “War Of The Worlds” succeeds not only as a rock album, but as a storytelling album that lends itself quite well to visual presentation. I can easily see a touring “rock concert” presentation of “War Of The Worlds” someday, complete with rock band & orchestra, singers, slides, lasers & pyrotechnics. Maybe Jeff Wayne could try to hook up with someone in the theater world and mount such a production? One can dream….

In the meantime, buy the CD, and discover for yourself what all the fuss is about. Jeff Wayne’s “War Of The Worlds” is truly a rock musical masterwork.

Review I hesitated before spending over a hundred bucks on the collector’s edition of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. There’s a two-disc version of the CD that’s a whole lot less; surely I could put the “collectors” money into something else?

But as they say, you never regret your luxuries.

I should state up front that this music has special meaning for me. In 1979, when I met my husband, he had a tape of this album in the car — back in the days when we all took the time to tape our vinyl albums! — so I strongly associate it with our first days together, driving around Clearwater Florida and getting to know one another. I think I’d love the album anyway, as I’m a sucker for melodic versions of spoken-word stories, such as Rick Wakeman’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.

If you’re new to the music, and are trying to get a sense of its value from Amazon’s little 30-second previews, I’ll simply summarize by saying that the album is very true to the original novel. One friend of mine disliked the WotW movies (all of them) because he feels the story needs to be told in Victorian England; if you feel as he does, you’ll be well pleased by this version.

But you’d get that with the $20 version, which Amazon also sells. Is it worth it for the extra stuff?

Yes and No. The Yes-reasons strongly over-power the Noes, so I’m still quite happy I sprung for the expensive version.

Let’s get the negatives out of the way first. I’ve no real interest in the “club mix” CD (in fact I haven’t even listened to it yet); to me, this album is about melodies and story-telling, not dancing. The two CDs of out-takes and variations (such as some of the narration from a German version) are interesting, but they’re inherently “listen once” items. There’s nothing wrong with these, but nothing compelling either.

On the other hand… I really enjoyed the Making-Of DVD. It could have been a sappy, self-congratulatory indulgence on the part of Jeff Wayne, but the video escapes that trap. He (and others) explain how the album came about; the business and people negotiations; and particularly the artistic and creative efforts. I’m not a musician, but I really enjoyed Jeff Wayne’s demonstrations of constructing the musical themes for the heat ray and so on.

Plus, the printed material is simply beautiful. Some of it was in the original vinyl album (I still do own it!), but the photos, script, and other stuff is really enjoyable. I haven’t had the chance to read it all the way through, but I’m trying to spread out the pleasure.

If you’re unsure which version to get… go ahead and get this one. I don’t think you’ll regret it

June 2, 2013 Posted by | Jeff Wayne War of the Worlds - 30th Anniversary Edition | | Leave a comment

Art Of Noise Drum And Bass Collection (1996) & The Fon Mixes (1997)

MI0001517683110584_1_fFrom westnet.com

The Art of Noise are one of the most sampled bands in music history. Pieces of their work are found in some of the most popular music of the past 13 years (The Prodigy’s “Firestarter” comes to mind among many many others). Their beginnings in 1983 saw them as a faceless studio-bound vehicle for Trevor Horn, and their body of work created “…the blueprint for new styles of hip-hop and electro-rhythms” and became “…a crystal ball of hardcore technology”.

Now we come to the stage where the very people who were moved by AON’s early works to create on their own, come “home” and put their spin on the work of their mentors.

The FON Mixes are the hardcore’s response to their historical influences. Each original Art Of Noise track is re-mixed with a burst of energy from noted mixers like Mark Gamble, Youth and Richard H. Kirk of Cabaret Voltaire (using the pseudonym Sweet Exorcist).

On the FON CD “Peter Gunn” is mixed with “Dragnet”. It gets really campy and exaggerated using vintage Art Of Noise echoes and backbeat as it lumbers along. This Mark Gamble mix of “Peter Gunn” is as right-on representation of the original track, as his mix of “Yebo” is abstract. With its ominous beginning, and its blend of African chants with mechanized beats, there is not much of the original to be heard in this mix, which runs just short of two minutes.

“The Art of Slow Love” is brilliantly re-done by Youth starting off a bit like Primal Scream’s “Loaded” easing into a long, slow, sexy groove. Samples of “Moments In Love” are sprinkled throughout the track, seemingly reminiscing about the original AON track.

The Drum and Bass Collection tackles many of the same songs, but with a more textured approach. This collection features mixes from ILS, Flyright, Lemon D (from Metalhedz) and Lightfoot among others. I was not readily familiar with the work of these mixers, as many Americans will not be, but their work on this CD speaks volumes.

Flyright tackles “Peter Gunn” in a way that is diametrically opposed to Gamble’s (from FON). Completely unrecognizable as “Peter Gunn”, this track speeds along at a breakneck pace. There is no exact pattern or reason to this mix of the track, but that is what grabs your attention, and keeps it to the end.

The bassy meandering of Lightfoot’s almost-six-minute version of “Yebo” makes its numerous tempo changes with low-key grace. The levity with which ILS attacks “The Art of Love” is not at all like Youth’s ‘Slow’ version. It owes more to break-beat in the beginning, and its tempo changes plateau at an ambient groove.

The Art Of Noise has contributed a great deal to the music we all listen to. Getting your music from the very source of this genre will show you how it has developed over the years, and will allow you to pick out samples from this often credited group. Using the old AON albums as reference points and comparing the mixes is as enlightening as listening gets.

June 2, 2013 Posted by | Art Of Noise Drum And Base Collection, Art Of Noise The Fon Mixes | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Frankfurt Special (Frankfurt, June 1980)

frontFrom theyearofledzeppelin.com

6/30/1980 Frankfurt, Germany

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, Achilles Last Stand, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Kashmir, Stairway to Heaven, Rock and Roll, Money, Whole Lotta Love

The tape begins with a brief soundcheck before Train Kept a Rollin’ explodes out of the gate. The band plays with renewed fervor as they hammer through the ferocious attack. Page blazes through an abrasive guitar solo during Nobody’s Fault But Mine. Plant drowns his gravelly voice in a sea of echo during a devastatingly heavy Black Dog.

As the song ends, he tells the crowd “it’s quite nice to be back in these parts of the woods again, been a long time,” adding “we were the first rock n’ roll band ever to play in this place… when most of you were in your cradles and prams and stuff.” The band missteps slightly in the middle of In the Evening, quickly getting themselves back on track. Hot Dog is introduced as “a song credited to some… extra-group happenings.”

The band pulverizes the crowd with a brutal Trampled Underfoot. Plant barks aggressively as Page shreds frantically through the blistering guitar solos. As the song ends, Plant attempts to calm the rowdy crowd, warning “somebody’s gonna get a little bit hurt, so stand… still.” The band is on fire during an outstanding Since I’ve Been Loving You. Page’s fingers are like razor blades as he tears through an emotionally charged guitar solo.

Plant belts out each line as if it were his last as the song reaches its dramatic climax. An incredibly powerful performance, one of the best in recent memory. Achilles Last Stand is a thunderous epic, despite some sticky-fingered maneuvering from Page in the middle of the song. Plant introduces White Summer/Black Mountain Side as “a little virtuoso piece.” Unfortunately, the impatient crowd forces Page to stop playing just before Black Mountain Side, saying “I can’t hear me’self play for the noise down here… give us a chance, lads.”

Plant delivers a powerful performance during an excellent Kashmir. As the song ends, he tells the crowd “sometimes we surprise each other.” Page can be heard saying “think you might be able to keep quiet for this one?” before Stairway to Heaven. His fingers become entangled in the strings during a rather dull, uninspired guitar solo. Rock and Roll is a devastating explosion of energy. The biggest surprise of the night is Plant’s introduction of Atlantic Records executive Phil Carson, who joins the band on bass for a brutally heavy rendition of Money, its first appearance since 6/19/1972.

Plant pushes his voice to the limit as they chug through the bone-crushing rhythm. Whole Lotta Love is outstanding. Page is absolutely on fire during the riotous Boogie Chillen’ section, which is followed by an impromptu rendition of Elvis Presley’s Frankfurt Special. An explosive finale to an unbelievable performance. The band has finally managed to recapture some of their former glory, if only for one night. Must hear.

June 2, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Frankfurt Special | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Back To The Garden (Madison Square Garden, July 1977)

frontFrom theyearofledzeppelin.com

6/7/1977 New York, NY

The Song Remains the Same, Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, In My Time of Dying, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, Ten Years Gone, The Battle of Evermore, Going to California, Black Country Woman, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Kashmir, Over the Top, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway to Heaven, Rock and Roll

The first show of the band’s six night residency at Madison Square Garden begins with a frantic The Song Remains the Same. The taper seems to be having a bit of trouble with his equipment, losing the right channel momentarily. Plant repeatedly exclaims “oh Jimmy!” as Page launches into a blistering sticky-fingered guitar solo.

As the song ends, Plant tells the crowd “it’s really great to be back, cause we never really knew whether we would ever make it back, y’know?… and I guess now that we have, we better do it good, right?” He insists that the crowd cool it with the firecrackers before dedicating In My Time of Dying to Queen Elizabeth II, in honour of her Silver Jubilee. The band hammers through a devastatingly heavy performance as Plant barks aggressively.

Since I’ve Been Loving You is an epic drama. Page is absolutely on fire, his fingers tear across the fretboard as he leads the crowd on an emotional journey. Plant is in top form, belting out each line with power and conviction. A fantastic performance, one of the best in recent memory. Someone near the taper can be heard saying “look here, on the roof!… they got a fuckin’ Laserium!” as Jones begins his piano solo during No Quarter.

There is a slight cut in the tape shortly thereafter. Page and Bonzo join in for another frenzied rendition of Nut Rocker. Page shreds wildly through an excellent guitar solo as Bonzo relentlessly hammers at his drums. Plant introduces Ten Years Gone as “a song about loves lost, but never gone.” The crowd cheers loudly as the band begins a beautiful Going to California. The delicate atmosphere is interrupted by a barrage of firecracker blasts following the first verse.

Page and Plant get into a tongue-in-cheek rendition of Rawhide before Black Country Woman. Unfortunately, the latter is cut after just over a minute. The crowd erupts as Kashmir bursts out of White Summer/Black Mountain Side. The band completely loses track of one another during the latter half of the song. There are a couple briefly disturbing speed fluctuations near the beginning of an explosive Achilles Last Stand.

Plant dedicates Stairway to Heaven to “the fact that good vibes are alive and well in New York.” Page shreds erratically through the guitar solo. Plant exclaims “now let’s go back to 1969!” before Whole Lotta Love. The band closes the show with a riotous Rock and Roll, getting caught up in the frenzy and losing track of one another during the guitar solo.

June 2, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Back To The Garden | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin LZ Rhoder (Providence, RI, July 1973)

led-zeppelin-live-lz-rhoder-providence-ri-1973-1ecbFrom theyearofledzeppelin.com

7/21/1973 Providence, RI

Rock and Roll, Celebration Day, Black Dog, Over the Hills and Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, The Song Remains the Same, The Rain Song, Dazed and Confused, Stairway to Heaven, Moby Dick, Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love, The Ocean

The tape begins with a brief soundcheck before Rock and Roll crashes into motion. Page and Jones lose track of each other during the guitar solo. Plant is in good voice, belting out each line of Black Dog with power and bravado. As the song ends, he greets the crowd, saying “I was gonna say it’s nice to be back, but I don’t think we’ve been here before… I could be wrong.”

Page blazes through the the guitar solo during Over the Hills and Far Away. He cuts the final verse short, leaving Plant to moan “oh, you really oughta know” during the outro. As the song ends, Plant goes on a long tirade insisting that the crowd be cool and move back or the show cannot continue.

Since I’ve Been Loving You is incredibly powerful. Page’s fingers race across the fretboard in a furious barrage of notes during the intro. The band plays as one entity, rising and falling in unison with every ebb and flow. A fantastic performance, one of the best in recent memory. Before No Quarter, Plant tells the crowd he didn’t want to offend anyone with his earlier rant, saying “just to prove it, here’s something that we really like to play and we’re gonna play really fantastically.”

The instrumental section is simply outstanding, Jones’s haunting melodies slowly build tension until Page’s wildly passionate guitar solo explodes across the soundscape. The song has quickly become a major highlight of the show.

Plant finds something on the stage while introducing The Song Remains the Same, joking “I think I’ll have to give this to one of the security men.” A cut in the tape leaves us near the end of the song. There is another brief cut during the second verse of The Rain Song. Dazed and Confused is introduced as “something that’s as old as the hills.” The frenzied lead-in to the bow solo gives way to an elegantly heavy San Francisco interlude.

Page is absolutely on fire during the guitar solo/workout section, racing frantically through a violent cascade of notes as Bonzo and Jones follow close behind. Unfortunately, the tape is cut just before the call and response with Plant, leaving us at the explosive return to the main riff. Page solos wildly over Bonzo’s syncopated heartbeat rhythm during the outro. Another devastating performance.

Stairway to Heaven features an excellent, dynamic guitar solo from Page. Plant belts out the final verse with incredible intensity. Moby Dick is introduced as “somethin’ to get off on.” The pattern of excellence continues with a blistering Heartbreaker. Page, Jones, and Bonzo get into a high-speed funky jam following the initial verses of Whole Lotta Love. Unfortunately, there is a cut in the tape during the theramin freakout which leaves us near the end of the Boogie Chillen’ section. The band closes the show with a terrific The Ocean, one of the best thus far. A truly incredible performance. Must hear.

The tape is clear and well-balanced, if a bit noisy on the high end.

June 2, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin LZ Rhoder | , | Leave a comment