Capitol Center, Landover, MD – May 26th, 1977
Disc 1 (67.21): 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
Disc 2 (49.59): Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Dancing Days, Black Country Woman, Bron-yr-Aur Stomp, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Kashmir
Disc 3 (78.30): Out On The Tiles / Moby Dick, Page Solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll
Such was the nature of Led Zeppelin’s 1977 tour that they had to book series of shows in various cities instead of having an endless stream of one-night stands. For the Maryland – Washington DC region, Zeppelin booked four nights in the Capital Center in Landover. All four shows were taped from the audience with the fourth and final night on May 30th being the best sounding.
The second Maryland show on May 26th had been released several times from the audience tape. But in 2003 a really nice soundboard tape surfaced, the first professional recording from those dates. Like many of the 1977 soundboards it lacks a bit of dynamics but is generally well balanced and enjoyable. There are cuts on the tape from 3:35 to 4:20 in “No Quarter,” from 0:42 to 2:45 in “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp,” and from 25:40 to 35:17 in “Moby Dick” filled in from the audience tape. Audience noise after the final encore “Rock And Roll,” lasting about two minutes, is spliced from the audience tape to provide some atmosphere. One can hear the silly comments from the tapers and Genesis’ “I Know What I Like” played over the venue’s PA system.
In essence, this is an affordable and nicely packaged duplicate of Bringing The House Down (Empress Valley EVSD 240-242). About three years after this was released Refreshing Mistakes on Beelzebub Records in Italy surfaced claiming to have the missing bits from the soundboard recording, but that was proven to be a dishonest hoax on the part of the label. Eelgrass has great sound and is packaged in a jewel case with thick, classy inserts making this the most affordable and viable way to obtain this show.
Maryland were treated to four impressive marathons which, together with the New York and Los Angeles shows which follow, form technical highpoint of the tour. It starts off with intnese versions of “The Song Remains The Same” and “Sick Again.”
Robert Plant explains the short delay for the show was due to the traffic in New York (since they were camped there during this part and flew down for each of the shows). During ”In My Time Of Dying” Plant incorporates a mention of Maryland in the lyrics, singing: “I want you people of Maryland to realize…” It is followed by the third blues number in a row “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” which Plant describes as “something that comes from our backyard.”
“No Quarter” is the first big piece of the show. John Paul Jones favors jazz and pop sounding melodies in the first half of the show and at times plays like Elton John. The second half of the solo reverts back to the doom and gloom of the original recording.
“Ten Years Gone” is for anyone who “had an affair with a member of the opposite sex, or even a member of the same sex. If this affair seemed very casual to you at one time, and then you walked away and as the years go by you realized that it was a lot more that it seemed, then you felt, you felt the feeling of lost love.”
The acoustic set is another highlight of the performance which Zeppelin resurrected for this tour because, according to Plant, “ we thought that we’d had quite a few acoustic pieces that people might tend to forget.” It also gives them a chance to bring “Lou Reed’s dad on stage, John Bonham, who comes and sits along the front with us, so you’ll know that we really are a four piece group.” They are loose enough during this part of the show to include a rare perfomance of “Dancing Days” before “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp.”
The show’s climax is “Achilles Last Stand” which almost falls apart in the middle with the band losing their place. Even so, afterwards Plant quotes the words, humming “well the mighty arms of Atlas” as he introduces the final song of the set “Stairway To Heaven.”
A bit of “Whole Lotta Love” and “Rock And Roll” is the only encore. Plant thanks MARY-land several times as they leave the stage.
Robert Godwin commented in one of his guides that it’s astounding how poor many of the recordings from Zeppelin’s eleventh US tour really are, especially considering how big they were at the time. The mediocre recordings also contribute to the lukewarm reception this tour receives. The soundboard recordings found on titles such as Bringing The House Down lends to opportunity to reassess these shows in particular and the tour in general. Eelgrass makes it affordable to collect this show and is worth having.
DISC ONE: 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
DISC TWO: Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Dancing Days, Black Country Woman, Bron-yr-Aur Stomp, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Kashmir
DISC THREE: Out On The Tiles/Moby Dick, Page Solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll
Just as Empress Valley seemed to be (and I’m quoting the Underground Uprising webmaster here) “losing the plot”, they pull a rabbit out of a hat and shove it in your face. With very little advance notice, Empress Valley again does the impossible and released an almost complete (we’ll get more into this later on) and previously unknown soundboard tape.
The tape is from one of a string of Maryland ’77 shows that have been overlooked by many over the years because of the rather poor sound quality of the available audience tapes. The exception to this has been the tape from May 30th where the audio quality is quite good. The remaining tapes from Landover are distant and hard to listen to. This is about to change – at least for one of the shows in question. The package Empress Valley used on this set is the same gatefold style book that was employed for their Orlando ’71 release Florida Sunshine. The inside of the sleeve has a black and white picture of Jimmy in his white dragon suit with the Les Paul on one side and Plant on the other side with microphone in one hand and a cigarette in the other. The disc sleeves are bound to the center of the gatefold. It’s a welcome addition over a jewel case any day in my book.
The Aquarius 11 liner notes dated 04.22.03 are in Japanese only this time around with no attempt at an English translation offered. The tape feed fades in with the audience cheering just prior to the start of the show. There’s a hint of hiss on the tape and it’s lacking the dynamics and depth of the Flying Circus release. The overall tone of the sound reminds me of the Seattle ’77 video soundtrack tape. I expect to see some debate about this subject in the coming days. Hopefully someone with a professional set of ears will be able to say for certain. A last minute sound check plows straight into The Song Remains The Same. The first thing that you notice is how prominent in the mix Jones’ bass is.
There are some faint cracking/static on the tape in spots, but I think it’s probably from something on the stage or possibly on the master tape. The first example of this is at the 52 second mark of Sick Again. “Maryland! Good Evening!” Exclaims Plant just prior to apologizing for the delay in starting the show. The opening salvo of songs are pretty standard ’77 fare. In My Time Of Dying contains the You Shook Me lyrics just prior to end of the song. During the quite time between songs, Bonzo can be heard shouting. Plant is in good voice tonight as evidenced by the opening line of Since I’ve Been Loving You.
No Quarter is a half of a tick over 24 minutes long tonight. At the 3 minute 45 second mark in the track the audio changes tone slightly signifying a possible source tape switch or even the splicing of a completely different show in to complete missing sections of tape. Thinking the worst, I pulled out my TDOLZ Maryland Deluxe box set and put in the audience tape from the 26th and made several comparisons between the two shows during the section of tape in question and it sounds to me that EV kept on course and we are indeed still listening to Landover.
Ten Years Gone is as majestic as ever and is a treat to hear in such clarity. Jonsey’s three necked mandolin/guitar is absent at the onset of the track until the sound guys raise the audio levels and the track balances out nicely. After Going To California you can hear someone (Jimmy?) say “Dancing Days” just prior to the start of the guitar intro. It’s only lasts a minute before breaking into Black Country Woman though. The soundboard source tape is not complete. During Bron-yr-Aur Stomp, the tape seamlessly flows into the audience tape plugging any gaps.
The audience tape lasts near two full minutes before being switched back to the soundboard tape. Kashmir finds the boys losing their place (it seems to be rare that they don’t get lost in Kashmir!). They make a nice recovery but it’s a preview of what lies ahead. Bonzo’s solo lasts 36 minutes on this tape. At 25:57 the audience tape is again employed to plug the gap in the soundboard tape. The soundboard tape comes back at 35:17 making for one large hole that was plugged! Plant describes it as “45 minutes of John Bonham!”. The guitar solo contains the Star Spangled Banner. Achilles Last Stand starts out a mess. Bonzo starts in on drums long before Jimmy’s into is supposed to be over. After a few seconds, they meet up and proceed on the normal course. A very respectable run through of Stairway follows. Whole Lotta Love is used as an intro to Rock And Roll. Empress spliced on about 2 minutes of the audience cheer to the end of the tape closing out the show.
The crowd BOOs loudly when the house lights come on and the tapers can be heard talking and discussing buying T-Shirts (as well as The Eagles on the house PA). This is an excellent release and well worth seeking out for the Tour Over America ’77 junkies as well as the casual collector. New source tapes are rare and special indeed but a soundboard tape from ’77 is a very rare occurrence. The clear audio on this tape fills in much speculation about this show as the audience tape is a difficult listen and it’s hard to hear what’s actually happening on stage at times. There will probably be those that roast EV for filling the tape gaps with audience tape but had they not, they would have been roasted for that, so it’s a no win situation for them these days. No one ever seems happy with anything, so I suppose you simply try and do what seems right at the time.
I would have to really look hard and close to find something to complain about on this set. Grab it while you can get it if your budget allows.
DISC 1 (67.21): 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
DISC 2 (49.59): Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Dancing Days, Black Country Woman, Bron-yr-Aur Stomp, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Kashmir
DISC 3 (78.30): Out On The Tiles / Moby Dick, Page Solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll
A nearly complete soundboard from 1977 appears, pulled out of the hat by Empress Valley once again. This time they have done an excellent job, and neatly filled the gaps with the audience recording. This was the second of five nights in Landover, and a better performance than the opening night.
There are some real highlights in playing tonight, so this release is an extremely welcome addition to the Live Concert repertoire. The first disc is a completely new SBD recording However a cut in the SBD tape on track 6 (No Quarter), from 3.35 to 4.20 minutes has been neatly filled from the audience recording. The second disc is virtually all SBD, except on track 6 (Bron-yr-Aur Stomp), where the gap has been again neatly filled from the audience recording from 0.42 to 2.45 minutes into the song. The third disc has a fair chunk of Moby Dick missing (track 1), from 25.40 to 35.17 minutes into the number, which has again been plugged with the audience tape.
Finally the very end of the concert after the group have left the stage, on track 6, starting at 4.39 minutes, until the end at 6.22, has been filled from the audience recording (with good comments from the taper and his friends, hats off to them!). This is a raw soundboard, although all instruments/vocals are fairly well balanced. So it is different from the Madison Square Garden soundboard from 12 February 1975, which Empress Valley released as Led Zeppelin’s Flying Circus. That was a professionally mixed recording (by the legendary Eddie Kramer). However the good thing about this Landover soundboard is the prominence of the bass guitar and the drums of John Bonham. In fact you can hear numerous comments from the great man throughout the concert, which is nice. He rather enthusiastically enters Achilles Last Stand before all the guitar sound effects that end Jimmy Page’s solo have finished, and the maestro launches into the opening guitar riff. We tend to focus on Jimmy Page and his wonderful guitar playing, and Robert Plant’s amazing vocals, but the real power and driving force of Led Zeppelin was of course John Paul Jones and the incredible drums from John Bonham. There is nobody on Earth that could ever replace John Bonham, he was a totally unique and quite incredibly astounding drummer.
This release therefore is a most welcome addition, one that all fans should seek out. The packaging is nice, similar to the same label’s Florida Sunshine, a hard backed gatefold, the CDs being housed in card sleeves inside. For a change, full marks go to Empress Valley on their treatment of this show.