Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Led Zeppelin Destroyer (Cleveland, April 1977)


Richfield Coliseum, Cleveland, OH – April 27th, 1977

Disc 1: 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: Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Black Country Woman, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, White Summer / Black Mountain Side, Kashmir

Disc 3: Moby Dick, guitar solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway to Heaven, Rock And Roll, Trampled Underfoot

Led Zeppelin’s Destroyer concert received another release recently. This is a no-label release which follows an edition by the SODD label earlier this year. Compared to that one, the no label use a different source. The gain has been reduced making it softer in volume. Some may say this sounds more natural, but that is a subjective judgment according to one’s taste and it can at least be claimed this isn’t any worse than any other version. It does sound brighter with stable high frequencies and is considerably cleaner than other versions.

The opening of “The Song Remains The Same” and several minutes in the middle of “No Quarter” are still missing (the cut in the latter occurs at 5:10 and eliminates the first half of the improvisation where they must often played an up beat boogie before the proper and more somber solo.) There are also small tape flips in “White Summer” and during Jimmy Page’s guitar solo on disc three. It otherwise contains all of the music present. Ever since this tape first surfaced on vinyl it has been a rare perennial. According to the label, this release is sourced from first generation reels which were posted online in September. The notes that came with this version state:

“D.F. and I would coach the Seattle Kingdome video director (N.W.) on songs to be played at upcoming major shows. Basically he was “studying up” on song placement and solos to be expected. Having worked at both the Superdome and in Cleveland, N.W. had friends at other venues. He simply asked a friend working the show in Cleveland to get him a copy of the show and fire it off to us in Seattle. The guy brought in his home deck, walked up to the board, and being on the crew they plugged him in.

Just that simple. These reels are a direct copy of the master cassettes done in the early 80′s on a brand new Akai GX-77 reel deck using Maxell XLII tape at 7.5 ips and the rare EE equalization that the tape required. I personally have a better trust in this source than I do in the actual masters now. The masters still exist, but they aren’t going in the mail, and after so many years, I just think that 7.5 ips quarter inch reels are the best way to go. They may never have been played before Woodworker’s efforts. I kept a second “play” copy on Maxell UD reels for listening. This source is pristine, not one of the bootleg versions, not off crude cassette copies from me in the 80′s.”

Many Zeppelin collectors argue that this show is weak and not one of the better performances. Zeppelin partly relied upon the acoustics of the venue in which they were playing. Through clever use of echo in the background, that technique gives a mysterious ambiance giving the impression their music was coming out of the depth of chaos.

A dry mixing desk tape eliminates that part of the sound and its unforgiving nature can’t cover up the sloppy notes like a good audience recording can do. Listening through this tape, it is apparent there are no major disasters on stage and it reveals that the final weekend of the first third of their eleventh tour the band tightened up considerably when compared to the opening shows in Chicago.

“It’s great to be back…in more ways than one” Plant cryptically states before an version of “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” augmented by additional shouts and chants. Destroyer is packaged in a standard fatboy jewel case. The inserts are printed on shiny glossy paper. The design is very simple with several photos from the tour and a set list printed on the back. It certainly is one of the prettiest versions of the show in a while. It is limited to two hundred unnumbered copies and this is an excellent way to own a great version of the show on an authoritative silver edition.

April 14, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Destroyer | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin: Destroyer (Cleveland, April 1977)


Richfield Coliseum, Cleveland, OH – April 27th, 1977

Disc 1: 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: Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Black Country Woman, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, White Summer / Black Mountain Side, Kashmir

Disc 3: Moby Dick, guitar solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, Rock And Roll, Trampled Underfoot

The soundboard for Led Zeppelin’s April 27th, 1977 show in Cleveland first surfaced on vinyl in the 1980’s on the European release Destroyer (DRGM 505), listed as being from Seattle and packaged in a color jacket with a picture of Page on the cover. This was copied in the U.S. with the same title and matrix number but comes packaged in a plastic carrying case and the tape has a different mastering which many consider inferior, and releases have the songs out of proper sequence. The Swingin’ Pig issued the four LP set Destroyer and other vinyl titles released in the late eighties include Sweet Jelly Roll (Rock Solid Records), Nobody’s Fault But Mine (Sad Song) and Hard Way To Heaven (UNI), which is incomplete and includes the Live Aid set.

When CDs first began to be manufactured this was one of the very first tapes to come out. The Swingin’ Pig copied their vinyl release on Destroyer (TSP-CD-059-2), a 2CD set released in 1990. Neutral Zone issued The Destroyer (NZCD 89013), containing “Going To California” to “Rock And Roll” and with “Stairway To Heaven” dropped, and Nobody’s Fault But Mine (NZCD 89015) containing the first hour of the show from “The Song Remains The Same” to “The Battle Of Evermore.” Destroyer (Archive) is a 1989 West German production in “perfect soundboard quality” but attributes this show to August 1977. Coming Back To The Murder Stage (Buccaneer Records BUC 021/2) is a 2CD set erroneously attributing this show to April 28th, and also includes the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary reunion set.

Destroyer (BGS009-2) is a 2CD 1992 Italian release which claims to be re-mastered and replicates the artwork on the earlier Archive release. Australia issued this tape at least three times beginning in 1993 with Led Zeppelin Live (Apple House Music SL-23 and SL-24), two CDs with the songs out of sequence. The second disc of the Apple House production was copied on SW 39, and both were issued on the Banana label as Last Stand Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 on (BAN-025-A & B) Destroyer (Silverbird ZLNCD29) with correct date and a bonus track “Hey Joe” from Band Of Joy demo.

The early nineties also saw the release the first of four separate Tarantura releases on The Destroyer 1st Day (Tarantura T6CD-1). This box set was issued in 1993 containing both the April 27th soundboard and the April 28th audience recordings. The label issued the soundboard again two years later on The Destroyer Gold (Tarantura TUDCD-004~006).

Destroyer: Final Edition (Cobra Standard 004) is a 3CD set issued in a cardboard sleeve with same lettering as first TSP vinyl. The Pot label issued The Original Stereo Destroyer (POT-001/002) on two discs and Antrabata includes this on three discs in The Final Statements, a 9CD box set that also includes the September 4th, 1970 Los Angeles and July 28th, 1973 New York tapes. The Destroyer (Last Stand Disc LSD-16/17/18) is a three disc set released in 1997 with excellent three disc set with 24-bit re-mastering in excellent quality.

Shout To The Top also released Destroyer (STTP 055/056/057) about this time. Empress Valley released The Destroyer (EVSD-40/41/42) in 2000 in an LP sized case with the front cover replicating the old Smilin’ Ears vinyl edition of the audience recording from the following night. This version is, by almost unanimous consensus, the best sounding and most complete version of the tape. Several years later Tarantura issued two separate six-disc box sets simultaneously with both Cleveland shows. The Destroyers (TCD-10-1~3) and The Destroyer (Flesh/Trade Mark Of Quality TMQ 20021 1-3) are two different remastering jobs and are singled out to be among the very worst titles released by Tarantura.

In 2004 Empress Valley released the tape again in The Supreme Destroyers (EVSD-276/277/278). This is a 9CD box set released with two separate covers that contains also the audience recordings from the April 28tg Cleveland show and the May 30th Largo, Maryland show. This show also appears on the DVDR-A title Destroyer (Genuine Masters GM-27.04.1977-DVD-A-18) which is superb.

Destroyer on the SODD label is the latest release and a rare non-Rolling Stones title. The sound quality compares favorably with Empress Valley’s first release which is considered to be the best version of them all. The familiar cuts are still present with the tape beginning at the first verse of “The Song Remains The Same.” Also there are two faint digital faults on disc one that can be found at 4:22 in “Sick Again” and at 18:11 in “No Quarter.”

These sound like speed bumps, not very loud and don’t eliminate any music. For the pickiest of collectors this is an issue, but for those who are more forgiving it won’t be. With that said many do hope that the SODD people will fix these errors and make the correction available as Scorpio has done with their Ultimate Studio Sessions box set. If that were to occur, then this release would be the definitive version of this often pressed show which is a solid concert despite some criticisms. That this is a soundboard recording betrays many of the mistakes that are made on stage particularly by Page. In the first hour of the show in particular he misses some cues and plays some bum notes.

What this concert really needs is a good audience recording to hear how the music was being received in the venue since the echo oftentimes covers them up. Plant is in good voice and the rhythm section is solid as usual. This night is right by the end of the first of three legs of their massive 1977 U.S. tour and would be followed by another night in Cleveland and the massive, record setting concert in Pontiac (whose clear audience recording was released only once by TDOLZ which runs way too slow).

SODD package this in a basic fatboy plastic jewel case. The label usually issue bonus discs with their Rolling Stones titles, but there is no such bonus discs with this one. Destroyer utilizes the font and graphic design first used by TSP in the eighties with a Madison Square Garden shot on the front cover. The overall design is basic but effective and this version comes so very close to being definitive that we all hope the label will fix the errors.

May 15, 2010 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Destroyer | , | Leave a comment