Classic Rock Review

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Led Zeppelin bootleg – The Dragon Snake – Houston 21st May 1977

From uuweb.led-zeppelin.com

The Summit, Houston, TX, 21 May 1977

Disc 1 (68.15): The Song Remains The Same/The Rover Intro – Sick Again/Nobody’s Fault But Mine/In My Time Of Dying/Since I’ve Been Loving You/No Quarter
Disc 2 (48.44): 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 (67.38: Out On The Tiles Intro – Moby Dick/Guitar Solo/Achilles Last Stand/Stairway To Heaven/Rock And Roll/Trampled Underfoot

Another amazing find by Empress Valley! This title features an excellent soundboard tape of a concert of the band held at The Summit in Houston, Texas from the 2nd leg of its ’77 USA tour. As many of you should recall, our collectors circle was wowed when EV released its title “Bringing The House Down” in 2003 featuring an excellent soundboard tape from the band’s concert in Maryland on May 26, ’77. In the case of that concert, there had been an audience source tape available to experience it before the release of the soundboard.

This time, however, there has not been any release of even an audience recording of the concert before the release of this soundboard, which makes this release more surprising to us! The quality of the soundboard tape as I hear in this title is as good as (or even more dynamic and thus better than!) that in “Bringing The House Down”. In this tape, each of the instruments and Robert’s voice is clearly separated and discernible in a good balance. It especially has good punchy drum and bass sounds. The tape has little hiss, while moderately picking up the audience noise, providing a “live” feeling to the soundboard tape which tends to be too dry. The tape is almost complete but for a very noticeable cut in “Bron-yr-Aur Stomp.”

The performance of the band at this concert is not so bad as reported somewhere. Aside from some minor flaws, the overall level of its performance is very satisfying. The brightest star of this concert is John Bonham who continued to deliver a high level of performance throughout the concert. I almost shed tears when I first heard Bonzo’s exciting and wonderful drumming, accompanied by Johnsey’s incredible bass playing, in the opening tune “The Song Remains The Same” as captured by the tape. At this concert, Bonzo also shines especially in his drum solos with marvelous stereo effects, as well as in the very powerful “Achilles Last Stand.” The recording so vividly and lively revives his amazing technique, power and “feel” that no other drummer in the world would probably ever be able to attain or surpass for good…

There also are some funny moments captured in this recording. For instance, Bonzo was often cynically called “Joan Baez of Led Zeppelin” by Robert. Robert also jokingly called Jonesy’s three neck instrument “three neck turkey”! The menu of this concert, especially in its encore, is also very interesting. Here, “Rock And Roll” was still played independently rather than as a sequence from a short version of “Whole Lotta Love.” It is also quite rare to have “Trampled Underfoot,” which sounds very heavy this time, as the ending tune of any of the band’s concerts in any year. In addition, there is even some snippet of “Custard Pie” sung by Robert before the band started “Black Country Woman”!

The title comes in a thick card gatehold similar to that used for “Bringing The House Down”. The artworks used for the title are not particularly attractive but the picture of the band in motion on stage in typical ’77 costumes is beautifully printed on its front cover. This is arguably so far the best soundboard recording from the band’s ’77 tour and should definitely be a new “must have” for all collectors in our circle!

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May 16, 2010 Posted by | Led Zeppelin The Dragon Snake | , | Leave a comment