Classic Rock Review

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Led Zeppelin – The Ultimate Power Blues, Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, June 14th 1972


Disc 1 (61:52):  Introduction, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Stairway To Heaven, Going To California, That’s The Way, Tangerine, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp

Disc 2 (49:43):  Dazed & Confused, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick

Disc 3 (43:22):  Whole Lotta Love (includes Boogie Chillun’, Cumberland Gap, Hello Mary Lou, Lawdy Miss Clawdy, Going Down Slow), Rock And Roll, Communication Breakdown, Weekend, Bring It On Home

Silver releases of June 14th are very scarce.  The only solo release is on Sometime In New York City (IQ-043/44/45).  Several years later it was released on Whole Lotta Led (Badgeholders BH-007-01-02-03-04) paired with the June 15th tape.  This is one of the best concerts from the tour, but the sound quality has always ranked from poor to fair.  While it was listenable for committed fans who wanted to explore it, the sound quality has always been prohibitive. 

Tarantura use the master casette for this release.  The sound, while still not great, is much improved over the other releases.  It’s more clear and defined and, to a point, enjoyable enough to convey the tremendous power of the show.  The show is complete except for a small cut at 1:57 in “Stairway To Heaven” and the second half of the fourth encore “Bring It On Home.” 

Robert Christgau published an extensive review of this show in Newsday.  In the articles, he observes:  “Last night at Nassau Coliseum, 16,000 heavy rock fans cheered Led Zeppelin through three hours and four encores and tonight (June 15) another 16,000 will make the pilgrimage. No opening acts have been scheduled because Led Zeppelin stands alone – the band is the personification of heavy rock. Limiting its personal appearances, and carefully refining the basic concept in its annual album, the band appears quite likely to continue long after the various challengers – Black Sabbath is currently ranked first – have their plugs pulled. And every bit of that ascendancy is deserved. 

“Led Zeppelin attracts a rougher, less affluent and self-righteous crowd than the country-flavored bands that dominate rock these days. For some reason, this crowd gets off not only on the kinky textures of Led Zep’s ensemble playing, but also on displays of dubious instrumental virtuosity – Page bowing his guitar, or John Bonham clubbing his way through a 15-minute drum solo. Also, the music ran a little long for everyone as jaded as myself. But Since I’ve Been Loving You, with John Paul Jones providing a great thick wall of organ behind Plant and Page, is the ultimate power blues and Rock and Roll, the first encore is simply the most dynamic hard-rock song in the music.  It was a heavy evening.”  

The tape starts off when the band hit the stage before playing “Immigrant Song.”  From the opening salvo there is a fierceness to the playing which says that it would be an exciting show.  June 14th is notable for being the first time, in “Stairway To Heaven,” Plant interject “does anybody remember laughter,” a phrase that would become a staple of the performances in the coming years.   

Plant describes “Going To California” as “a feeling about the place that was foreign to any place outside of America. Anyway, it spread throughout the world really, and that’s what keeps you there, and everything else. San Fransisco was really the first place I felt it properly.”  The rowdy audience settles down a bit to appreciate the mellow acoustic numbers.  Plant’s introductions to the songs become more obscure.  He posits “Tangerine” as “a song that relates, in my imagination at least, to the golden days, before England was England. When it was all broken into little places like Westminster, Mercy, and the feeling of chivalry was still in the air and King Arthur used to ride around, or walk around, doing good deeds, and there was a general good feeling about the place” and “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” is dedicated to “Dion cause I heard he was absolutely incredible the other day, Dion and the Belmonts that is. This is about a dog with blue eyes. It’s got nothing to do with Dion.” 

“Dazed And Confused” reaches a half hour and includes the “Walter’s Walk” and “The Crunge” sections during the long improvisation in the middle.  The level of intensity reached is one of the highest of the tour in this piece and even in the thing recording it sounds majestic. Page plays the opening notes to “Over The Hills And Far Away” after “What Is And What Should Never Be” as Plant is talking.  The song would have to wait a couple more days before receiving its live premier. 

The very long “Whole Lotta Love” medley includes a rare reference to “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” a tune the also played in Australia in February.  Such is the enthusiasm at this show that Zeppelin reward Nassau with four encores (at last).  “Weekend” is a cover of the Eddie Cochrane tune they would occasionally pull out.  ”Bring It On Home” cuts out during the long instrumental battle in the middle.  It is not known if they played anything else afterwards.  Ultimately, this is one of the strongest concerts in Zeppelin’s career that comes through even in a medicore recording such as this.  The Ultimate Power Blues is the definitive version of this show.   

June 10, 2010 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Ultimate Power Blues | , | Leave a comment