Monday, November 29, 2010

Bonzo Goes Bananas

In a newly surfaced soundboard recording, one that is being called the "first soundboard of the 1977 tour," as well as being rumoured to have been "leaked" and supplied by Jimmy Page to the very popular, Japanese Led Zeppelin bootleg specialists Empress Valley, please enjoy the opening song from opening night in N.Y.C.. on June 7th, 1977.  (at the bottom)

I obsess, as I am wont to do over so many things, over live Led Zeppelin recordings. Like the Grateful Dead and Bruce Springsteen, every Zeppelin performance offered something different than the night before. While the Dead and Bruce would often change set lists, Zeppelin's set lists usually remained the same. It was what happened during each of those songs that offered surprise.

The E-Street was and is a well-oiled machine, while both the Dead and Led Zeppelin, would more often than not, experiment and improvise to the point of self-implosion. It's one of the main reasons it took years for me to appreciate the Grateful Dead. I had always been subjected by friends, to horrible sounding live performances, from 3rd generation cassette tapes, annoyingly referred to by date, and then was expected to sit through 15 minutes of noodling to get to the 5 minutes of magic.

Because I was a huge fan of Led Zeppelin, doing that very same thing with countless tapes, and years later, CDs, bothered me less, and then I realized, it was no different than the Dead. I think it was my Zeppelin vigilence, along with the help a book called "Led Zeppelin Live" by Luis Rey, which broke down every single live performance, right down to minute details of guitar solos and drum fills, that made me appreciate what the Dead had been doing for so long.

Zep's tour of 1977 is my least favorite, and this is mostly due to Jimmy Page. I'm pretty sure this was a big drug year for Jimmy and his playing shows it. Almost everything I've heard has been one sloppy mess. But as I said, anything can happen at anytime, and it's on this version of "The Song Remains The Same" where John Bonham goes absolutely berserk and blows my mind.  Jimmy Page hits more clams than the Lundy Brothers, but this is more about the rhythm section. That's why it's here.

I don't suggest wasting your precious time trawling through hours and hours of poor sounding Zeppelin tapes to find that magic, though if you are more than a casual fan and have never done so before, you have no idea of the treasures that await you.



steve simels said...

Saw them live once, and thought it was one of the worst weeks (it only seemed that long, largely due to the drum solo) of my adult life.

Sorry -- they were a great band on record, Page being a genius producer. But live? Feh.

I don't get it, is what I'm saying.

Sal Nunziato said...

Well as I said, Steve, they often imploded on stage. In a past post, I do say how I saw them twice and they sucked once. I wonder if some nice, hand-picked live tracks, might change your mind...a bit.

FD13NYC said...

I saw them in 1975 at the Garden. That seemed to be a steady show supporting Physical Graffiti. Is there any live stuff from that tour? I seemed to recall it was pretty good.

Sal Nunziato said...

Yes, some great stuff from '75, particularly the 2/12/75 Garden show.

Aaron said...

I think a good portion of the live "magic" for me comes because I've been so hardwired with the studio sound of these songs. The live versions do, as you say, offer an opportunity for improvisation and variation, and yes, sometimes, it's hit or miss, but when it's hit, it's extra fun because it's an interesting variation on what you've been hearing your whole life.

Noam Sane said...

Heh. Page spends the whole song a few druggy micro-seconds behind everybody else. Wonder if Bonzo's insane playing on this cut is somewhat fueled by his annoyance with that.

Gives you a good idea how heavily overdubbed the live album probably is. Though the "Song Remains" version on that records is, however it was put together, simply phenomenal in a broadcasting-from-Mars kind of way.

- A non-big-Zep fan said...

I saw this on another blog today and was going to pass it by... I'm not into micro-detail on Zep boots. I have just a few that work well for me.

But your posting got me intrigued, and the sample you had got me downloadin' it. Great stuff, I must admit!

charlie c. said...

I saw them at MSG (opened with "Rock & Roll") not sure of the year . . . find the Zep sbd/bootleg scene to be labyrinth-like at best, maybe the similar set lists make it hard to get a perch on what's what.


soundsource said...

nah it's just weird and obsessive two of my favorite qualities.