For part 1 of my music reviews, I’ll be reviewing a recently leaked Led Zeppelin soundboard from March 20, 1975. They played at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on the 19th and 20th of March in 1975.
Before this soundboard leaked, we only ever had audience recordings. Some were horrible, others were good, but none were soundboards. Now we get to hear this night like never before… although that isn’t always a good thing.
Overall, how to rate this show depends entirely upon how you’re looking at it. If you judge it based solely on Led Zeppelin’s latter years, then it’s an extremely good show. It has it’s warts (especially Heartbreaker, which I’ll get to later), but for shows from ’75 (or ’73, depending on your outlook) onwards, this is definitely one of the better shows.
However, if you are comparing this show to Led Zeppelin’s entire touring history, well…
Look… for me, they were best from 1968 to around July of 1972. Plant’s vocals were soaring during this period. He hit all the right notes (usually) and only sometimes was rough and hoarse. His screaming during these years was on another level. Jimmy Page was at his peak, here. His playing between 1968 and 07/1972 with Led Zeppelin was on a level it wouldn’t be again until he made the unfortunate mistake of teaming up with Plant-wannabe David Coverdale (the only problem with Page’s music of that era, IMO).
So all-together, this show, as normal for the latter years, is okay. It’s great for the latter years, but meh in total. Which should be expected, quite honestly. To be fair, Zeppelin at their worst were still better than many other acts at their best, so… and hey… at least we haven’t hit 1977, yet…
The track list for this show was pretty much what one should expect from 1975 shows:
-Rock And Roll
-Over The Hills And Far Away
-In My Time Of Dying
-The Song Remains The Same
-The Rain Song
-Dazed And Confused
-Stairway To Heaven
-Whole Lotta Love
I couldn’t find an exact runtime for the full show online, but by adding up all the track times in Foobar, I got about 3 hours, 1 minute, and 62 seconds (disclaimer: I’m extra shit at math, so I guarantee you I made mistakes in this calculation… anyone wanna do it again and get a more accurate runtime for me?). This includes a 12-minute In My Time of Dying, a 26-minute No Quarter, a 21-minute Moby Dick, a 40-minute Dazed and Confused (yes, you read that right), and a 13-minute Stairway to Heaven.
As far as the sound quality, my biggest point of happiness with this is that John Paul Jones can be heard! This is so rare, especially for soundboards. Usually there’s no bass in the mix… it’s all treble. Which means you get Plant, Page, some snare hits, and cymbals, but that’s about it. Here, however, the bottom end is loud and proud, folks! And I’m so happy, because JPJ shines! He is an absolutely mind-blowing bassist, and he proves it here!
Anyways… so the show started out as you might expect for the latter years… that is, Plant basically cracked his way through Rock and Roll and Sick Again (after all those squeaks and cracks, how the hell does he maintain his voice throughout the rest of the show?… seriously…), gave us a painful-sounding crack on Over the Hills and Far Away, after which he sang a low harmony line for the rest of the song, then his voice evened out.
In My Time of Dying was blazing. I wish Page had done more slide… he was so good at it. The Song Remains the Same and The Rain Song were, as expected, normal. I was never taken with these two songs in a live setting, but at the same time, I can’t say they were ever really bad, either. Kashmir was a mixed bag in 1975 and 1977, mostly because of John Paul Jones’s mellotron, which had a serious tendency (as most of them did back then) to go out of tune. But either JPJ didn’t use it this time or he lucked out, because Kashmir went off really well. Aside from some warbling, JPJ sounded great, and Plant even hit what I’d say were his highest notes of the evening, and sounding good doing it, too!
No Quarter was the first big piece, showcasing John Paul Jones. Never have I ever heard a live version of No Quarter from 1973 to 1979 that I didn’t like, and this one was no exception. John Paul Jones is pathetically underrated, IMO. His bass work was always a shining part of Led Zeppelin. Luckily, that was on high display in this soundboard. His piano work on No Quarter was absolutely exceptional, but then, I never expect anything less from JPJ, and he delivers. He’s not just a phenomenal bass player, but he’s actually a phenomenal mulch-instrumentalist, and he deserves a hell of a lot more respect than he gets, IMO.
I don’t know if it’s out of some high-end respect for JPJ or what, but even on his absolute worst nights, Jimmy Page is able to deliver some incredible guitar on No Quarter. On his bad nights, JP would be understated, delivering a simple, yet somehow still effective guitar solo. Jimmy’s solo on this particular No Quarter was somewhere in between simple and awesome, yet still incredible.
And the interplay between JPJ and John Bonham cannot be overstated. I don’t care what anyone says; John Paul Jones and John Bonham were the greatest rhythm section in all of music history. Period.
Trampled Underfoot included a little Gallows Pole, which I always appreciate. They only ever played that song as a stand-alone twice live (once on May 3, 1971, and again on November 16, 1971), and I honestly never understood why. It’s such a damn good song and was great both times they played it (the second time, as an encore, was much better, but both were great).
Then we got Moby Dick. I’m not gonna lie… I always found Moby Dick a tad tedious. Not because it’s bad… it’s not. John Bonham is one of the greatest drummers ever. The thing is… I’m not a drummer. I have trouble appreciating this song, especially 21 minutes of it. I won’t deny that it’s close-minded. With every bootleg I listen to, I force myself to listen to Bonzo’s drum solos live because by the winds of Thor, I will appreciate his drum soloing or die trying! And this was an excellent solo. I loved every second of it.
Dazed and Confused was long. Over 40 minutes long. Not that I didn’t love it. I thought it was beyond excellent. Page was awesome, and the bow solo is creepy and cool as ever. We got Woodstock this time, and Mars: the Bringer of War was prevalent, as always during the D&C of the Latter Years.
Stairway to Heaven was… I think perhaps Page and Plant were starting to tire of it by 1975, because it started losing the magic it once had, and this show was no exception.
I’m listening to Whole Lotta Love as I type this. Before the Theremin solo, we got a sweet little medley of lyrics and riffs, including Ain’t it Funky Now, Licking Stick, Immigrant Song, and Ozone Baby. The Theremin Duel is going on right now. And it’s fucking AMAZING!!!!!! Plant and Page are having so much fun with each other! And Page is making that Theremin scream and wail like a tortured soul in hell! It’s amazing! I don’t know what Page is doing, to be honest, but now the Theremin sounds like a Star Trek laser gun breaking down…
No… wait… it’s… there isn’t any way to describe it anymore. You just have to hear it.
I already heard Heartbreaker before I listened to the rest of the show, so I’ll go ahead and review that. It’ll be short and sweet, because this Heartbreaker was just… bad. I think that perhaps it wasn’t drugs or alcohol. I think, by 1975, Page just really hated Heartbreaker. He doesn’t even try (it just started, by the way). He just screws around, really. I think he was screwing the song up on purpose, because there really isn’t an analogue for this. He did better at Tempe, Arizona in 1977! After 1973, Page simply couldn’t play Heartbreaker. Hence I’m convinced that he got sick of it and screwed it up on purpose because he didn’t want to play it, but was outvoted by the rest of the band… so he played it bad.
I mean… the solo… it’s painful. He hits a bad note as the first note of the solo. Then he just repeats himself, screws up, and even starts over! This is what he gives us for the solo. I mean… yeah, the Heartbreaker solo is the epitome of sloppy playing, but this isn’t just sloppy. Jimi Hendrix was just sloppy. Jimmy Page is usually just sloppy. Sloppy can be good, however. In fact, I honestly prefer the soppy playing of Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix to the clean, almost robotic playing of people like Yngwei Malmsteen. So sloppy is not, as a rule, a bad thing. It can even be a compliment in the right circumstances.
Not so, here. This Heartbreaker is so bad it hurts. Part of me almost wishes there were video of this just so I could see the look on Page’s face as he plays. It had to be on purpose, because he was so on the rest of the night. He just died with this final song.
I don’t know…
Overall, it’s an incredible show, at least for the latter years, among which it really shines.
But don’t take my word for it. Torrent and hear it for yourself! Here… I upped it to The Pirate Bay just for you! But trainspotter has to be thanked for uploading it first to DimeADozen. Please note that I kept it in the original FLAC trainspotter uploaded it as. If you don’t know how to use FLAC, I recommend you do some googling on it now. Bootlegs don’t get shared in MP3. It’s that simple.