Festival Hall, Osaka, Japan – September 28, 1971
Disc 1 (74:47) Introduction, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Black Dog, Dazed and Confused, Stairway To Heaven
Disc 2 (38:09) Celebration Day, Bron-YR-Aur Stomp, That’s The Way, Going To California, We Shall Overcome, Tangerine, Down By The Riverside, What Is And What Should Never Be
Disc 3 (64:07) Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, C’mon Everybody, High Heeled Sneakers
Led Zeppelin’s inaugural visit to Japan in September 1971 would feature the band on top of their game as a live act, far away from the Western media the group would play some of their most adventurous concerts of their touring history, to literally storms of fanatics. The band’s first night in Osaka is a date that gets overshadowed by the more famous second night, and like the other four concerts from this tour, multiple recordings exist for this date. The first audience recording is good to very good and was the main source for Live In Japan (Last Stand LSD-54/55/56), the second audience recording is much lower in quality but is the most complete, yet sadly this source does not circulate save for the last 15 minutes, the following titles are mixes of the first two sources to present as complete of a concert as possible, C’Mon Everybody (Mud Dogs 008-009-010), Please Please Me (Tarantura T3CD-4), Bachelor Boys First Stand In Osaka (Empress Valley EVSD-516/517/518), and Please Please Me (Wendy WECD-710928). A third audience source exist, and is the source of this new release. Taped a fair distance from the stage, it easily falls into the good range and at times borders on very good, yet there are several scattered cuts in the recording. It is a bit boomey and does have hiss as one would expect and does have clapping from the excited and happy people in the audience. It is also incomplete and has several cuts throughout the recording. (*footnote: recently Empress Valley debut a fragment of a soundboard source for Black Dog, leading many to speculate if a longer release is imminent)
The first disc starts with announcements and build up that lasts 11 and a half minutes before the band hit the stage. Robert says “Good Evening” and the band plow into Immigrant Song, the opening section from this song to the beginning of Dazed and Confused features the recording at its best, yet has the most tape issues. “Tonight..tonight you will be happy, and so will Phil Carson” is Roberts first speech to the people of Osaka, he also speaks of Hiroshima the previous evening and the train ride to Osaka before introducing Since I’ve Been Loving You, and the crowd seem most pleased by this. There is some issues with the tape at the 4:29 mark and continues to 4:38 mark, tape garble and a bit is cut then again at the 5:01 mark to 5:21 where another cut, garbled tape and squeal are present, sadly ruining the song. After Black Dog Jimmy teases with a bit of Communication Breakdown prompting Robert to say “this is something from about the same time as that…John Paul Jones” and the descending bass line heralds Dazed and Confused. The sound dulls in the section from vocals ending to the bow solo. There is a cut at the 7:30 mark that eliminates almost the entire bow solo. Page gets into a bit of Yardbirds with Over Under Sideways Down and a nice tease of Hendrix Third Stone From The Sun towards the end reminding me of the White Summer codas from Tulsa 1970 and Orlando 1971, like the first recording source, the ending of the song is cut as well. Plant tells the crowd to wake up, who could sleep after that version of Dazed? “Another track from the fourth album, takes on an entirely different mood” is Plant’s intro to Stairway To Heaven, for being as of then not yet released, gets a nice ovation.
The second disc starts out Celebration Day, the first 40 seconds is missing as is the Robert led sing a long of The Beatles Please Please Me and From Me To You. The band was able to achieve a nice, intimate atmosphere during the acoustic sections. It is during the acoustic section when the clapping is at its loudest yet despite this you can clearly hear the instruments and vocals. Going to California has the typical West Coast introduction and coupled with That’s The Way show the band’s most gentle side. We Shall Overcome is Robert leading the audience and is interesting and Down By The Riverside is done in true hootenanny style. This is followed by some (to me) unknown country ditty as Jimmy readies the Les Paul, Robert says “Welcome to the Grand Old Opry” as the guitarist finger picks then they blast right into What Is And What Should Never Be.
The third disc starts out with Moby Dick, clocking in a just over 17 minutes, is captured very well in this recording, for being distant it is really in your face and when you turn it up loud, you can feel Bonham’s thunder. What makes the Japanese tour so exciting are the long Whole Lotta Love medleys, this recording captures this excitement as well as the complete medley section, you almost feel like you are there during the Theramin section, Robert does a howl and response section that has the audience eating from his palm. The recorder cannot handle the power of the band and the bass frequencies overload a bit but thankfully you can hear Page’s leads and curiously Jones bass lines, which are frickin incredible during Boogie Chillun. The band gets into a couple Cliff Richard songs, D In Love and Bachelor Boy and play a rare version of the Chuck Berry classic Maybellene. This recording has given us more of the medley and we now know the band played Be Bop A Lula as well, previously only heard in the Helsinki 1970 and during the previous evening in Hiroshima, played slow and heavy. Lawdy Miss Clawdy has Page soaring with his leads and the slow yet sizzling blues of You Shook Me finishes the long medley section proper. The encores are interesting, Plant introduces two people, we know Phil Carson but you can clearly hear him introduce Johnny (Long???) for C’Mon Everybody, afterwards Robert introduces them as well as Clive Coulson on vocals. The last song on the tape is High Heeled Sneakers, clocking in a just over 3 minutes before the recording ends, but damn what a concert.
The packaging is simple, color and black and white photos of the band from the concert as well as adverts and the cassettes used. The CDs all have the same picture on them and there is the highly collectable numbered sticker as well. Like all the Zeppelin releases the No Label people have been flooding the market with, this title is reasonably priced and for the now the only way to get the complete third audience source for this date.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)