Having A Fit (Tarantura TCD-83)
Seattle Coliseum, Seattle, WA – March 21st, 1975
Disc 1 (48:04): Announcement, Introduction, Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, In My Time Of Dying, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song
Disc 2 (58:45): mc, Kashmir, No Quarter, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Trampled Underfoot
Disc 3 (60:22): Moby Dick, Dazed And Confused
Disc 4 (42:59): Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, Communication Breakdown, Heartbreaker
Led Zeppelin’s March 21st, 1975 show in Seattle is rated among their top five all-time most legendary gigs. Collectors are fortunate that two very good to excellent audience recordings exist which, when edited together, make a complete show. The earliest titles with the better sounding recording first appeared on vinyl on the old Rock Solid label in the 80’s as 207.19 RSR 248 A-D and 214 RSR 246 A-D. On compact disc this source is used for Seattle Supersonic (no label) and was reissued earlier this year on Blow Away and the second source was released recently on Long Drive To Seattle (TCOLZ). No Quarter on H-Bomb (HBM 93020104/5/6/7) is a four-disc set and the first attempt to edit together the two sources to form a complete show. 207.19 and 214 on the Cobra label (Cobra 011) released this show using two tape sources over four discs in perfect miniature replication of the Rock Solid LP sleeve. The also included “Whole Lotta Love” and “Communication Breakdown” from the September 9th, 1970 Boston show as filler just as the vinyl did. More recent releases all of which edit the two sources together are Hammer of the Gods (LSD- 82/83/84/85), Good Evening Seattle (Magnificent Disc MD-7501 A/B/C/D), Dinosaur In Motion(EVSD- 172-178) and the massive boxset Blow Jobs.
Having A Fit is another two source edit. But whereas the other titles switched to the second audience recording for “Stairway To Heaven” and the encores, Tarantura present a more in depth edit of the two sources. The second source is used for the short band introduction and for Plant’s long explanation about “Since I’ve Been Loving You” which is missing from the better sounding tape.
Many reasons exist why this is one of their legendary performances. The most obvious is that, on such a difficult tour for the band, they were finally to play with tremendous confidence in their material and were loose enough to introduce more improvisation into the set. The mystique of Led Zeppelin hinges upon their ability to introduce subtle and unique nuances to already set songs which many recordings reveal to be a somewhat exaggeration. But the second Seattle show is one where myth is translated in to reality and the band deliver a three and a half hour concert that flies by very fast. One has the same reaction to listening to this show as does reading Tolstoy’s War And Peace: despite the length, it is not nearly long enough and makes one wish it were much longer. For those who like their Zeppelin long and heavy, there is no better show to hear than this.
The long night begins with announcements made over the PA laying down the ground rules. After the short “Ladies And Gentlemen, the American return of Led Zeppelin” both “Rock And Roll” and “Sick Again” are played at a furious pace. “Well we went across the border. It was alright, but it’s much better back here. And that’s no lie, that’s the truth” Plant greets the audience. “Over The Hills And Far Away” has taken on epic like proportions on this tour with Page doing his homage to Jeff Beck in the psychedelic solo in the middle which gets the audience moving so much Plant has to engage in crowd control afterwards. “There’s one demand that I’d like to make apart from letting you enjoy what we’re doing, and that is that you don’t sway around too much at the front, and that is because somebody might get hurt, OK? I’ve seen it happen, and it’s very gory. In England we have soccer matches where same sort of thing happens, only the soccer is terrific.”
Following a brutal “In My Time Of Dying” Plant modestly says, “we were inspired…from something that came from an old work song a long long long time ago before they started putting music down on pieces of paper in the south of North American states.” As Page switches to his double neck guitar for the next song Plant speaks about Page’s tech, saying “Let me tell you about Raymond. Poor Raymond’s working with us with a broken leg. Raymond comes from Scotland with a broken leg. A BROKEN LEG! Poor Raymond.” The segue between “The Song Remains The Same” and “The Rain Song,” the opening numbers from Houses Of The Holy, provide one of the most startling contrasts and the latter song is captured in its pristine beauty. The arrangement of these two pieces would last through the Earls Court gigs and afterwards be abandoned.
Plant proudly quotes the lyrics afterwards, saying, “It is the summer of my smiles. It should be the summer of everybody’s smiles, right?” He points out John Paul Jones on the mellotron, “a very easy way of carrying around a thirty six piece orchestra with the aid of tapes.” The new song “Kashmir” is dedicated to “everybody we’ve met in Seattle this time. It’s been a groove, and a gas, and we didn’t really mean to have left people out of that.” With the new album Physical Graffiti being out for a month already the new songs are familiar to the audience and “Kashmir” is easily the stand out track among the new ones.
It is at this point in the set where things become even more interesting. The second half of the show is dominated by the long improvisations beginning the Jones/Page duel in “No Quarter.” The beginning of the solo starts slowly with Jones on the grand piano, but he finally hits upon a mellow jazz riff that unfortunately isn’t developed further. Page comes in with the expected “No Quarter” solo but soon builds it into an expressionist exploration with very little to do with the viking journey the song celebrates. Jones starts banging out of tune chords before coming back with a muscular melody to counter Page’s attacking riff. Expanded to twenty-seven minutes, this is considered to be one of the best pre-1977 improvisations of the song and contains a tremendous amount of drama.
Plant gets into a long, rambling speech afterwards, saying, “I met another Englishman in New York. Who various members of the rock and roll hierarchy have decided to call ‘The Incredible Shrinking Man.’ Mr. David Bowie, wherever you are, I got your hat. As I said to you before we didn’t do any gigs for eighteen months. We all sat at home ate chocolates and watched TV and tried to see what it would be like to be straight. It didn’t work. And since then we’ve embarked on this tour of the United States which has been fantastic. Really good. We found out that everything we thought we could do before we can do better now. Unfortunately musicwise if we were to try to prove that musicwise every night we’d be under doctor’s orders constantly. We’d have no time for anything else but music and you must have other interests when you’re on the road.”
Leading the band into a rare change in the setlist, he continues, “There’s one song we’ve done I supposed twice since we got ripped off for all that bread in New York ages ago. And because we really dig playing here and for no other reason we’re gonna do it now.” Page plays the opening notes to “Heartbreaker.” “Right on the spot. It could be ‘Louie Louie’ but instead it something from the third album.” “Since I’ve Been Loving You” was given a rest for this tour but on three special occasions was played.
After “Moby Dick” there is a short delay when several police officers had to tell Page that a guitar that was given to him before the show as a gift from a young fan was actually stolen from the guy’s music teacher. Eyewitnesses say that Page lifted his guitar in frustration. “Mr. Page is having a fit” Plant says and continues, “There’s a little bit of a discrepancy about a guitar and a man who’s being held by the police, and all sorts of things. Quite a story going on behind the scenes. I think we’ll dedicate this to the innocent party, whoever, and wherever he may be in this giant intrude that goes on, as we try and maintain law and order in society without, not us, but everybody, you know? So, it’s a communal effort. Right, this is something that we should dedicate to the difference and the balances between law and order, and where they start crossing each other’s lines.” What follows is the longest version of “Dazed And Confused” on tape. Plant sings a bit of “Woodstock” but in keeping with the theme of law and order he sings some of “For What It’s Worth” and Bob Marley’s “I Shot The Sheriff.”
After “Stairway To Heaven” Plant says, “that’s the Hammer of the gods” giving a perfect ending to the set. The encores last another half hour with the long theremin solo in “Whole Lotta Love” after playing “Licking Stick” and “The Crunge.” The second encore is a unique segue of “Communication Breakdown” and “Heartbreaker.” The solo is again quite long but they do not get into any blues or rockabilly standards as they do on several other stops on the tour. Having A Fit is packaged in a thick glossy cardboard box with the discs in individual sleeves and a small poster of Page included. For obsessive collectors this represents the most complete version of this classic show ever pressed on silver disc. There is also little tinkering with the tapes and this release sounds simply wonderful. For these reasons Tarantura have produced the definitive edition of this show.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)