The Diploma (Tarantura TCD-21)
University Of Leicester, Leicester, England – November 25th, 1971
Disc 1 (61:28): mc, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, mc, Black Dog, mc, Since I’ve Been Loving You, mc, Celebration Day, mc, Going To California, mc, That’s The Way, Tangerine, mc, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, mc
Disc 2 (40:03): mc, Dazed & Confused (includes theme from Shaft), mc, Stairway To Heaven
Disc 3 (50:24): What Is And What Should Never Be, Whole Lotta Love (I’m Going Down/Boogie Chillun’/Hello Mary Lou/Rave On/Mess O’ Blues/Me and the Devil Blues/The Lemon Song), Rock And Roll, Communication Breakdown
This tape surfaced in the summer of 2000 on Electric Magic’s famous debut Mystical Majesties Request. At the time it was stunning since nobody knew it even existed, much less being a complete, nice sounding tape of a very under-represented era in Led Zeppelin.
Some of the tapes from their 1971 UK tour are listenable and enjoyable, but not near the quality of this. The EC title was so good that it was rated the year’s best release on the now defunct Pressed Led website. Almost two years after this, Empress Valley re-released the tape as Best For Hard N’ Heavy. Collectors claimed this was superior to the Electric Magic release, although I’ve never heard it.
The Diploma is the newest incarnation of the Leicester tape. It was first released as a six-disc set with three discs devoted to the original master cassette and three discs devoted to the speed corrected and equalized version. A second edition, the one reviewed here, is the three-disc set only containing the speed corrected & equalized version.
I’ve been told there is a third edition coming out soon, again a three disc set that probably contains the speed corrected and equalized version with different packaging. A marketing tactic Tarantura has used with previous releases.
Comparing The Diploma with Mystical Majesties Request, I’d say that the Tarantura release is somewhat of an improvement. The volume is a bit louder and Plant’s between song comments are more clear and understandable.
And the tape has been slowed down to where it does sound closer to where it should be. But the tape still does have a lack of depth and dynamics and has a small venue feel to it. That being said this is still probably the best sounding document from this tour and is essential to own and is a worthwhile investment.
The concert itself is outstanding. It begins with Plant explaining his flu, although his voice doesn’t sound it. At this time the band changed the set list by pushing “Dazed & Confused” and “Stairway To Heaven” back after the acoustic set, effectively making those numbers the centerpiece of the evening’s performance.
“Dazed” contains a reference to the theme from the movie Shaft, throwing in a bit of funk that would be expanded upon in the future with “The Crunge”. The “Whole Lotta Love” medley is a typical transition version with 1971 standards like “Mess O’ Blues” and future standards “I’m Going Down”. There is also a reference to Robert Johnson’s “Me And The Devil Blues” which is unique here.
It’s a shame that all three releases of this tape have been released on luxury labels at high prices placing them outside the realm of the average collector. The six-disc set, unless you’re archiving the editorial decisions of the different labels, isn’t really necessary. The three disc versions of The Diploma are the ones to seek out and enjoy.
The sound is very nice and this new Tarantura is a bit of an upgrade and as of December 2005 there are no less than five different editions of this title. The original six-disc version is produced in 110 copies. The subsequent versions are all only the three discs with the second edition in 100 copies, the third and fourth in 50 copies and the fifth in only 10.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)