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Led Zeppelin – Ultraviolence (Holy SH 005-A)

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Ultraviolence (Holy SH 005-A/B/C)

Richfield Coliseum, Cleveland, OH – January 24th, 1975

Disc 1 (53:34):  Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, In My Time Of Dying, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir

Disc 2 (49:53):  The Wanton Song, No Quarter, Trampled Underfoot, Moby Dick

Disc 3 (45:53):  How Many More Times (incl. The Hunter), Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love / Black Dog, Communication Breakdown (incl. Lemon Song)

Led Zeppelin’s first show in Cleveland in six years (since the summer of 1969) was at the cavernous Richfield Coliseum and comes during the difficult first week of the tenth US tour.  With Plant’s voice weak they deliver a show that is far from the artistic statement they were trying to present.  However this concert is very passionate with abundant courage by the band and is one of the highlights from the tour.  The tape is thin and distant with some distortion present in the upper frequencies.  It is merely fair but for the committed collector is listenable and Ultraviolence, released in the mid-nineties, is the only silver pressed release for this concert.  There are small cuts after “The Wanton Song,” at the end of “How Many More Times” and after “Black Dog” but this is the complete performance.

The tape picks up the mc announcing “The American return of Led Zeppelin” before the opening salvo of “Rock And Roll” and “Sick Again.”  Both are very tight and energetic and Plant greets the audience by saying, “well, it’s very nice to be back in your part of the woods again…very shortly we’ve got a double album coming out called Physical Graffiti, which is quite…it’s quite expressive towards what actually goes down on a rock and roll tour. We’re gonna do some new tracks. We’re gonna do some old tracks. Some tracks that you might never have heard before, and some of them, you have. So this is how it goes.”  This is the normal opening speech by Plant with minor variations.  “Over The Hills And Far Away” sounds very good in this show with the “White Summer” inspired opening melody contrasting with the bombastic, abstract solo in the middle. 

“In My Time Of Dying” follows” which Plant says is “one of the new ones. Maybe we can get it to your radio station soon. Perhaps we can even get a copy ourselves.”  Older songs follow and the transition between “The Song Remains The Same” and “The Rain Song” is very dramatic.  Page in particular is concentrating very hard in the latter and replicates not only the rain falling but the flowers growing in its wake.  It is one of their most beautiful songs and this night is one of the best versions on tape. 

Two more new songs follow consecutively in the set and after “Kashmir” Plant speaks about Bonham having “new skins.”  “The Wanton Song” is “a song really where we have to improvise a bit ’cause it’s about a topic we’re not really too familiar with…that of women.  Experience is something else.”  The self-depreciating humor is lost on the audience.  This would be dropped after the following night’s show probably because it covers the same ground topically as “Sick Again.”  Also given the strict form there is very little opportunity for the song to develop any further.  Nevertheless they give a very good version in Cleveland and the audience cheer loudly for it.

“No Quarter” reaches seventeen minutes in length and features an orthodox organ solo by Jones in the middle.  Afterwards Plant goes into a long explanation regarding Page’s finger, saying, “Before we go any farther, I got to tell you, in all our preparation for us to try and consolidate four people who’ve been playing music together for nearly seven years, and at what was called a rehearsal, Jimmy had the misfortune to try and catch a train, and consequently he’s broken a bone in the end of his finger.  Hang on, that finger, yeah, sorry about this. No offense meant, but that’s the finger isn’t it? So we’re working on the…that’s the finger that the wedding ring goes on. Perhaps that’s just as well.”  “Trampled Under Foot” is the fifth and final new song played in the set.   

“How Many More Times” reaches sixteen minutes long and Plant says afterwards, “I think we should do it more often actually.”  He sings a bit of “Your Time is Gonna Come” before continuing, “well, as you can see, what we’ve been trying to do the last seven years is, without making, without boring ourselves with repetitive forms of music, and keeping to cliches. We’re trying to expand our musical field as wide as we possibly can. I think when this new album comes out you’ll see that. This is one of the songs that ah, is encompassed in the spectrum of what we’ve managed to get together in seven years.”  “Stairway To Heaven” closes the set. 

They thank the Cleveland audience with fifteen minutes worth of encores.  The second, “Communication Breakdown,” contains a reference to “The Lemon Song” during the violent funky break in the middle.  Ultraviolence is packaged in a standard fatboy jewel case to accommodate the discs with artwork printed on one side.  The front cover contains very common backstage photos from the era and the back has a double photo of Page on stage.  The recording is good enough to gain an appreciation of how good the show is, but unless a better tape source were to surface this remains in the realm of the Zeppelin completist.  It is doubtful that any remastering tricks could improve the fidelity.   

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Led Zeppelin - Ultraviolence (Holy SH 005-A), 2.5 out of 5 based on 1 rating

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