We’re Playing Our Balls Out (The Chronicles Of Led Zeppelin TCOLZ 021/022/023/024/025/026)
The Forum, Los Angeles, CA – March 27th, 1975
Disc 1 (71:12): 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, Kashmir, Since I’ve Been Loving You
Disc 2 (71:54): No Quarter, Trampled Underfoot, Moby Dick
Disc 3 (76:36): Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog
Disc 4 (71:29): 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, Kashmir, Since I’ve Been Loving You
Disc 5 (68:39): No Quarter, Trampled Underfoot, Moby Dick
Disc 6 (76:34): Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog
Led Zeppelin’s final show of their 1975 tour at the LA Forum is one of the longest, heaviest and self-indulgent on record. This show is good for those who like their Zeppelin dark and mysterious with long and crazy improvisations going on for hours. Surprisingly this show was never released on vinyl but saw new life with the advent of compact discs. We’re Playing Our Balls Out is a similarly long six disc set containing two different audience recordings. The first three discs contain the popular Mike Millard recording. This is a three dimensional stereo audience recording capturing all of the details emanating from the stage and is the source for all of the previous titles. The tape cuts in during the Linda Lovelace introduction and has cuts at 4:10 in “The Rain Song,” 24:02 in “No Quarter 24:02,” and a very painful cut at 36:23 in “Dazed And Confused.”
Perhaps the earliest can be found on Psychical Graffiti (Flying Disc CD6-817), which claims this to be a soundboard recording and was supposed to be part of a three disc set but the label only produced one. The Italy produced Dazed And Confused (Mad Dogs Records MDR-LZ001-2) and its Australian copy Crazed And Bemused (Black Cat BC-22) has “Rock And Roll,” “Sick Again,” and “Since I’ve Been Loving You.” The earliest three disc set with the whole show appear on Electric Orgasm (Jolly Roger D91-51-52-53) and in the boxset Get Back To LA (Tarantura T9CD-1-7). In the late nineties Final Show In the Forum 1975 (Jelly Roll JR 12/13/14) (which many Zeppelin collectors admit is the best version), Tour De Force (Rabbit Records RR 005/6/7) and Remainz (Akashic AKA-4) all were released to various degrees of success. The latest two editions can be found in the boxset Deep Throat III (Empress Valley EVSD-162/163/164) and Last Night In the Forum 1975 (Power Archives PA 0307001/2/3), coming out in late 2003 and are actually the only titles to use the second tape source to fill in the gaps on the first.
The second tape source has never been released before in its entirety. TCOLZ is the silver pressed debut. It is a fair to good recording taped a distance from the stage. It lacks significant dynamics but it is strangely listenable. It is a tape that will require “bootleg” ears but once one adjusts to the lo fidelity it can be enjoyed. This tape has cuts after “The Rain Song,” “Kashmir” and “No Quarter.” Also in “No Quarter” there are cuts at 7:45 and 25:22. “Trampled Underfoot” contains a cut at 10:27. “Moby Dick” has cuts at 18:00, 22:32 and at 25:44 and “Dazed And Confused” has cuts at 33:43, 35:58 and 45:32.
For the final night on their tenth US tour, Led Zeppelin play one of their longest ever gigs clocking in at almost three and a half hours. They also stretch themselves musically and, although they don’t always succeed, the results are interesting nevertheless. Disc jockey JJ Jackson introduces porn star Linda Lovelace to introduce the band and after the opening duo of “Rock And Roll” and “Sick Again” Plant says, “This is the last gig on the American tour for us. So it only remains to be said that we intend to have yet even a better time than we’ve had here before. We’d like to thank Linda Lovelace for coming on and making an appropriate speech about our presence and we’d like to apologize for being late, but one of the cars didn’t crash. It didn’t crash.”
He further recalls the ending of the previous tour, saying before “In My Time Of Dying, “the last time that we finished a tour in the States we finished it off on New York, which is not really the most pleasant place to be, you know? But um, there’s some nice ladies on 83rd street, but um, the rest of it, no. So it’s, it’s almost um, it’s with a bit of sorrow that we’ve got to leave California, and even the Continental Riot Houses wasn’t that bad in the end.”
Both “The Song Remains The Same” and “The Rain Song” sound extremely weighty on this night and after “Kashmir” they celebrate the final night by changing the setlist by playing “Since I’ve Been Loving You” for only the third time on the tour. Still a bit rugged, Page misses the transition from the solo to the final verse. Self consciously Plant says afterwards, “Right, well that was something that we’ve done about three times in three years. It’s always quite refreshing to do things that we haven’t done for such a long time even though sometime you might think it puts your reputation at stake in front of twenty thousand people, but it doesn’t really matter, does it? We’re playing our balls out, and talking about playing our balls out, we now feature a man with a lot of balls, in fact three. This track, three balls you fool, ladies and gentlemen, No Quarter. John Paul Jones on piano. No Quarter.”
“No Quarter” reaches a half hour in this performance. Jones plays an interesting three note arpeggio on the grand piano and runs it through different variations as a reoccurring motif before Page comes in with the guitar section of the solo. This is certainly one of the more interesting improvisations among the 1975 versions of the piece. “Trampled Underfoot” follows and Page himself, in a magazine interview several years ago, singled this performance out as perhaps the best ever. He plays a unique solo in the middle and by the end Plant is singing “Gallows Pole” as the song moves along. In fact he refers to the song afterwards as “Trampled Under Gallows.” Plant continues talking about a part they attended in honor of The Pretty Things and how Bonham left early and threw a television out of the window, one of his activities that has passed into legend.
“Dazed And Confused” is introduced as “a deliberation for the fact that we should be now, in about three months time, I don’t know, on our way to Kathmandu. So stand by for the songs when we come back from there. Reaching forty-five minutes even with the cut, this is one of the longest versions extant on tape. Early on, where Plant would normally sing either “San Francisco” or “Woodstock,” he mumbled lyrics to an unidentifiable song with the phrase “loving you” repeated over and over again. Before the return to the third verse Page hits upon a chunky riff over a funk rhythm laid down by Jones and Bonham that sounds terrifically exciting and in unfortunately cut on both recordings. Its transition to the finale is missing.
When they return to the stage for the encores Plant says, “We’d like to thank California for being such good hosts to us while we’ve been here, and if anybody can hear us in England, we’re coming back baby!” (Referring to the shows scheduled in Earls Court in London in two months). The encores are comprised of only the “Whole Lotta Love” with segue into “Black Dog,” but the middle section is great with Plant singing “Licking Stick” and saying “licking” over again. He keeps asking “has anybody seen the bridge?” and the audience keep responding “NO!!!” During the theremin section Bonham lets Jones and Page battle it out several times by remaining silent, only to pick up the pace and lead them into “Black Dog.” “It’s time to ramble on. Good night” are Plant’s parting words. We’re Playing Our Balls Out is another solid release by TCOLZ and it’s to their credit they offer a clean and natural sounding edition of the Millard source, and the second source for the first time on silver disc, available in one convenient package. The brown paper bag artwork is getting a bit old, but shouldn’t really detract from the value of this release.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)