9 July 2005, gsparaco @ 10:29 pm
Wild And Relatively Mellow (Badgeholders BH – 009 – 1/2)
Boston Gardens, Boston, MA – July 20th, 1973
Wild And Relatively Mellow is the latest release on the special Led Zeppelin label Badgeholders and documents yet another tape from the Joe Maloney collection. Since they began to circulate last January I was hoping there were some Zeppelin shows and here is the first one to surface. The band’s July 20th show has already been released on a second generation tape on such titles as Zep Vs. Boston on IQ and War Zone on TMOQ. That tape has been described as poor. It is very distant but surprisingly clear and the consensus is that it’s not as bad as it’s made out to be. This new tape source is more complete and a significant upgrade from the older. Whereas the older source would merit a six, this one rates an eight. The only negative for the new source is Plant’s vocals being buried a bit in the mix, and there are times when Page’s guitar also becomes buried (most notably in “Dazed & Confused”).
The benefits far outweigh the negatives, however, and it captures one of the strangest Led Zeppelin shows on tape. On a tour noted for the wildness of the audiences and throwing of firecrackers, this show in Boston ranks as the absolute worst. The trouble begins after “Over The Hills And Far Away” when Plant says: “Easy! You don’t want to break those things down. If you don’t stop pushing forward we’ll have to stop….There are people up front who will get hurt…We’ll play something more soft.” The band drops ”Misty Mountain Hop” and “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and go straight to “No Quarter”. After “Dazed & Confused” Plant says sarcastically “I don’t know what local football team is called, but it’s just been playing for an hour and a half in front of our feet”. They drop “Moby Dick” and play out the rest of the set and leave. “Thank you and good night, Led Zeppelin are gone,” the mc announces with the audience milling around like they don’t believe it.
That the show ended so early and was so “stripped down” is a shame for several reasons. Firstly the band was on fire and delivered an amazing show. “No Quarter” and “Dazed” are particularly aggressive and are perhaps the best versions from the entire tour. What would an entire show sound like with this kind of playing? Also, as fate would have it, this is Zeppelin’s final appearance in a city that received them so early in their career and is the site of some of their biggest milestones. The famous four hour Boston Tea Party show occurred there in January 1969, and also their first arena show in the States occurred at the Boston Gardens in October 1969. It’s sad to see their relationship with the city end on such a negative note.
This tape has been released simultaneously with Empress Valley’s Boston Cream Pie (both as a 2CD set and 4CD with the older tape source) and Tarantura’s Wreckage In Boston, a 5CD set with the tape from their 1970 and 1971 appearances. Badgeholders made no attempt to fix the cuts with the older tape source and sounds like they didn’t try to work the tape that much. There is no evidence of excessive mastering and tinkering with the tape so it’s presented as is. It will be interesting to see what the premium labels do with it. Hopefully this will not be the last Led Zeppelin tape from Maloney’s collection. I’ve been told he also taped the September 1970 show which needs a definitive release.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)