Fighting Back At The Coliseum (Empress Valley EVSD-166/167/168)
Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY – February 13th, 1975
Disc 1 (73:11): 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, No Quarter
Disc 2 (76:27): Trampled Underfoot, Moby Dick, Dazed And Confused
Disc 3 (35:12): Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, Communication Breakdown
Led Zeppelin’s penultimate New York show in 1975 was the wild night at the Nassau Coliseum in New York on February 13th. The Valentine’s Day show the following night (as well as the Madison Square Garden show in the city on the twelfth) receives much praise as one of the best from the tour, but the show on the thirteenth is, in many ways, much better and far more interesting.
Several audience tapes are in circulation for this one. The first appearance of anything from this show is “Communication Breakdown” included in the Gems And Jams (ZELCD101) compilation, released in 1992.
The first release with the complete tape was The New Faces (Jelly Roll JR 01/02/03) in the fall of 1997. It was Jelly Roll’s first effort, and while they went on to produce some outstanding titles this was not among them. It is incomplete, missing “The Song Remains The Same,” “The Rain Song” and “Kashmir,” and suffered from high levels of hiss.
Several months later in early 1998 Image Quality issued a “corrected” version. Trampled Underwood (IQ-046/47/48) utilized the excellent audience source and edited the poorer source for the missing songs.
Empress Valley released Fighting Back At The Coliseum(EVSD-166/167/168) in 2002. Again utilizing two sources, they attempt to present as much of the show as possible. The excellent sounding recording is much improved, missing the hiss evident on earlier releases. It is a very enjoyable, dynamic sounding tape. Empress Valley have reissued this show in 2011 utilizing the exact same edit as their first release. Instead of issuing it in a jewel case and slip cover, the reissue lacks the slip cover and the artwork from the cover is used for the jewel case instead (pictured above). For the budget asking price, this is a very good deal and the best way to obtain what is one of the craziest Zeppelin shows.
The tape captures the introductory “The American return of Led Zeppelin” before the band hit the stage. The first hour is very strong and enjoyable with only a very boring and disjointed “No Quarter” a weak spot.
Physical Graffiti is going to come out “within ten day…in fact, on the twenty-fourth of February. Only ten months late” Robert Plant complains.
“Dazed And Confused” is “a track that came to us … one of the first thigns that we did.” The tape is remarkable for picking up the vibrato on Jimmy Page’s strings during the violin bow episode, making it sound more creepy than normal. Page also tries several times to inject new improvisations during the song, making this one of the more interesting versions from the tour.
The first encore of the show is “Whole Lotta Love” segueing into “Black Dog.” This is the first show of the tour which includes Page’s theremin interlude.
Ron Wood, who was visiting the tour between stops in Kalamazoo and Detroit on the Faces’ current tour, joins the band onstage for “Communication Breakdown.” Wood promises the audience “we’re gonna have a happening” and Plant says “Ron’s gonna do a little number by Victor Sylvester,” referring to the famed ballroom band leader (the British equivalent to Lawrence Welk).
Plant continues by telling them that “Rod Stewart would like to have made it, but he’s drunk in the back. We’re just having a rehearsal if you could just bear with us for a bit” singing a bit of “Roll Over Beethoven.” “This is an old Led Faces number called ‘Communication Breakdown.'”
The song is stretched out with both Page and Wood taking long solos. Wood’s sounds quite similar to “Borstal Boys” from the Faces’ last tour. It’s fascinating to hear the two guitarists play a duet for the only time live.
Fighting Back At The Coliseum is a great release by Empress Valley and is worth having in this new, affordable reprint. It is one of the highlights from Zeppelin’s tenth US tour for both the performance and for their only jam session with a guest musician in 1975.
Thanks for yet another great review. This title was released when Empress Valley was generating a lot of excitement amongst Zep collectors, which continued thereafter with their soundboard revolution. Personally, I believe this show holds up extremely well to their legendary show at MSG the night before, and that may be because of the excellent quality of the Nassau audience recording. It’s releases like this that vividly remind me about all the fun and surprise that once existed in Zep collecting.