Georgia On My Mind (Empress Valley EVSD201/202)
Salt Palace, Salt Lake City, UT – May 26th, 1973
Disc 1 (62:38): Rock and Roll, Celebration Day, Black Dog, Over the Hills and Far Away, Georgia On My Mind, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, The Song Remains the Same, Rain Song
Disc 2 (55:52): Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love
The first hint of the Salt Lake City soundboard came in 2000 “Dazed And Confused” and “Stairway To Heaven” were used by Celebration for Song Of Detroit(Celebration SOBO-005/6), labeling it part of the July 13th Detroit recording. The quality of the tape between the two new songs and the pre-existing Detroit material was very pronounced. Celebration released “Rock And Roll,” “Celebration Day,” “Black Dog,” “Misty Mountain Hop,” “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and “No Quarter” on Unidentified Live (Celebration, SOBO-023) and attributing this to May 23rd Albuquerque.
The complete tape with proper attribution surfaced simultaneously in 2002 on both Salt Lake City 1973 (Watchtower WT 2002087/88) and Georgia On My Mind with the only real difference between the two is that Empress Valley is a touch louder (and therefore hissier) and the packaging. Watchtower comes in a gatefold sleeve in a box while Empress Valley employ a fatboy jewel case with slip cover. The Empress Valley was copied on Dazed And Confused In Salt Lake City, a no label release with identical pictures on both the front and rear covers.
The concert received a rave review in the press. David Proctor wrote: “Like four British Caesars Led Zeppelin came, saw and conquered a frenzied, sold-out Salt Palace audience Saturday night. Easily the most elaborately staged rock performance ever seen in Salt Lake City, it will be remembered for years to come. Messrs. Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham are in the midst of a $3-million nationwide tour and the 11,000 plus fans here probably will be the smallest crowd they encounter. But it didn’t seem to affect Zeppelin in the least. In fact, they seemed to enjoy the audience contact – something you don’t encounter before 58,000 people in a baseball stadium.
“The Salt Palace stage was a collage of lighting scaffolds, spotlights, huge banks of speakers, various light-reflecting devices, 14-foot-high mirrors and, of course, the four stars themselves. Super-singer Robert Plant and Jimmy Page fronted the band and drew most of the attention while the rhythm section of bassist-keyboardist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham supplied the music’s foundation. The band continued the fast-slow pattern through most of the night -alternating older, familiar tunes with new album cuts. Also in the format were Page’s guitar breaks of varying lengths during almost every song. Most of the time, he carried it off admirably, but inevitably he began to repeat himself. But preciseness wasn’t the object. It was the flash…the excitement…the theatrics…the total audience involvement that Zeppelin was after. They succeeded – and then some.”
Despite the enthusiastic review, this is a a mediocre show. Page’s guitar is out of tune for much of the show and he struggles to make the songs sound right. “Celebration Day” sounds really bad, even in the audience recording. “Black Dog” is an improvement but “Over The Hills And Far Away” is butchered since one of the strings breaks. There is a long delay as they fix the guitar and Robert Plant gets motor mouthed to fill in the awkward silence.
“Right, we…what I was going to try to say before, now that Jimmy’s just broken a string, it gives me the opportunity to say that we been, us English folk are usually living on sea level, you know? For over a week now, we been above four thousand five hundred feet, and ah, I suppose it’s like the dinosaurs, and the complete evolution of things, the way you get, you know, the way you get out of, sort of a certain environment, into another. We been managing to stay awake about eight hours a day, and we’re supposed to have a good reputation for staying awake twenty four hours a day. So anyway, it’s been a really good tour. I’m doing a bit of spiel, which you’ll appreciate while a string is being changed. It’s been a good tour.
“We played in Tampa and we thought we’d see a few people there, but fifty eight thousand people came. That was, so then we played in Atlanta, and we thought we’d see, and fifty four thousand people came. So we had to sit down for a few days, and work it out. Anyway, we got back into the swing of doing concerts and things again after sitting down for at least three days. So we want this one, we want tto make this one, cause we move from here to the west coast, this is the last midwest thing that we do before we get entirely crazy in California. We’re gonna do, we’re gonna make this gig the best one in the midwest. What we’ve had to do, to do this, we all got out of bed about an hour ago, so as we could do it properly. So if you could excuse this little gap we’ve sent so many things on to California that ah, we even sent all of the spare guitars, and I even found one foot of mine that was drifting across there. Now, how are we doing Raymond? We got a Scotsman doing the guitars tonight, so he might be a little distorted with the height above sea level. So if you’ll just talk amongst yourselves for a second, we’ll have a chat. Now this is a very very professional run group, so cool it for a bit. I could do a harmonica solo, but me harmonicas are in the west coast too.”
John Paul Jones begins playing the electric piano and Plant reacts, saying, “Ahh, another musician amongst us.” Plant sings “Georgia On My Mind,” a song they never included in any medley and never covered before or since. Bonham also get into it, underlying the melody with a gentle beat. Right when the song gains momentum they’re interrupted, “Ahh, wait a minute, hold it, hold it. The night club is now closed down, and we can get on with the concert. Right, this is a track from the album before the one with the title. It’s about what happens, you see we speed up again. It’s the one about, about if you’re caught walking through the park with the wrong stuff in your cigarette papers” before “Misty Mountain Hop.”
“No Quarter” begins a Houses Of The Holy interlude. Aquarius 11 in the liner notes calls this one of the worst versions of the song. It’s not the best but is effective and is followed by “The Song Remains The Same” and “The Rain Song” with Jones as the “Henry Mancini orchestra. What ever happened to Henry Mancini?” Plant quips.
“Dazed And Confused” is very intense as is “Stairway To Heaven.” Someone throws something on stage at this point. It’s not clear exactly what occurs but it prompts Plant to say “I reckon the guy who did that should at least get a rotten carrot. Very well done sir. Actually, I’ll keep the rest of it to carry as a memento of Salt Lake City.” It is serious enough for them to drop “Moby Dick,” play a quick version of “Heartbreaker” and drop the boogie in “Whole Lotta Love,” although the tape is cut after only four minutes.
The overall impression of this show is mixed. Although Page fights with an out of tune guitar they manage to play an effective show, especially with Plant’s enthusiasm so high early on. It then takes such dramatic downturn in attitude after “Stairway To Heaven” that they simply go through the motions and get off the stage quick afterwards. On other tapes where riots, firecrackers and police intervention are occurring during the show and audible on the tapes Zeppelin never abandoned a show so quickly. This isn’t an essential show from the ninth tour but interesting enough for experienced collectors. Georgia On My Mind is packaged in a fatboy jewel case with slip cover and insert with liner notes from Aquarius 11 describing the tape and show.