Rock Explosion Live At Nagoyashi Kokaido (Empress Valley EVSD-691/692)
Nagoya-Shi Kokaido, Nagoya, Japan – October 5, 1972
Disc 1 (50:19) Introduction By Goro Itoi, Rock And Roll, Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dancing Days, Bron-YR-Aur Stomp, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song
Disc 2 (74:44) Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Sakura Sakura, Thank You
Led Zeppelin’s second tour of Japan in October 1972 consisted of six dates in four cities with multiple nights played in both Tokyo and Osaka and one night each in Nagoya and Kyoto. Like the bands inaugural visit the previous year, recordings exist for all six shows with multiple recordings for each concert. The concert featured here is the fourth date on the tour, it has two recordings that document the event. The first source is fair, distant and thin sounding but other than not having the introduction and a small cut in Dazed and Confused, is complete. It has been released on vinyl as Squeeze Me (Ass Records) and on compact disc it was part of the multi disc box set The Campaign Cherry Blossom (Tarantura 1972-7/8) and Live In Nagoya Sweet Sushi Roll (Smile Records TOE 001).
The second source was much better quality being good to very good in places, all instruments are discernable and is a bit bass heavy and the guitar sounds a little muddy but the drums and vocals are distinct and on the whole is a nice clear recording. There is a bit of hiss present but nothing that one would fine intrusive. The tape is not complete, the beginning of Dazed is cut and the tape ends with Whole Lotta Love so the encores are missing. The tape has been released as The Geisha Boys (Akashic 2AKA-9), the only release of the second source on its own. All other releases use the first source to fill the gaps as found on Sakura Looking Up (Jelly Roll JP 10/11), Rock N’ Roll Springtime (Image Qaulity IQ-053/054), Live In Japan 1972 (Last Stand Disc LSD-71/72), High Noon (Wendy WECD-54/57) and DRAGON (Flagge).
According to the excellent Bootledz site, all above releases have similar sound with the EV release being a copy of the Flagge version. The sound has an intimate feeling to it and the while the audience sound excited to see the band as soon as the band starts Rock And Roll, they quiet right down. The sound quality improves and by the time the band plow into Black Dog it is clear and enjoyable. Page’s solo during the song is great, he really gives it a great workout and the audience duly rewards him with a nice ovation at its conclusion. The is the only concert on the tour not to feature Over The Hills And Far Away that usually follows Black Dog, yet Roberts opening remarks he states “Very nice for English boys to be in Nagoya…here is song off fourth LP…its called Misty Mountain Hop”. Page’s guitar seems to drown out Jones’ organ a bit giving the song a heavier sound that is really great, the taper seems to adjust the equipment about 1:20 into the song and the sound drops a notch, thankfully it clears up after a minute. The song is linked directly with Since I’ve Been Loving You, a combination that will last throughout all 1973, Page’s solo during the transition is nice and instantly changes the mood, he seems to toy a bit with the audience before playing the main guitar lead and the whole effect is like hearing the band in some subterranean small and smokey blues club.
Page has to do a bit of tuning prior to Dancing Days, they sound as if they are playing to an empty hall, the Japanese audience is extremely quiet as they listen to the song for the first time. “Too many Geishas spoil the broth…Here is song with John Bonham singing” is Robert’s chatter prior to Bron-YR-Aur Stomp. The recording is so clean you can almost make out the onstage chatter as they set up chairs at the front of the stage. It immediately gets the crowd involved as they clap perfectly in time with the song making for a very enjoyable version of the song. The Song Remains The Same is called The Overture on this night and sounds a bit tentative.
As mentioned before the first tape source is used for the first 33 seconds of Dazed and Confused, the edit is seamless and well handled. A person laughs with joy upon hearing the beginning bass line, Page is in no hurry to get things going and again seems to toy with the audience and sounds like he even throws Robert a bit out of time. The real journey begins once they begin section 3 and the instrumental wizardry weaves its magic on us. The song features an instrumental version of The Crunge and at 19:20 Page begins to play a bit of As Long As I Have You, pure nostalgia for sure. Stairway is very well received and they get a nice ovation as Robert begins singing, Jones’ Mellotron drowns out the guitar during the first few minutes.
The place gets hopping with another brilliant Whole Lotta Love and the audience begins to get loose. The Theramin section gives way to a great Everybody Needs Somebody To Love and the medley of oldies is great. Robert works the crowd up before Let The Boy Boogie and has a blues “conversation” with them, the bass seems to overpower everything but the vocals, Page lets it rip for his solo that is extremely fluent. As usual the band gets into a bit of Elvis with Let’s Have A Party and another ‘69 flashback with You Shook Me to round out the medley section in superb fashion. The encore is unique, the only version of Thank You from the Japanese 72 tour, Jones does his organ solo as a prelude and includes the traditional folk song Sakura Sakura (Cherry Blossom Cherry Blossom) that is very well received by the audience, a fantastic ending to a well played, very laid back concert by the band.
The packaging is simple, plain inserts with but one single picture of the band taken on their arrival to Japan, all housed in a slim line jewel case. Being a budget release this made no difference to me, on the contrary the music is what matters and had this set been priced like a regular double CD set I probably would have passed. I have seen this set offered by more than one vendor all at about the same price, very reasonable. Previously I only had a few titles from this tour and wanted more, this release fit the bill and is easily recommended.