Sweet Brummy Roll (Empress Valley EVSD-243 ~ 245)
Sweet Brummy Roll is a three disc set on Empress Valley containing two new, previously uncirculated audience recordings from Led Zeppelin’s biggest, and final, proper tour of England.
Birmingham Odeon, Birmingham, England – December 16th, 1972
Disc 1 (54:30): Rock And Roll, Over The Hills And Far Away, 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 (74:32): Dazed and Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Heartbreaker
The first two discs contain what is thought to be the entire show from December 16th, 1972, their first of two shows in Birmingham. The taper was located somewhat away from the stage and produced a tape that is musically very clear and enjoyable. Robert Plant’s stage patter is very soft and difficult to determine clearly, and Jimmy Page’s violin bow interlude in “Dazed And Confused” is very light.
There are tape crinkles at 6:22 in “The Rain Song” and at 15:19 in “Dazed And Confused.” There is also a cut in the epic song at 6:37 cutting out most of the “San Francisco” interlude. That cut is a shame because this is the first known show where that part was included, but all that is left are the final words to the song. There are two cuts between the final song and the encore “Heartbreaker” cutting out the long audience cheering “we want more,” trying to coax the band to come back out onto the stage.
There are no surprises in the set list which was established the previous October in Japan. The new songs from the as yet unreleased Houses Of The Holy form the centerpiece of the show with a majority of the numbers being played.
Before “Misty Mountain Hop” Plant says, “John Paul Jones plays the piano in a song we’d like to dedicate to the police force in this country…anyway here’s one for the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) in Manchester.”
“Since Of Been Loving You” sounds massive in this clear recording with a melodramatic solo in the middle. Afterwards Plant says, “Well we intended on playing in Birmingham. We’ve tour America, which is quite large. And we’ve got a new album called Led Zeppelin IV, and this is one of the things from it. It’s about summer days when it’s nice and warm and you’ve got a lot of problems like misty mountain hop. It’s called ‘Dancing Days.'”
It is remarkable that nobody laughs at his joke about calling the fifth LP the fourth, perhaps being too dry for the audience.
“Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp,” introduced as being “written on the side of a Welsh mountain” is the only acoustic number in the set. It’s a shame they chose this route since the long sets in the summer tour often were a highlight. But judging from the audience reaction it is understandable why Zeppelin did this.
“This is a song in two parts really. The first part is called ‘The Song Remains The Same'” Plant says, emphasizing every word in the song’s title. It is played close to the commercial version’s arrangement with Plant attempting to hit the high notes and duplicate the interjections found on the album. “The Rain Song,” by contrast, is one of the more unique versions on tape.
There is some noises from the stage during the opening section of the song, and instead of the mellotron strings coming in John Paul Jones is playing the organ. Apparently there were problems with the instrument and he had to switch keyboards. This occurs again the following year in Seattle but in that show he plays the electric piano while in Birmingham he plays the same organ used in “Thank You.”
It brings a different flavor to the piece which the liner notes suggest brings it close to the Led Zeppelin II track. “One from when we were young men” Plant says before “Dazed And Confused.” As stated before, this is the first version of the song where the words to Scott Mackenzie’s “San Francisco” are present but are mostly cut from the recording.
During the long coda section Page plays the heavy descending riff that would later be used in Physical Graffiti “In The Light” during the “I will share your load” part of the song. It is played in a different key, but the riff it is impossible to miss hearing it. It makes one wonder if the recycling of these riffs played on stage was intentional or not, but during this year early versions of this, “The Rover” and “The Song Remains The Same” all make an appearance.
The “Whole Lotta Love” medley is more than twenty-five minutes long. “I’ve come all the way from Macon, Georgia to be with you people tonight. I feel it in my soul. I sang with Sam Cooke, yet I did” Plant shouts during “Everybody Needs Somebody.” “Heartbreaker” is played as an encore and since the tape runs out it isn’t known whether or not this is the only one played.
Brighton Dome, Brighton, England – December 20, 1972
Disc 3 (52:04): Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Whole Lotta Love, Heartbreaker
The Brighton fragment is another new tape and occurs only four days after Birmingham. Only fifty minutes of the show still exists since the taper later taped a Rory Gallagher show over this. What is left is very good and clear and even better sounding than the first two discs. This show is most well known for the comment made by Howard Mylett, saying that Zeppelin played a special encore of Christmas carols to celebrate the yuletide season.
Unfortunately there is nothing like that present even though Plant does mention Christmas in the introduction to “Whole Lotta Love.”
The tape cuts in with Plant saying, “sorry about the delay, but me and Bonzo came a long way. In fact we had to come 270 miles when in fact we recorded 280. So the very fact that we even got here is pretty amazing considering sometimes or another we drove towards Devon and places like that. And the driver was the strangest guy.”
Before “Misty Mountain Hop” Plant gives along, rambling speech saying, “Actually we’ve been away from the big beach scene for quite a while. We did a few gigs in labor clubs and things to keep from going rusty. This is one for the Melody Maker and also for the Manchester CID. Nothing devious it is just that the bathtubs were left running all night in room 316.”
This is segued with “Since I’ve Been Loving You” which cuts out after three minutes. An entire twenty-six minute version of “Whole Lotta Love” is present. “I’ve come all the way from Worcestershire” he says before “Everybody Needs Somebody.” A surprise inclusion in the medley is Elvis’ “Mystery Train” after “Let’s Have A Party.” Plant wishes everybody a good Christmas before “Heartbreaker” ends the show.
Sweet Brummy Roll is packaged in a fatboy jewel case with deluxe artwork and an insert with liner notes written by Aquarius 11.