Led Zeppelin – The Red FK Tee (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD-1131/1132)

The Red FK Tee (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD-1131/1132)

Cobo Hall, Detroit, MI, USA – June 6, 1972

EQ Version
Disc 1 (79:08) Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, Dazed And Confused, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll

Original Master
Disc 2 (79:08) Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, Dazed And Confused, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll

Another gem comes to light as the long hoarded recording from the first concert of the 1972 American tour is finally liberated, Led Zeppelin’s performance at Detroit, Michigan’s famed Cobo Hall is here for all to enjoy. In early June of this year the collective known as KRW_CO released this recording in two formats, the original transfer and an EQ’d version. The taper, “Tommy G” recorded the show using a mono Concord cassette recorder and an external mic, the recording is sadly incomplete as he did not properly engage both the play and record button, thus the first 45 minutes are missing.

The recording falls into the good category, it is slightly distant yet clear with the instruments being distinguishable and there is some distortion and tape hiss as well. The recording does pick up the atmosphere nicely, the audience is pretty well behaved and the performance on the whole has that great laid back 72 vibe. This release by Empress Valley features a two disc set, the first disc being a remaster, the second not. I compared the first disc of this set to the original EQ’d version I downloaded, they sound pretty similar, EV increased the volume just slightly and perhaps increased the treble a small amount to make it a touch more bright but not what I would call overbearing by any means. Once one’s bootleg ears adjust to the tape hiss, it does not take long before you get past it. The second disc, referred to as “original master” is pretty much what the torrent sounded like, lower volume yet less hiss. I turned this up to replicate EV’s amplification and found it to be, if anything, a tad duller. That being said I had no issues listening to it and found it perhaps a bit more palatable to my ears.

Bron-Y-Aur Stomp is the first song, Plant introduces it as being about a blue eyed dog and features some John Bonham harmony vocals, Page gets into the riff to Dancing Days at the 4:08 mark although it’s quite subtle. Plant references the Grande Ballroom and the band embark on a superb version of Dazed And Confused, the band clearly still have the momentum gained from the two European warm up shows. The Rhythm section is tight and Page is on form, their playing is not overly fast yet every note seems the fit correctly in its spot, a typically glorious 1972 rendition. The band break into some funky territory at the 15:50 mark where Bonham gets into some Crunge like drumming that leads Plant into the Bobby Bland classic Turn On Your Love Light. There is a brief fade at the 22:17 mark with an unknown amount missing, but based upon what Page is playing, it sounds like very little was lost.

“This is a song of love” is Robert’s introduction to What Is And What Should Never Be, the song is widely considered to be about his somewhat romantic triangle with his first wife and her sister. Moby Dick is a little over 15 minutes long and quite entertaining, John seems particularly animated on this opening night and turns in a very entertaining solo, the audience are suitably impressed and cheer him on. Whole Lotta Love features a medley similar to the European dates and the first few American dates, John Lee Hooker’s Boogie Chillun’, a bit of Ricky Nelson’s Hello Mary Lou, Johnny Preston’s country classic Running Bear (written by the Big Bopper), and the typical mix of Shape I’m In and Going Down Slow with improvised lyrics of Millionaire Blues. Between the song snippets, the rhythm section lays the foundation and Page solos at will over the top, sometimes leaving space between the notes, other times a sheer flurry of leads ebb from his Les Paul. Rock And Roll is the sole encore and is high energy, the band and audience are digging it in the same way, party time in Detroit!

The packaging is a gate-fold sleeve with pictures from the actual concert on the front, back and interior. Typical for Empress Valley is the OBI as well, nice packaging at a budget price. The No Label folks have released this title as well, it will be interesting to see how they compare. So far it has been a very good year for the Zeppelin collector with new sources turning up, Cleveland 77, Glasgow, and now Detroit 72, let’s hope it continues.

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