Led Zeppelin – Amsterdam 1972 (MMachine MM-00-03/04)

Amsterdam 1972 (MMachine MM-00-03/04)

Oude R.A.I. Amsterdam, The Netherlands – May 27th, 1972

Disc 1 (70:28):  Intro., Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Celebration Day, Stairway To Heaven, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, Dazed and Confused

Disc 2 (52:20):  What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, Rock and Roll, Communication Breakdown

After touring Australia and recording Houses Of The Holy, Led Zeppelin played two high profile warm-up gigs in Europe before touring the US for the eighth time.  The May 27th Amsterdam show is the first of the two and exists on a good but dull audience recording.  The vocals and guitars are higher in the mix and the rhythm section is somewhat buried. 

There are several minor cuts scattered throughout the tape between numbers.  But there is a big, painful cut about seven minutes into “Stairway To Heaven” eliminating half of the solo and final verse, “Going To California,” “That’s The Way,” and quite possibly “Tangerine” (which was not played in Brussels the following night but was included in the acoustic set in Australia and the US).   

The tape surfaced in the early nineties on Running Bear (Gold Standard LZ 72).  It was copied on Dancing Bear (Tarantura BEAR001-2) with improved sound quality.  MMachine released Amsterdam 1972 in the summer of 2000 sounding as good as it is capable of sounding and being a bit longer. 

Two years after Amsterdam Warmup (Magnificent Disc MD-7202A/B) was issued and was a typical butcher job Magnificent did on all their releases, boosting the sound so high that there is an annoying metallic crunch over all the music.  To this day, given the sound quality, completeness and availability the MMachine version remains definitive.

Amsterdam is a warm up gig, after being off the road for two months, and it sounds it.  There are no changes in the set list (there wouldn’t be until the fall).  The tape opens with announcements before a small cut in the tape.  Plant can be heard saying “It’s very nice to be back again. It’s been a long time” before they play the opening salvo of “Immigrant Song” and “Heartbreaker.”  The solo in the latter contains references to Bach’s Bouree and Simon & Garfunkel’s “59th Street Bridge Song.” 

“Celebration Day,” after being a constant in the set the previous year had pretty much been removed.  It appears in the Brisbane show in Australia and is played in Amsterdam after “Since I’ve Been Loving You.”  It’s a clunky, difficult song to digest standing on its own and on this night Plant gets lost several times, coming in early singing “there’s a train that leaves the station” into where Page’s solo starts, and again misses the cue with the third verse. 

The song would be dropped the following night in Brussels and would be played only one more time until it was reinstated for the US tour in 1973 (in a much more manageable arrangement).”Stairway to Heaven” is introduced as “something that we’ve become quite proud of.”  It’s a shame there is a big cut since it sounds like another classic performance.

“Dazed And Confused” is twenty-five minutes long and sounds much funkier in the improvisation than in the Australian tour.  The set ends with a very long “Whole Lotta Love” medley.  At this point “Boogie Chillun,” “Hello Mary Lou” and “Going Down Slow” were regular inclusions in the medley, appearing every night. 

A rarity for this night is “Running Bear,” the tune written by the Big Bopper and recorded by Johnny Preston.  It was released in August 1959, seven months after the Big Bopper’s death and became a hit.  After “Running Bear” they get into a strange version of “That’s Alright.”  The tape becomes more distorted at this point but clears  up for Page’s Scotty Moore guitar solo.

Plant has fun doing a Muddy Waters impersonation for “Hootchie Cootchie Man,” singing:  “On the seventh hour, of the seventh day, on the seventh month, the seventh doctor said:  ‘He’s born for good luck, and I know you see; Got seven hundred dollars, and don’t you mess with me.'”  Like all “Whole Lotta Love” medleys they slow down for the majestic blues flourish.  “Going Down Slow” held this spot during they year. 

Zeppelin play “Rock And Roll” as the first encore and, before playing  another Plant has to cool down the audience saying, “So cool it, otherwise we go.” 

Overall this is a good performance in reasonable sound quality.  MMachine’s artwork for Amsterdam 1972 is very strange:  a series of photos of the equipment taken before the Melbourne show in February.  It’s not attractive, but their presentation of the music is good enough to recommend this title. 

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