Led Zeppelin – Arigatou Osaka (Moonchild Records)

Arigatou Osaka (Moonchild Records)

Festival Hall, Osaka, Japan – September 29, 1971

Disc 1 (67:31) Audience Cheer, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Black Dog, Dazed And Confused

Disc 2 (71:38) Stairway To Heaven, Celebration Day, That’s The Way, Going To California, Tangerine, Friends, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick

Disc 3 (59:08) Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown, Organ Solo, Thank You, Rock And Roll

Led Zeppelin’s first visit to Japan in the fall of 1971 continues to intrigue and inspire the fan and collector of the unofficial output, and for good reason. Led Zeppelin’s performances from this period are staggering, and their ones in Japan are legendary. It is interesting to look at how many recordings have surfaced over the years for these five concerts, and the vast number of bootlegs that have been produced from these shows. Other than the first night in Japan, perhaps no other concert has been the subject of so many releases than the fifth and final night in the city of Osaka, and for good reason. There are several audience recordings that exist ranging from average to very good as well as an incomplete soundboard recording, the band’s performance is sublime, one of the best played where they play a laid back relaxed yet intense concert that has made it a fan favorite since the early days of vinyl.

There have been too numerous to list releases of this material in one form or another individually on vinyl and compact disc, then various labels started using the main soundboard source and filling their numerous gaps with audience recordings in a way to present the complete concert. Titles such as 9291971 (Tarantura TCD-71 RSR-209), Fatally Wanderer 929 (Wendy 30,31,32), Fatally Wanderer Definitive Version (Wendy 71,72,73), Regalia 929 (Wendy 200,201,202), Live In Japan (Empress Valley EVSD 776-781), You Were There In Spirits (Empress Valley EVSD 291,292,293) and 929 (No Label) all feature some sort of variation on this theme.

Perhaps the best of the amalgamation of sources is not from one of the premier labels, but the work of a fan, a fan whose name is well regarding in the trading community for his work on a multitude of famous Zeppelin recordings who goes under the moniker Winston Remasters. He premiered his work on this famous concert, dubbed Arigatou Osaka, in 2015 and like his others, was made available to masses free of charge via various Internet sites. I think the best way to start is to use the liner notes for this excellent fan produced project; 

“Remaster Notes: Hardest show I ever worked on. Used the best possible audio for each song.
Each of the Stage/SBD sources ran at different Sound/Pitch/Speed. It was like putting a jigsaw puzzle together, a BIG THANK YOU to Blackmikito, He really helped me get it right!
Sound: This is more of a Restoration than a Remaster, So I decided to try and give each source tonal balance and clarity. It seemed the less I did the better it sounded. If your looking for a beefed up in your face version this isn’t it, I would recommend Wendy’s Fatally Wanderer instead. Also would like to thank Pernod for his help early on.

So.. Is it Perfect? NOPE. But its the best I could do.

Remastering is just a hobby. Download and Enjoy or Pass on it. The choice is yours. This version is never meant to be definitive.
Please DO NOT Sell.”

I think the last statement needs to be in this review. We get so much from the world wide web, where the tape trading hobby has been made easier than ever, so when a new source or previously unreleased concert sees the light of day, it is only a matter of time before someone tries to make money from it. I am a taper by hobby, I upload some of my recordings via a well know torrent site and have seen copies of my recordings for sale on Ebay, or passed around in MP3 format and consider it a hazard of putting the material out there, my thanks is the thanks that various people leave in the comments section. There has been one previous release of this Winston Remaster, early last year as 929 (No Label), now we have this new label, Moonchild, come out with a number of releases, all being Winston Remasters, and with it comes the discussion of the integrity of what we do with our hobby. I view it this way, it’s out there and one can make their own decision as to purchasing this or not.

I have my share of recordings of this concert, my first being the old Mud Dogs title Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, and have both the soundboard and audience recordings. When I put on this remaster it is simply wonderful, first off there are numerous edits of the soundboard and the gaps are filled to present the entire performance, the transition between sources is excellent, very smooth and seamless. While you get differences in sound, Winston has lovingly mastered the sources to be similar in sound level making for a most pleasurable listening experience. As stated in his notes, this is not a battle for volume and by doing so the recordings have not suffered from compression and noise reduction techniques making for a warm and inviting sound.

This concert is an easy favorite, Luis Rey described the soundboard source as being “so vivid that you feel as you’re among the group”, a perfect description. This concert has so many personal favorites, the opener Immigrant Song is tops in my book as is Since I’ve Been Loving You, it has so many little fills and nuances from Page. The acoustic section is incredible, the intimacy achieved is unparalleled, from the “Mister Bonham” to beautiful simplicity of Tangerine to the rare version of Friends. The Whole Lotta Love medley for all five of the Japanese shows are must haves in my books, never will you hear music used as a way to communicate than in these concerts.

The packaging is simple, full color cover with pictures from the tour, all three discs are housed in a slim lined jewel case, certainly a no frills release. This is a recording that deserves to be heard, I would recommend searching on the major torrent sites, it is not a hard remaster to find. For those of us who want a hard copy so to speak, this is one of two ways to get it. The last comment needs to be given as praise to Winston, who he is for taking time to provide a work of love to the Led Zeppelin community, this remaster is a true work of art.

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