Led Zeppelin – Baltimore Jack (TDOLZ Vol. 96)

Baltimore Jack (TDOLZ Vol. 96)

Baltimore Jackis one of the final titles produced by The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin, and was one of their attempts to produce a deluxe boxset.  It collects together two shows whose share a common locale.  It is limited to 250 copies. 

The discs are stored in flimsy plastic sleeves that fit into the box.  The other TDOLZ boxsets produced at this time like Rock Of Ages and Hang On To Your Heads at least had the plastic sleeves slip into a paper sleeve for storage, but this one does not.  There is a nice booklet enclosed with a track listing and photographs from the 1972 tour.

The sound quality of the tapes are to be expected for a late nineties.  The 1972 show is quite common, having seen several releases.  But the value of the set is with the second show.  Baltimore Jack is the only release of the 1973 audience tape and makes this release still worth having.

Civic Center, Baltimore, MD – June 11th, 1972 

Disc 1 (56:20):  Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Stairway To Heaven, Going To California, That’s The Way

Disc 2 (67:40):  Tangerine, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, Dazed & Confused, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick

Disc 3 (40:27):  Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll, Communication Breakdown

There are so few very good documents from one of Led Zeppelin’s greatest tours.  Barely half of the shows of the US tour in 1972 were even taped and of the existing documents, the ones that are actually enjoyable can be counted on one hand (Charlotte, second New York, Los Angeles and San Bernardino).  The tape source from Baltimore is one of the good ones which had not seen its definitive release. 

Previous releases include Baltimore 1972 (Immigrant IM-026~28), Nutty & Cool (Baby Face BF-9604-1-A/2-B/3-C), The Axeman Of Cometh (Flagge) all before Baltimore Jack.  Two subsequent releases, Baltimore 1972 (Wardour-018) and Triangle Of Love (Tarantura TCD-109), use a lower generation tape and sound much better than TDOLZ. 

All of the tapes from this tour are welcome and this is among the very best.  Zeppelin were touring North America for the first time since the release of their fourth LP and “Stairway To Heaven” had already become a classic, receiving tremendous ovations at every stop.  They were also conscious of competing with the Stone’s tour occurring at the same time and the tapes reveal how ferocious they can be in concert. 

There is an air of confidence and unfettered creativity that would disappear after this in their determination to become more professional in their musical presentation.  The basic set list is very similar to the previous tour with an expanded acoustic set with “Tangerine” and “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” and with “Dazed & Confused” being placed later in the set.  About two weeks after Baltimore they would experiment even more with the inclusion of some songs from Houses Of The Holy about a year before its release.

“Dazed & Confused” really reached an apex with the usual inclusions of “The Crunge” and riffs from the songs “Walter’s Walk” and “Hots On For Nowhere”.  The version played on this night doesn’t have the former song, but it does have the latter with Plant scatting over it.  Plant speaks about seeing an Elvis Presley show the previous night in New York City before “Going To California”. 

The “Whole Lotta Love” medley has the special inclusions of “Need Your Loving Tonight” and “Heartbreak Hotel” joining the standard “Everybody Needs Somebody” and “Hello Mary Lou”.  During “Going Down Slow” the rhythm section lock onto a jazzy beat under a very tense Page solo. 

Civic Center, Baltimore, MD – July 23rd, 1973  

Disc 4 (63:46):  Rock and Roll, Celebration Day, Black Dog, Over the Hills and Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, The Song Remains the Same, The Rain Song

Disc 5 (45:01):  Dazed and Confused, Stairway To Heaven

Disc 6 (57:03):  Moby Dick, Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love, The Ocean

Led Zeppelin’s date in Baltimore comes right at the very end of their longest, most grueling and successful tours to date.  The shows in Boston, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and New York are at the point when they are exhausted from nonstop touring (almost from the day they began in 1968).  Page himself confessed to journalist Richie Yorke that he was operating on automatic pilot, not even able to articulate which songs were in the setlist.

Baltimore is one of the best, most energetic performances in the era.  So much so that even Plant is able to hit some high notes he hadn’t been able to reach in years.  Unfortunately this is one of the most poor sounding audience tapes to make it onto a commercial title but once the ears adjust it becomes tolerable.  The taper moves around a bit during “Dazed And Confused” moving closer to the stage improving the sound slightly.  

The setlist remains the same, but the odd thing about the show is “Dazed And Confused.”  Page’s head wanders and, after the initial fast improvisation, doesn’t go into the “San Francisco” part.  Instead, he starts the “call and response” interlude and Plant follows along.  Afterwards they get into “San Francisco” and continue the track. 

Another interesting point is how Plant and Bonham sing a bit of “I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside” as an introduction to “The Ocean,” the only time they referenced the song live.

As a curiosity, it was around this time filming began for The Song Remains The Same.  Some footage comes from this show, including showing Peter Grant yelling at someone for selling pirated photos of the band and some of the Baltimore police being interviewed (the ones in the white shirts – the blue shirt police officers are NYPD).  It’s not known if any concert footage, or a soundboard, exists.

1973 would be the final Led Zeppelin performance in Baltimore.  When they returned in 1975 and 1977 their Maryland shows would be at the Capital Center in Landover outside of Washington DC. 

Better sounding copies of this show are in circulation but haven’t been booted, and probably never will either.  Its fidelity limits it to hardcore Zeppelin collectors, who themselves would only lit to this on occasion.  Since it is the only silver pressed version of the latter show, Baltimore Jack is worth having.

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  1. I find the sound quality very bad. “The Axman Of Cometh” from Flagge label is better. The unbooted copy of the master is even better. The 1973 show is also very bad sound quality. No other recording exists? By the way, was Flagge an early label that turned into Empress Valley?


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