Collectors-Music-Reviews

Led Zeppelin – Barrage Of Riffs (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-715A/B/C/D/E)

Barrage Of Riffs (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-715A/B/C/D/E)

Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, NY, USA – July 15, 1973

This new set from Graf Zeppelin features both soundboard and audience recordings for Led Zeppelin’s stop in Buffalo, New York during the second leg of the North American tour of 1973. These recordings are well known to the collectors community as both have appeared on various titles over the years. This title features upgraded sources that come from the collection of Bill B and were shared by Glyn, freely among collectors and eventually available in the collectors market.

Soundboard Recording
Disc 1 (66:03) 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 2 (45:26) MC, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven

The soundboard has the majority of the titles dating back to the mid 90’s, Best Of Tour 1973 (Forever Standard Series FSS 99-008) was an early compilation of songs from various concerts to make up a complete show. Where The Zeppelin Roam (Midas Touch MD 62121/2), In Concert And Beyond (The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin TDOLZ Vol 1), Misty Mountain Crop (Flying Disc Music CD 6-86), and Razed And Confused (Flying Disc Music CD 6-819) feature the complete soundboard. Wendy’s Silly Putty (Wendy WECD-101/102/103) used the soundboard as a main source with the missing portions coming from the audience recording. Shortly after this title the excellent The Chronicles Of Led Zeppelin released a 5 disc set entitled Slowing Down In Buffalo (The Chronicles Of Led Zeppelin TCOLZ 059~063) which presented both soundboard and audience recordings. There are two recent releases that use a similar mix to Wendy, Buffalo 1973 (No Label 2022) and Slowing Down In Buffalo (Moonchild BUFFALO1973-1/2/3).

Where The Zeppelin Roam (Midas Touch MD 62121/2) has been considered the best version of the soundboard available, in his review of the TCOLZ title, GS states that it was mastered close to the Midas Touch, albeit a bit “fatter” and “punchier”. This new Graf Zeppelin is louder and therefore has a bit more tape hiss than the TCOLZ, it also has a wider frequency range making for a more detailed sounding recording. The mastering does not stop there, Graf has elected to fill the gap at 2:24-2:45 in The Rain Song with the audience source. While there is a pretty big difference in sound quality, the cut is actually at a really good spot and the quiet portion of the song allows a good blend of the sources. The splice is seamless and typically well done. The overall tape quality and Graf Zeppelin mastering is excellent and the soundboard source sounds really nice and an improvement over the TCOLZ title.

Audience Recording
Disc 3 (62:21) 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 4 (39:04) MC, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven

Disc 5 (57:13) MC Moby Dick, Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love, The Ocean

The audience source is a near complete audience recording that falls into a fair to good rating it its best. The sound is distant and distorted yet thankfully clear enough where the vocals and instruments are discernible in the mix. There are cuts in the tape that miss small portions but nothing too severe, and the tape hiss is very minor, as GS stated in his review, it is a very listenable document. There are very few titles with this source on them, Wendy uses the audience to complete the soundboard on Silly Putty (Wendy WECD-101/102/103) while Slowing Down In Buffalo (The Chronicles Of Led Zeppelin TCOLZ 059~063) features the complete audience recording, not without its issues, GS brings up the cut and repeat during No Quarter. Buffalo 1973 (No Label 2022) is a modern release that uses the same tape sources as the Graf Zeppelin but in a mix similar to the older Wendy title.

This new version from Graf Zeppelin is easily the best version out there. If you only have heard the TCOLZ title you are in for a big surprise, the sound is a huge improvement. The TCOLZ sound thin, shrill, and is slightly lower in volume. This new Graf Zeppelin is wider and much warmer, sounding like an old analog tape versus an over processed file. There were also tape issues during The Rain Song on TCOLZ that sounds like that source tape was eaten in the player, you do not hear that on this title, nor do you hear the cut and repeat during No Quarter. This recording easily falls into the good category and is much easier to listen, and therefore more enjoyable. My TCOLZ is now retired.

The Buffalo concert is really good and somewhat standard for the second leg, a little slow starting but heats up as it goes. I find that listening to the soundboard versus the audience source can be misleading, the soundboard hides nothing where the audience recording is dark and mysterious and to my ears, the preferred way to hear this concert. No Quarter is excellent at this point, Jimmy’s solo is sublime, he gets into a really tasty wah solo near the end that caps it with a mellow vibe as Jonesy moves back in the familiar theme. Dazed And Confused is excellent, Jimmy gets into an interesting version of the Oriental riffs section which I would liked to hear him expand on, the “I Know…I Know” part is super heavy that leads into a chunky riff section. Once he final gets out the bow and begins it’s very dramatic, although Jimmy almost gets derailed with a loud explosion at the 11:34 mark. The bow solo interlude is extremely dark and ambient (the cut in the audience source comes at the worst time). After the fast section, Jimmy and Bonzo get into a fast chord thing that’s really cool, Jimmy really takes an interesting journey during this concert. Whole Lotta Love is killer, the band get into a bit of James Brown’s Ain’t It Funky Now which turns into a bit of The Crunge played quite fast. They get into the Theremin section with Jonesy keeping it on the funk side thengets back into the Funky Crunge section. After Boogie Chillun’ they get into a bit of Freddie King’s Hideaway and a nice relaxed jam.

The packaging is standard Graf Zeppelin with the title Barrage Of Riffs being a proper assessment of the concert. The front and back covers features Jimmy on both, the interior uses the same live shots from this show and ticket stub that TCOLZ used plus fonts used on the old Midas Touch title used in homage. The improved sound on these sources make this an easy title to recommend, excellent mastering and packaging are what we expect from Graf Zeppelin.    

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