Led Zeppelin – Berdu San Bernardino 1972 (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-62272A/B)

Berdu San Bernardino 1972 (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-62272A/B)

Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, CA, USA – June 22, 1972

Disc 1 (60:58) Introduction, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Stairway To Heaven, Going To California, That’s The Way, Tangerine, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp

Disc 2 (78:18) MC, Dazed And Confused, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll

Graf Zeppelin continue their releases featuring summer 1972 West Coast dates with this new release from San Bernardino. The concert came hot on the heels of two nights in Seattle and one in Denver, they play the first day in Southern California in a somewhat restrained mood. The playing is fierce but the concert does not go into the “over the top” zone that the Seattle and L.A. gigs did. The singular audio recording falls in the very good to near excellent category, it is clear and atmospheric with all the instruments and vocals clear in the mix. There is audience noise present but not overwhelming and they are rather subdued compared to other concerts on this tour, overall the recording captures the event in excellent fashion.

This recording has a history dating back to the vinyl days on Berdu (Screaming Oiseau Records 7500 A-D) as well as the massive 70 LP set The Final Option, its Berdu is reportedly taken from pressings from the original plates. There has been a decent amount of titles featuring this concert over the years, Route 66 (Tarantura T4CD-3), Latter Day Saint (Tarantura TCD-62-1,2), Born To Be Wild (Whole Lotta Live WLL018/19), Berdu (Cobra-010), Born To Be Wild (Magnificent Disc MD-7201 A/B), Welcome Back How The West Was Won 1st Night Berdu (Godfather Box-CA 1972), Swinging In San Bernardino (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD-303/304), Di Rigori Armato Il Seno 1972 (Wendy Records WECD-260/261), and Berdu (Moonchild BERDU 1/2). I have the Empress Valley and Godfather sets in my collection, both have very similar sound. There is a short video fragment shot from the crowd of the concert that has been synced with this audience recording that is well worth a watch on Youtube.

When I compare this new Graf Zeppelin title to the Empress Valley I find that both titles are similar in volume with the Graf Zeppelin having a fuller and clearer sound with just a very small amount more tape hiss. Both titles have nice bottom end, again the Graf’s is just a bit cleaner while maintaining the nice bass. The EV title is 18 years old, it still holds up well and does not have that over produced sound typical with titles from that period where loudness seemed to take precedence. The Godfather box set Welcome Back How The West Was Won featured the San Bernardino, L.A., and Long Beach recordings in one glorious package. Their version of Berdu is excellent, it is very clear and does has a very slight edge over EV in terms of overall sound being a bit more expansive. Again this new title by Graf is better for the same reasons as the EV, the clarity and frequency range is better with an overall warmer sound as well. It’s hard to best the overall sound quality and presentation of the Godfather box, all three sets feature excellent mastering for sound, and the detailed liner notes. This box is over ten years old and has held up extremely well.

Perhaps some of the reason this concert is not as long and elaborate as others from this tour is the audience is very mellow for 1972. There is some quiet chatting near the taper with gives the idea of a casual experience, a certain portion of the audience is there to be there. The legendary gsparaco gave a very detailed review of this concert for the aforementioned Godfather box set Welcome Back How The West Was Won and to a lesser extent EV’s Swinging title, both reviews give accurate descriptions of this performance and sound quality, we differ in opinion on live versions of Tangerine but that’s it. Fantastic sound quality and an excellent performance make this concert an easy listen, no bootleg or fine detailed focus needs done, put it on, turn it up and enjoy.

The packaging is standard Graf Zeppelin with artwork that ties in with their previous releases of L.A., Long Beach, and Tucson all of which are slightly inspired by the official How The West Was Won set. There are pictures from the event on the interior and I was a little surprised that there was no homage to the original vinyl LP cover, something Graf has done for other titles, no consequence as the picture was from 1973 anyway. This is an excellent release and is a small upgrade over the previous titles.   

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