Bloomington 1975 (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-118A/B)
Met Center, Bloomington, MN, USA – January 18, 1975
Disc 1 (54:01) Introduction, Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, When The Levee Breaks, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir, The Wanton Song
Disc 2 (54:34) MC, No Quarter, Trampled Under Foot, Moby Dick, Stairway To Heaven. Bonus Trax: Soundboard Fragments: MC / When The Levee Breaks, MC / The Song Remains The Same, MC / The Wanton Song, Black Dog
This is my third title featuring the opening night of Led Zeppelin’s 1975 North American Tour having previously reviewed both the audience and soundboard recordings, my enjoyment of this concert has not been diminished. This review will be strictly on the sound quality of the Graf Zeppelin version of the audience tape. First we go Somewhere Back In Time…In late April 2021, The Dogs Of Doom unearthed an incomplete audience recording of the Bloomington concert on Liberation Series Vol. 10, in very good quality to boot. This quickly made the rounds and was quickly released as Bloomington 1975 (No Label) followed by Jesus-Live In Minneapolis (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD-1280/1281 &Jesus BONUS), First Show From North American Tour 1975 (Wisteria 2021-007), and Bloomington 1975 (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-118A/B).
The sound of the recently unearthed audience tape from Minneapolis falls into the good to very good range. It was recorded by Don R on a National Panasonic recorder with a built in mic, there are several cuts throughout the tape between song in an effort to conserve tape. Seemingly the taper only brought one tape, In My Time Of Dying and the encores of Whole Lotta Love and Black Dog are missing. The sound is slightly distant and a bit boomy and bass heavy capturing the acoustics of the 15,000 seat Ice Hockey arena. The sound is thankfully clear and each of the four instruments can be heard and is fairly well balanced, Bonzo’s drums are powerful in the mix, always a plus.
The sound quality of this Graf Zeppelin title is very similar to the Wisteria title, the differences are minute, if anything it sounds like Wisteria removed a small amount of tape hiss. This new Graf Zeppelin sounds a bit closer to the original tape sound on the torrent with just a tad more openness to it, both titles slightly increased the volume. Graf Zeppelin did not edit the tape in any way and there are no issues at the track changes either, typical for Graf Zeppelin they present the complete recording with sound quality as good as it will get for the audience source with tasteful and quality mastering.
As I wrote previously, to my ears this recording sounds best in my home versus car, this is a tape that needs the open air to breathe and the confines of my car do not allow it to, this opinion has not changed. The taper was able to get a nice capture of the opening concert on the 1975 North American Tour, there is a little bit of audience chatter a couple of times and you really get an idea of how much the audience enjoyed the performance. It is great to hear their reaction to certain songs, most notably When The Levee Breaks, as soon a Bonzo begins the drum beat a punter near the taper scream loudly with excitement. The audience source also masks a few flubs by Page who is quickly getting used to his three fingered technique, but like I stated in my review of the soundboard, a very well played concert by Led Zeppelin.
As far as the audience sources are concerned, this is certainly the best of the audience recorded versions of When The Levee Breaks and The Wanton Song making this an essential recording for Led Zeppelin collectors. Of course with the appearance of the excellent soundboard recording found on Wanton Song 1975 Met Center (No Label) and All Is Safe For Rock And Roll (Eelgrass EGL20280/81/82/83), Bloomington 1975 (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-118A/B), Jesus (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD-1280/81 & Jesus-Bonus), and Salvation Through Him (Eelgrass EGL20286/287) it lessens this recordings appeal, however it should not be discounted. Don R captured a timeless piece of Led Zeppelin history and the audience recording should be listened to as intently as the soundboard as it captures the event from the audience. Again, praise and thank you must go to The Dogs Of Doom for seeking out and freely sharing this music with the fans.
Graf Zeppelin also added four and a half minutes of bonus material, prior to the release of a four song sample, someone released short minute long soundboard samples of Levee, The Song Remains The Same, The Wanton Song, and Black Dog. These snippets are important for one main reason, we can hear Graf Zeppelin’s mastering on the soundboard. From what I can hear they took some of the sizzle off the top end, sadly it’s hard to confirm the extent of the mastering and if it is improvement or not since most of the snippets are Robert’s introductions. This is the only source, for good reason now, of these snippets as they serve no real purpose and are just a curiosity.
The packaging is typical Graf Zeppelin, a live shot of Page on the cover, a live shot of Robert on the rear and the interior features shots from the pre tour rehearsals just prior to this concert, the band looking relaxed and ready to get back in front of an audience. The shots are candid showing the group in the Met Center from presumably the day before the concert. Graf Zeppelin consistently put out quality product, this title certainly meets my expectations and is my preferred version of the Bloomington 1975 tape.
This was the particular version that I planned on acquiring, but then I heard about the SBD version coming soon on Eelgrass, and that’s the one I ended up with. Now I have no need for any of the audience recordings, as I’m glad that I held out until the Eelgrass was eventually released. Thanks for the interesting reviews.