Bringing The House Down (Eelgrass EGL20111/12/13)
Capitol Center, Landover, MD – May 26th, 1977
Disc 1 (67.21): The Song Remains The Same, Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, In My Time Of Dying, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter
Disc 2 (49.59): Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Dancing Days, Black Country Woman, Bron-yr-Aur Stomp, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Kashmir
Disc 3 (78.30): Out On The Tiles / Moby Dick, Page Solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll
Such was the nature of Led Zeppelin’s 1977 tour that they had to book series of shows in various cities instead of having an endless stream of one-night stands. For the Maryland – Washington DC region, Zeppelin booked four nights in the Capital Center in Landover. All four shows were taped from the audience with the fourth and final night on May 30th being the best sounding.
The second Maryland show on May 26th had been released several times from the audience tape. But in 2003 a really nice soundboard tape surfaced, the first professional recording from those dates. Like many of the 1977 soundboards it lacks a bit of dynamics but is generally well balanced and enjoyable. There are cuts on the tape from 3:35 to 4:20 in “No Quarter,” from 0:42 to 2:45 in “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp,” and from 25:40 to 35:17 in “Moby Dick” filled in from the audience tape. Audience noise after the final encore “Rock And Roll,” lasting about two minutes, is spliced from the audience tape to provide some atmosphere. One can hear the silly comments from the tapers and Genesis’ “I Know What I Like” played over the venue’s PA system.
In essence, this is an affordable and nicely packaged duplicate of Bringing The House Down (Empress Valley EVSD 240-242). About three years after this was released Refreshing Mistakes on Beelzebub Records in Italy surfaced claiming to have the missing bits from the soundboard recording, but that was proven to be a dishonest hoax on the part of the label. Eelgrass has great sound and is packaged in a jewel case with thick, classy inserts making this the most affordable and viable way to obtain this show.
Maryland were treated to four impressive marathons which, together with the New York and Los Angeles shows which follow, form technical highpoint of the tour. It starts off with intnese versions of “The Song Remains The Same” and “Sick Again.”
Robert Plant explains the short delay for the show was due to the traffic in New York (since they were camped there during this part and flew down for each of the shows). During “In My Time Of Dying” Plant incorporates a mention of Maryland in the lyrics, singing: “I want you people of Maryland to realize…” It is followed by the third blues number in a row “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” which Plant describes as “something that comes from our backyard.”
“No Quarter” is the first big piece of the show. John Paul Jones favors jazz and pop sounding melodies in the first half of the show and at times plays like Elton John. The second half of the solo reverts back to the doom and gloom of the original recording.
“Ten Years Gone” is for anyone who “had an affair with a member of the opposite sex, or even a member of the same sex. If this affair seemed very casual to you at one time, and then you walked away and as the years go by you realized that it was a lot more that it seemed, then you felt, you felt the feeling of lost love.”
The acoustic set is another highlight of the performance which Zeppelin resurrected for this tour because, according to Plant, “ we thought that we’d had quite a few acoustic pieces that people might tend to forget.” It also gives them a chance to bring “Lou Reed’s dad on stage, John Bonham, who comes and sits along the front with us, so you’ll know that we really are a four piece group.” They are loose enough during this part of the show to include a rare perfomance of “Dancing Days” before “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp.”
The show’s climax is “Achilles Last Stand” which almost falls apart in the middle with the band losing their place. Even so, afterwards Plant quotes the words, humming “well the mighty arms of Atlas” as he introduces the final song of the set “Stairway To Heaven.”
A bit of “Whole Lotta Love” and “Rock And Roll” is the only encore. Plant thanks MARY-land several times as they leave the stage.
Robert Godwin commented in one of his guides that it’s astounding how poor many of the recordings from Zeppelin’s eleventh US tour really are, especially considering how big they were at the time. The mediocre recordings also contribute to the lukewarm reception this tour receives. The soundboard recordings found on titles such as Bringing The House Down lends to opportunity to reassess these shows in particular and the tour in general. Eelgrass makes it affordable to collect this show and is worth having.