Led Zeppelin – Casino (Tarantura TCD-103-1, 2)

Casino (Tarantura TCD-103-1, 2)

Monteux Casino, Montreux, Switzerland – August 7th, 1971

Disc 1 (54:05):  Introduction, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Black Dog, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven

Disc 2 (46:33):  Going To California, That’s The Way, Celebration Day, What Is And What Should Never Be, Whole Lotta Love (including Boogie Chillun’, That’s Alright, Ramble On, I’m A Man, Honey Bee), Weekend

Led Zeppelin’s Montreux concerts in 1971 and 1972 were rumoured to exist on tape and it is great that one of these four concerts has finally surfaced.  One of the reasons why this tape is so valuable is because the first half of 1971 is so poorly documented for Led Zeppelin.  Except for the Ireland tapes and the “BBC In Concert” broadcast, the Back To The Clubs tour is shrouded in almost complete mystery.  A tape for a Liverpool performance is said to exist, although I have my doubts.  There is the wonderful Copenhagen tape from May, the Milan fragment from July, and that is it until the seventh tour of North America. 

The first Montreux concert surfaced several years ago and was quickly pressed first on Casino Royale (Empress Valley Supreme Disc 2005 EVSD378/379) and then on Peter’s PA (Black Dog Records BDR-001-1,2)Empress Valley was ruined by excessive mastering making the tape very hissy and horrible sounding.  The Tarantura version was much better with an emphasis upon clarity.  In May 2009 a new label released Montreux Casino 1971 (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-002) from a low generation tape and was an improvement over the previous titles.

Casinois the latest release of this interesting tape and it shares many of the characteristics of the Graf Zeppelin release.  It runs at the correct pitch and is from a low generation.  But Tarantura has a slight advantage over Montreux Casino 1971 by being a bit more loud, clear, lively and punchy. 

The setlist for Montreux is close to the standard they used for most of the year.  The Montreux Concerts by Gilles Chateau and Sam Rapallo claim that “Moby Dick” was played before “Whole Lotta Love,” that “Celebration Day” was played before “Stairway To Heaven,” and that “Communication Breakdown” was played as an encore.  As it turns out “Moby Dick” was not played, “Celebration Day” was played after the acoustic set, and “Weekend” is the only encore for August 7th.  Further, this is the earliest recorded reference to “Celebration Day” as a stand-alone track.  The only previous appearance is the Copenhagen show where it was played inside of “Communication Breakdown.”

After not having played for several months, there is obvious rust on the band.  The beginning is very good with “Immigrant Song” and “Heartbreaker,” and Plant thanks Montreux, saying, “it’s very very very very nice to be back in Montreux again… To be working with Claude Nobs, and to be working with everybody who’s helped get everything together here. About two, or maybe three, four weeks ago, we went to Italy, to Milan, and totally different thing altogether. I’ll tell you about that later.”

“Since I’ve Been Loving You” is very sloppy at points but the next song “Black Dog” fairs much better.  “Dazed And Confused” reaches eighteen minutes and is very lyrical and melodic in its improvisation at certain points.  There is a short delay afterwards as they get ready for “Stairway To Heaven since “the equipment’s falling apart.”

The acoustic set is recorded nicely with “That’s The Way” bitterly dedicated to anyone who came from Milan, the site of the disaster in July (“I don’t know how I’m gonna tell you / that I can’t play with you no more!”)  Both “Celebration Day” and “What Is And What Should Never Be” are marred by missed cues.  The set ends with twenty-three minutes of “Whole Lotta Love” which substitutes “Mess O’ Blues” (a constant in the 1971 medley) with “I’m A Man.”  “Honey Bee” not go into “You Shook Me,” which was the custom at that time, but into a free form blues improvisation.  “Merci beaucoup et bon soir.  We’ll do one more then we’ll be back tomorrow” Plant says before a very fast and heavy version of Eddie Cochrane’s “Weekend.”

Casino is an improvement over the Graf Zeppelin edition of this show released in spring 2009 but it’s not a drastic upgrade.  The packaging is a glossy cardboard gatefold sleeve with and interesting period photograph on the front cover and photos of the band on the interior and is a limited editon. 

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