Led Zeppelin – Chicago 1973 Soundcheck (no label)

Chicago 1973 Soundcheck (no label)

Chicago Stadium, Chicago,IL – July 6th, 1973 (?)

(56:22):  Sugar Baby, Wanton Song, The Rover, The Rover (includes “A Quick One” and “All Along The Watchtower”), Night Flight, School Days, Nadine, Round And Round, Round And Round, Move On Down The Line, Please Don’t Tease, Move It (C’mon Pretty Baby), Dynamite, Shakin’ All Over, Hungry For Love, I’ll Never Get Over You, Reelin’ & Rockin’ / Surrender / Rock And Roll (drum intro.) / organ

The Led Zeppelin soundcheck tape, a recording of “a misty rehearsal session in the early 70’s,” remains one of the most fascinating for Led Zeppelin collectors.  The specific provence is elusive, but the performance is excellent with many rarities and scarcely played cover tunes.

Chicago 1973 Soundcheck (no label) is the latest silver pressing of the tape.  It’s been out many times but this is the first single release in quite a while.  The sound quality is comparable to the past releases, remaining an excellent professional recording.

One of the earliest releases is on Tribute To Johnny Kidd & The Pirates on Scorpio along with some Led Zeppelin III rehearsals to fill out the disc.  It can also be found on the famous Cabala boxset, The Smithereens on Akhasic, Rockin’ In Chicago (Moonlight ML 9643), The Lost Sessions Vol. 5 (Empress Valley Supreme Disc 2005 EVSD-179), and twice on Scorpio on Studio Sessions Ultimate (Scorpio LZ-07001~12) and The Atrocity Exhibition (Scorpio LZ-08026) along with the July 6th, 1973 Chicago soundboard.

Whether it’s from Los Angeles 1972 or Chicago or Atlanta 1973 or Minneapolis 1975, this is one of the most fun tapes to have.  It starts off with an improvised piece called “Sugar Baby” (or “Strawberry Jam” as it is called on earlier releases) which sounds like the funky section of “Whole Lotta Love.”

“The Wanton Song” is only a small fraction of the song. It doesn’t have the main riff nor lyrics, but is only the descending riff leading to the bridge, so it is a bit of a misnomer and it is more accurate to say it is a riff that was later incorporated into the song whose working title was “Desiree.”

“The Rover” only appears as a riff played as a bridge. The track listing claims Page plays a bit of The Who’s “A Quick One” and the Jimi Hendrix cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower.”  It dissolves into the “Bouree” that Page played in the “Heartbreaker” solos and some “Stairway To Heaven” exercises thrown in.  

The fourth track listed “Night Flight” is a complete version of the song taken at a faster tempo and reveals that it could have been a compelling stage piece if they bothered to include it in any set list.

The rest of the tape includes lots of rock and roll oldies and tuning beginning with several Chuck Berry tunes. Plant sings only the final three verses of “School Days”, “Nadine (Is That You?)” and several verses and the chorus of “Round And Round.”

What follows is the first verse and chorus repeated several times of Roy Orbinson’s “Move On Down The Line,” a song they played in some “Whole Lotta Love” medleys. They continue with a cover of Cliff Richard’s “Please Don’t Tease,” a single that spent three weeks at number one on the charts in the summer of 1960. “Shakin’ All Over” is Johnny Kidd And The Pirates’ 1960 number one hit that was covered by The Who, The Guess Who, and Iggy Pop. Zeppelin gives a dramatic rendition in this sound check.

Two more Johnny Kidd And The Pirates hits follow, ”Hungry For Love” and “I’ll Never Get Over You” before the session falls apart. Bonham bangs out the beginning of “Rock And Roll”, Plant sings a line from “Surrender” and Jones tunes the organ before the tape runs out.

Chicago 1973 Soundcheck is packaged in a thick single sleeve cardboard sleeve with various shots from the tour on the cover.  An insert has several paragraphs written in Japanese.  There are m any different releases of this tape included in bigger collections.  This is a very nice one disc title with the entire soundcheck at a reasonable price in nice packaging and is worth having for those who don’t have this already.   

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