Led Zeppelin – Cincinnati Kids (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-419A/B/C/D)

Cincinnati Kids (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-419A/B/C/D)

Well we didn’t have to wait long for another version of the the two 1977 Cincinnati recordings to be released, this time it’s Graf Zeppelin who throw their hat into the ring with what is most certainly the best versions of these shows on the market. Cincinnati Kids features both evenings recordings packaged together to present perhaps the best document of these early 1977 concerts to date, and also features mastering from Graf Zeppelin, quality guaranteed. These concerts have been a mess for years, early titles Gatecrush Riot (Electric Magic EMC-012A/B) and Cincinnati Riot Disaster (Electric Magic EMC-026A/B), and Cincinnati Kids (H&Y Records HY-001) all were either incomplete or senseless mishmash of mixes. These recordings were finally done right by the Wendy label on the excellent Cincinnati Blizzard Of 1977 (Wendy WECD 398/399/400) released in 2021, its flaws were minor and sound best yet. The Wendy label put both nights on three discs, this new title by Graf Zeppelin is on four discs, each night being complete and on two discs each. I will be using the Wendy title for sound comparison and reference to the excellent Bootledz site for incite to both of these titles.

Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati, OH, USA – April 19, 1977

Disc 1 (52:37) Introduction, The Song Remains The Same, The Rover / Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter

Disc 2 (42:02) MC, Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Cincinnati Fireball, Black Country Woman, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, White Summer, Black Mountain Side, Kashmir

The first night in Cincinnati is a good to very good audience source clocking in at 95 minutes. It is a slightly distant but clear and very enjoyable yet sadly incomplete recording missing In My Time Of Dying and ends after Kashmir. All instruments and vocals are cleanly heard in the mix and because of the distance you do get the venue echo as well but all in all a really nice recording of a solid 1977 performance in front of one of the rowdiest audiences on the entire tour. The audience is very loud and continually harass the band with constant movement in “ocean” and a barrage of fireworks. Led Zeppelin continues to turn in strong performances early in the tour, while not perfect, they have a certain energy that seems to be difficult to maintain over time consistently, perhaps the long set list leaves too much room for mistakes.

The only real issues Wendy’s Cincinnati Blizzard Of 1977 (Wendy WECD 398/399/400) has are two cut and tape repeats before No Quarter and Battle of Evermore, it does not effect the music, it seems like Wendy was trying to smooth over the cut in the tape between Since I’ve Been Loving You and No Quarter. The cut and repeat prior to Evermore is rather funny as it’s right where the taper or his buddy is telling someone is already sitting there. The sound comparison is what we would expect, Graf is just a touch louder but it’s splitting hairs to a certain degree. Graf has a bit better bottom end and is a bit smoother overall while Wendy went with a bit more on the high end which lessens the boominess of the original recording but also has less  punch. Both versions are not far off and are faithful to the original recording.

Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati, OH, USA – April 20, 1977

Disc 3 (52:22) Introduction, The Song Remains The Same, The Rover / Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, In My Time Of Dying, Since I’ve Been Loving You, The Battle Of Evermore, White Summer, Black Mountain Side, Kashmir

Disc 4 (49:20) MC, Out On The Tiles / Moby Dick, Guitar Solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, Rock And Roll, Trampled Under Foot

The second night clocks in at 100 minutes, the incomplete recording falls into the good to very good category that is slightly distant with more bottom end than the previous night and thus a bit more distortion. All instruments and vocals can be discernible and this tape actually compliments the previous evenings recording very well. There is also just a tad bit of tape hiss and venue echo but overall a very listenable recording that features an audience that is just as enthusiastic as the previous night. The second night misses the epic No Quarter but has the end of the concert which certainly gave Electric Magic some crazy idea of mixing the sources.

There are no issues with the Wendy version of the tape, just a few extra seconds of crowd noise before Since I’ve Been Loving You. The sound of this new Graf Zeppelin is like the first night being just a slight improvement. The Graf is a little louder and a little fuller sounding, wider sound spectrum with a bit better bottom end without sacrificing the uppers. This is splitting hairs again, yet to my ears, my preference goes to the Graf Zeppelin.

The packaging is simplistic for Graf Zeppelin, simple live shots from the 1977 tour, this is where the Wendy trumps the Graf Zeppelin. The interior of the Wendy title features a plethora of documents of the tour and events themselves which I absolutely love. The Graf Zeppelin features picture discs and numbered sticker with all four discs housed in a fatboy jewel case. For those who already own the Wendy title there is no need to invest in this unless you have to get everything, newbies grab the Graf as it is a flawless musical presentation of the two nights in Cincinnati.   


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