Led Zeppelin – Cologne (Tarantura 1980-1, 2)

Cologne (Tarantura 1980-1, 2)
Sporthalle, Cologne, Germany – June 18th, 1980

Disc 1:  Train Kept A Rollin’, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Black Dog, In The Evening, The Rain Song, Hot Dog, All My Love, Trampled Underfoot, Since I’ve Been Loving You

Disc 2:  Achillies Last Stand, White Summer, Black Mountain Side, Kashmir, Stairway To Heaven, Rock And Roll, Communication Breakdown

The Cologne soundboard first surfaced in 1991 on Close Shave Part 1 (Flying Disc CD 6-801) and Close Shave Part 2  (Flying Disc CD 6-802) and Pure Nostulgia (NEP-005/6) on Neptune followed.  Like almost all of the soundboards released in the late eighties and early nineties the speed was too fast.  Tarantura included the encores on Blitzkrieg Over Europe (T3CD-5) released in 1994 which also includes Frankfurt, Nurnberg and fragments from Mannheim. 

The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin released Cologne 1980 (TDOLZ Vol. 61), with the speed corrected and using the audience source to fix the gaps in “The Rain Song”, “Achillies Last Stand” and “Stairway To Heaven”.  Cologne 1980 on Flagge was released to complete Tarantura’s project of releasing the entire final tour in a binder.  It was packaged like the other Tarantura 1980 titles and has the catalogue number Tarantura would have used had Cologne been produced.

The sound quality of these releases steadily improves with mastering done by the labels.  Tarantura claims the soundboard comes from “mater cassette>1st gen.>DAT SBD” and the audience tape is “master cassette>DAT AUDIENCE filler”.  

Cologne (ver. 2006) serves as a “legitimate” release for their much vaunted and overpriced binder.  The audience source is edited in 6:25 in “The Rain Song” and lasts until the introduction to “Hot Dog”, at 4:00 in “Achillies Last Stand” for about two minutes, and about 9:30 in “Stairway To Heaven” to complete the final two minutes of the song.  The audience source is also used between each of the tracks which is a strange redaction.  David Singleton and Robert Fripp used this technique on the King Crimson Collector’s Club release Live At Plymouth 1971 (Club 14).  This was done to “add ambience”, according to the notes on that release.

It sounds like Tarantura’s intention is to bring the distant audience closer to the mic between songs for a more live sound.    The soundboard has always sounded very good and on this new release sounds very powerful.  It captures an excellent concert too for 1980. 

This tour has its critics who focus upon some of the sloppiness and stale playing.  The only glaring mistakes are found in “Achillies Last Stand” where Bonham misses some cues, but there are more reasons to investigate this era than to ignore it.  These are the few shows where In Through The Outdoor material was played live, especially “All My Love” (which I don’t think has ever surfaced again in either Page/ Plant or Plant’s solo outings).

But it is their reinterpretation of their material for the “new wave” era that is fascinating.  John Paul Jones’ synthesizers replaced the mellotron and other various keyboards from previous years adds a more “contemporary” feel.  Some of it doesn’t really work like in “Since I’ve Been Loving You”.  But for “In The Evening” and “Kashmir” it works beautifully.  “Trampled Underfoot” was also used for on stage experimentation with Page exploring different timbres in the solo. 

It seems this track would have been one of their big new wave numbers had the band survived.  They are careful in this show with only two simple encores, “Rock And Roll” and “Communication Breakdown”, but further shows will have some expanded versions of “Whole Lotta Love” in the encore that are very experimental.  This show is very enjoyable and the editing job might not be to everyone’s taste but is very well handled and makes this a title worth investigating. 

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