Cosmic Crazy Second Night In The Forum 1975 (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-32575A/B/C/D)
The Forum, Inglewood, California, USA – March 25, 1975
Disc 1 (55:36) Introduction, Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, In My Time Of Dying, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir
Disc 2 (63:39) MC, No Quarter, Trampled Under Foot, Moby Dick
Disc 3 (69:28) MC, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog
Disc 4 (60:03) Introduction, Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, In My Time Of Dying, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir, No Quarter
If there is a weekly series I wait for every week, it is The Lost and Found Mike the MICrophone Tapes. Each week the JEMS + Family collective, I add family as there is a group of others who work diligently to bring us these exciting releases, give collectors a recording from Mike’s massive archives. There is a broad cross section of artists and eras and while most times I do not download them, I love to read the show description and stories involved with the recording. Of course the Led Zeppelin recordings are a treasure, in February 2022 we were blessed with Volume 125, Mike’s excellent capture of Led Zeppelin’s second night at the Forum March 25, 1975. Let’s get right into Jim R’s notes:
I went with Mike Millard to the Led Zeppelin concert on March 25, 1975. It was the middle date of a three-night stand at The Forum. A show that’s a little overlooked, you know? It’s not opening night or closing night. A case of middle-child syndrome? Keep in mind, this was still only the fifth show of the Nakamichi 550 + AKG 451e era and only the 15th show Millard had ever taped. At this time, his recordings were only known to a handful of friends in the LA area.
We got our equipment into the building using Mike’s dad’s wheelchair, the classic method. We were escorted by security down to floor level in the service elevator–full VIP treatment. Little did they know what was inside Mike’s seat cushion. LOL. Mike and I sat in Section A, Row 3, Seats 3-4. Seat 1 is on the inside aisle, closest to the center. Our seats put us a little closer to PA, maybe 15 feet away, so you might hear a bit of buzzing due to our proximity and the volume. March 25 was an excellent show. All four members were in top shape. Great jamming in “No Quarter” and “Dazed & Confused.” After the concert, we continued our new tradition of drinking beers in the parking lot listening to the recording on headphones. Those walking by Mike’s car would get a listen.
I am pretty sure the pictures included in the artwork are from this March 25 show, but don’t hold me to it. Keep in mind, this was almost 47 years ago. Man, I’m getting old! As usual, I hope you enjoy the sights and sounds of this great show. Cheers to my buddy Mike. RIP.
Mike’s Zeppelin recordings are favorites in the bootleg market, early titles featuring this recording, either in full or partially include Cosmic Crazy (Last Stand Disc LSD-40/41/42), Crazed And Bemused (Black Cat BC 22 A-B), Dazed And Confused (Mad Dog MDR LZ001-2), The Revenge Of The Butterqueen (Ghost CD 53-46), Sex Machine & The Butterqueen (Ghost 53-45), Sex Machine (Lemon Song LS-7212-13), Get Back To L.A. (Tarantura T9CD-1), and LA Forum 1975 2nd Night (No Label). There are a couple titles that feature the second alternate recording to fill in a few cuts, Deep Throat (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD-159/160/161), Get Back To LA 2 (Moonchild LA2 D1/2/3), and Pareidolia Paradigm-Messiah Of Our Toast (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD-1122/1123/1124).
The original Deep Throat box set, released in 2003, was the first box set I bought and still own. Its packaging was great, all three L.A gigs packaged in a hinged box with a 1975 tour program reproduction and large poster. These were my go to versions of these concerts. In 2015 the Lighthouse folks released LA Forum 1975 2nd Night (No Label) supposedly sourced from unmarked first generation tapes. This released used only the Millard source, the sound and mastering of this title is less amplified than the EV sounding more natural.
When The Lost and Found Mike the MICrophone Tapes Volume 125 dropped it was released in two versions, a flat transfer of Rob S’s DAT tape made from Mike’s master done in the early 2000’s and a gently remastered version by the excellent Dadgad. The folks at No Label released a six disc set capturing both versions on LA Forum 1975 2nd Night Mike Millard Master Tapes (No Label). The Graf Zeppelin label released their version by offering the “Original Millard Master Recording” with the gaps filled with Source 2 on the first three discs and for the first time on disc, the complete Source 2 alternate recording on the fourth disc.
For this review I’ll compare this new Graf title to the classic EV Deep Throat set and the LA Forum 1975 2nd Night (No Label). The sound levels of the three title are EV the loudest, Graf Zeppelin is very close to the EV, and the No Label being most quiet. The EV still sounds excellent, it is certainly a very good mastering job, the highs are crisp and has a nice bottom end. The same rating can be made in the tape hiss department, EV’s volume has boosted the tape hiss a bit, the first disc is not bad but once you get into the second and third it’s more noticeable. The hiss on the No Label is very low compared to both EV and Graf but also has a much flatter sound. The tape splices on the EV and Graf are both excellent with Graf being just a hair smoother, the LA Forum 1975 2nd Night (No Label) is strictly the Millard source, the alternate recording was not used to fill the gaps.
I prefer the overall mastering of the Graf title to the EV, it has a more open feel, clarity, and wider frequency range. Certainly coming from the master cassette > DAT transfer is some of the reason, the rest is mastering. EV’s sound is more in your face while Graf goes for the more natural sound, a much less fatiguing listening experience. The OG Deep Throat is now almost 20 years old, it’s interesting to dig this set out and give it a listen as it holds up well. The packaging of the original EV box still looks great as well, the silver cover with that striking picture of Page during the Dazed bow solo is a favorite. I feel like I am married to the EV set, “till death do us part”.
A welcomed addition to the new title by Graf is the debut of the complete Source 2 recording. This is the alternate sourced that has been used to fill the gaps in the cuts of the Millard recording where applicable. The recording is a good to very good source, the vocals and guitar are prominent in the mix, the drums and bass being a bit lower and less discernible. The recording is not as clear as the Millard source but is consistent throughout. The taper was a bit farther back than Mike and this recording has a bit more audience and captures the atmosphere nicely. The taper must have only brought a 60 minute tape with him as the recording ends 6 minute into No Quarter, having only really heard the first couple of minutes of Rock and Roll, it is nice to finally hear the complete recording.
Led Zeppelin closes out the 1975 North American tour with three dates in March at the Forum in Inglewood, a suburb of Los Angeles. The band had been building serious momentum after the break in mid February and the tour peaks during the incredible Seattle and Vancouver dates just prior to the L.A gigs. While the peak may have been reached, the L.A gigs are excellent and very relaxed playing for their “home” crowd. The opening of Rock And Roll is stormier, Page is on from the start playing one of the better versions of the song from this tour. Sick Again continues the momentum, a song about groupies in the city most considered the epicenter of the ‘movement’, painted ladies in the city of lies (and lights, the glitter of Hollywood and the Western Sun). Millard’s recording is so vivid that after Over The Hills And Far Away Robert asks “So you remember that one yeah” and you hear Bonzo reply “I do..I do”.
Superb version of In My Time Of Dying, Bonzo and Jonsey are locked in, Jimmy’s slide work is impeccable and Robert’s rough around the edges 1975 vocals are perfect for the mournful piece. There is lots of chatter from Plant, obviously the band is loving being in SoCal, some being rather hedonistic, 1975 was a peak for his on stage banter. This is the last tour for the coupling of Song Remains The Same and Rain Song, while the former would make an excellent opener, the stand along versions of Rain Song always seem out of place. The version of Rain Song on this evening is really good, Plant sings with passion that’s heartfelt.
I much prefer the 1975 versions of Kashmir to latter versions, first off Page played it on a Les Paul which gave it a thicker heavier sound than the Danelectro. Secondly, they seem focused in 75, where latter years they seemed to get lost more often. I was watching some of the L.A 1975 video footage and there’s one that’s a side stage with Plant with his arms in a Goddess pose that looks quite striking, the Golden God. Back in the late 80’s early 90’s when I was a young Zep Head trying to buy bootlegs and grow my collection, these L.A. shows seemed so far off from me. I bought a book called Heaven and Hell by Charles Cross and there’s a part of the first chapter where he’s listening to No Quarter from this concert and getting complaints about the loud sound emanating from his hotel room. I used to read that and dream of what it sounded like. No Quarter has been a highlight of most every date on the tour, by this point the song is perfection. The opening portion is mysterious, the song opens up for a John Paul Jones showcase. Listening to his Piano work on this version is illuminating, at times it sounds as if he is channeling Jazz greats like Monk and Evans, other times he sounds as if he is p[laying a concerto in some elaborate Gothic theatre. Page enters playing an interesting rhythmic structure, he seems tentative and equipment problems hamper the beginning of his solo but once it’s cleared he soars, forced improvisation. The band really click making for an excellent and unique version of the song, when Jones goes back into the song proper the audience give them a nice ovation.
The momentum does not end and the band play a storming version of Trampled Under Foot, all four members are incredible and totally in sync with the music being played, Jimmy plays some of his best leads of the night, Bonzo’s fills are incredible, not over or underplayed but pushing Jimmy to new heights. This song wreaks of pure groove, Robert repeated “Keep a coolin”, there’s no cooling here, the stage is steaming by this point. Robert’s intro to the John Bonham tour de force is great, “Right now we bring you something, a show that should never be missed…the man who broke every window in ten, in room ten nineteen last night…the man who smashed wardrobes..the man who set fire to his own bed…the amazing man with only two cavities…Mr. Quaalude, John Bonham…Moby Dick”. The tympani portion of his solo is particularly good, it bobbles around like a bottle floating in the ocean, his phased gong at the end gives it a spaced out ending, the crowd react with applause as he begins to get back into the final flurry and to the end of the solo.
These late 1975 versions of Dazed And Confused are among my favorites, lots of noodling and improvisation made for very heavy trips, the version here clocks in just under 42 minutes. The band are not in a hurry, Jones lays the foundation while Page sets the course, Bonzo reacts, all three in unison. Page takes his time getting into the oriental riffs, when he does Plant answers with lines from Ben E King’s Spanish Harlem, “There is a rose in Spanish Harlem” and moves into Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock sung like a funeral dirge. Page is slow and deliberate during his bow solo and even after as he goes into the fast section, Bonzo seems to be looking for a cue then finally counts in for the fast section and off they go. Page is fluent and the section cooks along, the recording picks up some issues with Page’s equipment cutting in and out with some distortion present at times, not from the recording more like a loose connection. Not hampered they hammer through it and the piece is certainly an epic.
Stairway culminates the set and it’s a great version, Bonzo’s playing is pushing but not overpowering and Page delivers an excellent solo. Robert sings a passionate version although at times his voice is rough at the edges, something you don’t get away from during 1975. Whole Lotta Love is all too brief and segues into The Crunge with James Brown’s Lickin’ Stick lyrics sung over their English Funk, the Theremin section is long and never really goes anywhere. Black Dog brings a thankful end to it, sounds like Page is hampered by the equipment issue and looses his spot but quickly recovers, thankfully the song doesn’t loose its momentum. “People of The Forum thank you very much…we’ve had a good time…it is the summer of all our smiles, good night”.
The packaging is typical for Graf Zeppelin, the inserts feature actual pictures from the concert, something that always brings favor with me. The CD’s feature the front cover shot, a classic Page Plant pic shot from audience level during I assume Whole Lotta Love. There is a numbered sticker, mine being 047, all this is house in a fat boy jewel case.