Dallas Triumphant Return (Wendy Records WECD-113/114)
Memorial Auditorium, Dallas, TX – May 18th, 1973
Disc 1 (62:45): Introduction, Rock And Roll, Celebration Day, Black Dog, Over The Hills And Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song
Disc 2 (67:36): Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven. Bonus tracks: Denver Coliseum, Denver, CO – May 25th, 1973: Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown
The Led Zeppelin Dallas soundboard is among the many that first surfaced in the late eighties which Jimmy Page claims is the result of theft by an employee. The first releases of this tape can be found on vinyl on Fractured Ribs (Toasted Recordworks TRW 1969) and “Stairway To Heaven” from this tape can be found on Hiawatha Express (Stash 2304).
On compact disc it appears on Fractured Ribs / Heart Attack (Toasted/Condor 1996), Thunder Rock (Great Dane GDR CD 9004), Discover American(Tarantura T3CD-10) and Four For Texas (The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin Vol. 60) issued in 1997. The Wendy is very clear and full-bodied and is an improvement over the TDOLZ. The label also addressed some of the issues on other releases, so there is no sixteen second gap in “Dazed & Confused” as on the TDOLZ and the tape garbles in “Celebration Day” and “The Rain Song” have been smoothed over.
Led Zeppelin played four shows in Texas on this tour: May 16 at Sam Houston Arena in Houston, May 18 at Memorial Auditorium in Dallas, May 19 at Convention Center in Fort Worth, and May 22 at Hemisphere Arena in San Antonio. All but the last exist on tape and the other three have partial soundboard recordings.
Dallas runs from the introduction through “Stairway To Heaven” and like many of the other eighth tour soundboards is a bit flat and clinical sounding. And whereas Houston and Fort Worth are amazing performances, Dallas shows the band fighting some PA issues and Page delivers a sloppy performance rendering it substandard compared to the others. John Paul Jones also has fractured ribs, according to Plant, but he delivers a fine show.
Page slips up in the “Rock And Roll” solo and botches the one in “Celebration Day.” He tests a heavy riff in the second guitar solo which is incongruent to the joy of the piece and the results sound strange.
After “Black Dog” Plant says, “John Paul Jones has got two fractured ribs and he’s still managing to stand. I think that’s fantastic! That’s not really fun at all … we thought he’d got the clap.” The first Houses Of The Holy track “Over The Hills And Far Away” sounds much better. After the song Plant continues speaking about Jones, saying, “We’d like to say welcome back to Dallas. I don’t know where you’ve been for the last…how long’s it been? A year, that’s right. Last time we come here I was at the doctor’s. This time poor old John. And he ain’t in good shape either. If we pack up after about ten minutes I hope you understand. Well you must understand.”
After “Since I’ve Been Loving You” three more new songs are played including “No Quarter.” This had been added to the set specifically for this tour replacing “Dancing Days.” The version is Dallas is interesting because they attempt to play an almost exact duplicate of the studio track with no live elaboration. Thus Jones uses vibrato on the organ, Page and Bonham play the same breaks, and even Plant attempts to copy his vocal intonations throughout the piece.
All that is missing is the piano melody during the solo. Before “Dazed And Confused” Plant gushes: “That wasn’t Woody Herman, folks, it was John Paul ones…This is a song we made before we ever came to the United States of ahhhh America. It’s asong that we made a long time ago. In fact, it’s almost an oldies but goodies.” A twenty-nine minute rendition of the piece follows that is quite effective.
Wendy include the half hour Denver fragment as bonus tracks. This soundboard surfaced at the same time as the May 16th Houston soundboard fragment in the fall of 2001. Both were given almost simultaneous releases in time for Christmas.
The nicely packaged Going Down (Watch Tower WT 2001039/40) was first followed a week later by Two Nights In May (Celebration SOBO-021/22). The Celebration was remastered so loud that it had the annoying metallic swoosh completely ruining the tape. This was an unmitigated disaster which pretty much single handily sank a once promising label.
Compared to the Dallas board, Denver sounds a bit more lively with more audible audience interaction. All that exists is the “Heartbreaker” and “Whole Lotta Love” finale to the show. There is several minutes of audience cheering before the only encore “Communication Breakdown.”
Plant’s cryptic closing remark is “Thank you very much. And without oxygen we’re gonna go to bed. Goodnight.” Collectors hoped that more of this show would surface but nothing has come out in the past seven years. Overall this is a solid release by Wendy. Dallas isn’t the best show but it has its moments and the Denver is good but frustratingly incomplete. For Zeppelin collectors this is worth having.