Daze On The Green (Tarantura TCD-209, 210 A)
The latest mini box set from Tarantura documents the (in) famous concerts at the Alameda Coliseum in Oakland, California. These two Bay Area gigs would be the last the band would perform in North America and would be fraught with controversy and be a prelude to tragedy. These concerts were promoted by the famed Bill Graham and were presented as part of his “Day On The Green” series, the line up was interesting, Judas Priest on their first American tour and Rick Derringer were opening acts and the festivities started at 11 am, Led Zeppelin playing rare daytime concerts. There are a lot of photos from the two concerts, Robert Plant looks great, in fighting shape after the horrible car accident two years prior. Page looked skinny and almost like a vampire, his black stage attire so loose on him they pause to allow him to get a belt on as his trousers were falling.
These concerts are known for being not only Led Zeppelin’s last in the USA but also for the incident that happened after the first concert, the beating of one of Bill Graham’s security men at the hands of Bonham and Grant. This is a well documented incident that really shows how out of control a member of the band and their entourage were on this tour, certainly lacking clarity and thus better judgment. Both concerts were actually well played and shows the band rebounded a bit from the average Seattle gig and the rock bottom performance in Tempe and the band looked primed to finish the tour on a strong note, the tragedy that befell Robert and his family would ultimately finish the tour on a sad and premature note. Led Zeppelin would certainly never be the same. These are historically significant concerts in Led Zeppelin’s live career, the last concerts in a country that played a major role in making the band the powerhouse that they became when it seemed no one wanted to know in their homeland.
Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, CA, USA – July 23, 1977
Disc 1 (62:15) Introduction, The Song Remains The Same, The Rover Intro / Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Over The Hills And Far Away, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter
Disc 2 (62:00) Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Black Country Woman, Bron-YR-Aur Stomp, Trampled Under Foot, White Summer, Black Mountain Side, Kashmir
Disc 3 (45:07) Guitar Solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, Applause, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll, Applause, Black Dog, Outroduction
There are three known audio recordings from the first Day On The Green concert, the first is a very good clear yet slightly distant recording, this has been released only a couple times, It’s Been Great (Image Quality IQ-10/11/12) and the first 3 discs of A Quiet Before The Storm: The Day On The Green Taped Volume 1 (The Chronicles Of Led Zeppelin TCOLZ 042-046). The second source is also very good and perhaps a little closer to the stage yet has a bit of low end distortion, this recording is found on discs 4 and 5 of A Quiet Before The Storm; The Day On The Green Taped Volume 1 (The Chronicles Of Led Zeppelin TCOLZ 042-046). The third source is perhaps the best of the three, it is the closest to the action and has a really nice sound to it, a bit of overloading as well as more audience noise, this source has never had a stand alone release, all other releases of this concert have been multi source mixes to present as complete a document as possible, The Last Adieu (Empress Valley EVSD-1050/1051/1052), The Last Performance In The USA (Scorpio LZ-09034-01-03), and Alpha & Omega : Second To The Last (Magic Bus MB-04). For this new version by Tarantura it sounds like they use a mix of all these recordings with Sources 1 and 3 as a foundations and filled gaps with source 2 where needed.
The mastering on this new Tarantura title is excellent, the transition between sources is seamless and very well done, they have gently mastered the sources so the transitions in sound is not jarring and in my opinion, have presented the most enjoyable version of the concert to date. The crowd noise near the taper adds to the ambiance of the event, you feel you are in the crowd and in the words of one fan “This is gonna be great”. The recordings retain their original analog warmth and the gentle mastering just brings out more of the color so to speak, very easy on the ears and an easy listen. I much prefer the sound of this version of the title over TCOLZ and Magic Bus, Enigma has done a wonderful job mastering this concert.
Over the past few years I have been slowly expanding my collection of titles from 1977, initially I stuck to the Millard recordings and the various soundboards from the tour. This gave me a somewhat skewed opinion of the 1977 North American tour, but once I expanded my collection and started listening to more audience recordings I began to develop a new appreciation for the tour, for me it is best listened to on the audience sources. The first gig in Oakland is a very enjoyable concert, the band are in decent shape considering they were playing an afternoon concert in the daylight. Perhaps the worst moment of the concert is where Page flubs the beginning of the solo in Ten Years Gone, a major brain fart. Bonham is in good form and sounds as if he is literally pushing the band at times. The importance of John Paul Jones is also evident, his bass playing during Nobody’s Fault But Mine and the aforementioned Achilles Last Stand is thundering and helps hide the occasional guitar flubs throughout the performance. Page does get better as the concert goes, Over The Hills And Far Away is quite good and gets into a nice solo, No Quarter is really strangely mysterious and Achilles Last Stand is powerful.
Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, CA, USA – July 24, 1977
Disc 1 (60:18) Introduction, The Song Remains The Same, The Rover Intro / Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Over The Hills And Far Away, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter
Disc 2 (61:41) Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Mystery Train, Black Country Woman, Bron-YR-Aur Stomp, Trampled Under Foot, White Summer, Black Mountain Side, Kashmir
Disc 3 (37:46) Guitar Solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, Applause, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll, Outroduction
The second night in Oakland seems to get a bit more attention due to the better sonics of the recordings available. The first source is a very good quality audience recording, it was the source used for the vinyl title Alpha And Omega (Rock Solid Records 241 A-H) and the compact disc titles A Fighting Finish (Silver Rarities SIRA 122/123), Push! Push! (Image Quality IQ-26/27), and Seventh Heaven (Immigrant IM-006-7). The second source is also a very good audience recording and is similar to the first source, this was released first on vinyl as The Last Brawl (H&A Productions LD 1A-D) and on the compact disc title The Final Ever In The States (Missing Link ML-014/15). The third recording is very good but a notch below the first two, this has seen a more limited release appearing on one title, The Last Concert In America (Tarantura TCD-101/102). Source mixes using all three recordings to present the complete concert have been the norm, The Last Adieu (Empress Valley EVSD-1053/1054/1055), The Last Performance In The USA (Scorpio LZ-09034-04-06), and Alpha & Omega: A Fighting Finish (Magic Bus MB-04) all feature this amalgamation of sources.
Tarantura employs the same basic mix as both Scorpio and Magic Bus using source 1 as a foundation and filling the cuts with sources 2 and 3. I only have the Magic Bus version of this concert in my collection, in comparison this Tarantura title is a little bit louder, clearer, with a better frequency range. Like the first show the mastering is excellent with Enigma getting the best out of the tapes all while keeping the analog warmth. The increase of the volume brings out a bit more dynamics to these recordings, gives them a bit of power, the bottom end a quite nice punch, especially to the bass. Being that the concerts were in an open air stadium, the added boost makes for a better listening experience.
The second day (almost wrote night) in Oakland was like the first, a very good and powerful performance. The atmosphere is very tense at this concert due to the incident the previous day involving Peter Grant, John Bonham, and one of Bill Graham’s security men. The sound of the first two sources are very close to the excellent range and make for a really enjoyable listening experience. Jimmy’s playing is more consistent in this concert yet one still gets the feeling of let’s get through this and get out of here, especially the encores. The whole first half of this concert is extremely strong with Page hitting great solos on both Over The Hills and Since I’ve Been Loving You. Like they have done on a few occasions on this tour, the band plays a short but killer version of Mystery Train just before Black Country Woman, the early Elvis classic from his Sun Records days. Kashmir is great in the recording, Bonham’s use of tympani and his thunderous playing make for a powerful version, it seems like the band occasionally struggled with this song in 77, not on this day.
The packaging is the same as the other recent Zeppelin boxes. An outer box that houses two gatefold sleeves that in turn house the CDs themselves. Each Gatefold sleeve is adorned with pictures from the individual concerts and the outer box features two different artwork designs, I have version A with the cover featuring a distant stage shot of the second day, the back cover literally being Jimmy’s back from the first day. Each of the six CDs themselves have their own picture on them, Tarantura seems to like to use less used pictures giving their releases a unique look. Of course the box and gatefold sleeves each have their own OBIs and each box is limited to 77 numbered copies, mine being 72. I actually just looked at the T website and it says there are copies of this title left, this title is certainly worth seeking out.