Detroit 1972 (No Label)
Cobo Hall, Detroit, Michigan, USA – June 6, 1972
(76:55) Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, Dazed And Confused, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll
When the recording from Cobo Arena surfaced a few months back it was released by KRW_CO in two versions, EQ’d and not EQ’d with both versions being speed corrected as they felt the original tape ran 5% too slow. The reason for the two versions was the preference of the taper that his recording be improved upon prior to sharing. The taper, “Tommy G” recorded Led Zeppelin’s first concert of the American tour on a Concord tape recorder with an unknown external mic. He did not full engage both the play and record button so missed the first half of the concert.
Empress Valley through their hat into the Cobo ring with The Red FK Tee (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD-1131/1132) featuring an EQ’d version and original master version, the former featured their remaster of the tape. The No Label aka Lighthouse folks also released a version, aptly titled Detroit 1972. The No Label has done a fantastic job on this recording, first off they slightly increased the speed another 2%, they also managed to remove some of the hiss and add some top end to better balance with the low and distorted frequencies. They also fixed many of the small drop outs that ran through the recording, this restoration work significantly improved the recording as if a layer of tarnish was removed, bringing out better clarity and making for an easier listening experience. They wisely did not boost the volume as EV did, it made the job of managing the tape hiss easier, this version still has tape hiss, it is just less. I really like the work done on this tape, better, yet still natural sounding and to my amateur ears, this is the best sounding version.
Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp is the first song, Plant introduces it as being about a blue eyed dog and features some John Bonham harmony vocals, Page gets into the riff to Dancing Days at the 4:08 mark although it’s quite subtle. Plant references the Grande Ballroom and the band embark on a superb version of Dazed And Confused, the band clearly still have the momentum gained from the two European warm up shows. The Rhythm section is tight and Page is on form, their playing is not overly fast yet every note seems to fit correctly in its spot, a typically glorious 1972 rendition. The band break into some funky territory at the 15:50 mark where Bonham gets into some Crunge like drumming that leads Plant into the Bobby Bland classic Turn On Your Love Light. There is a brief fade at the 22:17 mark with an unknown amount missing, but based upon what Page is playing, it sounds like very little was lost. I was a bit surprised that the No Label people didn’t clean up this fade a bit as it is long enough with a second of no sound whatsoever and certainly could have used some attention.
“This is a song of love” is Robert’s introduction to What Is And What Should Never Be, the song is widely considered to be about his somewhat romantic triangle with his first wife and her sister. Moby Dick is a little over 15 minutes long and quite entertaining, John seems particularly animated on this opening night and turns in a monster solo, the audience are suitably impressed and cheer him on. Whole Lotta Love features a medley similar to the European dates and the first few American dates, John Lee Hooker’s Boogie Chillun’, a bit of Ricky Nelson’s Hello Mary Lou, Johnny Preston’s country classic Running Bear (written by the Big Bopper), and the typical mix of Shape I’m In and Going Down Slow with improvised lyrics of Millionaire Blues. Between the song snippets, the rhythm section lays the foundation and Page solos at will over the top, sometimes leaving space between the notes, other times a sheer flurry of leads ebb from his Les Paul. Rock And Roll is the sole encore and is high energy, the band and audience are digging it in the same way, party time in Detroit!
The packaging is typical for No Label, professional looking inserts with live shots of the band from the actual concert. Interesting to see the band dressed casually and even though they were in a large arena, seem to stay close to each other on-stage. Also interesting to see fans leaning their arms on the stage, nowadays you cannot even get close. My copy also came with a numbered sticker and a picture on the CD, standard fare for the No Label.
Appreciate your quality insights. Just gave this a first listen, and agree with you on No Label’s handling of the recording and Zep’s performance. Their ’72 shows, at least through the American tour, are powerful and slightly mysterious–like a carry-over of their ’71 vibes and energy. The second half of ’72 feels much different (and less spectacular) to me. Great to see a show like this come to light all of a sudden.