Detroit Rock City 1973 Volume 2 (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-713A/B/C/D)
Cobo Hall, Detroit, MI, USA – July 13, 1973
Disc 1 (66:11) 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 (47:38) MC, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven
Disc 3 (58:22) MC, Moby Dick, Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love, Dancing Days
Disc 4 (57:57) MC, Moby Dick, Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love, Dancing Days
There were a few, new to circulation, alternate sources for Led Zeppelin concerts that appeared in 2020, Detroit, MI 7/12/1973, Glasgow, Scotland 12/4/1972, Louisville, KY. 4/25/1977 and the most exciting of them all, a near complete audience source for the second night in Detroit 7/13/1973. Most Zeppelin collectors know of the soundboard fragment from the latter part of the concert as it contains the only known version of Dancing Days from the 1973 North American tour.
This new source is an audience source that is near complete save for a few gaps due to tape flips and according to the original torrent was recorded by a fellow named Jon Anthony. The transfer was not done from the master tapes as they do not exist anymore, so this version comes from probably a second generation source. The quality of this recording is in the very good range, it is a bit distant and picks up just a bit of the echo of the hall. It is clear enough that all of the instruments and vocals are clear in the mix, Plant’s vocals are more prominent than the instruments yet once the recording settles down all are easily discernible. There is also a small amount of tape hiss present but certainly does not interfere with ones listening enjoyment and certainly should be expected of a recording, and tape generation, of this age.
The Graf Zeppelin label has applied a small amount of mastering to the recording that makes it clearer and increased the frequency range a bit making for a smoother overall recording and listening experience. They have also cleaned up the tape cuts in No Quarter, Dazed And Confused, and Moby Dick as well, again using the typically excellent methods the label is known for. As a bonus, the label gives us the soundboard source on the fourth disc and uses the audience recording to finish Dancing Days. Of course the soundboard fragment has been released many times before, Song Of Detroit (Celebration CDM-005LTD), Monsters Of Rock (Tarantura T3CD-9,1~3), Fly Over Nuremberg (The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin TDOLZ 719801), V 1/2+ (Last Stand Disc LSD-37/38/39), Detroit Hard Rock City (Wendy Records WECD-180/181/182), and Detroit Rock City 1973 (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-010A/B/C) all feature the 55 minute recording. There are a couple other versions of this tape out there, both by Empress Valley, Friday The 13th (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD 1401/1402/1403/1404) and its reissue Motor City Daze (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD 1401/1402/1403/1404), I would implore you to look at the excellent Bootledz site for his evaluation of all three of these titles, I never considered the EV and went straight for the Graf.
This recording follows the pattern of the other 1973 concert, the opening of Rock And Roll into Celebration Day into Black Dog shows the band getting into the concert early on, the second night in the Motor City finds the band in a relaxed mood and the music flows nicely. “Good evening…well the way we are feeling I think we better welcome you to Detroit…last night we did the same gig here and it was and it was truly fine”, confirmation by Plant himself on the excellent first night in Detroit. He does try and set ground rules for this evening, “Listen I tell you what, before we start let’s have a little pact. We’ll play our balls off, you stop throwing those fire crackers and torches alright?”. Getting the response he wants the band go into “A track off Houses Of The Holy…it bares reference to…well to existence”, or as we know it Over The Hills And Far Away. It should be noted that due to the distance of the recording, I did not detect any loud explosions during the opening numbers but it was mid July in Detroit so shenanigans were certainly abound.
It seems like the Detroit crowd was arriving fashionably late as described during Robert’s introduction to Misty Mountain Hop, Robert turns in a fine vocal performance during Since I’ve Been Loving You, Page is still playing well but not pushing it although the heat is rising. Things begin to warm with an excellent No Quarter, Page turns in a perfect solo that seems to weave through the dry ice fog of Cobo Arena and rises to the sound surface just before the cut at the 7:05 mark, not much is lost and the sound improves slightly perhaps due to mic repositioning. There is some really nice interplay between Page, Bonham, and Jones and the solo after the tape flip is very exploratory with the musicians in sync with each other…fantastic! Plant pays homage to the Grande Ballroom and dedicates The Song Remains The Same to the hallowed Detroit concern venue immortalized on the MC5’s Kick Out The Jams record. Divine inspiration? Perhaps as the band begins to kick into high gear playing stellar versions of TSRTS and The Rain Song, a fact that is acknowledged by the audience who gives the pieces a fine ovation.
“Meanwhile back in the jungle…” is the lead into Dazed And Confused, Jonsey’s first bass notes elicit a loud ovation from the audience and we prepare for an excellent and exploratory version of the song. Plant’s vocals during San Francisco and prior to the bow solo are wonderful, Bonzo is right there and punctuates Page’s movements to perfection while, at times, directing the flow. Page gets into some interesting rhythm patterns prior and during the tape cut at the 21:58 mark that evolves into the breaks and response section. Jimmy’s playing is very fluent during the songs entire 33 minute length, this version rivals the best of the tour. As usual Stairway To Heaven garners a massive response from the crowd, by this point the song is excellent on every night and is a celebration of the Holy.
Moby Dick clocks in at close to a half hour, the crowd seems a little bored about 10 minutes in and several loud explosions are heard, leftovers from the 4th of July no doubt. While the audience tire easily, Bonzo keeps up a great pace and his solo is actually very entertaining, an overture of pounding rhythms at their finest. His solo gives time for some quiet commentary that provide the location of the taper being in the upper seating deck as a woman comments she “can’t walk” and further comments of the steep stairs. The cut at the 22:22 mark is not noticeable and had I not known it was there would not have caught it, hidden in the hand tympani portion. “John Bonham…The only drummer left in Rock”, our dear John only takes a minute break then leads the group into a fat version of Heartbreaker. Five minutes in Jimmy breaks into a bit of Bring It On Home much to the delight of the audience, he then leads back into Heartbreaker and rips into a fantastic solo.
Even in its condensed North American arrangement, Whole Lotta Love still delivers, during the Boogie Chillun section Robert gets into some Elvis inspired vocals much to my delight (I am a big fan of The King), and Jimmy’s soloing is incredibly fluent and delightful. The band return to play “One more….a track from Houses of the Holy. It’s about the sort of the fetish for fifteen, sixteen year old chicks who seem to wait at bus stops after they come out of high school…it’s called Dancing Days”, Robert’s intro is met with many cheers of approval. Finally we get the only complete version of the track from the North American tour, the recording quality is at its peak as well so this is extremely enjoyable to have this version in this quality, and also a great way to end an excellent two day stop in Detroit.
The fourth and final disc is the soundboard portion of the concert. Compared to the other Graf Zeppelin version on Detroit Rock City 1973 (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-010A/B/C) it is much improved and sounds very much like the Detroit 1973 No Label title, a bit louder with excellent clarity and a great punch to it. This 55 minute fragment is certainly the best soundboard recording from the tour and while sadly incomplete, Graf has filled the cut in Dancing Days with the audience recording. I must give a big shout out to those who still actively seek these recordings out and share them with the masses, we have been blessed with not only this recording but the Cobo 1972 concert, the alternate recording and 8mm footage from the first night in 1973 as well as the recently surfaced 1/31/1975 8mm film, all of which display the affection shared between the city of Detroit and Led Zeppelin…Eye Thank Yew.
The packaging is typical Graf Zeppelin, beautifully adorned with what I am assuming are live shots from the gig, Page in his white suit with black shirt, Plant in jeans and mid drift blouse. The interior trays feature some really nice shots including one shot from the rear showing the close proximity of the band to the audience and a scan of a ticket stub is there too, and let’s not forget the great live shot of Plant on the discs and a numbered sticker is included as well. Again, an excellent title by Graf Zeppelin, honoring the original tape and concert by providing a complete overview of the concert. There are some really nice new sources that continue to surface, so far a third audience source for NYC 6/7/1977 has surfaced as well as previously unknown audio recording from 7/5/1969 Atlanta Pop festival and the aforementioned six minute 8mm source from Detroit 1/31/1975 perfectly synced with audio for our viewing pleasure. 2021 is beginning to be a great year for Zeppelin fans!