Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – October 3rd, 1973
Disc 1 (53:03): Introduction, Rock And Roll, Black Dog, Over The Hills And Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dancing Days, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song
Disc 2 (72:51): Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Immigrant Song, The Ocean, ending mc
There are six unique tape sources for Led Zeppelin’s second Tokyo show in 1972. Keeping track of which tape source on which release is confusing compounded by the fact that most of the tapes are incomplete and are supplimented by use of the other tapes for completeness. To make matters even worse nobody is sure how to refer to each of the tapes. Different websites use their own numbering system and translating between the different systems adds another level of confusion.
When Flagge released Explosion in 1999 it represented the silver pressed debut for this particular source and the tapes utilized for the TDOLZ Live At the Big Hall Budokan Oct 3 1972 and Amsterdam’s Live In Tokyo releases to fill in gaps in the beginning, after “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp,” two little gaps in “Dazed And Confused,” and gaps before “Immigrant Song” and “The Ocean.” It is a good to very good mono audience recording with little audience interference and slight amounts of distortion present in louder passages. “The Ocean” has some speed problems.
What immediately strikes the listener when encountering this performance is experiencing Led Zeppelin growing into their new aesthetic in making the transition from heavy blues based hard rock band into one that is more thoughtful, progressive and deliberate. Plant’s voice is still very high and wild on this night (the following night he’ll be more contained) and Page in particular is figuring out how to proceed.
The tape begins with the promoter speaking in Japanese as they come onstage and play “Rock And Roll.” “Black Dog” follows, having been moved up from the third position to second from the night before. “Arigato” Robert Plant addresses the audience. “And that’s all I know in Japanese. This is a song off fifth LP. It’s called ‘Over the Hills and Far Away.'” The dynamics of the tape work beautifully to highlight the light and shade of this piece. The opening sounding very delicate compared to the combustible middle section.
“Thank you. Here’s one, I might say it is very good to be back in Tokyo. It’s very important I say that cause when group come to Tokyo, group have much fun. So, it’s good to be back. It’s not you who should be clapping. We should clap you. This is one from last year. It’s called ‘Misty Mountain Hop.'” The transition from this to the dramatic “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” an arrangement introduced in the previous night’s show, is one of the strangest and most effective ideas and would last through their ninth US tour the following summer.
The acoustic set was reduced to only one song. Plant speaks about “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp,” saying, “Some old, some new. This is an old one which requires honorable Led Zeppelin to sit down cause we’re getting old. I can hear, for those people who don’t have a good sized understanding of the Welsh language, this is a song about a dog with blue eyes….What we need is a few more personnel. I could tell you a joke. This is quite an experiment for us really cause it features the rather sheltered transvestite vocal chords of John Bonham. Spotlight on Mr. Bonham. This was written in the seclusion of the Welsh mountains, or hills, in a house on the side of a mountain, dog barking.” The audience start clapping in rhythm and Plant continues, saying, “Just one moment gentlemen, and honorable ladies, and geishas, and old irons, and hookers, and everything else. It’s alright, there’s no need for that vibe.”
“The Song Remains The Same” is called “Zep” in this performance. Page plays a couple of very strange heavy metal riffs in the middle of “The Rain Song.” Plant starts off “Whole Lotta Love” by quoting Carl Perkins, “Well, it’s one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready now go cat go.” After the theremin solo they play “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” for the first time with lyrics.
The Solomon Burke song would remain in the “Whole Lotta Love” medley through the European tour the following year. It is played to one of Page’s catchiest riffs which any other band would kill for and build a career out of, but for Zeppelin it was essentially a throwaway. This became so famous that Phil Collins gushed about it more than a decade later when Genesis included the song in their “Turn It On, Again” medley.
During “Boogie Chillun'” Plant gushes “it sure is mucho grande!” The rest of the medley is quite standard with “Let’s Have A Party” and “You Shook Me” played to frenzied proportions. The first encore is “Immigrant Song” followed by the third known performance of “The Ocean.” The tape switch several times as the promoter Udo comes out to thank Led Zeppelin for playing.
Explosion is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with a 1972 photo of Plant on the front and a photo of Page and Plant on the back. Superimposed on the front cover is Dave Lewis’ review of the show for The Concert File. Flagge didn’t number their releases and did not use a cataloguing system, but this was one of their early releases that came out and didn’t cause much interest except for the hardcore collectors. It is a good sounding tape of another interesting, transitional show by Zeppelin and is worth seeking out.