Greensboro 1975 (No Label)
Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC, USA – January 29, 1975
Disc 1 (66:28) Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, In My Time Of Dying, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir, No Quarter
Disc 2 (63:17) MC, Trampled Under Foot, Moby Dick, How Many More Times, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, Communication Breakdown
The much maligned Greensboro 1975 recording gets a new title. It’s been twenty plus years since The Diagrams of Led Zeppelin released A Quick Get Away, a title I’ve had in my collection for years and while I very much like all things 1975, it’s a recording I’ve never spent much time on. There is only the one recording from Greensboro, an audience source of acceptable quality nowhere near the worse recordings from the tour, in fact it’s very listenable. Its history in the world of bootlegs is short, Kashmir Wizard’s (Swan 5241A-D) and its clone Greensboro 1975 (Swan 5241A-D) is its vinyl contribution with A Quick Getaway (The Diagrams of Led Zeppelin TDOLZ-068) and Footstomping Graffiti (No Label) being the compact disc titles, by most accounts the latter being the better of the two.
The recording itself falls into the very good range, there are some sound fluctuations as the person taping seems to move around a bit and at times there is some chatting that is rather loud but overall a nice document of the performance. The vocals and instruments can be heard clearly which is a plus and there is a decent range of dynamics that gives the music a bit of a punch. If anything the upper frequencies are high and can be a bit grating at times and at times there is also a low frequency hum. The taper was a bit distant but well positioned and captures the ambiance of the venue and the atmosphere of the performance, the Rock fans of North Carolina are excited to see the band.
When I compare this new title to the TDOLZ I can see where many get their opinion that this was a poor performance. The tape speed of the TDOLZ runs slow, this lends to an almost lethargic nature which lends itself to the concert getting slagged. This new title from the No Label folks is a massive upgrade in sound and quality, the tape speed is correct on this title as well. I do not own Footstomping Graffiti so cannot compare in sound, but can say if you are basing the opinion of this concert on the TDOLZ title, you are in for a treat with this upgraded version.
The band hit the stage to a huge ovation and the opening salvo of Rock And Roll and Sick Again is good, Plant’s voice is rough sounding and he does a more narration vocal versus actual singing, we’ve heard this in previous shows and the early 1973 UK shows had some rough vocal spots. Over The Hills And Far Away is quite nice, Jimmy’s solo is competent, certainly not blazing but fluid enough. What really helps this performance, and this upgraded sound, is Bonzo is very well captured and is definitely on. He and John Paul Jones really form this foundation that does not allow things to get out of hand. Robert admonishes the fireworks and introduces In My Time Of Dying as “something you may never heard before” and the audience patiently waits for Jimmy. Robert’s voice problems are evident and painful and Jimmy’s playing is competent but not exciting, seems happy to just play in a rhythmic fashion, for never hearing it before the audience response is really good.
The Song Remains The Same is very good, Jimmy is hitting the note! His leads are very fluent and the instrumental Zep is storming, Robert seems to hold back and for good reason. While his voice is rough he sings with much passion during The Rain Song, it’s Jimmy that plays a bit sloppy missing the big bombastic moment near the end which lets the wind from the sails a bit. The taper’s buddy tells him “I want a copy of that tape…did you hear me?”, the audience seems to be enjoying themselves. Kashmir lacks the power of other versions from this tour, Jimmy seems out of tune and out of touch. Robert gives a shout out to Jonsey and for good reason, it leads the piece and manages to hide Jimmy’s flubs.
The crowd give the beginning of No Quarter a nice ovation, certainly the low lighting and fog enveloping the stage was a visual highlight. The audience seem a bit impatient when Jonsey starts his solo then soon settle down, Jimmy takes a minute to get warmed up and seems to lack inspiration playing a solo that is fluent but lacks cohesion, ultimately never goes anywhere, a journey that never began. Robert gives an apologetic introduction to the next song, “We haven’t been on the road for about eighteen months and this is what you might call the beginning of a tour. Lot’s of things happened you know, to vibe up to being on the road and everything. But one of the most unfortunate things so far has been Jimmy breaking a bone in the end of his finger, and he managed to bring his finger along all the way from England even though at the moment, it ain’t really doing too much, and I think Jimmy’s finger is cool. Anyway with it or without it, this is another track from Physical Graffiti…It’s ah, about a certain style of loving It’s called Trampled Underfoot”. Typical for most of these early January shows, Trampled lights a fire underneath the band and breaks the slumber they have been in.
Bonzo’s Moby Dick gives Robert and Jimmy a needed break, Mr Ultraviolence is ready and up for the task, he plays an energetic solo and despite the cut in the middle, the crowd seems to love every minute, cheering him on as he pummels his drum set. The tympani section is thunderous and appreciated by the crowd, Bonzo is definitely on! How Many More Times was the early addition to the set so Page could do his bow solo. As a whole the 1975 versions of the song are a missed opportunity as none of the handful of performances of the song deliver that primer furry of the 1968-1970 version. This is not bad, Jimmy kind of wanders around a bit never committing until he pulls his bow to massive applause. The bow solo is well done and enjoyable, albeit short, it does have that “unearthly” vibe to it. The transition from the bow solo into Rosie>The Hunter just kills the whole vibe and momentum, perhaps with more rehearsal time this could have been a showstopper.
Stairway To Heaven culminates the concert, dedicated to everything that’s “Positive and pure”, the rest during the drum solo seems to have given the band the energy they need to finish. Stairway is good, Page does a decent solo and the band deliver in a big way with the Whole Lotta Love into Black Dog encore, Page keeps his fingers from getting caught and really nails the swagger of the latter very well. The audience is delirious and very loud. The rust has been shaken and the band finish strong with a punk version of Communication Breakdown that has the crowd roaring with joy. An uneven yet enjoyable concert.
This is the concert that features some unruly fans attempting to get to the rear of the venue after the performance. Legendary Zeppelin manager takes the lead, driving one of the limousines with the band and their entourage in a high speed caravan with a police escort through the highways of Greensboro to their waiting airplane. Journalist Chris Charlesworth who was traveling with the band reported “It was incredible to be involved with scenes like that…Peter was just unflappable. When he got to the plane he got out and kicked the car really hard. ‘Fucking useless pile of junk’ he shouted. ‘Way off time…my old Bentley goes twice as fast!’. We all just stood there laughing…totally exhilarated by it all. Then we flew back to New York and the band checked into The Plaza. It was a very tiring day. Unforgettable”. A Quick Getaway.
The packaging features live shots from 1975 and is pretty standard fare. The sticker and cd’s share a red hue and all this fun is housed in a slim lined jewel case. Greensboro 1975 is a huge upgrade to the old TDOLZ title and for those who are looking for an upgrade in both sound and opinion should consider this title. I was very pleased with this title and found my ears not overly critical of this performance, if this is the worst of 1975, one could surmise it was a very strong tour.