Led Zeppelin – Hollywood Sportatorium 1971 (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-901A/B)

Hollywood Sportatorium 1971 (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-901A/B) 

Hollywood Sportatorium, Pembroke Pines, Florida, USA – September 1, 1971 

Remaster # 1
Disc 1 (78:09) Introduction, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Black Dog, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, That’s The Way, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, Organ Solo, Thank You 

Remaster # 2
Disc 1 (78:09) Introduction, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Black Dog, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, That’s The Way, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, Organ Solo, Thank You 

The Dogs Of Doom Liberation Series Vol. 18 features a previously unknown recording from Pembroke Pines, Florida during the superb 1971 North American tour. The recording is an incomplete audience recording made by Michael V with unknown equipment that falls into the fair to good range. The instruments are clear in the mix yet the sound is somewhat muffled and as one would expect distorted with the overall frequency range being a bit flat. This is a very easy listen with the atmosphere inside the certainly hot and sweaty venue perfectly captured. Like most new Zeppelin recordings to surface there are a few titles pining for your hard earned money, Florida Magik Vol. 2 (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD-ALIAS-031), Hollywood 1971 (No Label), and Live At The Hollywood Sportatorium 1971 (Wisteria Records WISCD 2021-011). This new title from Graf Zeppelin is a two disc set, disc one is remaster # 1 and sounds like the original recording as it was released, the second disc is remaster # 2 where Graf has applied gentle mastering to clear the sound up and give it a more defined clarity, to my ears the second remaster makes the experience much more enjoyable. This is the only version of this tape I have. 

The tape begins just prior to the opening number, the crowd are clapping and waiting for the band to start and give them a huge ovation when they take the stage. Robert gives a “Good Evening” followed by Bonzo and Jimmy checking their instruments, Bonzo is ready and kicks in the drum opening with no count in, the others must have just looked at him as he quickly restarts with the proper count in and Immigrant Song roars the venue to life. Jimmy plays a nice solo, it’s a bit longer as he seems to be trying to go somewhere but not exactly sure, perhaps he is slightly distracted. Heartbreaker has a real fat sound to it, Bonzo’s drums are clear enough in the recording, you can even hear his cymbals to great effect. Jimmy’s efforts during Bouree is much improved, once they break into the song proper he plays an excellent solo, the Jones Bonham rhythm section is simply incredible, Jones’ bass is also discernible and provides a thumping beat which Bonzo flourishes upon. 

Robert references the previous evening in Orlando and it being a really good show (we know this to be true) and introduces “a track off the third album this is Since I’ve Been Loving You”. Robert’s vocal rendition of the song is magnificent, he alternates between his soaring high while almost talking the slower parts, perhaps he is adjusting to the heat and smokey atmosphere inside the venue. This almost relaxed vocal delivery seems to also affect Jimmy, he plays a slow yet methodical solo, high drama at its best. Amid some tuning Robert introduces Black Dog as “A track off the album we have coming out in three weeks time”, the Out On The Tiles intro is very heavy, as is Black Dog. The band nails the swagger of the official version easily, Robert hits the highs with ease. 

Plant gives a nice shout out to Pirate’s World, an amusement park that also had an outside amphitheater where the band played two concerts in the summer of 1969, just prior to Dazed And Confused. The nearly 22 minute version is excellent, deep and mysterious although there are serious drop outs of sound that make it hard to hear and ultimately make the overall listen difficult to fully enjoy. Page gets into a little bit of Bouree during his bow solo just prior to the ominous section with Plant’s echo laden accompaniment. The Mars ending suffers from the drop out sound issue which gives it a phased effect, this continues into the fast portion and all that follows it, very disjointed. During the call and response section Bonzo plays the funky rhythm he would later use on The Crunge. 

Plant asks the crowd to quiet down a bit so they can hear themselves. The Southern Florida audience do quiet down a bit, although quiet conversations are heard. Sadly, Stairway To Heaven suffers from the same tape affliction as Dazed And Confused, be prepared as it is difficult to enjoy. While the quality of the recording is difficult, one gets the feeling that Robert’s vocal rendition is perfect, he gives an excellent rendition of the piece which makes the tape quality issue even more sad. If not for the constant drop outs, this would be one of the best and most enjoyable parts of the performance. The very end of Stairway is cut and the recording cuts back in during the latter half of That’s The Way, what was most certainly a tape flip rectifies the drop out issue and the song is all that remains of the acoustic section, the sound quality is really nice for this enjoyable fragment. 

“Right we’ve gonna to tell you something…when a bands been together for over three years, you cannot and will not and do not and shall never play the same thing time and time and time and time again otherwise you don’t become an artist anymore you become as repetitious as a song band, you understand that? It’s unfortunate that some people can’t see that some people need to stretch their wings and try different things. And we been told that ever since we got to America two weeks ago that we’re gonna break up…that’s rubbish, absolute total rubbish. For those people who came here just to check that out and just wanted to hear rock I’m sorry we’re gonna be coming back in about 6 months” is Robert venting about some negative press about the band, there are a few reviews for prior shows that confirm some are not impressed. Robert’s speech goes directly into the last complete song of this recording, What Is And What Should Never Be, a not perfect rendition. 

Robert’s introduction to Moby Dick and the last 30 seconds of the song is all that’s here. Whole Lotta Love is also sadly very incomplete, all we really get is Robert getting the audience to clap along, Jimmy working a riff for a minute until kicking into the song proper. The fragment lasts up to the theremin filled section, another cut gives a couple sections of You Shook Me. About 2 minutes of John Paul Jones organ solo follows, and a little over 2 minutes of Thank You finishes the recording. Certainly one of the most interesting aspects of this audience recording it that it confirmed that the organ solo and Thank You portion of the Orlando August 31, 1971 soundboard is actually from this Pembroke Pines performance. This information had Zeppelin fans salivating with the thought that perhaps there is a more complete sound board recording of this concert as well. The Live At The Hollywood Sportatorium 1971 (Wisteria Records WISCD 2021-011) title uses the soundboard recording to fill in the holes of this audience recording. 

The packaging is standard inserts with both live and posed photos from the tour and era on them, Graf has used the front cover art from the original torrent for the interior of this release, sadly they did not use a picture of the master tapes which was also included. The cover art is used for the CD as well, this version does not include a sticker but is an individually numbered edition, this is found on the back cover, mine is 041. Again all thanks go to The Dogs Of Doom, their efforts in seeking out and saving recordings from being lost to time has been universally praised. 

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