Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY, USA – June 8, 1977
Disc 1 (68:32) Introduction, The Song Remains The Same, The Rover, Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, In My Time Of Dying, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter
Disc 2 (50:44) MC, Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Black Country Woman, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, White Summer / BlackMountain Side, Kashmir
Disc 3 (69:41) MC, Out On The Tiles – Moby Dick, Guitar Solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll
Disc 4 (68:38) Introduction, The Song Remains The Same, The Rover, Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, In My Time Of Dying, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter
Disc 5 (50:44) MC, Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Black Country Woman, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, White Summer / BlackMountain Side, Kashmir
Disc 6 (69:44) MC, Out On The Tiles – Moby Dick, Guitar Solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll
The Dogs of Doom have been seeking out and releasing previously unknown recordings from Led Zeppelin for well over a year and a half now, some may be interested in knowing that they are also active in getting new transfer done of recordings that are not widely circulated. They have several releases referred to as “Glyn’s Tape Transfers”, among them is the third source for the second night at Madison Square Gardens June 8, 1977. Taken from the collection of Bill B this new widely circulated recording comes from an unknown generation tape and is superior to the previous two recordings in terms of sound quality.
The Madison Square Garden concerts from the summer of 1977 do not get the hype that the Los Angeles gigs do, most certainly due to the average recording quality from the run being average or below. Performance wise the MSG run was excellent, the band turned in powerful performances for a wild and adoring audience and overall was a consistently well played six night stand in one of their “Houses of the Holy”. I have been spending time over the past few years filling gaps and listening to the 1977 concerts on a regular basis and have really enjoyed the MSG run, this concert has cemented the case of it being well played. For years there was only a singular release of this performance, Second Night At The Garden (The Diagrams of Led Zeppelin TDOLZ-021) which was taken from Source 1. Although I do not have the older TDOLZ title, Source 1 makes up discs 4-6 of this new title and the sound quality is a distant good sounding tape that is clear and detailed but lacks dynamics and can be a rather dull listen.
The sound on Source 3 is easily very good, it is just slightly distant and has better overall balance between instruments and vocals. It is very clear and detailed so everything can be easily heard, and enjoyed. So musically the sound is a very nice improvement, similar to the second source for the Cleveland 4/28/77, yet where this recording gets the nod is in the way it captures the atmosphere inside The Garden 45 years ago. The crowd is so well recorded, funny thing to say, but it adds so much to the listening experience and sheer enjoyment of this performance that is missed on Source 1. There is not a lot of really close chatter, just a recording done in the perfect spot, the music being played and the excitement from the audience are spot on perfect. There may be better recordings from this tour but this one is up there for sheer enjoyment.
For this title Graf Zeppelin have given us the new Source 3 on the first three discs and Source 1 on discs 4-6, and while I cannot comment on the TDOLZ title, the Bootledz site states that this title features “more complete and clearer sound than TDOLZ”. Good enough for me, and while it’s nice to have source 1 on CD, it is the new Source 3 that is the star on this set. Source 3 is nearly musically complete, there is a cut during No Quarter from 18:45 to 19:50 mark that is filled with Source 1. There are also non musical cuts after Kashmir and Stairway To Heaven, again filled with Source 1 making for a complete performance. The patches are seamless, although you will know during No Quarter as there is a bit of difference between the two recordings. For discs 4-6, Source 1, Graf Zeppelin has patched two cuts, one in Since I’ve Been Loving You and one in Stariway To Heaven with source 3. There is one other release of this new Source 3, Behind The Stacks (Wendy WECD-381/382/383) features a similar mix to Graf except they elected to use Source 1 for the intro where Graf used the superior Source 2 introduction.
It’s interesting listening to Zep audience recordings, if there is a singular city that brings it every time it has to be New York City. Dating back to the MSG 1970 shows up to these last dates the audiences are at 11. Crazy cheering, bombastic clapping and stomping and their never ending love of fireworks, the recordings are filled with a certain ambiance that stands out. As the lights go down and the cheering is already loud, the band take the stage and begin a quick instrument check amid several rounds of fireworks that bring even louder ovations from the audience and then the band begins. I think of watching The Song Remains The Same and the rear shots that show the audience and try and think what the band must think. As Robert sings “I had a dream…” the crowd cheer in euphoria, second night in New York and the band sound prepped and ready. Sick Again is riffcentric and features Bonzo beginning to warm up with several nice fills, Nobody’s Fault But Mine continues the strong start, Jimmy’s playing and timing is spot on and Bonzo again punctuates the start stop sections perfectly.
Plant toasts Queen Elizabeth and introduces In My Time Of Dying as being from “American Blues culture” and Since I’ve Been Loving You as “English Blues”, both are extremely effective in displaying the diversity of their music. The up tempo slide workouts of In My Time Of Dying are in complete contrast to the slow deliberate leanings of Since I’ve Been Loving You, Jimmy’s playing on both is excellent yet the latter lacks intensity. No Quarter receives a massive ovation, certainly the blue lighting and dry ice fog floating across the stage while John Paul Jones plays the haunting opening has the audience entranced. Jonesy’s piano solo is interesting, Jimmy throws some Theremin in early on and Bonzo almost seems to be either ready or pushing to go into the Nutcracker or Nutrocker portion but Jones doesn’t go there keeping it more traditional. Nine minutes in and they transition to the boogie jam yet it’s the familiar solo section that impresses on this song, Bonzo is on point and seems to be pushing Jimmy to bring it but he’s in more of a noodling mood, more concerned tempo than intensity. It goes nowhere and they eventually go back into the main theme, the ending is very strong, Jimmy finally gets inspired and delivers a heavy wah laden solo.
Several loud fireworks are audible during the beginning of Ten Years Gone, one would expect calm for such a mellow tune. The band play a really nice version of the song, Jimmy’s fluent and Bonzo is incredible, the recording is clear so Jonsey’s three necked guitar is nice and audible. “Goodness gracious. Thank you very much. I didn’t know you cared. This is ah, this is an acoustic set, it’s something we haven’t done for about six or seven years…we decided to sit down and take us back to the vibes that started the second and third albums”. Robert’s introduction is mostly right, it’s only been five years but who’s counting. The beginning of The Battle Of Evermore brings a nice round of applause followed by the audience quietly listening intently. A really enjoyable version of the song, Jones’ backing vocals compliment Robert’s voice nicely in this recording. Robert does a quick line from Gallow’s Pole before Going To California, a crowd favorite the audience cheer loudly when Robert sings the first line, as loud as the New York audiences are they are pretty quiet and respectful during the set. Robert drops a quick “Dancing Days are here again, the combo of Black Country Woman and Bron-Y-Aur Stomp get the audience up and clapping hoe down style.
Jimmy’s solo spot of White Summer and Black Mountain Side is played well yet no new ground is covered, the transition into Kashmir blows the audience away. Bonzo is again the star of the song, his timing is spot on, nothing overplayed, precision coupled with power making for a dynamic and impressive version of the song. Another barrage of firecrackers greet John for his Over The Top drum solo, clocking in at just over 25 minutes it begins with much energy and seemingly keeps it up for the whole solo, the ending is really good with the band playing a start stop rhythm and the crowd give a massive ovation. The bow solo portion of Jimmy’s solo is really good, ominous and mysterious certainly pleasing the audience from a sound and visual standpoint, the recording really does this justice as it is very powerful sounding. While some of Jimmy’s playing has been laid back, Achilles Last Stand is incredible, the band are just smoking and lay waste to MSG. The energy overpowers even the recording device, Jimmy is perfection and Bonzo is out of this world, Jones’ thundering rhythmic patterns add a thundering undertone, Robert take full advantage of the vocal effects all combined into this stunning version.
“I guess this song epitomizes everything that we hope is true and now we give you a song of hope” is followed by another barrage of fireworks just as the band start and is drown out by the ovation the song received and the same thing happens again as Robert sings the first line of Stairway To Heaven. You can almost hear Robert jump as he sings the song amid the continuing fireworks, certainly nerve wracking. Robert offers a peace offering “And the forest will echo with laughter…Well?…Smile on… you’ve got to smile sometimes”. Jimmy enters a bit late for the solo and Jones gets into a really nice electric piano section you hope would continue then Jimmy arrives and makes up for lost time, the concert has certainly heated up. The band returns with a warmly greeted Whole Lotta Love that leads into Rock And Roll with an energy level of ten. The band pause and seem like they’re waiting for the audience to sing but they don’t the first time but finally get on board the second time. A raucous version that brings an end to a well played concert made even more enjoyable by this glorious recording.
The packaging is standard for Graf Zeppelin, full color live shots from the 1977 trek, Jimmy wearing his white dragon suit, John Paul Jones all in white, Robert in dark blouse and jeans, and John Bonham wearing a white hat, the shots on the rear inner tray are certainly from this night, the rest fall in line, typically nice attention to detail. The six CD’s all have the same picture but different color hue, all housed in a fat boy jewel case, no room for extras, just the glorious music. Thanks to those who still actively seek out these recordings, that’s where the credit lies.