Magical Sound Boogie (Eelgrass EGL-20238/39/40)
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY – June 7th, 1977
Disc 1 (70:08): The Song Remains The Same, The Rover/ Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Over The Hills And Far Away, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter
Disc 2 (48:13): Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Black Country Woman, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, White Summer / Black Mountain Side, Kashmir
Disc 3 (61:44): Out On The Tiles / Moby Dick, guitar solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll
The week of shows in New York was one of the high-points of Led Zeppelin’s 1977 visit which Robert Plant himself acknowledged to journalist Lisa Robinson in an interview conducted at the time. The six concerts were all taped from the audience but really only two, for the June 10th and June 14th shows, are enjoyable.
Two audience recordings have been released for the opening night in New York. One tape was pressed onto vinyl on I Had A Dream – The Summer Of Sam – New York 1977 Volume 1 (Merk) and was released on CD in 1996 on Back To The Garden (TDOLZ 0025/26/27). Another audience recording can be found on DX I ~ X (Mad Dogs) along with various other shows.
The soundboard for the first New York show on June 7th recently surfaced. About forty-five minutes of the June 11th has been in circulation for years, but this is the first virtually complete New York show from a professional source. It is very clear but slightly flat, similar to the Maryland soundboard tapes. There are cuts 4:30 in “No Quarter,” and 14:40 in “Moby Dick.”
Newsday published a lengthy review of this particular show. Critic Dave Marsh, who among other observations cited the sexual appeal of the band in 1975, wrote that: “Some rock bands have fans, others have admirers and still others have followers. But Led Zeppelin is the last great rock band who’s minions can be considered true believers.
“Believing in Led Zeppelin makes its audience a unified community, which is rare in rock these days. The decline of rock as a social phenomenon and its development as big business has made the likelihood of such sentiment obsolete. Led Zeppelin is the only exception. The nearly 20,000 believers who filled Madison Square Garden light night (June 7th) for the first of six sold-out shows were part of rock’s largest fraternity. A passion for Led Zeppelin is enough to establish communications, if not necessarily friendship, among a large segment of today’s teenagers.”
Writing about the actual gig, he continues: “most of the explosions were from the stage, where Led Zeppelin proved that it was worthy of the adoration bestowed upon it. The 8-year old band virtually invented what has become known as heavy-metal rock, an English combination of blues structures and ear-splitting volume. But the band has grown with the times. Rather than relying on its earlier style of rock-to-break-your-kneecaps-with once represented by songs like Whole Lotta Love, Led Zeppelin performed a nearly three-hour set notable for its variety, sophistication and depth.”
His change in opinion in two years, from speaking about their sex appeal to their sophistication, is remarkable and is really the importance of this new recording. It’s obvious from the beginning of “The Song Remains The Same” this is a special performance for the band with a tremendous amount of energy.
Plant acknowledges this before “In My Time Of Dying,” saying: “I can tell by the excitement it’s really great to be back because we never really knew whether we were gonna make it back.” He also points out to the American audience that “today is the beginning of the second day of the celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee, and that’s a heavy thing for us. So we’ll do this one for Liz, and for you.” (Her coronation was on June 2nd, 1953 and during that week in June 1977 there were special services and events including a special Thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s Cathedral on June 7th). This also has to be one of the very best performances of the Physical Graffiti track from the tour which even Marsh singles out by speaking about how Jimmy Page “continually shifted the emphasis of the dynamics until he built to an attention-riveting, machine gun-like finish.”
“No Quarter” reaches almost a half hour and Jones incorporates Keith Jarrett, Huey Smith, Beethoven, and leads the band into “Nutrocker” before the more gloomy, abstract improvisations which make up the bulk of the piece.
Before the acoustic set, while the band are getting ready, Plant reminisces about the Fillmore East, saying: “So about 1970, or in 1971 … can anybody remember that far back? You remember Iron Butterfly? Way back in the days when we just finished playing the Fillmore” before introducing John Bonham as “straight out of Monty Bonham’s Flying Circus” and “The Battle Of Evermore” as “when our good queen is wandering the streets shaking hands with people, we should sing this song that’s reminiscent of the English countryside.”
A virtuoso performance of “White Summer” is followed by a version of “Kashmir” which is a disaster, almost falling apart in the middle. In introducing “Moby Dick” Plant calls Bonham “the man who played tambourine on ‘The Battle of Evermore.’ The man who keeps Budweiser going strong.”
After another epic “Achillies Last Stand” Plant quotes the words “well the mighty arms of Atlas hold the heavens from the earth,” just like he did in the second Maryland show. “It’s been a good one tonight, and for that very reason we must dedicate our next song to the fact that good vibes are alive and well in New York” he says before “Stairway To Heaven.”
Before the encores he mentions 1969 and Tommy James and the Shondells who had a hit that year with “Crimson And Clover.” “Rock And Roll” almost falls apart when Plant tries to end the song too early. Eelgrass package Magical Sound Boogie in a standard fatboy jewel case with an insert. This is an afforable, nicely packaged version of an important soundboard recording.