Milwaukee 1973 Original Master (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-710A/B)
Milwaukee Arena, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA – July 10, 1973
Disc 1 (63:39) MC Test / Opening, Rock And Roll, Celebration Day, Black Dog, Over The Hills And Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song
Disc 2 (50:58) MC, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Moby Dick
Led Zeppelin played the Mid West city of Milwaukee in the state of Wisconsin three times during their touring history, amazingly all three performances were recorded and circulate among collectors and traders alike. The Graf Zeppelin label has released all three shows in 2020, Midwest Rock Festival (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-005) features the Midwest Rock Festival July 25, 1969 performance, Pushes Pulsating Artistry (Graf Zeppelin LZSC831EX) is the Milwaukee Arena August 30, 1970 fragmented recording, and this new title Milwaukee 1973 Original Master featuring the sadly incomplete July 10, 1973 performance. The Milwaukee 1973 has circulated sporadically over the past few decades first as One More For The Road (Red Hot RH-012/013), Rock And Roll Bonanza (Electric Magic-EMC-017 A/B SS) was a nice upgrade and most recently Milwaukee In The Bonanza (Tarantura TCD-122), a flawed title due to the use of a poor version of the recording.
The source of this title from Graf Zeppelin is a good to very good incomplete audience recording ending ten minutes into Moby Dick. There is distortion present and the sound is sometimes a bit muffled but the instruments and vocals are well balanced and the sound is clear enough for all instruments to be heard and enjoyed. The performance is excellent and once one gets used to the sound, the performance pulls you in. I am using the Electric Magic title Rock And Roll Bonanza for comparison (Thanks to WGPSEC), I find that this new Graf Zeppelin is a very nice improvement over the older Electric Magic label. The frequency range is much wider and sounds very natural and has the warm analog sound where the old EMC sounds like they used a higher generation copy of the tape that sounds flat and rather cold. They both have about the same volume, the distortion is easier on the ears on this new Graf and sounds less harsh. Graf has also used a more complete tape, the microphone check at the very beginning is present and based upon the Bootledz site, there is more tape around the cuts during Rain Song, Dazed, Stairway To Heaven, and Moby Dick.
The opening of the concert, Rock And Roll, Celebration Day, and Black Dog are played well, the band is firing on all cylinders, even Robert’s voice is sounding better after the first two shows in Chicago just days before this performance. His voice is definitely better than the audience when they try and sing along during the call response portion of Black Dog. One of the great things about this recording is Bonzo’s drums are clear and defined in the sound spectrum, even his hi hat cymbal seems to be constantly tapping away. Plant reminisces about the West Allis 1969 shows where it rained all day before a really good Over The Hills And Far Away. Robert is warming up nicely and tells the audience afterwards “Me thinks that we’re gonna have a good night…” then kindly asks the crowd to chill with the firecrackers. Jonsey’s keyboards are just a tad lower in the mix than the guitar so Misty Mountain Hop sounds quite muscular. The taper gives a “yeah” as his approval during the beginning of an incredible Since I’ve Been Loving You, from Robert’s opening wail, he is feeling it. This song is laid back and intense all at once, sometimes the best performances of this song are the most laid back.
Robert gives an explanation of the title of the Houses Of The Holy record and introduces John Paul Jones as the “Magician of the keyboards”. As Gerard points out in his review of the EMC title, the improvisation middle section is really good, Jones and Page are in sync and are on the same wavelength about where they are going, Bonzo seems to be closely listening as he responds quickly and begins to push them in certain places, excellent version, as much as I love the longer 1975 and 1977 versions, this song seems to be best in its most simplistic form. Nice solo’s from Jimmy and John indeed. Robert’s vocal histrionics during The Song Remains The Same just before The Rain Song are elaborate and well done getting a nice ovation, The Rain Song is a beautifully sung version.
Robert gives a funny introduction to Dazed And Confused, “this is one that…uh was probably written before some of you kids got in school”. The version that follows is another unique and interesting version, Page was throwing a lot of improvisation during the second leg versions of Dazed, the whole oriental riffs section leading up to the bow solo is superbly played. Jimmy’s playing is fluid and inventive causing him to be out of sync with Jones and Bonham on a few occasions, but their reaction is quick and the song has a fresh and exciting feel to it, Jimmy just soloing and changing at the drop of the hat. Bonzo gets the cue and leads the band into the finale sounding triumphant in his drum pattern, an incredible 28 minutes of adventurous improvisation. Stairway To Heaven gets the usual massive ovation, not a note out of place, the culmination of the set. “Are you ready for show time?…John Bonham Moby Dick”, the tape ends 10 minutes in but what is here is really good. Sadly the tape ends and one is left wanting more of this concert.
The packaging is great, Graf Zeppelin pays homage to the old Live In Seattle 73 Tour (TMQ Smoking Pig 2964A-D) vinyl title, the photographs used are from the Milwaukee concert as well, always a nice addition. The pictures on the CD’s show an old Western photograph with a topography that looks nothing like Eastern Wisconsin. This is an actual numbered edition with a stamp on the rear cover, mine being 023. Another excellent upgrade from Graf Zeppelin, this is a concert that has needed an upgrade and Graf have done just that.