Led Zeppelin – Moral Reader (Wendy WECD-94/95)

Moral Reader (Wendy WECD-94/95)

Festival Hall, Osaka, Japan – October 4, 1972

Disc 1: Rock And Roll, Black Dog, Over The Hills And Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dancing Days, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song

Disc 2: Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Heartbreaker, Immigrant Song

Three tape sources exist for Led Zeppelin’s October 4, 1972 Osaka show. A very good sounding recording, which is missing the opening notes of the concert, “Over The Hills And Far Away,” “Rock And Roll,” “Stairway To Heaven” and a part of the “Whole Lotta Love” medley to Led Zeppelin 71-72 (Digger 71 A-B 72 A-B) and has been released on compact disc on Raw Tapes II (Amsterdam AMS 9611-2-1/2) and The Second Daze (Mud Dogs –011/012). A longer tape source was used for Wild West Side / Live In Japan ’72(Zoso’s Company), Raw Tapes I (Amsterdam AMS9610-2-1/2), The Campaign: Dancing Geisha(Tarantura 1972-5-1,2), Live In Japan 1972 (Last Stand Disc), Complete Live In Japan (Last Stand Disc LSD-69, 70), and Dancing Geisha (Bonzo’s Favorite (Tarantura).

Several releases combine the first two sources for a complete show and they include Connexion (Amsterdam AMS 9612-2-1/2), the four disc set Rock Explosion 72 (Tarantura2000 TCD-15,16 SET) where it was packaged with the October 9 Osaka show in 2004, and separately on Dancing Page (Tarantura2000 TCD-15-1,2) the following year and Live At Festival Hall 1972 (Power Archives PA-0310006/7). There is a third source of the final half hour of the performance, but none of the silver releases utilize this source. Moral Reader sounds almost identical to the Power Archives release, and the sound quality between the two sources that the edits are almost imperceptible. Wendy increased the volume slightly but not to the point where there is any distortion. There is a digital flaw twenty-one seconds into “Rock And Roll,” but otherwise is very good and an excellent way to obtain this show.

October 4 is the first of two shows in Osaka on Zeppelin’s final tour of Japan. This is a good and low-key performance. This is the third show with their revamped set list with “Rock And Roll” installed as the opener and the introduction of the more complicated Houses Of The Holysongs to the act. But even more than the songs, the entire spirit of the fifth LP pervades the arrangements in the songs. There is plenty of progressive rock style experimentation, but also a heavy dose of irony that is absent in the latter days. “Rock And Roll” reveals that Plant’s voice is a bit rough, but he is hitting the high notes with relative ease. “Black Dog” is introduced as “an old one” and Bonham loses the time signature briefly in the middle.

While Page is playing the introduction to “Over The Hills And Far Away” Plant introduces the song by saying, “this is a track off fifth LP.” Page loses his place in the solo by the end, returning to the solo’s opening syncopated melody before returning to the verse. This evening’s version of “Dancing Days” is one of the best, and afterwards Plant makes a big deal about John Bonham singing on “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp,” the only acoustic number in the set. “The Song Remains The Same” is played and sung very close to the studio track, something that will not last too long as the song evolves into a more arena-rock friendly arrangement. The transition to “The Rain Song” is a bit rough but the song is performed very well and afterwards Plant introduces John Paul Jones on “the mysterious mellotron.”

“Dazed And Confused” is twenty-three minutes in length and includes and instrumental version of “San Francisco” before the violin bow solo segment. The long improvisation includes an instrumental version of “The Crunge,” a feature they introduces on the summer tour of the US. “Stairway To Heaven” sounds great with the mellotron recorders at the beginning and Page’s inspired solo. “Whole Lotta Love” reaches twenty-three minutes and the theremin cacophony begins about two minutes into the piece. This section sounds very similar to what they played on the 1971 BBC version, and it leads into “Everybody Needs Someone To Love.” This cover is arguable their most memorable during the life of the medley. Even Phil Collins would mention Zeppelin’s cover when Genesis would include the song in their “Turn It On Again” medleys of 1984.

After “Boogie Chillun’” they play a rare version of “Got A Lot Of Livin’ To Do” and “Let’s Have A Party,” two songs popularized by Elvis. The slide guitar at the beginning dominates “You Shook Me”. The two encores include “Heartbreaker” and “Immigrant Song,” their biggest hit in Japan. Since the studio track didn’t include a guitar break Page incorporated Jeff Beck’s solo from “Better Man Than I” and adapted it. This solo was further recycled in “Over The Hills And Far Away,” and for this encore he plays the first half as expected before branching off into fast scales and strange thrusts on guitar providing a unique version of the piece. Moral Reader is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with thick glossy inserts and a strange paragraph on the back. Among all the releases this isn’t any better nor is it worse. It is a good and affordable way to pick up this show though and for that it is recommended. 

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