Pushes Pulsing Artistry (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-831EX)
Milwaukee Arena, Milwaukee, WI, USA – August 31, 1970
(55:03) Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Dazed And Confused, Bring It On Home, MC & Tuning, That’s The Way, MC & Tuning, Bron-Yr-Aur, Since I’ve Been Loving You
Led Zeppelin’s sixth tour of North America continued the momentum from the Bath Festival the month prior, incredibly powerful performances with the balance between light and shade being in constant battle with the balance of law and order. The youth continually being tested and controlled would be fueled by the exciting power of music, what could be more exciting than Led Zeppelin? The concerts played in the fall of 1970 would be some of the most exciting and best the band would play, the tour is well documented and some of the most popular recordings in the unofficial live Zeppelin cannon are from this tour.
One of the not so widely circulated performances is Milwaukee August 31, 1970, most certainly due to it being an incomplete recording clocking in at just under an hour. While it’s completeness may be considered a drawback, the sound quality certainly is not. The recording is a very good audience source that is near excellent, it rivals some of the better recordings from this tour like Los Angeles and New York City. The sound is well balanced with the instruments and vocals being well balanced with just a touch of distortion that does not detract from its clarity. It is recordings like this that make you wish it was more complete, from a sound and performance perspective. There have been releases of this concert over the years, Latest Summer (Jelly Roll JR09), Scat (The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin TDOLZ-56), Milwaukee(Akashic AKA-16) and Just The Crowd And… (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD 443/444), EV was the last time this concert was released and that’s been 15 years so it’s time for a reexamination and release.
When I compare this new Graf Zeppelin title to the EV Just The Crowd And…, I find that the Graf is more clear and detailed, both sound similar volume wise and both have the same very minor tape hiss, I guess the way to best describe it is that Graf sounds less processed and more natural as well. Immigrant Song is powerful, Robert’s vocals are well captured, a newspaper review of this concert described Plant as “looks, acts, and sings like a lion, noble but warm”, a perfect analogy. Jimmy’s solo is excellent albeit a bit shorter than other versions, the crowd reacts with a nice ovation when he transitions into Heartbreaker, a flawless version of the song, four people in complete synchronicity.
“This is…one from way back, a long time ago” is Robert’s introduction to Dazed And Confused. As Gerard states in his review of the EV title, Robert sings some interesting lines during the post bow improvisation, “I don’t care if all that’s true I’m gonna leave it up to you…I’m gonna have a big cigar, think I’m gonna rule the world” followed by the random “get your gun out” all the while Page plays variations of the typical music themes while keeping in tune. Plant’s lyrics elude to greed, one wonders if there was an incident with a promoter? Nonetheless a unique and powerful version of Dazed And Confused. A standard Bring It On Home follows, Robert gets the audience clapping at the very beginning, they also get into a fun sounding riff and clap in response with Page, clearly both artists and attendees are enjoying themselves.
The acoustic section is very nice, as usual there is the somewhat lengthy tune ups but the audience is respectful allowing the band to play beautiful versions of That’s The Way and the solo Page Bron-Yr-Aur, prior to which Robert reminiscences about their 1969 West Allis festival performance. The calmness continues and the band turn in a mellow version of Since I’ve Been Loving You, while lacking the intensity of other versions, it is an extremely well played version, the tape sadly ends and one wonders what happened to the rest? One theory I’ve read is that the tape machine batteries were running low, I hear no sound of that, perhaps the taper only brought one sixty minute cassette with him. All in all a very enjoyable 60 minutes.
First off big thanks to WGPSEC for helping out with the EV title for comparisons, always appreciated. The packaging is standard inserts with live shots from the tour, the picture on the interior tray is a live shot, you can clearly see a reel to reel tape machine behind the amps, would be great if a soundboard or stage recording would someday surface from this tour. This is a nice release, but is a “gift” item so it may be a bit difficult to track down but is worth the effort.