Led Zeppelin – Riot House (Wendy WECD-47/48/49)


Riot House (Wendy WECD-47/48/49)

Alexandra Palace, London, England – December 22nd, 1972

Disc 1: Introduction, Rock And Roll, Over The Hills And Far Away, Black Dog, 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 (includes Everybody Needs Somebody To Love, Boogie Chillun’, Let’s Have A Party, Heartbreak Hotel, I Can’t Quit You), Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker

Disc 3: Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love (includes Everybody Needs Somebody To Love, Boogie Chillun’, Let’s Have A Party, Heartbreak Hotel, I Can’t Quit You), Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, mellotron solo, Thank You

There are two sources for the first of two shows at the Alexandra Palace in London in the middle of Zeppelin’s UK winter tour.  The first, presented on the first two discs of the current release, runs from the beginning through to the second encore and unfortunately doesn’t capture the organ solo and “Thank You”.  

This source is good to very good but very flat and dull sounding.  The music has a plastic spork hitting mashed potato quality.  Previous releases of this source include the vinyl Alexandra Palace and Riot House on P. Jump Records (JMP 2) and on cd as Flawless Performance on Image Quality (IQ-013/14/15) and Riot Show on Cobra (006).

The second source is documented on the third disc runs from “Stairway To Heaven” through to the very end and recording the complete encore.  This tape is significantly more clear detailed, dynamic and powerful with a hint of distortion present and has been released as Riot House on Chad (G.60 where it is erroneously dated from the following night and coupled with material from Raleigh, North Carolina April 7th, 1970), Alexandra Night on Right Stuff (RS-21012) and used by Image Quality to complete the first tape source on Flawless Performance.

The two London shows are a highlight from their longest tour of the UK that winter.  After “Over The Hills And Far Away” Plant complains about the freeze, comparing it to their last show they did in London in 1971.  “Since I’ve Been Loving You” sounds interesting with Jimmy’s howling guitar underlying Plant’s moans. 

While Page tunes his guitar Plant dedicates “Dancing Days” to “summer, inebriation and good times, and also requires a different tuning.  This is dedicated to those who might still be in high school.”  The guitar solo in “Stairway To Heaven” contains some haunting riffs at about the eight-minute mark that sound like a variation of the riff used in the final verse at the end.

Before “Whole Lotta Love” members in the audience are shouting out requests.  There are several votes for “Gallows Pole” but they don’t get it.  There is a cut at 11:40 during the medley but is otherwise complete.  Plant comes in too early for “Let’s Have A Party” during Page’s boogie improv. 

The encores are the longest for the UK winter tour with the complete “Immigrant Song” and “Heartbreaker” that was used for two years as the set opener.  This is the final time this was heard in public and this is also the penultimate recording of “Immigrant Song” (the final being on the Bradford soundboard).

The long show ends with John Paul Jones’ mellotron solo leading into a rare version of “Thank You”.  The solo is three minutes long and is similar to the versions played in Nagoya on October 5th and Newcastle on November 30th and Cardiff on December 12th.  It’s a fast paced and catchy tune played mostly with the string sounds.  He plays the mellotron also for “Thank You” giving the song a different, softer feel.  This is one of JPJ’s more interesting on-stage experiments and the second tape source for the first London gig is the best recording of the four.

Unlike previous releases, Wendy chose to archive the two sources instead of editing them together for a complete show so there is some duplication of material.  They also chose to follow the Cobra release in duplicating the old vinyl artwork with the picture of Jimmy taken from the Sydney, Australia show the previous February.  

On the back Wendy presents some nice pictures of the Hyatt West Hollywood aka “The Riot House”.  It is rather strange since the concert is from London and not LA.  Also on the back is a photo of the band c. 1975.  Sometimes it is nice to honor a past vinyl title on a cd release but perhaps this shouldn’t be one of them.  However this is a bit of an improvement over past releases, sounding pretty good and mastered at the correct speed.

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