Led Zeppelin – Rockin’ In Chicago (Moonlight ML 9643)

 Rockin’ In Chicago (Moonlight ML 9643)

The Rover / The Rover / Intermezzo / The Rover / The Rover / Intermezzo / Night Flight / Night Flight / Hail, Hail Rock & Roll / Nadine – Around & Around / Move On Down The Line / Please Don’t Tease / Move it / Dynamite – Shakin’ All Over / Hungry For Love / I’ll Never Get Over You / Reelin’ and Rockin’ – Surrender [ 47:11 ]

At the beginning of Led Zeppelin’s 9th American tour the band committed to rehearsals in advance of their first night. The Led Zeppelin database states this this warm up could possibly date from May 4, 1973 at the Braves Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia but research also suggests that it could also be from 1975.

Moonlight, a sister label to the mighty Midnight Beat, erroneously dates it as simply Chicago, July 1973 ( Scorpio stick their neck out and imply July 6th when the band did actually play Chicago ) but based on scant information that also puzzled another few labels it was a fine guess.The tape is also sadly incomplete, missing around 15 minutes of music that can be found elsewhere.

The website also suggests a few other bootlegs where these rehearsals can be found but in it’s fuller configuration; The Atrocity Exhibition ( Scorpio “new” ), Back To The Good Times ( Beelzebub Records CD-R ), Cabala ( Osoz ), Check It Out (Theramin Music), The Lost Sessions Volume 5 ( Empress Valley Supreme Disc ), Magical Mystery Tape ( Tarantura ), Round And Round ( Ghost Records ), Sessions ( Antrabata Reference Master ), The Smithereens ( Akashic ), Studio Sessions Ultimate ( Scorpio “new” ), Tribute To Johnny Kidd And The Pirates ( Scorpio “old” ) & Zoso’s Back To Rock And Roll ( Oh Boy ).

The tape is said to be a ‘very well balanced professional board tape’ which this is, baring the odd slip when things become a little more muffled and the tape maybe features a little more hiss than you might think either due to it’s age or it’s generation. The and played a mixture of new songs and old rock tracks tonight – to further muddy the waters some fans speculate on the fact that this recording could span over two different evenings. It’s true that Plan’s voice works between half working and full on but I might only suggest that his voice warms up after a little while and, that the oldies are played a little later it’s easier to sing the songs you know. To which the fact that Plant’s voice apparently deteriorated for the concert that evening maybe the tape it out of it’s playing order and was mixed by the bootlegger to have the Zepp songs first and the more ‘uninteresting’ oldies are held back but that’s another topic entirely.

To give one a little more information on the music contained on the disk ( and give you a little more idea if you were toying with that purchase ) the disk begins with a a couple of warm ups for “The Rover”. The first rehearsal is already underway as Jimmy’s riff drives along in front of Bonham’s Drums and Robert warms up his voice with a little scat singing.

The second rehearsal has Robert asking the engineer (?) “Are you gonna tape tonight? Keep that on the beginning .. keep that on the beginning of the tape” – an obvious answer to whether the band knew if they were being recorded for the archives or not. There are also rumours that Mr. Page knows who has leaked this specific tape but if he does he’s not telling. ) There are a few more vocals to this rendition but it is still riff and drum rehearsal essentially.

The first intermezzo is nothing much more than a sound check as the drums are tested and Jimmy runs through a few riffs.

The third take on ‘The Rover’ is a little more focused, Robert has his words together now and the song runs through a little more clearly. The fourth take is a little shorter, preceded by a little chatter between the band, a few thumps on the drum, a little flex for the organ and a couple of tunings for guitar ( Underneath someone mentions that the beginning to the song was ‘fucking great’. A much shorter rendition before the tune breaks down under Robert’s vocal.

The second intermezzo is another series of riffs and warm ups while the band get things together and take shape.
The two takes of “Night Flight” are pretty much fully formed apart from a little work needed on the instrumentation on the first take as the band get used to playing it, break down, then start again. The second run through is a tiny bit more focused but this time it’s Robert who fluffs his words a little in the middle though this doesn’t stop the band from carrying on without him. Another breeakdown before they begin again.

On to the oldies and the band begin with a take on “Hail, Hail Rock & Roll”, this they’re obviously a little more au-fait with and the band roll through it with expert panache. Moving on to a run through of Chuck Berry’s “Nadine / Around & Around” the band show no sign of err-ing and bash straight through the songs, absolutely storming “Around .. ” to a blistering conclusion.

They then turn to a couple of Cliff Richards and the Shadows covers “Move on Down the Line” is played just as furiously as the rest ( Although it sounds more like a Roy Orbison voice Robert is trying to replicate. ) “Please Don’t Tease” and “Move It” take two different paths – “Please .. ” is a little slower this time, a little truer to the original, “Move It” however, is played to it’s death and sounds like an excuse in burning off a little steam.

Sounds like a little downtime does the band well and saves them from playing out over familiar songs or songs that the band were working hard to produce.

Like a rock and roll physics lesson “Dynamite / Shakin’ All Over” – The “Dynamite” rendition come out of some half remembered lyrics that Robert songs but lasts only a few seconds before he sings a parody of the “Shakin’..” lyrics which leads Jimmy in to playing the riff to which the band lustily join in on.

Continuing the path of Pirates covers “Hungry For Love” is played next. It is a little sloppy with Robert slipping from his timing occasionally. “I’ll Never Get Over You”

The Chuck Berry classic “Reelin’ And Rockin'”, played with a small amount of trepidation by Page, ends the set together with a brief snippet of a cover of Elvis’ “Surrender”, sung by Plant but only while the band mess around behind him, before the tape is cruelly snipped.

There’s mutterings that there’s more of this stuff to circulate. If it does then that might be a handy way of working out precisely what the date was but until then ..

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