Salt Lake City 1973 (No Label)
Salt Palace, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA – May 26, 1973
Disc 1 (61:50) Rock And Roll, Celebration Day, Black Dog, Over The Hills And Far Away, Georgia On My Mind, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song
Disc 2 (56:12) MC, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love
The 1973 tour of North America was a culmination of five years of hard work by Led Zeppelin, five years of studio work that would spawn five records of incredible music being created and many tours covering several continents that took the band from opening act to perhaps the biggest Rock group on the scene. Whether it’s during the UK, European, or North American legs of 1973, the band was playing very inspired and at a consistently high level. Thankfully there are many great quality soundboard recordings from these tours, usually in a varying degree of completeness, these recordings are a cornerstone to most collections.
The incomplete soundboard for Led Zeppelin’s stop in Salt Lake City, Utah has seen a few releases since hitting the streets beginning with a fragment on Unidentified Live (Celebration SOBO-023), and finally a more complete version on Georgia On My Mind (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD-201/202), Salt Lake City 1973 (Watchtower WT 2002087/88), and Salt Lake City 1973 (Scorpio UK) all featuring this soundboard recording. There is also an average sounding audience tape that has been release as Heavy Machinery / Dirty Trick (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD-221/222/223/224). Curiously, there is only one title that features the soundboard recording as a base and uses the audience to fill the gaps, For Frenzied Crowd (Wendy Records WECD-255/256).
This new release from the No Label folks features only the soundboard recording and is taken from a torrent featuring a 2019 remaster from DADGAG who also is responsible for the recent Definitive Mobil 1973 release also from No Label, a third remaster was posted as well but not bootlegged, that of Fort Worth. The description on the original torrent features a lineage of Master > DAT as a basis for this transfer. I pulled out my copy of the Georgia On My Mind EV title to see how this title compares, the difference is minimal, a bit clearer and brighter and is a minimal improvement. The volume is slightly lower and thus the small bit of tape hiss is lower as well, the only other notable difference is the cut towards the end of Rain Song does not feature a different show edited in so we get strictly the Salt Lake recording.
This recording does not rank as high as other boards from this era as it is an uneven performance. The beginning of Rock And Roll through Black Dog is actually pretty good, although Pagey’s fingers are not as nimble as other performances, if one believes Robert’s comment about only being up an hour prior to show time, it makes perfect sense. It seems like more guitar tuning issues come to light in Over The Hills And Far Away and kinda ruins whatever minuscule momentum they had. Since I’ve Been Loving You is usually smokin’, this version is flaccid as is No Quarter. The average playing does not all fall upon Jimmy’s shoulders, there is little enthusiasm coming from the rhythm section also as the band just seem to be phoning much of the concert in.
Things do pick up a bit for Dazed And Confused, the bow solo is nice and eerie and the fast section that follows, while not as fast as other versions, is certainly competent. The fast solo after the call and response is heavy and well played as the group builds on the momentum. Typically the weight of the concert falls to the anthem Stairway To Heaven and the band deliver a great version of the song. Heartbreaker and Whole Lotta Love are rushed, the latter features a straight version of the song with no boogie interlude, of course the end of WLL is missing as is the sole encore Communication Breakdown and the band gladly leave the stage…Led Zeppelin has left the building!
The inserts are black and white photos of mainly Jimmy Page as are the pictures on the CD’s and sticker, of course all housed in a slim jewel case. With just a minimal improvement in sound and rather lackluster gig, makes this one more for completists, for those who already have the EV or Watch Tower there is no need for the investment.