Salvation Through Him (Eelgrass EGL20286/287)
Met Center, Bloomington, MN, USA – January 18, 1975
Disc 1 (56:10) Intro, Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, When The Levee Breaks, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir, The Wanton Song
Disc 2 (74:50) No Quarter, Trampled Under Foot, Moby Dick, In My Time Of Dying, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog
It seemed like the powers that be teased us with snippets of the soundboard recording from Led Zeppelin’s concert in Bloomington, Minnesota on January 18, 1975 for well over a year. It was in early 2020 when some mysterious posts were made on a Led Zeppelin forum and soon after a few short clips were uploaded, much to the delight of collectors everywhere as one of the snippets featured a portion of The Wanton Song in stunning soundboard quality (the mysterious person also said the source of this material also had three soundboard recordings from Zeppelin’s Los Angeles dates in 1977, none of which has been leaked). This four song snipped has appeared on two titles, Wanton Song 1975 Met Center (No Label) and All Is Safe For Rock And Roll (Eelgrass EGL20280/81/82/83).
In late April 2021 The Dogs Of Doom unearthed an incomplete audience recording of the Bloomington concert on Liberation Series Vol. 10, in very good quality to boot. This quickly made the rounds and was quickly released as Bloomington 1975 (No Label) and First Show From North American Tour 1975 (Wisteria 2021-007). The appearance of this tape garnered extremely positive reviews from the Led Zeppelin collecting community, and it seems like it stole a bit of the soundboards thunder. Finally in May of 2021 it was announced that the latest installment of the “Soundboard Revolution” from Empress Valley was forthcoming, this title would be the complete (almost) recording from Bloomington. Entitled Jesus (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD-1280/81&Jesus-Bonus), the limited edition box set would consist of the Bloomington SB on discs 1 and 2, the audience recording on disc 3 and 4, and the Brussels 1/12/1975 recording on disc 5 and 6 all house in a lavish mini box with a sticker, OBI’s etc, at a lavish box price. A short time later the label announced a two disc version with just the soundboard, Jesus (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD-1280/81), again with a steep price tag. This is where I was torn, I just could not justify spending what is usually the price of a three disc “Soundboard Revolution” title on two discs, all I can hope for is that a more price friendly version comes to market.
It doesn’t take long for Eelgrass to get their version of the “Soundboard Revolution” on the market, Salvation Through Him (Eelgrass EGL20286/287) is a copy of the EV Jesus title, its packaging is simplistic and made for the price sensitive buyer, the title does feature a unique bonus, a miniature copy of the 1975 tour program. A copy of this title was given to the Collectors Music Review site so a big thank you for your generosity! The Bloomington soundboard recording is excellent and one of the better balanced boards to be released, no overpowering bass for the first few songs. It is sadly incomplete, there is a glaring gap from 2:27 in Wanton Song and the first 3:55 on No Quarter, thankfully this has been patched with the audience source. The poorest sounding part of this recording is the first 30 seconds of Rock And Roll, the mix is all cymbals and is shrill sounding but quickly evens out, by the time of Jimmy’s solo, the sound is perfect with the engineer adjusting for truly perfect sound. Crisp and very clear, detailed with excellent frequency range, if anything I knock down the treble just a hair as these boards are cut for the top end.
Performance wise this is pretty darn good for early 1975, many times the soundboard reveals more detail that the average audience sources hide and this is no different. The sound is extremely well balanced and the power of the performance comes through extremely well. First off the rhythm section is excellent, Jones is pretty much on his game during most concerts, certainly the most consistent member during their ten year run. John Bonham is playing extremely well, he is just spot on during the entire performance, 16 months pent up and bursting at the seems. Jimmy Page is playing well, if anything his solos seem a bit tentative at the very beginning but once he gets going it’s fine, his non lead playing is really well, just turn up the fragment of Wanton Song and you’ll know what I mean. Robert’s voice for early 1975 is really good, better than the following three nights in Chicago. Even at the beginning of Rock And Roll he is bringing it, not forcing it but not croaking at all. I am sure the cold of the heart of winter took its toll on home, Minnesota is extremely cold in January.
The performance is a revelation as most of the early 1975 performances are rather uneven, yet the band sounds great, their pre tour rehearsals had them in relatively fighting shape after taking an 18 month reprieve from live performance. The opening salvo is strong, Rock And Roll gets going after the sound-man gets the balance, Sick Again is powerful and quite tight sounding. Robert greets the crowd “Good evening…well, I gotta tell ya, no bullshit but it’s really great to be back in the states” then promotes the forthcoming Physical Graffiti and introduces Over The Hills And Far Away. The song is well received from the audience, even low in the mix you can feel their ovation as Jimmy strums the opening chords. Jimmy does screw up the beginning of the solo, he starts it then goes back into the chorus riff then back into the solo, second time is the charm.
Robert introduces “Another old one, it’s something we haven’t attempted before but it goes back some time” then much to the delight of the audience (an listener) Bonzo starts the all too familiar drum beat of When The Levee Breaks. This can certainly be considered a holy grail to have this rarity in such excellent quality, and it gives us a chance to suss it out. It ponders along and the playing is a bit tentative on Jimmy’s part, perhaps the time changes were complicated but it never builds to any kind of intensity, perhaps by 1975 the ship had passed. It’s really the slide guitar breaks that halt the momentum, the main riff is heavy and quite powerful. Robert sings in a low blues voice and blows some really nice harp. Who can complain about finally having a version of this song in this quality? The Song Remains The Same and The Rain Song are no brainers, the cymbals are a little hot on TSRTS something that is pretty standard on most of the 1975 boards dating back to Flying Circus. Big fan of The Rain Song, Robert turns in a nice vocal on this one, the mellotron sounds decently well tuned, although Plant refers to it as a “constant nightmare”.
Many of these songs feature nice count in from Bonzo, Robert’s next introduction “another first attempt, it’s called, it’s from the new album it’s called Kashmir”. If you have this title already or the EV title you already know, the sound on Kashmir is very heavy and thick, just waiting for you to turn it up as it sounds incredible with floor vibrations as the band plays tribute to the wasted lands. “Well that was a song of the ascetic beauties of Northwest India…this is a song of the ascetic beauties of a woman, a field which we haven’t really studied too much, it’s called the Wanton Song…(Bonzo) one two three four”. Where Levee sounds past its due date, Wanton is bristling with energy with the entire band, one, and the 2:27 of the SB is worth the price of this title alone. The audience source has been tweaked just a tad to bring up the volume and the treble in an attempt to make it more palatable to the ear after the glorious board tape runs out, the seem is abrupt yet well handled.
Like The Wanton patch, the beginning of No Quarter is filled with the audience source, thankfully as I love the beginning of No Quarter, you can hear the audience response and for those wondering why, search and watch the Cleveland 77 video that The Dogs Of Doom released, you’ll understand. The short piece of No Quarter puts into perspective the visual aspect of the performance of this song in a hauntingly beautiful way. Although this song will continue to grow as the tour rages on, this version is rather simple and features a nice solo by Jimmy who plays it very relaxed in a good way, not forcing it for intensities sake. Trampled Under Foot is in direct contrast from the mystery of No Quarter, the rhythm is pulsating and the band play a typically great 1975 version of the piece, Page, Bonham, and Jones get a little funky, in the best way. Bonzo is pushing but not enough that it distracts, it does certainly push Jimmy into some of his best leads of the evening.
18 minutes of Moby Dick is the right length, you never tire and Bonzo plays a focused solo with ease, he is the “extreme pacifist” of the group after all. The phased tympani section sounds great and inventive, he finishes very strong with a series of rhythm sections where he seemingly sounds like he is playing against himself! “John Bonham…John Bonham!” In My Time Of Dying gets no introduction as Robert gives it after its over, the song is not on the audience tape so we can’t be certain. The song sounds out of place this late in the set, sandwiched between the drum solo and the icon, yet it sounds fresh and alive, Page is a wizard on the slide for this song, perhaps if he incorporated playing like this into Levee it would have been a show stopper.
Stairway To Heaven is the culmination of the show, as it is at this point. The band do not push it and it’s a relaxed version of the song, guitar playing is right there and Robert can take his time with his vocals, by this time you hear just a bit of strain in his voice. The band is harassed by a buzzing amp but they soon get it figured out. Page plays the longer solo, trying for a dramatic piece and it’s not bad but will be improved upon by the ending of the tour. The encore is short and sweet, Whole Lotta Love sounds muscular with Robert doing a little “push push” and “keep it coolin baby” before the riff evolves into Black Dog, and Robert has a little left in the tank. A wonderful ending to an equally wonderful concert, interesting the tape keeps going for about 2:44 after the band leaves the stage. You can hear the screams and clapping to try and get them back onstage then finally the house lights come up and loud booing is heard, the band has certainly impressed the audience on this first show.
The package is typical for Eelgrass, live shots mostly of Jimmy and a glowing newspaper review of the concert on the interior. The sprinkles on this cake come in the form of a mini replica of the 1975 tour program that is nicely done. The past few titles from Eelgrass I reviewed had issues at the track changes, this title does not and that is, along with the price, another plus. Flat out I have enjoyed this title as much as I have enjoyed the 9/28/1971 soundboard, it’s a fine performance and deserves to be repeatedly played and at loud volumes. Eelgrass has released a very nice version of this important recording.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)