In what seems like what has become a growing trend, many Japanese labels have been releasing some well known tapes with new mastering by the Graf Zeppelin folks. This new release from No Label features another compilation of Led Zeppelin’s two 1972 Seattle concerts packaged in one convenient package. Both recordings feature the “Graf” touch. 1972 is one of Led Zeppelin’s most beloved years even though many of the recordings from the year were merely average, they deserve the attention their fame garners, the second night in Seattle being one of the greatest performances in their career.
Seattle Center Coliseum, Seattle, Washington, USA – June 18, 1972
Disc 1 (47:45) Announcement, Drone, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Stairway To Heaven, Going To California
The first night in Seattle was added after a riot at a Rolling Stones concert in Vancouver, Canada earlier in the month caused officials in that city to reassess how Rock concerts should be handled. They cancelled Led Zeppelin’s concert scheduled for June 18 but thankfully Seattle agreed to host the concert and many from the Vancouver area made the two and half hour trip down. Thankfully one enterprising fan brought his tape recorder and captured 47 minutes from the first night in Seattle. This fragment has circulated for close to thirty years first appearing on Trouble In Vancouver (Gold Standard LZP-388) followed by a few other releases Ahead And After (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD-329/330/331), Axeman Cometh (Flagge), and most recently Seattle 1972 (No Label).
I’ve had Trouble In Vancouver for decades as well as the previous No Label version Seattle 1972. It’s amazing the old Gold Standard title has held up very well in the nearly thirty years since it was released, the No Label Seattle 1972 is a small improvement but this new version with the Graf Zeppelin mastering takes the cake. The mastering is excellent and brings out the best in the recording. You will notice a difference as soon as the band break into Immigrant Song, they have gently raised the level so it more closely matches the sound levels beginning with Since I’ve Been Loving You. It retains the warm analog sound and makes a great enjoyable listen even better.
Seattle Center Coliseum, Seattle, Washington, USA – June 19, 1972
Disc 2 (66:45) Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, The Ocean, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Stairway To Heaven, Going To California, Black Country Woman, That’s The Way, Tangerine, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp
Disc 3 (58:23) MC, Dazed And Confused, What Is And What Should Never Be, Dancing Days, Moby Dick
Disc 4 (65:19) Audience, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll, Organ Solo, Louie Louie, Let’s Dance, Thank You, Money (That’s What I Want), Over The Hills And Far Away, Dancing Days
The second night in Seattle is one of the absolute classic Led Zeppelin performances that should be considered essential listening. Its average sound quality has made it require “bootleg ears” to get through, most certainly the earliest release Sizzles In Seattle (Lemon Song LS-7215/16/17) was a rough listen, a title I owned years ago and sold after I purchased The Evergreen (The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin TDOLZ-31). A few titles followed, Let’s Do It Again (Badgeholders BH002-01/02/03), and Lightbringer (Cashmere CSCD-001/2/3) brought nothing new to the table, it was Empress Valley who brought a nice upgrade when they released Dancing Again (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD-396/397/398) in 2006. A few years later the No Label folks released Seattle 1972 (No Label) collecting both Seattle shows on one set yet the sound quality was not an improvement over EV’s Dancing Again.
The sound quality on this newly updated version of the singular recording is the best of all known releases, when I compared to the Empress Valley I find the main differences is that the No Label is clearer with the individual instruments being much more discernible and the distortion not as disruptive, its frequency range is fuller and warmer than the EV title making it much easier on the ears. One can hear the mastering employed by Empress Valley adding volume and compression to give clarity and lower the tape hiss which at the time was what collectors were looking for. This No Label title may come from a better generation of tape, more probable is a more recent transfer and falls easily into the solid good range, at times bordering near very good. So based upon sound quality comparison, the No Label takes the cake. The excellent Bootledz website found its only flaw, the cut at 5:43 that misses about 12 seconds of Since I’ve Been Loving You is present on this new title where Empress Valley’s Dancing Again features the complete song, more curious is that the 2010 No Label title Seattle 1972 did not have this cut and features the complete song.
There are four reviews by Gerard for the June 19, 1972 Seattle concert, all are worth reading and give accurate descriptions on what an incredible performance this is. The band are very loose and the music just flows, several previews for House Of The Holy and even Physical Graffiti all added to the well worn in set making for a long performance that once one is invested in, goes by quickly. I find that the audience comments at times really add to the vibe and give the listener that feeling of the atmosphere. This and many other recordings are legends, at the time the fans were just seeing another concert. Needless to say this concert has come a long way since the old Lemon Song version.
Verdict, this is an excellent title to own, the mastering by Graf Zeppelin has produced the best sounding versions of both recordings to date, the only real flaw being the cut during Since I’ve Been Loving You. Perhaps if the No Label folks would do a bit more research, they could have easily patched it from the Empress Valley version. That being said, the missing 12 seconds is certainly not a deal breaker for me as this title is a pure joy to listen to and based upon sound only, will be a hard title to beat. The packaging is typical No Label featuring mostly black and white photos from the tour with a couple gig posters and a ticket stub on the rear bringing it all together and all housed in one convenient fat boy jewel case. For those who have shied away from these concerts, here is a great chance to get them in a very listenable form.