Stoke 1973 (no label)
Trentham Gardens, Stoke-On-Trent, England – January 15th, 1973
Disc 1 (53:09): 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 (58:10): Dazed & Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love
Led Zeppelin’s soundboard recording of their show in Stoke-On-Trent is one of the best sounding and one of the most popular, being found on Live In Stoke, England Vol. 1 (LZ-007), Live In Stoke, England Vol. 2 (LZ-008), Trentham Gardens (Music With Love MWL 009-010), Stoker (Stoke-1, 2) on Tarantura, Broken Fingers (IQ-001/2) the underrated Image Quality label’s first release, and soon after that on Dedicated To Rizzlers (Equinox EX-00-008/009) in the summer of 2001. Stroke In Stoke was released about the same time as Equinox with the same sound quality but with the songs out of proper running sequence.
As good as the tape sounced on these releases, several years ago Soul Brothers (Tarantura TCD-37-1,2) was released almost simultaneously with Live At Trentham Gardens (Empress Valley EVSD-394/395) both with significant ungraded sound quality. Stoke 1973 has the same excellent and improved sound quality as the two. The sound is very clear with a touch of hiss. The vocals, drums and bass are up front with the guitars pushed somewhat back in the mix.
There is still the gap cutting out the latter part of “The Song Remains The Same” and the first two verses of “The Rain Song”, and one at the very end of “Stairway To Heaven” which also eliminates the very beginning of “Whole Lotta Love.” Overall Stoke is a beautifully laid back, very loose performance. Zeppelin’s shows in the UK are virtuoso yet low key performances.
The show starts off with “Rock And Roll” and the segue into “Over The Hills And Far Away.” Plant is recovering from a nasty flu that affected his voice, so he takes it easy in the opening numbers. He is sipping lemon tea while introducing “Black Dog,” claiming it’s about “a Labrador who used to come with us when we went shooting people. We don’t shoot animals.”
“Misty Mountain Hop” is dedicated to Rizlas(a brand of rolling paper for sale in the UK), and that number segues into “Since I’ve Been Loving You.” Page’s guitar goes out of tune during the following song “Dancing Days.” After “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” Plant reminiscences about their visit to Wales several years prior when they wrote the song. “Actually, we’re very fortunate to be playing in Aberystwyth tomorrow night, which is where all them things came from, locked far away in the National Trust of Snowdonia. What a gas place that was. Sold to a stockbroker in the end folks.”
The set ends with “Whole Lotta Love.” While it reaches seventeen minutes long, it is significantly shorter than in other shows on this tour where it reaches almost twenty-give. Plant’s vocals seem to be come weak by the end, so when they complete “Let’s Have A Party,” instead of going into the demanding “I Can’t Quit You,” he goes straight to the closing verse of “Whole Lotta Love.”
Unfortunately the tape ends right when Plant is saying good night. The encores aren’t present. Eyewitnesses to the event said they played “Four Sticks” as an encore. It is possible although unlikely since Zeppelin rarely played unrehearsed songs live. But, it would be an event if it were to surface. Stoke 1973 is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with attractive artwork and is a good way to obtain an excellent copy of this essential show.