Led Zeppelin – Tampa 1973 (No Label)

Tampa 1973 (No Label) 

Tampa Stadium, Tampa, FL, USA – May 5, 1973 

Disc 1 (60:11) Intro, Rock And Roll, Celebration Day, Black Dog, Over The Hills And Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song 

Disc 2 (79:19) MC, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Moby Dick, Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love, The Ocean, Communication Breakdown 

Led Zeppelin began their ninth tour of North America with two massive stadium dates, the first in Atlanta drew an audience of 40,000, the second in Tampa drew 56,800. The band received much press from the Tampa gig as they were the first band to shatter The Beatles’ 1965 Shea Stadium attendance record of 55,000 fans. Thankfully there were two members of the audience who recorded the concert for posterity. 

The first recording is a very good to excellent near complete recording certainly done very near the stage. Being an outside recording, the sound is a bit thin but thankfully is clear and detailed, all instruments and vocals being clear in the well balanced mix, as is the rather rowdy audience. This recording began making the rounds in the very early days of vinyl on the titles The Beat Goes On Inedits Vol 4 (BEAT1-2) and Quantient (Sad Song SS 7319A-F). In the early days of compact discs the titles 56,700 Fans Together and Boogie (Rock Calendar RC2127/2128), First Day (ARMS PR03-04), and Quantient (Cobra-023). Years later a second source appeared, a bit more distant than source 1, this recording falls in the very good range. Being farther back it captures more of the audience and gives you the vibe of being there on the spring evening 48 years ago. The recording is clear and all instruments are clear in the mix yet is slightly less complete than source 1. This recording was released on CD as 56,800 In The Ocean (Silver Rarities SIRA-166/167) and Tampa Stadium (Tarantura TAMP-1,2). 

Surprisingly both recordings compliment each other and it was only a matter of time until someone combined both recordings to present a complete presentation of the concert. Top Of The World (Badgeholders BH011-02-02), Pigeon Blood (Flagge), and Live At The Tampa Stadium 1973 (Wendy WECD-270/271) all use source 1 as a foundation and fill the gaps with source 2. For this new release by the No Label folks, they use a newly circulated copy of the master tape for source 1. The master transfer comes from the late John Tsalikes who was a very important taper / trader in Florida. Some dispute the claim of John recording this and other shows, some believe that another taper “Wally” did and John had a first gen transfer reel from the master. I’ve got no opinion either way yet find the history of the recordings an interesting read. Back to this release, Source 1 is used for the majority of the concert with small patches using source 2 filling the gaps, and in the case of No Quarter, to minimize excessive audience noise. The transitions between the two sources are seamless and well done making for an easy listen. 

The only source I have for this concert is Pigeon Blood (Flagge), a very nice title that is well over twenty years old. The difference in sound is clearly heard, the old Flagge title has been amplified a lot and has a tinny sound as a result. This new version from No Label has a much more natural sound and much better lower frequency range and is so much easier on the ears. So in regards to a comparison, this new No Label title is a very nice upgrade over the older Pigeon Blood title. The fact that the label used a current transfer of a known generation recording and did a good job mastering makes all the difference in the world. 

The Tampa concert is a great listening experience, one can easily put yourself in the middle of a football stadium on a spring evening with a rowdy as hell audience. There is a lot of commotion near the taper and while these interactions are heard, it gives an interesting perspective on the concert itself. Robert asks for calm and admonishes the crowd as well, the usually mellow No Quarter is perhaps the hardest hit. The performance is overall really good, Led Zeppelin would warm quickly over the next several weeks as evident by the recordings from Mobile and New Orleans where the band is firing on all cylinders. Follow the links for the G.S. review of the old Flagge title, his assessment of this concert is well on and worth a read. 

The packaging is typical No Label. Full color inserts featuring live shots from the concert itself, something that certainly gets extra props in my book. The full color pictures capture Led Zeppelin as the sun is setting and are quite dynamic making for an excellent presentation. A very nice title and upgrade to what I previously had. 

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