Led Zeppelin – The Band That Beat The Beatles (Tarantura TCD0207, 208 B)

The Band That Beat The Beatles (Tarantura TCD0207, 208 B)

Having grown up in the proximity of Detroit and still living in even closer proximity to the Motor City, live concert recordings of my favorite artists are most interesting to me. From the age I began listening to Rock radio in Michigan in my early teens you knew the Mid West music of both Bob Seger and Ted Nugent, both calling Michigan home, getting heavy air play. I first learned of Cobo Arena from a New York band who had a strong following in the Mid West, that band was KISS. Having seen the ALIVE! cover and being instantly drawn to the almost mythical figures in full on Rock mode. Since the record was (supposedly) recorded in Detroit at Cobo Arena I would dream of being in the audience as the back cover showed the interior of this House of the Holy. Over the years I have seen several concerts at Cobo, once even had backstage passes and was able to walk the confines of the arena my Rock and Roll Gods had also walked, a moment in time I still treasure. While Led Zeppelin recordings from Detroit are fewer in number from the likes of Los Angeles or New York City, they are equally as cherished and when new recordings come to the surface decades after being recorded, it is a time to celebrate. With this release the Folks at Tarantura are throwing their hat in the ring with Led Zeppelin’s first of two concerts in Detroit during their 1973 tour of North America. This 6 disc set covers both known recordings from the July 12, 1973 concert all packaged in one of their mini boxes.

Cobo Arena, Detroit, MI, USA – July 12, 1973

Version A: Source 1 patched with source 2

Disc 1 (64:13) Introduction, 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 (44:03) Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven

Disc 3 (64:31) Moby Dick, Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love medley incl. The Crunge, St. Stephen, Going Down, Boogie Chillun’, Communication Breakdown medley incl. The Crunge, The Ocean

The first night in Detroit was recorded by the late Jared Houser who would eventually become the “J” in JEMS, a collective of live music archivists whose purpose was to preserve live recordings made by themselves and others as well. Another well known member, “S”, was Stan Gutoski who was a taper in Seattle who recorded Led Zeppelin’s 1975 concerts in that city and who passed away in January of this year. Jared recorded this concert with a Lloyd’s 8-Track Cartridge Recorder and Lloyd’s mics. The Lloyd deck did have adjustable recording levels but no meters, he recorded Pink Floyd at Cobo with this same gear and the recording was deemed unusable due to the recording levels being so far off, although a six minute snippet of Echoes circulates in very good quality. Thankfully he had the levels right for the Zeppelin show some four months later.

Jared managed to capture a very good recording, Cobo had great acoustics and this recording is clear and detailed with all instruments and vocals clean in the mix, John Bonham’s drums are well captured and gives it a nice punch. Jared was in a spot free from audience chatter directly near him although either him or his cohort are bored during Moby Dick and also sing along with the band during The Ocean. There are several cuts in the recording including a major cut in Moby Dick that misses most of the solo, the cuts are filled with the recently surfaced second source, lastly anyone familiar with this recording knows there is a bit of hiss although it does not interfere with one’s enjoyment.

Jared’s recording has circulated for years dating back to the days of vinyl on the famous Detroit Cobo Hall (Led 1-4) double LP. Great concerts easily made the leap to compact disc and the titles Detroit Rock City (Lemon Song LS7218/19/20), Motor City Daze (Antrabata Reference Master ARM 120773), Rock And Roll Ever (Akashic AKA-Millenium-1), Detroit Hard Rock City (Wendy Records WECD-180/181/182), and Detroit Rock City 1973 (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-010A/B/C) feature this tape. Most recently Detroit 1973 (No Label) features both recordings from this concert.

This new release features mastering by Enigma, the entity who master Tarantura’s two previous Zeppelin sets, Bath Of The Blues documenting their famed performance at the 1970 Bath Festival and Some Other Guyz, the fantastic Boston 1970 concert. I must be truthful, I have found some of Tarantura’s mastering methods over the past few years to be heavy handed and difficult to listen too and had pretty much stopped buying their titles, but the mastering on these two previous sets has been really nice and so I had no issues with buying this title. Since the No Label folks were first to get their release out I will be using it for comparison as well as my trusty Graf Zeppelin title as well. Like the No Label set they feature Jared’s recording on the first three discs patched with the second audience source.

The sound on this Tarantura title is really nice, it sounds clearer and has crisper high end and the bass frequencies are a little bit lower, something that helps with the low end rumble in Jared’s recording. The alterations are well done and the recording still retains its natural sound. The transitions from the sources is very well handled, smooth and very easy on the ears. If I was to pick a preference, I would say I really like the sound on this title better, gentle mastering to bring out the best of the tape.

Version B: Source 2 patched with source 1

Disc 1 (64:11) Introduction, 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 (44:04) Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven

Disc 3 (64:31) Moby Dick, Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love medley incl. The Crunge, St. Stephen, Going Down, Boogie Chillun’, Communication Breakdown medley incl. The Crunge, The Ocean

The second source is very good, it lacks the upper frequency range of Jared’s recording and is a bit better balanced and slightly not as clear. It does pick up more of the actual atmosphere inside of Cobo Hall and it sounds just slightly more distant than source 1. The taper captured most of the concert and is almost complete save for a few small cuts. It also has a bit more tape hiss but nothing that interferes with your enjoyment just more noticeable is all, overall a very good recording every bit as good a listen as source 1, I have read more than a few people say they prefer this recording and their argument certainly has merit, the quality is that good. This recording was made available to the masses in March 2020 and like the Detroit 1972 recording, didn’t seem to cause much of a stir.

Since the No Label title is the only one to feature the second source, that is what I am using. It sounds like Enigma utilized the same concept for the second source. They lowered the bass frequencies just a touch and added a little on the highs. The tape still has its natural tape hiss and this title is an easy improvement over the No Label, I really like the improvement on this version. Like the first three CDs, the patching of source 1 is flawless, all transitions are smooth and seamless. When I listen to this recording in this quality, it really makes a strong case for being, not better, but more enjoyable of a listening experience. Of course the main importance of this version is that Tarantura has used the correct source for the second disc, you can hear both Dazed And Confused and Stairway To Heaven culled from source 2.

The first night in Detroit is a superb performance, GS says that the band is in control of the material they are playing. He is correct, the band have been playing well since the UK tour in late 1972 and by this point are a well oiled, if not a bit weary, machine. The music flows out of them effortlessly and when playing in certain cities, seemed to elevate the band into something special, Detroit was one of those towns.

The band seem on from the first few notes of Rock And Roll with the first selection of songs being played very well, Over The Hills And Far Away and Since I’ve Been Loving You being particularly strong. Listening to the second source you hear the early part of the concert features the band being harassed by a multitude of firecrackers, something that is not as easily heard on Jared’s tape. It’s interesting to listen to the beginning of No Quarter on both tapes. When Jones begins the song and the dry ice fog envelopes the stage, a huge cheer comes from the audience. These version of No Quarter from late in the tour are sublime, the playing is confident and the band add a lot of subtle playing to the piece, and Jimmy’s solos are perfection and very close to the famous version found on The Song Remains The Same soundtrack.

As I was first beginning to listen to this set I noticed something I did not really pay attention to before. At the 5:14 mark of Whole Lotta Love as they play the funky Page Bonham jam coming out of the Theremin section they clearly reference the Grateful Dead’s St. Stephen and it’s very powerful and natural sounding. Interesting to think that Zeppelin were listening and perhaps influenced by the acid drenched jams on Live Dead, great improvisational minds think alike! This Whole Lotta Love is also noteworthy for having a great version of Don Nix’ I’m Going Down.

This is another area where this title really shines, Tarantura’s unique style of art work. While the packaging has something they have employed for years, as well as other companies like Empress Valley and Godfather, the folks at Tarantura’s always make theirs unique. First off there are two covers on the box itself, Box A features a Zeppelin hovering over an old picture of the Detroit skyline, Box B features the Starship with the bands log over the fuselage of the plane. Both versions are limited to 73 copies each, there was a promo edition of Box B, as you can see from the picture that is the edition I have, my number is 79. Interesting that I got number 79 since Tarantura’s next box is from 1979. There are two interior gatefold sleeves adorned with fantastic live shots from various concerts on the 73 American tour including a couple from Detroit. Each gatefold and the box itself are fitted with OBIs. Sadly, it took me some time to get to review this box set and as of this writing, it is sold out, unfortunate as this is, so far, the best version of these two recordings. 

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  1. Zepp at their best
    • Pros
    • All
    • Cons
    • None

    No comments? Let me be the very first then. I was a bit sceptical when I’ve heard about the new T2K series. I thought, nah, they cannot be better, I knew many from the past and they haven’t impressed me. I did a risk and purchased a copy of this new Detroit set last year. A good and probably worth decision as I found this new set sounding better than few other versions of this show, and this including Graf’s title. What I really love is the fact the bottom end is increased in the mix. When compared with Graf, Graf’s sounds a bit weak to my ears as they focused on top end, and this new T2K sounds very bombastic and real, just like the Zeppelin had sounded live on stage I believe. There are really no real points to complain on this, there’s no real way to determine of how all these old recordings shoud’ve been sounded as they were achieved just on amateur equipment. Maybe it’s only me but I tend to prefer more balanced sound, without that modern tweak at all. This new T2K set is more closer to the old analog vinyl sound and I really appreciate the fact they went that way. When I played this set on my old stereo system, consisting of some vintage big JBL 4343 speakers plugged into my old time fav old tube MacIntosh tube amp, I was sure I did a good decison buying this set. That’s my cup of tea. Anyone wants to follow? Come on…


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