The Chancellor Of The Exchequer (Tarantura TCD-110)
Earls Court, London, England – May 17th, 1975
Disc 1 (78:08): Introduction, Rock and Roll, Sick Again, Over the Hills and Far Away, In My Time of Dying, The Song Remains The Same, Rain Song, Kashmir
Disc 2 (56:30): No Quarter, Tangerine, Going To California, That’s The Way, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, Trampled Underfoot, Moby Dick
Disc 3 (59:49): MC, Dazed and Confused (incl. Woodstock), Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog
Led Zeppelin’s five Earls Court shows in 1975 are a high water mark of their influence and popularity. The final two nights of the set are the most popular with many different releases. The first two shows, which were scheduled to accommodate the demand for tickets, are not as well known or well circulated.
The opening night on May 17th has several tape sources in circulation. The earliest pressed version of the show can be found on the rare Japanese acetate Welcome To Home 1-4 (Private Collection PC 001, 002, 004, 005) and “Kashmir” is included as a bonus track on Custard Pie (Rock Solid Records RSR 3224) along with the 1973 Offenbach show.
“Kashmir” can be found on the compact disc edition of Custard Pie (Cobra Standard Series 001). The full show from this tape was released on Join the Blimp (Tarantura UK-1~4), Arabesque & Baroque(Antrabata ARM 170575) and Nice Opening Night (Image Quality IQ-028/29/30) all released within a year or two of one another.
In the late nineties a second, almost complete source surfaced and was first pressed on the incredibly scarce CDR title For Trainspotters Only (Anorak Records). It was utilized on Devil’s Banquet (Power Chord PC-0001-1/2/3/4) with the first tape source used for “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp,” “Trampled Underfoot,” some of “Moby Dick” and for some times between songs. Empress Valley used the same tactic for Complete Earl’s Court Arena Tapes “I” (Empress Valley EVSD 91~112) from the Demand Unprecedented boxset in 2002.
The Chancellor Of The Exchequer also follows Power Chord. The second tape is used as the main source and the first tape is used for “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” and “Trampled Underfoot.” It is a distant, distorted and echo-filled but listenable recording.
After Bob Harris’ introduction, the evening gets off to a troubled start when the guitar cuts out in the middle of “Rock And Roll” due to faulty wiring. Robert Plant jokes about it, saying: “You wouldn’t believe that after all the trouble and, and messing about to try and get this unearthly monster with us, the first thing that gets blown, right? And all it is, is a six penny jack plug.”
Then in introducing “Over The Hills And Far Away” he gives a greeting to England, “we couldn’t make Nottingham Boat Club this time, but we managed to get here. what we intend to do is, what we just had a great time doing in America after eighteen months of laying about, we suddenly decided we were much better working together rather than sitting home pretending that we’d done it all, you know?”
He is also a bit polemic regarding why they’re playing so few shows in England. Blaming the high tax rate, while introducing “In My Time Of Dying” he calls it “ an old chain gang thing, and as we’re about a foot away from the chain gang with our dear Dennis Healey, we better dedicate this to Dennis.”
There is a tenseness in the performance which Plant himself acknowledges before “Kashmir,” saying that “you can’t believe the nerves that you get when you play.” And when referring to the last UK tour, Plant points out the break up rumors, replying: “In reply to the rumors in one of the very famous musical papers that was printed in February 1973 about us breaking up, I got to tell you, it’s not true.”
“Kashmir” goes a long way in loosening up the venue with it’s masterful rhythms and orchestration. It continues in “No Quarter” which makes its UK debut in this show. John Paul Jones plays an interesting piano piece in the middle improvisation, repeating a sad little melody repeatedly until Page and Bonham come in.
“Tangerine” follows, being played for the first time since 1972. Instead of the bare acoustic arrangement, they play a full electric version with four part harmony. The audience tapes are good at picking up the harmony, and although it’s quite rough it’s a good attempt by the band. Plant makes a big deal afterwards saying “that’s the first time that there has ever been such a thing as four part harmony on stage with Led Zeppelin. Nice one. Today Zeppelin, tomorrow the Hollies.”
The ending of the show is notable for a stand out “Dazed And Confused.” Plant introduces the origin of the song as: “Three wise men followed a star and we got together in a small room, and we ran through some … a total of about five numbers which we preceded to record. This is the first thing that we ever played together, and at the end of the first attempt at playing it, we realized that, despite the effort of the Melody Maker to break us up, we shall carry on forever.” Scaled back from the forty-five epics on the final nights of the US tour in March, this version is extremely aggressive during the middle improvisation.
While Plant is introducing “Stairway To Heaven” John Paul Jones plays a bit of “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” on the mellotron to much laughter and amusement by the audience. “Stairway To Heaven” ends the set and the encores are “Whole Lotta Love” and “Black Dog.”
The Chancellor Of The Exchequeris packaged in a tri-fold gatefold sleeve and it stands as the best version of this relatively obscure show to date.