The King’s Of The Stone Age (Eelgrass EGL20253/54/55)
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY – February 13, 1975
Disc 1: (56:42) Introduction, Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, In My Time Of Dying, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir
Disc 2: (55:13) No Quarter, Trampled Underfoot, Moby Dick
Disc 3: (79:37) Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog – Roll Over Beethoven, Communication Breakdown (with Ronnie Wood)
Announced in late June 2013, Empress Valley’s latest “Soundboard Revolution” featured Led Zeppelin’s complete stereo soundboard from February 13, 1975 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Any new soundboard from Zeppelin is cause for excitement but the board tapes from 1975 have a real warm sound to them that in my opinion makes them much more enjoyable (for sound quality, that is) than the soundboards from both 1973 and 1977 so when this was announced I knew we were in for a real treat.
Unfortunately, Led Zeppelin started the year off in very rough shape. Plant’s voice was damaged and Jimmy had a broken finger which made for some awkward uneven shows at the start of the tour but luckily, a couple weeks in things really started to turn around even if Robert never quite fully recovered.
EV’s offerings came in the form of two versions, The King’s Of The Stone Age [a 9CD box set containing both this and the following night at Nassau Coliseum and included the audience recording from the 13th, previously released as Fighting Back At The Coliseum (EVSD 166/167/168)] and Jamming With A Woody [a standard 3CD version in a gatefold sleeve]. Eelgrass follows in their normal fashion of issuing an exact copy of the EV set. Empress definitely deserves praise for finding and releasing these important documents as does Eelgrass for offering a more affordable option for the less fortunate collectors.
“Ladies and Gentleman, the American return of Led Zeppelin” has everyone on their feet as the band get ready for “Rock And Roll”. The recording starts out slightly distorted and is a bit bass heavy but after some adjustments will even out and settle into another superb ’75 soundboard. During “Sick Again” Jimmy is still trying to loosen things up in the solo and Jones gets lost for a few seconds after but Page’s solo at the end is much smoother to better effect.
“Tonight we are feeling good” Robert assures the fans. He gives his usual shtick about the cross section of music that will be performed and says “This is one of the ones that ain’t quite so old” as Page starts “Over The Hills And Far Away”. Plant, who is still having a rough time with his voice, takes the low road with the vocal and plays it very safe trying not to push too hard so early in the concert. Jones and Bonham are totally locked in and Page is very fluid and includes some outstanding licks in the solo.
Plant talks about the release of Physical Graffiti being “only 10 months late” and the band embark on a ten minute journey through “In My Time Of Dying”. Zeppelin was always great when it came to reinventing old traditional songs but they really outdid themselves with this one, turning it into something all their own. “The Song Remains The Same” has Page at full strength. His fingers show little sign of his recent broken finger now and the great recording highlights John Paul Jones’ outstanding bass parts. A very nice version of “The Rain Song” follows with Jones as the orchestra.
“Kashmir” sounds very heavy in this concert. Bonham is rock solid but Plant sounds tentative in his vocal. The bass pedals overpower the recording and cause some overloading during the ascending climbs at the end. There is a cut in the tape following “Kashmir” that misses a few words of Robert’s comments. “No Quarter” is a 20 minute epic complete with a lengthy electric piano solo from John Paul Jones. His piano playing is always entertaining but he gets into some interesting funky riffs tonight as he jams with Bonzo and they get very experimental in this version. Page enters soon after and proceeds to meddle about, slowly developing his solo.
Jones continues on keys and switches over to Clavinet for “Trampled Underfoot”. Plant’s vocals seem more consistent here and the band as a whole is very tight and just plain rocks it. They quickly recover from a missed cue avoiding a disaster while the rest of the track goes off without a hitch. “Moby Dick” is a massive 25 minute undertaking that is a nice break for the rest of the band while Bonham gets a real workout. He is inspired tonight and his solo is remarkable with machine-like precision. He is introduced as “Moby Bonham…soloist extraordinaire” by Plant.
“Dazed And Confused” is another masterful version that extends beyond 40 minutes. It includes “San Francisco” which starts off very delicately here and Jimmy jams on a small bit of “Cat’s Squirrel” at about the 22 minute mark in which Jones quickly follows. A rather sloppy version of “Walter’s Walk” also finds its way into the fast section.
“This is a song that we enjoy…a hell of a lot” is “Stairway’s” simple introduction. The Mellotron sounds very nice with Jones playing some interesting variations of the original parts. His playfulness carries over into the electric piano and throughout the rest of the song. “Whole Lotta Love” also sounds a bit sloppy tonight as if it is being forced. The Theremin, which is featured here for the first time during the tour, is distant in the mix at the start but will kick in to feature some of Page’s best work on the bizarre instrument. The classic ’75 arrangement is joined with “Black Dog”. The rhythm section hits a rough patch during the ending solo but they hold it together regardless.
For the second encore they return with a special guest. This is a rare occasion at a Zeppelin concert and Plant introduces Ron Wood who will join Jimmy on second guitar. He says “Rod Stewart would have liked to have made it but he’s drunk in the back”. While Page gives Wood a crash course on the track, Robert sings a line from “Roll Over Beethoven”. “This is an old Led Faces number called Communication Breakdown”, he adds. Ronnie fudges his way through the basic arrangement but totally shines in the solos. They hit on “It’s Your Thing” like the early days and Page and Wood get some time to trade licks. This is truly a historic event in rock history that has to be heard and is now thankfully available in superb soundboard quality. This is definitely a triumphant finish to a smoking hot Zeppelin performance (by ’75 standards, anyway).
Eelgrass utilizes the fatboy jewel case to house the three discs and includes live shots of Jimmy and Robert only. The label doesn’t offer any fancy packaging option and is able to keep the cost down for the average collector. The King’s Of The Stone Age from Eelgrass is an excellent alternative to the Empress titles if you don’t mind the standard no frills packaging and is an essential recording for Zeppelin collectors.