The Mighty Zeppelin Roars (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-62172EX)
Denver Coliseum, Denver, Colorado, USA – June 21, 1972
(57:47) Introduction, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, The Ocean, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Stairway To Heaven, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, Dazed And Confused, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll, Louie Louie, Thank You
The Dogs Of Doom Liberation Series Vol. 16 featured a recording from one of Led Zeppelin’s best, the North American tour during the summer of 1972, the date of June 21, 1972 Denver, Colorado. By this point the band had been out for nearly three weeks and were a well oiled machine, playing great and working the new material they were writing into the set. The date in Colorado was sandwiched between the two dates in Seattle and the California dates, the concerts were getting longer as the playing became more relaxed.
The just under an hour recording comes directly from the taper, Mr. John Bowes, who used an unknown model recording device on one Centron C-60 cassette, the result is a poor to fair recording that takes a pair of bootlegs ears to really even listen. The sound is very distant with the guitar and vocals being cleanest but the bass and drums are difficult to make out. You can tell there are drums in there, they’re just not clear and the bass is almost non existent. Thankfully, much of the cassette is listenable and once you focus and adjust you find a treasure within. The distance leads to the echo and boomy quality and there is a phase issue with the tape as the balance is off as well, do not be fooled this is a challenging listen. The only song on this recording without a cut in it is Black Dog, some of the songs are fragments. That is the bad part.
The good part is that it is an excellent performance, the band are in fine spirits and what is available is enjoyable. The introduction is the deep drone and Immigrant Song blasts over the audience like a storm, Jimmy’s solo is really good, you can hear him bending the strings as he rings the notes out. The first half of Heartbreaker is difficult to enjoy due to the phasing, it improves half way through and is a very powerful version. Thankfully by the time the band plays Black Dog the tape is clear and fairly detailed, one can barely pick up the drums and very occasional bass notes. Robert can still hit those soaring high notes singing effortlessly, the press reviews stated “Hearing his voice though, you’d never know it, for he lashed out in vocal riffs to match Jimmy Page’s guitar feedback and sang hard rock, blues, and soft folk tunes, without so much as crack or slight loss of melody. And he ranged all the way from baritone, up through tenor, even surpassing soprano, and I fully expected the Coliseum walls to come tumbling down on us all”.
The Ocean is introduced to zero fanfare, you can hear Bonzo’s “We’ve done four already” intro, the version here sounds incredible, the band are totally in sync sounding like it has been in the set for years. Only the first half of Since I’ve Been Loving You is present, probably the first half of the tape. Stairway starts side two and there is a noticeable drop in volume mainly, thankfully there is clarity as well as a constant bumping like quality to the sound. Jimmy’s solo is really good, at least what you can really pick out. It’s difficult to hear Plant’s between song comments before the acoustic section, the set up is long, the taper comments “electric Mandolin John Paul Jones” and you can hear them beginning to play Going To California before the tape cuts into Bron-Y-Aur Stomp joined in progress. The sound is actually pretty good for the acoustic song, distant but clear enough to hear the guitars and tambourine, the audience clap to the strumming. Robert sings a line from the Three Dog Night classic One before the band launch into Dazed And Confused.
The sound actually levels off pretty nicely for Dazed And Confused, you can pick out Bonzo’s drum patterns and Jimmy’s playing is really interesting, seemingly adding bits as he goes along and at the 4:35 mark it sounds like something that will turn into The Song Remains The Same. Bonzo is playing part of the drums for sure and Jimmy plays just a couple of notes that catch your ear, this eventually evolves into the Bow solo. Dazed cuts at the 9:36 mark, the recording picks up into Whole Lotta Love, it’s all snippets and tape stretches caused by hitting the pause button, a fan with a very keen ear picked up the band playing Johnny Winter’s Mean Mistreater, it was mentioned in the press review but damn, great catch. A little over a minute of Rock And Roll gives way to an incomplete yet killer 47 second version of Louie Louie followed by two minutes of Thank You, the middle section and we get a bit of Jimmy’s solo. Poor sound, lots of cuts and you still get what a great performance this was.
The packaging is typical Graf Zeppelin, great live shots all from the same show, pictures of the cassette master are on the interior tray insert. The title comes from the newspaper review of the concert, a mostly favorable write up that says the concert was at least three plus hours, certainly inline with the second night in Seattle. This title is part of the Graf Zeppelin gift series so it is somewhat rare, the quality of the recording will keep it that way. Unfortunately, this is a recording that will not get repeated plays and is really a completest title. That being said, thankfully Graf Zeppelin has put it out there on a silver CD as no other labels are touching it.