The Return Of Destroyer (Live Remains LR-04021/2/3)
Richfield Coliseum, Cleveland, OH – April 28th, 1977
Disc 1: The Song Remains The Same, Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, In My Time Of Dying, Surrender, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, Ten Years Gone
Disc 2: The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Black Country Woman, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Kashmir
Disc 3: Out On The Tiles/Moby Dick, guitar solo, Achillies Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, Rock & Roll, Trampled Underfoot
The tape for Zeppelin’s second night in Cleveland is one of the strangest. The tapers were located a ways from the stage, they were experiencing problems with their equipment, and he and his friends were not shy about expressing their opinions throughout the entire show. It is also obvious one of his friends attended the previous evening’s concert and liked to tell the others which song is coming next. Despite these obstacles this is considered one of, if not the best, audience document outside of the tapes for Los Angeles. Its reputation is due to it being very clear and powerful. Zeppelin was the perfect band to use the Richfield Coliseum’s questionable acoustics to their advantage and the result sounds like battery artillery storming the beachhead to the delight of a packed house.
This tape has been known as The Destroyer since it was released shortly after the event. It was first released as a vinyl box set on the Smilin’ Ears Records label complete with the famous painting of the warriors huddled on top of one another. CD releases include Destroyer II on Silver Rarities, Destroyer II on Last Stand Disc, the famous Destroyer – Storongest Edition on The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin and its reissue The Destroyer. It has appeared in three separate Tarantura box sets coupled with the soundboard recording from the previous evening’s concert in various quality. Finally it was issued in the Empress Valley Supreme Destroyers box set with the first Cleveland concert and the final Landover audience recording from May 30th.
These previous releases had various speed, editing and completeness issues. The Empress Valley version cut out almost fifteen minutes of “Moby Dick”. The TDOLZ first issue ran too slow. The Return Of Destroyer, released on the reformed Electric Magic label Live Remains, comes from very close to the master. It is very clear and powerful and runs at the correct speed. Some reviewers noted a cut and repeat at the beginning of “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”, but my copy doesn’t seem to have that. Perhaps this is a corrected edition?
The tape begins right when the house lights are turned off and the opening drum check in the dark. “The Song Remains The Same” begins as a furious pace that is slowed only by the three long blues based numbers on the first disc. I’ve wondered why they chose to play “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”, “In My Time Of Dying” and “Since I’ve Been Loving You” is a row and think replacing the middle song with “Over The Hills” later on in the tour was a smart move. But some people have pointed out that Plant gives one of this best vocal performances in these three. A fragment of “Surrender” is played before “Since”. It cuts in and cuts out eliminating any aural context presenting the listener with a mystery. Why was it played?
“No Quarter” contains the “Nutrocker” and is a welcome piece of levity in such a heavy concert. JPJ said the other band members wanted to keep this arrangement in the set list permanently. “Moby Dick” sounds massive in this recording (and the taper thinks “this sucks”), and the noise solo also sounds appropriately eerie. The finale, “Stairway To Heaven” and the encores are also a great ending to a fantastic show. The Return Of Destroyer is one of the better versions of this tape available and is worth having. The only real criticism is with the packaging since the label utilizes blurry copies of very common photos. The Frank Frazetta painting “The Destroyer” has always been associated with this tape and should have been included. If the packaging were more appealing this would have been perfect. But the tape is what matters and this is a winner on that score. (GS)