Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY, USA – February 7, 1975
Disc 1 (58:01) 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, Trampled Underfoot
Disc 2 (51:45) Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, Heartbreaker
Led Zeppelin’s tour of 1975 has always appealed and intrigued me, I love the long drawn out jams of March as well as the sporadically uneven January dates, fraught with Robert’s poor voice and Jimmy’s injured finger. When one really looks at the early 75 dates, other than Greensboro, they are not as bad as some portray them to be. Of course if you compare them to 69-73 some do not measure up but for the most part the majority of 1975 is well played and yet a bit monotonous. The concert dates in January and February were a quite aggressive schedule, usually three days on, one day off, hardly time for Robert to fully recover yet Page was a different story. He gets back into shape quickly and by the time they hit the metro New York City area, he is beginning to get into a really nice stride. The band would play six dates in the area, three at the famed Madison Square Gardens, three at the Nassau Coliseum. Thankfully recordings of all three concerts circulate with five of the six being mostly complete or entirely, the first night at Nassau being the exception as it is a short eighty minute fragment.
The third of the New York City dates is the second at the Garden, there are two known recordings of the concert in existence, both incomplete. Recorder 1 is the subject of this new title from the No Label folks. The mono audience source falls in the good range, slightly distant but clear and detailed with all instruments and vocals discernible, if anything it lacks dynamics thus a bit flat sounding. It has been released a couple times in the vinyl era, Plant Waves (Wizardo WRMB 337A/B) features In My Time Of Dying, Trampled Underfoot, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog and Heartbreaker from this show (the rest is from Detroit Jan 31, 1975) and Trampled Underfoot (Cream Of The Crop LZ#1-4) features the most complete version of the tape. For this new title No Label has given us a needle drop, aka vinyl transfer, of the Cream Of The Crop record. Other than this new release the only other release containing material from this recording was Trampled Underfoot (Cobra Standard 028), a title that used the second recording to offer a more complete concert but one I never bothered to seek out as the Cobra titles I did have were over mastered to the max and save one, have all been dumped off long ago.
The LP transfer is excellent, while there are times you can tell you are hearing a record, the vinyl used was extremely clean and after slight mastering no real pops clicks like some drops. The recording begins with the taper himself with the opening announcement “Ladies and Gentlemen we present for your listening pleasure…Led Zeppelin”, as Rock and Roll begins, it takes a couple minutes for the sound levels to rise. Robert’s voice is very rough, typical for January 75 and is quite painful sounding. The rest of the band are playing well, Bonzo does a nice drum fill to transition into Sick Again and the sound clears and perks up even more. Both songs of the opening salvo are competent and strong musically and serve as a nice warm up for the band. Plant’s opening speech afterwards talks of the cross section rap, and new music from Physical Graffitti “an LP which is sooner or later gonna come out…this isn’t so new…” leading into Page playing the opening chords of Over The Hills And Far Away. The song starts off strong but Page loses his concentration during the solo and his timing seems off after that.
In My Time Of Dying has Plant referencing his poor health yet the song has the band getting back into their stride, this is carrier over with a great The Song Remains The Same although the sound dips a bit for The Rain Song making it sound lackluster when coupled with Robert’s rather soft vocals, he does not push it at all. At times the audience sounds almost non existent and the group is playing in isolation perhaps that is what is lackluster, the typical crazy New York audience is surprisingly mellow. Kashmir is great, Page’s Les Paul is nice in the mix and these 75 versions are the real deal, there is a cut repeat at 3:30 that sounds like it is from the record! Trampled Under Foot should get an award for most consistent song on the 75 tour dates, seems like every night the song is really strong, the Bonham Jones rhythm section locks in and allows Jimmy to do his wah pedal workouts, even Robert starts to push it, sadly the song fades at the end.
This is the fourth version of Dazed and Confused and the band continue to improve with each version. Again Jones and Bonham are playing very well providing the crucial foundation for Page to work his magic. Jones play some nice bass during the oriental riffs section, Plant sings San Francisco very softly and sounds rather mournful in the process. Page’s bow solo is quite nice yet slightly cut, the band play a funky part before going into the fast section and as the band keep going it sounds as if they’re making it on the spot. Certainly a unique and cool version of the song, reminds me of the version from Baltimore in 1973.
Stairway To Heaven is the culmination of the gig, typical version, Page begins the solo almost note for note from the studio version before he begins to elaborate. The audience comes alive for Whole Lotta Love. Stairway has interjected life into the arena, Black Dog continues and the audience help Plant with the ah ahhs as usual. After being dusted off in Montreal the previous evening, Heartbreaker makes another appearance as the last encore and would continue to be played sporadically during the remainder of the tour, sometimes switching spots with Communication Breakdown. Well played concert by Page, Bonham, and Jones but a very rough night for Robert and while his voice is not strong, his charisma is.
The packaging is typical for No Label, this time they use the vinyl LP cover art work, as they should. The inner tray and CD’s have the Cream Of The Crop record center label on them, while not elaborate by any means, for a title and material like this, nothing else is really needed, except for that numbered sticker. I was glad to see this title when it was announced and really enjoy it, at the same time I find it a bit frustrating. I would have much more preferred that the Label use both sources to compile as complete a version as possible, let’s face it this concert gets overshadowed by the last three which have perfect soundboard recordings that circulate so it’s not like we’ll get several versions of it. Nice release but like many of the No Label Zeppelin releases that have flooded the market, unless you want to fill a gap, this is certainly not essential.