Led Zeppelin – Zep Vs Boston (Image Quality IQ-078/079)

Zep Vs Boston (Image Quality IQ-078/079)

Boston Garden, Boston, MA – July 20th, 1973

Disc 1 (46:22):  Rock And Roll, Celebration Day, Black Dog, Over the Hills And Far Away, No Quarter, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song

Disc 2 (62:56):  Dazed and Confused (incl. San Francisco), Stairway to Heaven,  Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love (incl. Let That Boy Boogie)

Image Quality were one of the Japanese silver labels in the nineties who wanted to release the entire unofficial Led Zeppelin tape catalogue.  One of their final efforts was Zep Vs Boston utilizes what was at the time the only tape source for the July 20th, 1973 Boston show.  It is poor to fair, distant, muddy and the bass tends to distort the sound.  The tape omits the first ninety seconds of “Rock And Roll,” the first two verses.  The tape picks up at the second verse’s “lonely time” before the guitar solo.  There are also cuts in “No Quarter” at 7:38 and a small cut after “Stairway To Heaven.”

Boston occurs in the final week of the tour and is one of the strangest Led Zeppelin shows captured on tape.  On a tour noted for the wildness of the audiences and throwing of firecrackers, this show ranks as the absolute worst.   

The trouble begins after “Over The Hills And Far Away” when Plant says:  “Easy. You don’t want to break those things down. So please stop pushing forward. If you don’t stop pushing forward we’re gonna have to stop until everybody can move back a bit. Is that understood please? I’m sure people sometimes get a little bit deaf.” 

After a pause he continues with crowd control, “Now we’ll try to keep you as cool as you can. Can you push back because everytime we come to Boston we have such a good time with so many good people, right? Eighteen and a half thousand people, but one thing, listen. There are people at the front who are gonna get hurt. So please some how distribute yourselves about otherwise the concert’s no good if you can’t do that, you know?”

They drop “Misty Mountain Hop” and “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and “try and play something a little soft while you try to scurry around. This is for the benefit of those people who like to hear a little subtlety in amongst the melee. No Quarter.”  They deliver a laid back version of the piece where Jimmy Page plays a David Gilmour sounding guitar solo during the middle improvisation.

Plant continues the crowd control afterwards saying:  “Really, I’ll tell you we’ve done so, we’ve done a lot of concerts. We’ve played to thousands of people. A lot of people are cool in as much as they understand that they’re people who really want to enjoy the concert behind them. Why don’t you just cool it a bit, eh? Everytime we come here, cool it. I know how it feels, but you still got to cool it.”  The audience don’t appreciate the soft “The Rain Song” and grow a bit impatient until the hard rock section of the piece kicks in. 

“Dazed And Confused” is very intense and rile up the audience.  So much so that afterwards Plant says sarcastically:  “I don’t know what local football team is called, but it’s just been playing for an hour and a half in front of our feet”.  They drop “Moby Dick” and play out the rest of the set and leave.  “Thank you and good night, Led Zeppelin are gone,” the mc announces with the audience milling around like they don’t believe it.

The decision is a correct once since many very loud M80s are set off.  Their affect is truly unsettling, having the Garden sound like a war-zone.  It is a shame because the band were on a definite peak in this period and were playing outstandingly.  And, as events would dictate, this would be Led Zeppelin’s final performance in a city that embraced them so warmly at the beginning of their career.  Image Quality utilize a double fatboy jewel case with the photograph motif on the front cover and various Laurence Ratner tour photos on the artwork.  It is a good production, but the Joe Maloney tape that surfaced many years after this is far better sounding, and this release is good for completists only.   

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