LED ZEPPELIN “Deus Ex Machina” – Seattle, Center Coliseum 21 march 1975 – (EVSD 2017 – BOOTLEG)

10 Ago

ITALIAN / ENGLISH

La premessa ad un nuovo bootleg del 1975 dei LZ è sempre quella, ovvero che bisogna tener conto delle condizioni con cui il gruppo affrontò il tour americano del 1975. Page poco prima di partire si fa male all’anulare della mano sinistra, Plant arrivato a Chicago si prende una bronchite che lo costringerà a cantare – da gennaio  a marzo – nonostante grossi problemi alla voce, e se a tutto questo aggiungiamo poi l’entrata in scena di certe sostanze, gli squilibri dati dall’enorme successo e l’edonismo sfrenato di cui inizia ad essere vittima il chitarrista, il gioco è fatto.

Pur con questi problemi, quelli del 1975 rimangono ugualmente i Led Zeppelin, musica cosmica in perfetto equilibrio tra pancia e mente, un look da vere rockstar e un aurea leggendaria, e pazienza se le performance dei duei membri più in vista del gruppo non sono sempre perfette.

Esce dunque per la prima volta la registrazione soundboard (ovvero presa dal mixer) del secondo concerto a Seattle del tour. Fino ad oggi era disponibile nel giro dei fan e degli amanti delle registrazioni dal vivo una registrazione audience (presa dal pubblico) piuttosto buona, e proprio grazie a questa il concerto in questione ha da sempre una nomea particolare, per molti infatti resta il miglior show del 1975 in terra d’America. Io all’epoca comprai i due bootleg relativa, 4 lp che presentavano lo show in maniera incompleta e senza rispettare l’ordine della scaletta. 45.000 lire l’uno. Altri tempi.

Led Zeppelin “214” Seattle 21/3/78 LP – foto TT

Led Zeppelin “214” Seattle 21/3/78 LP – foto TT

Led Zeppelin “207.19” Seattle 21/3/78 LP – foto TT

Led Zeppelin “207.19” Seattle 21/3/78 LP – foto TT

Dal punto di vista del visual il tour del 1975 è più cupo del precedente. Se si guardano le foto del 1973 si nota sempre una luce positiva, i palchi erano colorati, gli impianti luci brillanti, e il mood del gruppo solare, rispecchiando un po’ l’atmosfera gioiosa dell’albm Houses Of The Holy.

LZ San Antonio 22 may 1973 – photo Carl Dunn

Nel 1975 tutto si fa più tenebroso. Il look di Page e Plant è vincente ma il resto è al limite del pauroso, del misterioso, dal sound che il gruppo ha fino alle vibrazioni che sembrano circondare l’entourage Zeppelin. Come accennato sostanze chimiche pesanti entrano in scena, tutto diventa più sfuocato e a tratti senza controllo. Il suono della batteria è profondo, cupo (pur rimanendo un suono vivo), mentre quello della chitarra di Page è stranamente più pulito. Il sound complessivo è ottimo, o perlomeno a me piace molto. I soundboard del 1975 sono in media fantastici per quanto riguarda la qualità audio, tra le registrazioni dei questo tipo sono i migliori di sempre. La Empress Valley Supreme Discs ne ha fatti uscire parecchi in questi anni, si dice che nelle sue mani ne abbia ancora un bel po’. Certo, i fan dei LZ preferirebbero soundboard del 1971 o di altre date magiche del gruppo, ma visto che non si può scegliere credo che si debba essere sempre felici quando un soundboard mai pubblicato precedentemente fa capolino. Non capisco come uno si possa dire fan in senso stretto dei Led Zeppelin e poi snobbare uscite del genere solo perché Plant ha problemi di voce e Page pesca spesso nel torbido. Se sei un vero fan, ogni nuovo soundboard lo devi avere, anche perché in quasi tutti i concerti del gruppo ci sono momenti di eccellenza o perlomeno interessanti.

Led Zeppelin Deus ex Machina Seattle 21-3-75 (EVSD 2017)

TITLE: Led Zeppelin ““Deus Ex Machina″

LABEL: Empress Valley Supreme Discs

TYPE: Soundboard (previously unreleased)

SOUND QUALITY: TTTTT

PERFORMANCE: TTTT

ARTWORK: TTTT

BAND MOOD: TTTT½

COLLECTION ZEP FAN: TTTTT

Tempo fa uscì il teaser di HEARTBREAKER, versione piuttosto sloppy che contribuì ad abbassare le mie aspettative. Oggi che ho per le mani la registrazione completa constato che, dopo una prima reazione del tipo “I’m not impressed”, il concerto sta crescendo molto dentro di me e gradualmente sta raggiungendo la cima della classifica relativa ai miei preferiti del 1975 ovvero NY MSG 12 febbraio 1975 e Los Angeles Forum 24-25-27 marzo 1975 ( ma di questi ultimi tre esiste solo la registrazione audience, dunque mi riservo di rivalutarli una volta che usciranno – speriamo –  i soundboard).

Prima di iniziare a parlare del concerto vale la pena ricordare che è facile oggi analizzare nel profondo ogni minimo particolare ed essere un po’ critici, non va scordato infatti che stiamo parlando di giovani uomini ripresi on the road negli anni settanta, giovani uomini alle prese con tutto quello che l’America poteva offrire all’epoca, giovani uomini sballottati  di qua e di là, tanto per dire: il 17 marzo a Seattle, il 19 e il 20 a Vancouver, il 21 di nuovo a Seattle… magari in un contesto del genere è facile perdere l’orientamento e avere una sorta di di jet lag dei sensi.

La scaletta del 1975 non mi ha mai fatto impazzire, SICK AGAIN ad esempio per me è un pezzo dei LZ assolutamente rimpiazzabile. Da PHYSICAL GRAFFITI furono scelti solo pezzi tetri e/o epici. SICK AGAIN appunto, IN MY TIME OF DYING, TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT e KASHMIR. Mi chiedo come fecero a lasciar fuori CUSTARD PIE, TEN YEARS GONE e IN THE LIGHT. Certo, di solito una band propone i pezzi che vengono bene in situazione live, ma d’altra parte TEN YEARS GONE fu proposta dal vivo nel 1977 e 1979 e CUSTARD PIE nel periodo PAGE & PLANT, Avrebbero di sicuro reso il mood più colorato e vario.

ROCK AND ROLL e SICK AGAIN sono buone, qualche lieve sbandata ma tutto ok. “And it’s been a long time Seattle” dice Plant prima dell’assolo di Page in ROCK AND ROLL; per gli standard del 1975 RP è in formissima.

RP: Seattle, good evenin’! Good evening. Well, we went across the border. It was alright but it’s much better back here. And that’s, and that’s no lie. That’s the truth. What we intend, what we intend to do tonight is to, uh, to relieve our physical, uh, pent-up-ness on stage, and then to relieve it later on after the gig elsewhere. Now the thing is, what we intend to do is to try and give you a cross section of, of what we’ve been trying to produce and write over the last six and a half years. As you know, as you notice, uh, the material varies greatly, and so you will appreciate that we take it from one extreme to the other. And what better way to start than to gaze out under the horizon and see what tomorrow may bring.

L’umore di Plant è ottimo, sente che la voce è meno soggetta ai problemi che lo assillano da gennaio e dopo tutto sa che Seattle è una delle città dei Led Zeppelin, non è Los Angeles, ma l’isterismo del pubblico (vedi la registrazione audience) è assolutamente percepibile. All’inizio di OVER THE HILLS Page pasticcia un po’e sbaglia l’accordo di DO, roba da principianti, l’accordatura inoltre non sembra perfetta, ma il resto prosegue bene. L’assolo è ispirato, il Dark Lord cerca con successo soluzioni nuove, il gioco sui bicordi è delizioso. La chitarra è leggermente in secondo piano, questo vale per tutto il concerto, basso, tastiere e pedaliera basso sono invece ben presenti (e questo è sempre una gran cosa in generale, odio le registrazioni dove il basso e le tastiere si sentono poco). La risposta del pubblico è fortissima.

Led Zeppelin Deus ex Machina Seattle 21-3-75 (EVSD 2017)

RP: Thank you very much, well. You’ve probably heard that one before, yeah? There’s one demand that I’d like to make, apart from that you enjoy what we’re doing, and that is that you don’t sway around too much in the front because somebody might get hurt, okay? I’ve seen it happen and it’s very gory. In England we have soccer matches where the same sort of thing happens. Only the soccer is terrific. Right, now, it came to pass that, that I, hah. It came to pass that after eighteen months of just sittin’ down on our backsides, forming Swan Song Records and, and messin’ around, generally, we finally managed to put a record into the shops, Physical Graffiti, …. Once again, a lot of variations in musically, intend to give you, ahh. We intend to give you some of that tonight. If we got any left.

IN MY TIME OF DYING fila via liscia, nel break dove Plant rimane da solo lo si sente “chiamare” l’entrata di Jimmy che però o è distratto o semplicemente decide di entrare due giri dopo.

RP: Thank you very much. That was taken from, uh, that was, uh, we were inspired, should we say, from something that came from an old work song, a long long time ago before they started putting music down on pieces of paper. In the South of the North American states. Uh, this song has a different story altogether, this next one. It relates to our travels and our voyages and, um, experiences. Uh, with all kinds of people in all kinds of situations, we always find that we end up having a very nice time. After, after the initial confrontation, whatever language, whatever creed, whatever guitar, whatever road manager. Did I tell you about Raymond? Poor Raymond’s working with us with a broken leg. Raymond Thomas, from Scotland, with a broken leg! A broken leg! Poor Raymond. Anyways, so was I was saying, ‘The Song Remains the Same.’

Anche TSRST è buona. Qualche sbavatura di Page nella prima parte lenta ma niente di che. In alcuni momenti sembra di ascoltare il Plant che tutti conosciamo e immaginiamo. JPJ cerca strade alternative ed è molto eccitante ascoltare quello che fa. Ormai leggendaria tra i fan la frase “Seattle won’t you listen now” che il biondo di Birmingham inserisce nel testo.

In THE RAIN SONG la chitarra di Page non sembra accordata perfettamente e anche il mellotron sembra sempre al limite. E’ bene rammentare che il mellotron era la tastiera che in quegli anni simulava una orchestra di archi. Ad ogni tasto era collegato un nastro pre-registrato che a sua volta quando selezionato si appoggiava ad una testina che riproduceva il suono, una volta che il tasto smetteva di essere premuto, il nastro veniva riavvolto all’inizio. Facile intuire quanto fosse problematico portare in tour uno strumento del genere. L’umidità e altre variabili rendevano la tenuta dell’accordatura difficile. In THE RAIN SONG si può capire quanto fosse complicata la gestione. Ad ogni modo, buona versione.

Led Zeppelin Deus ex Machina Seattle 21-3-75 (EVSD 2017)

RP: It is the summer of my smiles. It should be the summer of everybody’s smiles, right? Even our friend, …, who plays the mellotron, John Paul Jones on mellotron. John Paul Jones. Mellotron is, uh, a very easy way of carrying around a thirty-six piece orchestra, uh, with the aid of tapes and, good evening. John Paul Jones is a very easy way of being an orchestra. And to prove this he’s gonna play in the, uh, standard, um, middle-asian-eastern style of, uh, violin playing on this next piece. We’d like to dedicate this to, uh, everybody who we’ve met in Seattle. This time we’ve been a groove and a gas. And we didn’t really meet and we didn’t really meet enough people either. At least of the right gender. This is called ‘Kashmir.’

Di nuovo il mellotron per KASHMIR; Page con la Danelectro accordata in dadgad. Nella sezione All I see turns to brown As the sun burns the ground And my eyes fill with sand As I scan this wasted land qualcosa sembra non funzionare tra gli arrangiamenti della chitarra e quelli delle tastiere, la stessa cosa accade nel finale.

RP: Is this an Elvis Presley show or what? Hi, everybody. That last song holds great significance for us, really, because Kashmir is a place we haven’t been yet. Hah. So if we can write a song about it before we get there, what happens when we get there?  A song now with, another journey. A journey with, uh, more somber intonations, I think. This features, once again, the nimble fingers of John Paul Jones. This is a song about a journey where there can be ‘No Quarter.’

NO QUARTER è uno dei momenti che aspetto con più trepidazione, la parte strumentale di improvvisazione è spesso magnifica e ci apre le porte a passaggi verso le profondità cosmiche. Plant può permettersi di spingere come faceva in passato, ed è un sollievo sentirlo più o meno libero di cantare seguendo l’istinto. L’assolo di piano è appassionante, Jones è ispirato e voglioso di sperimentare. Al minuto 5:36 cita IN A PERSIAN MARKET del grande Ketèlbey, poi si infila nei soliti passaggi pieni di blues misterioso fino ad arrivare a GEORGIA ON MY MIND. Il tempo scelto per la parte in cui entra Bonham è più sostenuto del solito. Starei ad ascoltare ore il groove creato dalla coppia Jones/Bonham. Vista la velocità della sezione ritmica Page fatica un po’ a trovare i giusti innesti chitarristici. L’assolo non è ispiratissimo, Page sembra rifarsi ai soliti cliché . Intendiamoci, ci sta, perché non credo sia facile mantenere in continuazione e ad alti livelli alti la concentrazione e la vena compositiva. Page è uno dei più grandi improvvisatori che la musica rock abbia mai avuto (per quanto riguarda la chitarra per me sicuramente è il numero 1), ma credo sia comprensibile che alla fine di un tour fatto di concerti di 3 e passa ore dove lo spazio per l’improvvisazione è tanto ci siano momenti in cui l’estro sia un po’ in riserva. Se pensiamo che nel tour del 1975 NO QUARTER durava circa mezz’ora e DAZED AND CONFUSED 40 minuti (come in questo caso) è facile capire come il chitarrismo di Page abbia cercato ad espandersi come fa l’universo, serate o fasi sotto tono sono quindi da mettere in preventivo (per la cronaca, non dimentichiamoci di altri 30 minuti per MOBY DICK).

Al minuto 18,40 Jones inizia la sperimentazione selvaggia, quella parte dove contorni armonici e strutture vanno in frantumi e si entra nel cosmo più profondo, Page è abbandonato a se stesso senza più riferimenti mentre Jones salta da una galassia musicale all’altra. Momenti forse eccentrici ma a mio modo di vedere vitali. Mai sentita un’ altra band dedita all’hard rock fare cose del genere. A Page torna l’ispirazione al minuto 23. Altri 90 secondi di ricerca chitarristica. Alla fine il pubblico capisce la grandezza della musica appena ascoltata e va in visibilio.

Led Zeppelin Deus ex Machina Seattle 21-3-75 (EVSD 2017)

A questo punto la band è pronta per TRAMPLED UNDEFOOT, Jones è al clavinet, prova il suono, quando Plant decide di riportare tutti indietro con il blues del terzo album, pezzo proposto solo un paio di volte durante il tour.

RP: John Paul Jones, grand piano. A … another Englishman in New York …, um, who’s various members of the rock and roll, uh, heirarchy, have decided to call the Incredible Shrinking Man. Uh, Mr David Bowie, wherever you are, I’ve got your hat. Now as I said to you before, um, we didn’t, we didn’t do any gigs for eighteen months. We all sat at home and ate chocolates and watched the TV. And tried to see what it was like to be straight. Didn’t work. And since then we’ve, uh, we’ve embarked on this tour of the United States, ahh, which’s been fantastic, really good. We found out that, uh, we found out that everything we thought we could do with, everything we thought we could do before we could do better now, you see? Well, unfortunately, unfortunately, music-wise, if we were to try and prove that every night we should be on the doctors orders constantly, we would have no time for anything else but music and you must have other interests when you’re on the road, right? You understand that? Anyways, there’s one song that we’ve done twice in, in, I suppose, since we got ripped off for all that bread in New York, ages ago. Um, because we really dig playing here, for no other reason, we’re gonna do it again now. It’s, uh, yeah. I don’t think anybody else in the band knows about it yet. Just a little bit of change in, uh. Sorry about that, John. And this, you see? Right on this spot. It could be ‘Louie Louie’, but instead it’s, it’s a thing from the third album that, um. ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You.’

Sebbene SIBLY sia un brano non esattamente previsto all’interno della scaletta del 1975, la trasposizione resa dalla band è di tutto rispetto. Grande JPJ alla pedaliera basso che, lo ricordo, suona mentre è alle tastiere. L’arrangiamento non si discosta troppo da quello del tour del 1973.

RP Well nobody expected that, least of all, us. That’s what it’s all about. (I got a … that’s made for a necktie.) A lot of distinguished people in the wings tonight. A Mr Peter Grant, known as Panama Pete to the Seattle police, Panama Pete. Peter Grant! Sorry, Petey, you didn’t go down too well. Ha ha ha. We got a friend called Lou, who’s birthday it is today. Lou, happy birthday, Lou. Got a guy who plays the drums and kicks the shit out of everybody in his drum, John Bonham. Here goes a song from Physical Graffiti, to, uh, to make your toes curl up. It’s a song, uh, related to the motions of a motorcar, which really, is all about ladies like you, my dear. It’s called ‘Trampled Underfoot.’ And long may we trample.

TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT è affrontata con la solita ferocia ma il risultato è un po’ confuso intorno al minuto 2:00 dove il gruppo si perde un po’. L’assolo di Jones non è tra i più riusciti. Quello di Page è simile ad una corsa di cavalli selvaggi, qualcuno scarta all’improvviso e cade ma il resto continua a correre in modo gagliardo con le criniere al vento. Alcune frasi di chitarra producono l’effetto voluto.

RP: With just a little bit of ‘Gallows Pole’ thrown in. I think this concert has the right vibes for a good time, yeah? No pretense. Everything is just straight on the level. It’s really nice, really feels good. uh, our wishes and, um, heartfelt sorrow go out to Benji LeFevebre, who’s suffering from a social disease, at the moment. Poor Benji. Don’t forget to pop into the clinic in California. Panama Pete’s still in the wings and we’re still here. Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you, John Bonham! ‘Moby Dick!’

Quasi trenta minuti di assolo di batteria. Mi chiedo cosa pensassero gli spettatori. D’accordo, si trattava di John Bonham, ma … ad ogni modo alla fine del pezzo c’è un’ovazione. Plant chiede se tutti si stanno divertendo, domanda retorica, la risposta è il delirio assoluto. Seattle e i Led Zeppelin sono connessi, non vi è dubbio.

RP: John Bonham! John Bonham! John Bonham! ‘Moby Dick!’ ‘Moby Dick!’ Tonight, on the Johnny Carson show. Well that was too much. Is everybody, uh, enjoying themselves? Mr Page is havin’ a fit. There’s a little bit of a discrepancy about a guitar and a man who is being held by the police and all sorts of things. Quite a, quite a story going on behind the scenes. I think we’ll dedicate this to the innocent party, whoever or wherever he may be in this giant intrude that goes on. As we try and maintain law and order in society, without, not us, but everybody, ya know, so, it’s a communal effort. This is, uh, something that we should dedicate to the difference and the balances between law and order and where they start crossing each other’s lives. 

DAZED AND CONFUSED stasera è tra le più leggendarie. 40 minuti di esoterismo musicale, di sperimentazioni, di indagini nel subconscio. Al di là di qualche imperfezione di Plant e Page, l’esposizione del pezzo in questa serata va oltre il mito. Le improvvisazioni di Page tra lo spagnoleggiante e l’indecifrabile prima del lento arpeggio (minuto 7:00) ci portano in mondi sconosciuti. Il chitarrista cerca passaggi nello spazio tempo e lo fa col suo grande intuito. Rientra poi la band sull’arpeggio MI- DO, Plant stasera ci canta sopra FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH dei Buffalo Springfield. Magnifico Jones al basso. Plant continua con WOODSTOCK di Joni Mitchell. L’atmosfera creata è meravigliosa. Ad un certo momento Page si dà al reggae e Robert accenna a I SHOT THE SHERIFF di Marley. L’archetto entra in scena circa al minuto 14:00. 420 secondi di mistica allo stato puro a cui seguono 13 minuti di accelerazioni chitarristiche e di stacchi strumentali e vocali di un’altra dimensione. Dopo l’ultima strofa ci sono ulteriori 5 minuti di improvvisazioni chitarristiche. Come Page facesse a mantenere un livello di espressività così alto è un mistero.

Sebbene (come ripetutopiù volte) Page e Plant non fossero al top della forma, questa rimane una delle DAZED AND CONFUSED più leggendarie mai suonate dai Led Zeppelin. Come loro nessuno mai!

 

RP: Master guitarist, Jimmy Page! We shall keep you less than a moment. Well, uh, a couple of years ago when we were here, we, uh, remember Kingsmen? That’s the trouble with you. You American people, you have all this great, musical heritage.
Well that was the Kingsmen, right? And they came from Seattle. I want you to try and remember that. When we go to New Orleans nobody’s heard of … or Aaron Neville or Betty … and all these people came from New Orleans so you really must brush up on. This one character that you know came from Seattle who, I didn’t really know that well, but we’d like to dedicate this piece of music to the, the amount of work that Jimi Hendrix gave. And the amount, the amount of inspiration that he gave everybody in the business. Everybody in the whole rock and roll world.

Led Zeppelin Deus ex Machina Seattle 21-3-75 (EVSD 2017)

“Mastro chitarrista Jimmy Page” esclama Plant alla fine di e il pubblico risponde nell’unica maniera possibile, è un trionfo. Plant poi parla della eredità musicale di SEATTLE, cita i Kingsmen e Page accenna a Louie Louie, poi il biondo di Birmingham omaggia Jimi Hendrix, dedicando alla sua memoria il pezzo che segue.

Dal 1975 in poi STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN è l’ultimo pezzo in scaletta prima dei bis. Malgrado nell’assolo Page tenda ad appoggiarsi ai cliché, riesce comunque a tirare fuori fraseggi convincenti.

RP: Seattle, you’ve been great. Thank you very much. We ‘ve really enjoyed ourselves. Thanks a lot. Goodnight.

Il gruppo esce di scena.

RP: (Ha ha ha ha ha. Led Zep, the Hammer of the Gods. Good evenin’! We’d like to thank you for having us. The fishing wasn’t as good) as usual, but, uh, there’s something to be said here.

Cosa succedesse nei camerini non è dato sapere (ma facile da immaginare), fatto sta che quando ritorna la band è spesso più confusa e Page fatica a suonare persinoil riff di WHOLE LOTTA LOVE (questo vale anche per il 1977). Il pezzo che meglio simboleggia il piombo Zeppelin è arricchito da una versione cantata di THE GRUNGE. Il tutto è un po’ improvvisato, li senti che sono un po’ rigidi nel momento del cambio accordi, ma è tutto divertente. Page divaga sul giro funk fino a che non va a buttarsi sul Theremin. Jones parte per viaggi tutti suoi ed è uno spettacolo starlo a sentire. Sezione funk-theremin spaventosa (nella accezione positiva del termine). Page poi insiste ancora con la chitarra funk, i ragazzi si stanno divertendo e si sente. Rullata di Bonham e ponte che porta a BLACK DOG.

RP: Seattle! Thank you very much, indeed. Thanks!

Il gruppo ritorna per una accoppiata di pezzi non proprio scontata per il tour del 1975: COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN/HEARTBREAKER.  La prima è molto buona la seconda più sfilacciata (persino Jones si perde un po’). In HB poco prima dell’assolo Plant canta “Squeeze my lemon baby“. Jimmy pasticcia nella parte in cui solleva la chitarra con le due mani e cerca di suonare la scalata di hammer-on solo con la mano sinistra. Il resto dell’assolo non è affatto male.

Nella registrazione soundboard non c’è il commento finale di Plant (presente invece in quella audience) (RP: Whoa. Thank you very much. We’ve had a great time. Thank you. You’ve been fantastic. Seattle, goodnight! For …. One of the, one of the most timid men in show business leaving the stage now. John Paul Jones! Jimmy Page. And a red rose. )

Si chiude così uno dei migliori concerti del tour americano del 1975. Oltre 3 ore e mezza di rock elettrico, dilatato, potente, irresistibile.

Questo è un bootleg, dunque una registrazione da ascoltare con applicazione, con una sorta di meditazione necessaria per andare oltre le sbavature e le incongruenze e calarsi così nell’attimo stesso del concerto, per poter ghermire l’essenza del concetto di musica rock live (qui rappresentata in senso stretto e al contempo in senso lato) degli anni settanta di uno dei pochi veri grandi gruppi rock della storia. Ascoltare a pezzi e bocconi concerti del genere (non solo dei LZ) significa archiviare superficialmente momenti storici, senza arrivare ad appropriarsi del respiro universale. Prendetevi almeno un’oretta tutta per voi, chiudetevi nello studiolo o mettetevi in cuffia, versatevi due dita del vostro liquore preferite e abbandonatevi alla metafisica.

Questo il link a youtube relativo al nuovo soundboard:

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Questo il link a youtube relativo a quel po’ di video amatoriale disponibile (sincronizzato sulla registrazione audience):

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(broken) ENGLISH

The premise of a new LZ 1975 bootleg is always the same, that is to say, one has to take into account the conditions under which the group faced the US tour of 1975. Just before leaving, Page hurt his left hand and Plant caught a flu or bronchitis that forced him to sing – from January to March – despite major problems in his voice, and if we add to this the entry into the scene of certain substances, the imbalances given by huge success and unbridled hedonism of which the guitar player begins to be the victim, les jeux sont faits.

Even with these problems, those in 1975 are equally Led Zeppelin, cosmic music in perfect balance between belly and mind, a real rockstar look and a legendary aura, and never mind if the performance of the two most exposed members of the group are not always perfect.

So for the first time here it comes the soundboard recording (that is, recorded by the mixer) of the second concert in Seattle of the tour. Up until now, a record audience (recorded by the public) was available to fans and live recordings lovers alike, and thanks to this the concert has always been a particular one, for many in fact it remains the best 1975 show in America. Many years ago I bought the two bootlegs, 4 lp, which presented the show incompletely and without respecting the order of the selist. 45,000 italian lire each. Another age.

Led Zeppelin “214” Seattle 21/3/78 LP – foto TT

Led Zeppelin “214” Seattle 21/3/78 LP – foto TT

Led Zeppelin “207.19” Seattle 21/3/78 LP – foto TT

Led Zeppelin “207.19” Seattle 21/3/78 LP – foto TT

From the visual point of view, the 1975 tour was darker than the previous one. If you look at the photos of 1973, you always notice a positive light, the stages are colorful, the lights bright, and the mood is solar, reflecting the joyful vibe of the album Houses Of The Holy.

LZ San Antonio 22 may 1973 – photo Carl Dunn

In 1975 everything becomes darker. The look of Page and Plant is great, but the rest is at the edge of the scary and the the mysterious, from the sound of the group to the vibrations that seem to surround the LZ world. As mentioned heavy chemicals enter the scene, everything becomes more blurred and sometimes unmanageable. The sound of the drums is deep and dark (but remaining lively), while the guitar’s one is strangely cleaner. Overall the sound is great, or at least I like it very much. Audio quality wise the 1975 soundboards are fantastic, they are among the very best recordings of this kind. Empress Valley Supreme Discs has released several one in the last years, it is said they have had quite a few in its hands. Of course LZ fans would prefer 1971 soundboards for example, but since one can not choose I think we should always be happy when a previously unreleassed soundboard is peeping. I do not understand how one can consider himself  a fan in the strict sense and then snore such bootlegs just because Plant has problems of voice and Page is often peeling into the turbid. If you are a true fan, you have to have every new soundboard because in almost every LZ concert there are moments of excellence.

Led Zeppelin Deus ex Machina Seattle 21-3-75 (EVSD 2017)

TITLE: Led Zeppelin ““Deus Ex Machina″

LABEL: Empress Valley Supreme Discs

TYPE: Soundboard (previously unreleased)

SOUND QUALITY: TTTT

PERFORMANCE: TTTT

ARTWORK: TTTT

BAND MOOD: TTTT½

COLLECTION (ZEP FAN): TTTTT

Time ago the HEARTBREAKER teaser came out, a rather sloppy version that contributed to lowering my expectations. Now that I have the full recording on my hands, I realize that after a first reaction of “I’m not impressed”, the concert is growing a lot on me and is gradually reaching the top of my 1975 fave gigs charts, (other titles in the first positions:  NY MSG February 12, 1975 and Los Angeles Forum March 24-25-27, 1975 (but the last three have only audience recordings, so I reserve to re-evaluate them once the soundboard come out).

Before starting to talk about the concert, it is worth remembering that it is easy now to analyze every detail and to be a bit critical. It is not to be forgotten that we are talking about young men on the road in the 1970s, young men in touch with all that America could offer at that time, young men throbbed here and there, just saying: March 17 in Seattle, 19 and 20 in Vancouver, 21 in Seattle again … maybe in such a context it is easy to lose orientation and have some kind of  jet lag of the senses.

The 1975 setlist never made me crazy, SICK AGAIN, for example, for me is a piece that can be completely replaced. From PHYSICAL GRAFFITI only gloomy or epic pieces were chosen: SICK AGAIN, IN MY TIME OF DYING, TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT and KASHMIR. I wonder how they let CUSTARD PIE, TEN YEARS GONE and IN THE LIGHT OUT out of the suitable numbers to play. Sure, usually a band proposes songs that come out nice in a live situation but on the other hand TEN YEARS GONE was played live in 1977 and 1979 and CUSTARD PIE in the PAGE & PLANT period, They would certainly make the mood more colorful and varied.

ROCK AND ROLL and SICK AGAIN are good, some muddy moments but everything else seems ok. “And it’s been a long time in Seattle,” Plant says before the Page’s solo in ROCK AND ROLL; for the 1975 standards RP is in top form..

RP: Seattle, good evenin ‘! Good evening. Well, we went across the border. It was alright but it’s much better back here. And that’s, and that’s no lie. That’s the truth. What we intend, what we intend to do tonight is to, uh, to relieve our physical, uh, pent-up-ness on stage, and then relieve it later on after the gig altogether. Now the thing is, what we are going to do is to try and give you a cross section of what we’ve been trying to produce and write over the last six and a half years. As you know, as you notice, uh, the material varies greatly, and so you will appreciate that we take it from one extreme to the other. And what better way to start than to look out under the horizon and see what tomorrow may bring.

Plant’s mood is great, he feels that his voice is less subject to the problems that hurt him since January and after all he knows that Seattle is one of the Led Zeppelin cities, maybe not like Los Angeles, but the audience’s hysteria (see the audience recording) is absolutely perceptible. At the beginning of  OVER THE HILLS Page does a mistakes when hitting the DO (well, C) chord, he sounds like a beginner, the tuning also does not seem perfect, but the rest goes well. The solo is inspired, the Dark Lord seeks new solutions with great success. The guitar is slightly in the background, this is true for the whole concert, bass, keyboards and pedal bass are well present (and this is always a big deal in general, I hate the recordings where the bass and keyboards are low in the mix). The audience response is very strong.

Led Zeppelin Deus ex Machina Seattle 21-3-75 (EVSD 2017)

RP: Thank you very much, well. You’ve probably heard that one before, yeah? There’s one demand that I’d like to make, apart from that you enjoy what we’re doing, and that is that you don’t sway around too much in the front because somebody might get hurt, okay? I’ve seen it happen and it’s very gory. In England we have soccer matches where the same sort of thing happens. Only the soccer is terrific. Right, now, it came to pass that, that I, hah. It came to pass that after eighteen months of just sittin’ down on our backsides, forming Swan Song Records and, and messin’ around, generally, we finally managed to put a record into the shops, Physical Graffiti, …. Once again, a lot of variations in musically, intend to give you, ahh. We intend to give you some of that tonight. If we got any left.

IN MY TIME OF DYING bowls along smoothly, in the break where Plant remains alone, he “calls” for Jimmy’s entry but Pagey either is distracted or simply decides to enter a bit later.

RP: Thank you very much. That was taken from, uh, that was, uh, we were inspired, should we say, from something that came from an old work song, a long long time ago before they started putting music down on pieces of paper. In the South of the North American states. Uh, this song has a different story altogether, this next one. It relates to our travels and our voyages and, um, experiences. Uh, with all kinds of people in all kinds of situations, we always find that we end up having a very nice time. After, after the initial confrontation, whatever language, whatever creed, whatever guitar, whatever road manager. Did I tell you about Raymond? Poor Raymond’s working with us with a broken leg. Raymond Thomas, from Scotland, with a broken leg! A broken leg! Poor Raymond. Anyways, so was I was saying, ‘The Song Remains the Same.’

TSRST is good. Some smears from Page in the first slow part but nothing too bad. At some moments it seems to hear Plant we all know and imagine. JPJ searches for alternative routes and it is very exciting to hear what he is doing. Now legendary among fans the phrase “Seattle will not listen to you now” that the blond from Birmingham puts in the lyrics.

In THE RAIN SONG the guitar does not seem to be perfectly tuned, and even the mellotron always seems to the limit. It’s good to remember that the mellotron was the keyboard that in those years simulated a string orchestra.When a key is pressed, a tape connected to it is pushed against a playback head, like a tape recorder. While the key remains depressed, the tape is drawn over the head, and a sound is played. When the key is released, a spring pulls the tape back to its original position. It’s easy to guess how problematic it was to bring such an instrument on tour. Humidity and other variables made the tuning difficult to handle. In THE RAIN SONG you can understand how complicated it was. Anyway, good version of the song.

RP: It is the summer of my smiles. It should be the summer of everybody’s smiles, right? Even our friend, …, who plays the mellotron, John Paul Jones on mellotron. John Paul Jones. Mellotron is, uh, a very easy way of carrying around a thirty-six piece orchestra, uh, with the aid of tapes and, good evening. John Paul Jones is a very easy way of being an orchestra. And to prove this he’s gonna play in the, uh, standard, um, middle-asian-eastern style of, uh, violin playing on this next piece. We’d like to dedicate this to, uh, everybody who we’ve met in Seattle. This time we’ve been a groove and a gas. And we didn’t really meet and we didn’t really meet enough people either. At least of the right gender. This is called ‘Kashmir.’

Again the mellotron for KASHMIR; Page with the Danelectro guitar tuned in DADGAD. In the section All I see turns to brown, as the sun burns the ground And my eyes fill with sand, as I scan this wasted land Trying to find, trying to find where I’ve been something seems to work not properly between guitar and keyboard arrangements, the same thing happens in the  last part of the song.

RP: Is this an Elvis Presley show or what? Hi, everybody. That last song holds great significance for us, really, because Kashmir is a place we haven’t been yet. Hah. So if we can write a song about it before we get there, what happens when we get there?  A song now with, another journey. A journey with, uh, more somber intonations, I think. This features, once again, the nimble fingers of John Paul Jones. This is a song about a journey where there can be ‘No Quarter.’

NO QUARTER is one of the moments I look forward to with more trepidation, the instrumental part of improvisation is often magnificent and opens the door to passagse to the cosmic depths. Plant can push as he did in the past, and it is a relief to hear he is more or less free to sing following instinct. The piano solo is exciting, Jones is inspired and willing to experiment. At 5:36 pm he quotes IN A PERSIAN MARKET by the great Ketèlbey, then slides into the usual passages filled with mysterious blues until he reaches for GEORGIA ON MY MIND. The tempo chosen for the part where Bonham joins in is more fast than usual. I would listen to hours the groove created by Jones & Bonham. Given the speed of the rhythm section Page struggles a little to find the right guitar engagements. The solo is not very inspired, Page seems to use the usual clichés.  It is comprehensible, I do not think it’s easy to keep concentration and inspiration at high levels all the time. Page is one of the biggest improvisers that rock music has ever had (guitar wise for me certainly he is the number one), but I think it’s understandable that at the end of a tour of 3 and half hours concerts where space for improvisation is huge there are times when the estro uses up all the reserves. If we think that in the 1975 tour NO QUARTER was about half an hour and DAZED AND CONFUSED 40 minutes (as in this case) it’s easy to understand how Page’s guitar has tried to expand like the universe does, so some  mediocre evenings or phases are forgiven (for the record, let’s not forget another 30 minutes for MOBY DICK).

At 18.40 Jones begins wild experimentation, that part where harmonic contours and structures break into pieces and everything penetrate into the deepest cosmos, Page is abandoned to himself with no more references as Jones jumps from one musical galaxy to another. They are maybe eccentric moments but I find them vital. Never heard another band devoted to hard rock making things like that. Page is inspired again at 23:00 minute. Another 90 seconds of guitar research. In the end, the audioence understands the greatness of the music just listened and goes wild.

 

Led Zeppelin Deus ex Machina Seattle 21-3-75 (EVSD 2017)

At this point the band is ready for TRAMPLED UNDEFOOT, Jones is at the clavinet, he checks the sound when Plant decides to bring everyone back with the minor blues from the third album, a piece offered only a couple of times during the tour.

RP: John Paul Jones, grand piano. A … another Englishman in New York …, um, who’s various members of the rock and roll, uh, heirarchy, have decided to call the Incredible Shrinking Man. Uh, Mr David Bowie, wherever you are, I’ve got your hat. Now as I said to you before, um, we didn’t, we didn’t do any gigs for eighteen months. We all sat at home and ate chocolates and watched the TV. And tried to see what it was like to be straight. Didn’t work. And since then we’ve, uh, we’ve embarked on this tour of the United States, ahh, which’s been fantastic, really good. We found out that, uh, we found out that everything we thought we could do with, everything we thought we could do before we could do better now, you see? Well, unfortunately, unfortunately, music-wise, if we were to try and prove that every night we should be on the doctors orders constantly, we would have no time for anything else but music and you must have other interests when you’re on the road, right? You understand that? Anyways, there’s one song that we’ve done twice in, in, I suppose, since we got ripped off for all that bread in New York, ages ago. Um, because we really dig playing here, for no other reason, we’re gonna do it again now. It’s, uh, yeah. I don’t think anybody else in the band knows about it yet. Just a little bit of change in, uh. Sorry about that, John. And this, you see? Right on this spot. It could be ‘Louie Louie’, but instead it’s, it’s a thing from the third album that, um. ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You.’

Although SIBLY is a song not exactly planned for the 1975 concerts, the transposition made by the band is great. JPJ on the pedal bass is very good, as we know he plays it at the same time when he is on keyboards. The arrangement does not deviate too much from that of the 1973 tour.

RP Well nobody expected that, least of all, us. That’s what it’s all about. (I got a … that’s made for a necktie.) A lot of distinguished people in the wings tonight. A Mr Peter Grant, known as Panama Pete to the Seattle police, Panama Pete. Peter Grant! Sorry, Petey, you didn’t go down too well. Ha ha ha. We got a friend called Lou, who’s birthday it is today. Lou, happy birthday, Lou. Got a guy who plays the drums and kicks the shit out of everybody in his drum, John Bonham. Here goes a song from Physical Graffiti, to, uh, to make your toes curl up. It’s a song, uh, related to the motions of a motorcar, which really, is all about ladies like you, my dear. It’s called ‘Trampled Underfoot.’ And long may we trample.

TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT is tackled with the usual ferocity but the result is somewhat confused around the minute 2:00 where the group goes lost. Jones’s solo is not one of the most successful. Page’s one is similar to a wild horse race, some horses suddenly discards and falls but the rest continues to run roughly with the manes in the wind. Some guitar phrases produce the desired effect.

RP: With just a little bit of ‘Gallows Pole’ thrown in. I think this concert has the right vibes for a good time, yeah? No pretense. Everything is just straight on the level. It’s really nice, really feels good. uh, our wishes and, um, heartfelt sorrow go out to Benji LeFevebre, who’s suffering from a social disease, at the moment. Poor Benji. Don’t forget to pop into the clinic in California. Panama Pete’s still in the wings and we’re still here. Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you, John Bonham! ‘Moby Dick!’

Almost thirty minutes of drums solo. I wonder what the audience thought. Okay, that was John Bonham, but … anyway at the end of the piece there’s an ovation. Plant asks if everyone is having fun, rhetorical question, the answer is absolute delirium. Seattle and Led Zeppelin are connected, there is no doubt.

RP: John Bonham! John Bonham! John Bonham! ‘Moby Dick!’ ‘Moby Dick!’ Tonight, on the Johnny Carson show. Well that was too much. Is everybody, uh, enjoying themselves? Mr Page is havin’ a fit. There’s a little bit of a discrepancy about a guitar and a man who is being held by the police and all sorts of things. Quite a, quite a story going on behind the scenes. I think we’ll dedicate this to the innocent party, whoever or wherever he may be in this giant intrude that goes on. As we try and maintain law and order in society, without, not us, but everybody, ya know, so, it’s a communal effort. This is, uh, something that we should dedicate to the difference and the balances between law and order and where they start crossing each other’s lives. 

DAZED AND CONFUSED tonight is among the most legendary. 40 minutes of musical esotericism, experimentation, investigation into the subconscious. Though few imperfections of Plant and Page, the version of this evening goes beyond myth. The improvisations of Page between the spanish mood and the indecipherable, before the slow arpeggio (minute 7:00), lead us to strange worlds. The guitarist searches for passages in time space and does so with his great intuition. Then comes the band for the the MI- DO (E- C) section, where Plant tonight sings FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH. Jones’ bass work is magnificent.. Plant continues with WOODSTOCK by Joni Mitchell. The atmosphere created is wonderful. At a certain moment Page goes reggae and Robert sings Marley’s SHOT THE SHERIFF. The violin bow comes in at about 14:00. 420 seconds of pure mysticism followed by 13 minutes of guitar accelerations and instrumental and vocal passages of another dimension. After the last verse there are a further 5 minutes of guitar improvisations. How Page would maintain a level of expressiveness so high is a mystery.

Though (as repeatedly) Page and Plant were not at the top of form, this remains one of the most legendary DAZED AND CONFUSED ever played by Led Zeppelin. No one like them!

RP: Master guitarist, Jimmy Page! We shall keep you less than a moment. Well, uh, a couple of years ago when we were here, we, uh, remember Kingsmen? That’s the trouble with you. You American people, you have all this great, musical heritage.
Well that was the Kingsmen, right? And they came from Seattle. I want you to try and remember that. When we go to New Orleans nobody’s heard of … or Aaron Neville or Betty … and all these people came from New Orleans so you really must brush up on. This one character that you know came from Seattle who, I didn’t really know that well, but we’d like to dedicate this piece of music to the, the amount of work that Jimi Hendrix gave. And the amount, the amount of inspiration that he gave everybody in the business. Everybody in the whole rock and roll world.

Led Zeppelin Deus ex Machina Seattle 21-3-75 (EVSD 2017)

“Master guitarist Jimmy Page”Plant exclaims at the end of DAC and the audience responds in the only possible way, it’s a triumph. Plant then talks about the musical heritage of SEATTLE, he quotes the Kingsmen and Page plays the Louie Louie riff, then the  blond from Birmingham pays tribute to Jimi Hendrix, dedicating to his memory the piece that follows.

From 1975 onwards STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN is the last song in the setlist before the encore. Despite the fact that Page tends to lean on clichés, he still succeeds in pulling out convincing licks.

RP: Seattle, you’ve been great. Thank you very much. We ‘ve really enjoyed ourselves. Thanks a lot. Goodnight.

The group then head for the backstage.

RP: (Ha ha ha ha ha. Led Zep, the Hammer of the Gods. Good evenin’! We’d like to thank you for having us. The fishing wasn’t as good) as usual, but, uh, there’s something to be said here.

What happened in the dressing rooms is not known (but easy to imagine), the fact is that when the band returns, it is often more confused and for Page is hard to play even the WHOLE LOTTA LOVE’s riff (this is also true for  the 1977 tour). The track that best symbolizes the “Zeppelin lead” is enriched by a version with vocals of THE GRUNGE. The whole thing is a bit improvised, you feel they are a bit rigid at the time of the chords change, but it’s all fun. Page disgresses on the funk ride until he goes to the theremin. Jones takes off for his own bass improvisation and it is a gas to hear him play that way. The funk-theremin section is scary (in the positive sense of the term). Page then insists again with the funk guitar, the guys are having fun and you feel it. Bonham finally plays a roll that bring to the bridge that leads to BLACK DOG.

RP: Seattle! Thank you very much, indeed. Thanks!

The band returns for a couple of not common tracks for the 1975 tour: COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN / HEARTBREAKER. The first is very good the former a bit disjointed (even Jones loses the grip). In HB just before  the guitar solo Plant sings “Squeeze my lemon baby”. Jimmy messes up  the part where he raises the guitar with both hands and tries to play the hammer-on section only with his left hand. The rest of the solo is not bad at all.

In the soundboard recording there is not the final comment of Plant (present in the audience one) (RP: Whoa. Thank you very much. We’ve had a great time. Thank you. You’ve been fantastic. Seattle, goodnight! For …. One of the, one of the most timid men in show business leaving the stage now. John Paul Jones! Jimmy Page. And a red rose. )

So one of the best concert of the American tour of 1975 ends. Over 3 and half hour of electric, dilated, powerful, irresistible rock music.

This is a bootleg, so it’s recording to be listened to with application, with a sort of meditation needed to go beyond the blunders and the inconsistencies and so to become acclimatised in the very essence of the concert, to be able to grab the concept of live rock music (here represented in the narrow sense and at the same time in the broad sense) of the seventies of one of the few real big rock groups in history. Listening to bits and pieces of such concerts means storing historical moments superficially, without being able to get the universal breathing. Take at least one hour for you, close yourself in your music room,  pour a droplet of your favorite liquor and abandon yourself to metaphysics.

This is the youtube link to the new soundboard:

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This is the youtub link to that little amateur video available (synced to the audience recording):

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4 Risposte to “LED ZEPPELIN “Deus Ex Machina” – Seattle, Center Coliseum 21 march 1975 – (EVSD 2017 – BOOTLEG)”

  1. Lorenzo Stefani 12/08/2017 a 11:22 #

    Bravo Tim, grande recensione (con un livello di competenza e passione non riscontrabile sulle riviste di musica) che fa venire voglia di ascoltare il bootleg

    Mi piace

  2. Francesco Boccia 12/08/2017 a 13:55 #

    Anche a me è venuta voglia di riascoltare il bootleg rileggendo passo passo la recensione. Ricordo di averlo cercato qualche anno fa dopo aver letto il libro LZ’75 di Lewis in cui si diceva che era l’unica serata del 75 nella quale suonarono SIBLY. In effetti ho sempre considerato la saletta del 75 un po’ barocca, pezzi come thank you, misty montain hop, the ocean o la mai eseguita The Rover (che io adoro) oltre agli altri citati da Tim avrebbero dato maggior varietà. Ci sarebbero volute però oltre quattro ore…

    Mi piace

  3. Paolo Barone 13/08/2017 a 22:24 #

    Grande Tim! Che recensione! Adoro il tour del 75 e il tuo pezzo racconta quello che non sapevo dire. Nel mondo dei LZ scrittore numero uno, per il resto sei il Pasolini del Rock. Ma questo ormai è dì pubblico dominio.

    Mi piace

  4. timtirelli 15/08/2017 a 12:07 #

    Ecco, parole del genere sono immeritate, Polbi è un amico e sempre troppo generoso col sottoscritto, però dette da quello che considero il più grande giornalista rock mancato fanno enorme piacere. Thank you Michigan Boy.

    Mi piace

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