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confounded_bridge

1977 SHOWS RANKED INTO 3 CATEGORIES

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On 9/6/2018 at 4:30 AM, Blaize86 said:

Blaize 

NYC 

 

Also, as an afterthought, weren't Zep in the Creem readers poll voted " worst live  band " in some years at the same time voted "best". ???

Hi Blaize.

I gathered up all my CREEM reader poll issues starting with the first one for the year 1973. There was no category for "Worst Live Groups". There was "Best Groups" and "Worst Groups" and "Best Live Groups". There were categories such as "Biggest Disappointment" and "Most Pathetic". Led Zeppelin made "Biggest Disappointment" only for the reasons of ' No Led Zeppelin album' , 'No Led Zeppelin tour', or 'Led Zeppelin tour cancelled'.

Here are where Led Zeppelin finished in the three main categories ( Best and Worst Groups and Best Live Groups ) from 1973 to 1980.

1973 - Best Group: #5. (Mott the Hoople finished #1) Best Live: #8. (The Who was #1)

1974 - Best Group: #8. Best Live: #7 (Zeppelin was on hiatus in 1974 so I think this was a case of "out of sight, out of mind")

1975 - Best Group: #2 (Rolling Stones #1). Best Live: #3 (Rolling Stones #1).

1976 - Best Group: #3. Best Live: #4.

1977 - Best Group: #1. Worst Group: #8 (Led Zeppelin's first appearance in this category in the decade). Best Live: #1.

1978 - Best Group: #3. Worst Group: #7. Best Live: #5.

1979 - Best Group: #1. Worst Group: #6. Best Live: #3.

1980 - Best Group: #2. Worst Group: #5. Best Live: #8.

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Well done sir! 

I was addicted to Creem and Circus. I was a huge KISS fan at the time and for a while they always placed second quite often. 

I used to hang out at the 7-11 and just read and read because I couldn't afford them. Then they would ask me to leave. 

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On 9/5/2018 at 12:44 PM, confounded_bridge said:

1. 1977  is  Bonham's  peak 

2. Knebworth  shows  are  shit, compared  to  LA  77  (with  the  exception  of  a   few  songs)

3. Sometimes  Jimmy  played  bad, and  sometimes  BRILLIANT

4. The  1977  LA  shows  alone  are  better  than  all  the  75  shows  and  some  of  the  band's  best  concerts  ever  (together  with  6-25-72, 6-27-72  and  Europe  1973)

5. When  I  listen  to  most  of  the  1973  shows  I  always  think  how  shitty  Plant's  voice  is  (Page  is  great  though)

6. What  exactly  do  you  mean  by  "awful  recordings"?  Millard's  recordings  are  bad  to  your  ears?  4-28-77  recording  sounds  bad  to  you?

7. Someone  who  dislikes  the  1977  LA  shows  (not  to  mention  MSG, Pontiac  and  Birmingham)  is  either  deaf  or  mentally  ill.

 

I think this sums 77 up very well. Was 77 Bonham's peak? In what way? He did some amazing things but I don't think he played nearly as dynamically as he did in 72 and 73. A drummer is welcome to correct me here, but 77 Bonham seemed to be mostly rapid fire snare rolls and textbook fills, they just happened to be done so spontaneously that it really stood out on a song. I think he also makes a strong impression in 77 because of tracks like Achilles. But the Hamburg version of Dazed shows he was doing that years before. He certainly had some lackluster shows in 77.

I really need to delve into those Pontiac and Birmingham shows.

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7 hours ago, gibsonfan159 said:

I think this sums 77 up very well. Was 77 Bonham's peak? In what way? He did some amazing things but I don't think he played nearly as dynamically as he did in 72 and 73. A drummer is welcome to correct me here, but 77 Bonham seemed to be mostly rapid fire snare rolls and textbook fills, they just happened to be done so spontaneously that it really stood out on a song. I think he also makes a strong impression in 77 because of tracks like Achilles. But the Hamburg version of Dazed shows he was doing that years before. He certainly had some lackluster shows in 77.

I really need to delve into those Pontiac and Birmingham shows.

For  the  Pontiac  show, download  the  2nd  gen  recording  from  black  beauty. For  Birmingham, 3  separate  recordings  exist. 2  of  them  sound  like  shit, while  the  3rd  is  very  good. Download  the  "out  of  the  way" version  from  black  beauty.

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11 hours ago, gibsonfan159 said:

I really need to delve into those Pontiac and Birmingham shows.

Yes, you do. Pontiac is in my Top Ten of '77 and Birmingham, if not in the Top Ten is certainly on the cusp. 

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On 9/6/2018 at 7:25 PM, Strider said:

You must be young so I will forgive such an ignorant question. For nobody who lived in the 1970s would ever confuse America's Only Rock n Roll magazine with Tiger Beat.

Also, you do understand the concept of Reader Polls, don't you? It is the results of the readers sending in their ballots. It is not a decision made by the writers or editors of the magazine. Rolling Stone would do that...have the writers/editors poll and a separate reader poll. But CREEM left it all up to the readers.

CREEM was a monthly rock magazine started by two record store guys in Detroit in 1969, Barry Kramer and Tony Reay. It was named after Tony's favourite band, Cream. Dave Marsh and Lester Bangs were early writers, Lester joining in 1971 after leaving Rolling Stone. Patti Smith wrote for CREEM before becoming a musician herself.

Other writers during the magazine's heyday during the 1970s until about 1985-86: Richard Meltzer, Grail Marcus, Robert Christgau, Cameron Crowe, Billy Altman, Lisa Robinson, Jaan Uhelzski, Robot A. Hull, Rick Johnson, Susan Whitall, Nick Tosches, John Kordosh, Sylvie Simmons, Simon Frith, Dave DiMartino, Bill Holdship.

The magazine was humourous, self-deprecating, and irreverent. Sort of like the Mad magazine of rock n roll. But because they were based in Detroit (and later Birmingham, MI), they didn't kiss corporate ass like Rolling Stone. There were no sacred cows. Plus, they were more attuned to what was happening on the street than Rolling Stone and Hit Parades and Circus. CREEM recognized what was happening with the New York Dolls, Ramones, Sex Pistols, Dead Boys, long before the other U.S. media.

Rolling Stone had Led Zeppelin on its cover only once from 1969-1980. CREEM had Led Zeppelin on their cover at least 10 times and even published a special Led Zeppelin issue.I

If you were a U.S. Led Zeppelin fan,  CREEM was the best, if not only, way to keep up with Led Zeppelin in the pre-internet, pre-MTV 1970s.

I lived vicariously through Hit Parader and Creem from the late 70’s - early/mid 80’s in desolate upstate NY.  The only way I saw the bands I loved, in live shots! 

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Have to admit, that Tiger Beat comparison was pretty damn funny.

Tiger Beat June 1975 edition: Win a dream date with either Robert Plant or David Cassidy...your choice cupcake! JUST IN!!! Jimmy Page hair care secrets...how to get volume AND supple curls. John Paul Jones special hugs and kisses issue...what makes the shy bassist a beast between the sheets? John "Bonzo" Bonham, tips on mustache grooming and mustache RIDES!

Oh yes, I can see it now

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On 9/13/2018 at 11:01 PM, paul carruthers said:

'77 Bonham; I think this speaks volumes...

 

 

That is absolutely BEAST. Jimmy gets lost for a little while at one point, but is as on as the rest for the most and often leads and interacts brilliantly. Bonham carries this BY FAR as well I would have to say.

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5 hours ago, rm2551 said:

That is absolutely BEAST. Jimmy gets lost for a little while at one point, but is as on as the rest for the most and often leads and interacts brilliantly. Bonham carries this BY FAR as well I would have to say.

Which makes his travesty on 5-26-77 all the more inexp!icable.

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On 8/13/2018 at 12:01 AM, Strider said:

I wrote this about two years ago.

 

I always liked this assessment of the 1977 tour Strider. . You did say Largo on the 28th which I havent heard since I got it 10 years ago and now Im gonna have to give it another shot. .I remembered it being "bad". . (always thought the 25 and the 30th were the best of the MD run)

On 6/26/2018 at 11:49 AM, bluecongo said:

I wish MSG 77 was better represented sonically.  I’ve never been able to get deep into those shows for that reason.

Couldn't agree more. . the 11th is one of the best of the tour but DAM can we have better audio for this run?? All the talk about 9/29 these days but I would trade that for a great sounding NY 77 show any day. . 

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59 minutes ago, Bozoso73 said:

I always liked this assessment of the 1977 tour Strider. . You did say Largo on the 28th which I havent heard since I got it 10 years ago and now Im gonna have to give it another shot. .I remembered it being "bad". . (always thought the 25 and the 30th were the best of the MD run.)

I may have the 25th and 28th mixed up. Definitely think the 30th is the best and the 26th the worst of the Landover, MD run.

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^^ What's the story on the 26th? I'm not being facetious, but it's been awhile since I listened to the whole show?

 

I think I have Houston and Landover syndrome and would enjoy Bonzo no matter what...  🤣

Edited by paul carruthers

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38 minutes ago, paul carruthers said:

^^ What's the story on the 26th? I'm not being facetious, but it's been awhile since I listened to the whole show?

The 26th just features both Bonzo and Page having an off night. Bonzo joins Jones during No Quarter a little too early, and he also starts playing Achilles Last Stand too early. The 28th is similar. Personally, I think the 28th is the worse of the two nights, but they're pretty similar. Honestly, those two shows are two of my least favorite Zeppelin gigs. Three hours of sludgy sloppiness with the whole band dragging at a snail's pace.

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1 hour ago, Bozoso73 said:

I always liked this assessment of the 1977 tour Strider. . You did say Largo on the 28th which I havent heard since I got it 10 years ago and now Im gonna have to give it another shot. .I remembered it being "bad". . (always thought the 25 and the 30th were the best of the MD run)

Couldn't agree more. . the 11th is one of the best of the tour but DAM can we have better audio for this run?? All the talk about 9/29 these days but I would trade that for a great sounding NY 77 show any day. . 

The 11th has a pretty good audience recording, although it only lasts through Kashmir. Not quite to the level of the Millard tapes, but definitely not far off either. I do wonder how the NY run would stack up against the LA run if the recording quality were the same across all shows. I favor the LA shows, but I have to wonder if that's partly bias because of the superior overall sound.

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5 minutes ago, ZepHead315 said:

The 11th has a pretty good audience recording, although it only lasts through Kashmir. Not quite to the level of the Millard tapes, but definitely not far off either. I do wonder how the NY run would stack up against the LA run if the recording quality were the same across all shows. I favor the LA shows, but I have to wonder if that's partly bias because of the superior overall sound.

I agree. . Im a west coaster so I would say the west is the best:)  Yes they were loved in NY and they have MSG the greatest venue on earth lol:) It was and I guess still is everything to plat MSG and they had amazing shows there. . Thank the heavens for MM and the shows he recorded. . That first few moments of June 21 1977 . . Well we all know. . It's everything and a little more isn't it?:):)

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Well, the last time I listened to "Achilles Mess Up" from the 26th, that shit was thin & flat. Like that Ft. Worth In My Time of Dying that got slopped up towards the end. Houston IMTOD definitely beat the shit out of that one...

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3 hours ago, Strider said:

Which makes his travesty on 5-26-77 all the more inexp!icable.

Inexplicable? Even that great song above from 21/05 shows they were almost always right on the edge and high as f_ck. I think this more than accounts for the travesties. Either too off chops, or not enough recovery time after huge off chops runs leaving them playing in a fog.

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4 hours ago, rm2551 said:

Inexplicable? Even that great song above from 21/05 shows they were almost always right on the edge and high as f_ck. I think this more than accounts for the travesties. Either too off chops, or not enough recovery time after huge off chops runs leaving them playing in a fog.

It was the 70's...no snow, no show. Or in Jimmy's case, no horse, no, well, you get the idea. But seriously, Robert was a massive coke freak on this tour, the only member even remotely semi-sober was Jones as he preferred his copious amounts of weed AFTER a gig, not before.

As I have said earlier, Zeppelin in general were so fucked up on just about every pharmaceutical known to man in 77' that it became a rock and roll version of Fear and Loathing in LV. I am sure Jimmy had his own version of adrenal-gland in the good doctors bag.

Edited by IpMan

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5 hours ago, IpMan said:

It was the 70's...no snow, no show. Or in Jimmy's case, no horse, no, well, you get the idea. But seriously, Robert was a massive coke freak on this tour, the only member even remotely semi-sober was Jones as he preferred his copious amounts of weed AFTER a gig, not before.

As I have said earlier, Zeppelin in general were so fucked up on just about every pharmaceutical known to man in 77' that it became a rock and roll version of Fear and Loathing in LV. I am sure Jimmy had his own version of adrenal-gland in the good doctors bag.

And yet some shows (and some song within other shows), were 'leave the stratosphere' SPECTACULAR. Drugs can and will fuck you up (especially what the guys would have had access to in whatever quantities they wanted), but no denying they certainly took them to interesting/incredible places.

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16 hours ago, Bozoso73 said:

 

Couldn't agree more. . the 11th is one of the best of the tour but DAM can we have better audio for this run?? 

I don't get the love for the 11th. I thought the 10th blew it away both technically and energetically. The 10th, 13th, and 14th are the standouts from that run to me, but they all have their highlights I guess. 

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On 9/13/2018 at 8:49 AM, gibsonfan159 said:

I think this sums 77 up very well. Was 77 Bonham's peak? In what way? He did some amazing things but I don't think he played nearly as dynamically as he did in 72 and 73. A drummer is welcome to correct me here, but 77 Bonham seemed to be mostly rapid fire snare rolls and textbook fills, they just happened to be done so spontaneously that it really stood out on a song. I think he also makes a strong impression in 77 because of tracks like Achilles. But the Hamburg version of Dazed shows he was doing that years before. He certainly had some lackluster shows in 77.

I really need to delve into those Pontiac and Birmingham shows.

I think it's certainly one of the top contenders, but I don't think it's quite as obvious a choice as is sometimes suggested.  As a drummer, I find different aspects of his playing stand out to me on each album/touring year.

Led Zeppelin/'69 have his most aggressive bass drum work IMO (see "Good Times Bad Times," "Dazed And Confused," and "I Can't Quit You Baby").

Led Zeppelin II has some of his most interesting hi-hat work IMO (see how he makes straight 4/4 feel like a shuffle just by opening and closing the hat subtly on "Whole Lotta Love" & "Heartbreaker").

Led Zeppelin III has some very tight grooves in "Immigrant Song" and "Out On The Tiles," the latter featuring some excellent syncopation.  The '70 shows still feature a lot of aggressive bass drum work and find his kit sounding as nice as it ever did IMO.

Led Zeppelin IV finds him tackling some new time signature challenges ("Black Dog," which is easy enough to play, but would have been difficult to come up with the part (he plows ahead in 4/4 underneath the 5/4 riff), and "Four Sticks").  The '71 shows are sort of the last consistent hoorah for the super-aggressive bass drum work (aside from "Achilles Last Stand" later on I guess)--listen to "Black Dog" from 8/21/71 Los Angeles and notice how he never plays the bass drum that aggressively on BD in later years.  His kit also sounds great in '71, and I find that his grooves sound very smooth in a kind of mobile, 'rollin' and tumblin''-sort of way--listen to "Heartbreaker" from 8/31/71 Orlando for an example of this.  He does a lot of little partial rolls and ghost notes on the snare during the groove.  9/29/71 Osaka also features one the most spectacular "Moby Dick"'s of all time, and his rolling snare is evident on it too!

I find '72 a bit more reserved than '71 for Bonham overall, but he's very tight, so you can't complain.  

Houses Of The Holy is maybe his most reserved album performance, but interestingly enough, a lot of its songs lent themselves to being live showcases for him ("The Song Remains The Same," "Over The Hills And Far Away," and "No Quarter").  It does have his funkiest groove though, in "The Crunge".

Along those lines, '73 probably has his funkiest playing (particularly in the Dazed & WLL jams--especially in Europe).  Europe '73 is kind of a final resurgence of the uber-aggresive bass drum at times.  Overall, I would probably go with Europe '73 as his peak in the sense that it has the best combination of all aspects of his skill set/"game" being clicking at a high level and at the forefront, filtered through the very aggressive/'over-playing' mindset which would resurface in '77, if that makes sense.  North America '73 is to Europe '73 what '72 is to '71 as far as Bonham is concerned, to me at least.

Physical Graffiti has a lot of variety in his playing (as it does in everything else), but it definitely lays the blueprint for what would eventually be his '77 style with songs like "In My Time Of Dying" & "Sick Again".

'75 gets an undeservedly bad rap on many fronts IMO, not the least of which is Bonham's playing.  What his playing lacks here in spontaneity more abundant in earlier years, it makes up for with machine-like precision.  '75 also features plenty of jaw-dropping individual songs from him (2/12/75 New York's "Heartbreaker" (precise) & his first two fills of the last verse of 2/10/75 Landover's "Heartbreaker" (spontaneous), 3/5/75 Dallas' "Moby Dick"), as well as legendary shows on his part (3/3/75 Ft. Worth).

Presence is, in my opinion, his most impressive album performance.  Other albums may have more fun or recognizable drum parts, but I would say Presence has the most technically difficult drumming, whether it's time signature stuff ("For Your Life") or pure physical difficulty ("Achilles Last Stand," which I consider to be the most difficult Zeppelin song to drum).  Even "Candy Store Rock" has quite a trippy drum part for what is otherwise a fairly straightforward 4/4 song...

I think it could be fair to say that '77 was the peak of his technical chops.  His 'overplaying' in '77 sounds more calculated and controlled than it does in Europe '73.  I think one of the best examples of his technical mastery of the instrument is 6/21/77 Los Angeles' "No Quarter".  He completely takes the reigns and plays them like a lead instrument to perfection throughout a long jam meant to be a Jones/Page showcase, really, and contributes musical themes/ideas/riffs to the jam just like any other instrument would.  Then, to top it off, he plays one of his most drool-inducing fills, at least for me, after the final "dogs of doom" line, which shows off his speed, precision, dexterity (getting back to the snare from the floor tom that quickly to go around the kit a second and third time) and syncopation (starting the first and second rotations around the kit on the bass in such a tight pocket).

Really, his middle-years approach, which I consider to be his technical peak, was established on Physical Graffiti and in the '75 shows, and then elaborated upon on Presence and in the '77 shows.  Basically, I would say that his chops continued to improve at least up until/through '77.  It's sort of like what someone said in another thread back in the winter regarding the evolution of Page's playing over the years--Bonham's playing post-'73 may not have always been as fun, but it could be considered technically superior.  I would say that his hands and his syncopation especially kept improving until their eventual peak in '77.  Sure, the wild abandon of songs like "Good Times Bad Times" is great fun, and that is certainly an impressive drum track, but I find the machine-like precision of "In My Time Of Dying" and "Achilles Last Stand" even more impressive--and harder to replicate!  You can hear this difference between early- and mid-years in his solos; the earlier ones are usually more spontaneous, which sometimes gives them a more energetic feel, but the '75 & '77 solos are, for the most part, so controlled and calculated (in a good way)...you can really hear him focusing on building tension in each pattern and just constructing it a bit more methodically.  This, coupled with the overall increased length of the '75 & '77 solos (insane muscular endurance!), make these solos more difficult, and my favourites, though I would expect non-drummers to prefer earlier "Moby Dick"'s (understandably).

In Through The Out Door is Houses Of The Holy's competition for Bonham's most reserved album, and this one stays just less reserved basically on the strength of "Fool In The Rain" alone, which is one of the greatest drum tracks of all time IMO.

'79 has its moments that aren't a whole lot different than '77, depending on the song (7/24/79 Copenhagen & 8/4/79 Knebworth especially have great Bonham performances on "Achilles Last Stand"), but I have trouble noticing anything in his playing in '79 that's better than it was in '77.

'80 is definitely his most reserved tour, but that certainly isn't to say that he played poorly (most of the time)...

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On 9/14/2018 at 3:01 PM, rm2551 said:

Inexplicable? Even that great song above from 21/05 shows they were almost always right on the edge and high as f_ck. I think this more than accounts for the travesties. Either too off chops, or not enough recovery time after huge off chops runs leaving them playing in a fog.

What I meant by 'inexplicable' is that Bonham was usually pretty steady, even if he was having an off-night. From 1968-1975 he was money. Some shows/tours would feature a more exuberant approach to fills and spontaneously changing the beat around. Some tours he would get funkier or heavier. But no matter what, and no matter how high or drunk, he always maintained his sense of time, his groove.

There may be a mistake or two where he comes in early or late on a song (a "Heartbreaker" in 1975 comes to mind), but I have never heard a show from 1968-'75 where I thought Bonham let the band down.

And, for the most part that continued in 1977. The April and May performances I have heard are mostly fine...Chicago, Atlanta, Cincy, Cleveland, Pontiac, Birmingham, Houston. Whatever drugs he was on he was doing them in these cities and performing fine.

But then the tour hits Landover and something happens to Bonham. Landover features the four worst, most boring "Moby Dicks" of his career. And on the 26th, the wheels come completely off.

It's not just his misfiring in "Achilles Last Stand". It's the utter debacle of "In My Time of Dying", a song Bonham usually could play in his sleep. But on the 26th, the song never gels, never gains momentum, as Bonham seems distracted, uninterested, asleep at the wheel, until the song just collapses under its own weight. It is as if he forgot how to play drums all of a sudden.

I remember hearing the show for the first time and this was the song where I thought "What the fuck is going on with Bonzo?" I had never had that feeling before. May 26 1977 is the first time I felt Bonham let the band down.

So therefore, given his long run of consistency and his fine start to the 1977 tour, May 26 seemed inexplicable to me.

Edited by Strider

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4 hours ago, Bonzo_fan said:

I think it's certainly one of the top contenders, but I don't think it's quite as obvious a choice as is sometimes suggested.  As a drummer, I find different aspects of his playing stand out to me on each album/touring year.

Led Zeppelin/'69 have his most aggressive bass drum work IMO (see "Good Times Bad Times," "Dazed And Confused," and "I Can't Quit You Baby").

Led Zeppelin II has some of his most interesting hi-hat work IMO (see how he makes straight 4/4 feel like a shuffle just by opening and closing the hat subtly on "Whole Lotta Love" & "Heartbreaker").

Led Zeppelin III has some very tight grooves in "Immigrant Song" and "Out On The Tiles," the latter featuring some excellent syncopation.  The '70 shows still feature a lot of aggressive bass drum work and find his kit sounding as nice as it ever did IMO.

Led Zeppelin IV finds him tackling some new time signature challenges ("Black Dog," which is easy enough to play, but would have been difficult to come up with the part (he plows ahead in 4/4 underneath the 5/4 riff), and "Four Sticks").  The '71 shows are sort of the last consistent hoorah for the super-aggressive bass drum work (aside from "Achilles Last Stand" later on I guess)--listen to "Black Dog" from 8/21/71 Los Angeles and notice how he never plays the bass drum that aggressively on BD in later years.  His kit also sounds great in '71, and I find that his grooves sound very smooth in a kind of mobile, 'rollin' and tumblin''-sort of way--listen to "Heartbreaker" from 8/31/71 Orlando for an example of this.  He does a lot of little partial rolls and ghost notes on the snare during the groove.  9/29/71 Osaka also features one the most spectacular "Moby Dick"'s of all time, and his rolling snare is evident on it too!

I find '72 a bit more reserved than '71 for Bonham overall, but he's very tight, so you can't complain.  

Houses Of The Holy is maybe his most reserved album performance, but interestingly enough, a lot of its songs lent themselves to being live showcases for him ("The Song Remains The Same," "Over The Hills And Far Away," and "No Quarter").  It does have his funkiest groove though, in "The Crunge".

Along those lines, '73 probably has his funkiest playing (particularly in the Dazed & WLL jams--especially in Europe).  Europe '73 is kind of a final resurgence of the uber-aggresive bass drum at times.  Overall, I would probably go with Europe '73 as his peak in the sense that it has the best combination of all aspects of his skill set/"game" being clicking at a high level and at the forefront, filtered through the very aggressive/'over-playing' mindset which would resurface in '77, if that makes sense.  North America '73 is to Europe '73 what '72 is to '71 as far as Bonham is concerned, to me at least.

Physical Graffiti has a lot of variety in his playing (as it does in everything else), but it definitely lays the blueprint for what would eventually be his '77 style with songs like "In My Time Of Dying" & "Sick Again".

'75 gets an undeservedly bad rap on many fronts IMO, not the least of which is Bonham's playing.  What his playing lacks here in spontaneity more abundant in earlier years, it makes up for with machine-like precision.  '75 also features plenty of jaw-dropping individual songs from him (2/12/75 New York's "Heartbreaker" (precise) & his first two fills of the last verse of 2/10/75 Landover's "Heartbreaker" (spontaneous), 3/5/75 Dallas' "Moby Dick"), as well as legendary shows on his part (3/3/75 Ft. Worth).

Presence is, in my opinion, his most impressive album performance.  Other albums may have more fun or recognizable drum parts, but I would say Presence has the most technically difficult drumming, whether it's time signature stuff ("For Your Life") or pure physical difficulty ("Achilles Last Stand," which I consider to be the most difficult Zeppelin song to drum).  Even "Candy Store Rock" has quite a trippy drum part for what is otherwise a fairly straightforward 4/4 song...

I think it could be fair to say that '77 was the peak of his technical chops.  His 'overplaying' in '77 sounds more calculated and controlled than it does in Europe '73.  I think one of the best examples of his technical mastery of the instrument is 6/21/77 Los Angeles' "No Quarter".  He completely takes the reigns and plays them like a lead instrument to perfection throughout a long jam meant to be a Jones/Page showcase, really, and contributes musical themes/ideas/riffs to the jam just like any other instrument would.  Then, to top it off, he plays one of his most drool-inducing fills, at least for me, after the final "dogs of doom" line, which shows off his speed, precision, dexterity (getting back to the snare from the floor tom that quickly to go around the kit a second and third time) and syncopation (starting the first and second rotations around the kit on the bass in such a tight pocket).

Really, his middle-years approach, which I consider to be his technical peak, was established on Physical Graffiti and in the '75 shows, and then elaborated upon on Presence and in the '77 shows.  Basically, I would say that his chops continued to improve at least up until/through '77.  It's sort of like what someone said in another thread back in the winter regarding the evolution of Page's playing over the years--Bonham's playing post-'73 may not have always been as fun, but it could be considered technically superior.  I would say that his hands and his syncopation especially kept improving until their eventual peak in '77.  Sure, the wild abandon of songs like "Good Times Bad Times" is great fun, and that is certainly an impressive drum track, but I find the machine-like precision of "In My Time Of Dying" and "Achilles Last Stand" even more impressive--and harder to replicate!  You can hear this difference between early- and mid-years in his solos; the earlier ones are usually more spontaneous, which sometimes gives them a more energetic feel, but the '75 & '77 solos are, for the most part, so controlled and calculated (in a good way)...you can really hear him focusing on building tension in each pattern and just constructing it a bit more methodically.  This, coupled with the overall increased length of the '75 & '77 solos (insane muscular endurance!), make these solos more difficult, and my favourites, though I would expect non-drummers to prefer earlier "Moby Dick"'s (understandably).

In Through The Out Door is Houses Of The Holy's competition for Bonham's most reserved album, and this one stays just less reserved basically on the strength of "Fool In The Rain" alone, which is one of the greatest drum tracks of all time IMO.

'79 has its moments that aren't a whole lot different than '77, depending on the song (7/24/79 Copenhagen & 8/4/79 Knebworth especially have great Bonham performances on "Achilles Last Stand"), but I have trouble noticing anything in his playing in '79 that's better than it was in '77.

'80 is definitely his most reserved tour, but that certainly isn't to say that he played poorly (most of the time)...

Excellent write-up. I would expect nothing less from someone called "Bonzo fan". 👍

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On 6/26/2018 at 1:49 PM, bluecongo said:

I'm a big LA77 fan.  Big 77 fan in general ! 

5/22 I think one of best energetic shows of tour.  

5/21 I think is decent esp end of show.

I was at the Houston and the Ft. Worth shows. Being there, I enjoyed them both immensely. A much better presentation overall, than the 'dress rehearsal' in Dallas on April 1st. :yesnod:

The highlights of the Houston show for me, was TSRTS, Ten Years Gone, and the acoustic set.

The highlights for the Ft. Worth show were IMTOD, ALS, and Kashmir. That Ft. Worth Kashmir was the high point of the '77 Tour for me, and, a high point of all my live Led Zeppelin personal experiences throughout their career.

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