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Considering I was so critical of Page's playing on 3/21, I only consider it fair to analyze his playing on a 75 show that I've previously thought was great, Montreal 2/6/75, just to see if I was correct in saying he did have some performances where he played like his old self or if he was truly subpar altogether in 75. Of course this is a B-grade audience recording, so it's a little hard to judge the sound accurately, but I think I can still hear a bum note nevertheless. WARNING: Over-sensitive folks who can't handle honest criticism of a rock band- stop right here and exit stage left. Again, this isn't me taking a crap on Page. I thought it would be fun to point out both the highlights and lowlights of an entire show. Listen along and take note of the examples I give and maybe give your own examples or input. Those who want a link to the version I have, send a PM. The Youtube version doesn't match up to mine. Rock And Roll- Very reminiscent of the version from TSRTS soundtrack. No problem with the solo at all as he flies right through it. Sick Again- A tight start. The first solo- A fluid stringent of pull-offs with no strained notes, rare for this song. Second solo- Nimble fingers here as he slides right through with no flubs. So far so good. OTHAFA- Absolutely perfect intro, again a rarity for this song. The solo- Page either breaks a string at the beginning or realizes he needs to swap guitars for some reason, but the first part is absent. Then he comes in at 3:02. He does his usual first run on the lower register, then moves up an octave at 3:12. 3:45-4:06 is some good phrasing. 4:14-4:23 is the type of speed and articulation that Page had in 73 that he seemed to lose as the 75 tour went on. Makes me realize that his injured finger didn't really hamper his playing, but rather the medications he took for pain. 4:40-5:05 is another good variation of phrasing. You'll notice he's not straining to do high speed triplet pulloffs and repetitive bends like he does later on for this song. It's as if his finger may be hurting, but his mind is still where it needs to be. A slight flub at 6:42. IMTOD- Great start, Plant is warmed up and sounding good. 3:27, Page drops his pick or something, but jumps back in. Solo 1- Not a great one, it's a little lackluster and doesn't flow well. Solo 2- A little more pep this time, but still not great. 7:22-7:32, he's hitting a little off key with the slide, but not too bad. 7:52, another bum note with the slide. Maybe he's out of tune? 8:48, yep, his guitar is out of tune as is apparent when he strums the open chord. 9:43, he notices the guitar is out of tune and stops the chord short to keep it from ringing out. All in all, one of the worst IMTOD's I've heard. Maybe not his fault though. TSRTS- The twelve string is coming through very twangy, so it's hard to judge from the start. 1:40 and on, they seem to be dragging a little, like they don't wanna be playing this. Solo 1- They pick up some and Page gets a good solid solo down. 3:13, damn Rob, what happened? Voice took a dive. 3:56, the tapers panning actually accents this a little lol. Solo 2- Page is playing fine, but it still sounds very uninspired. Plant sounding like shit at the end. The Rain Song- Plant's voice evens out a little. That damn out of tune mellotron. Page is flowing along nicely, but this is one of those numbers he rarely missed a note on. 4:45, Jones' foot hits the wrong note lol. 5:45, I've never really noticed how "Hendrix" his playing is on this part. Those chorded hammer-ons sound very Little Wing-ish. Kashmir- This is one version where the guitar mix outweighs the keys- perfect for nitpicking Pagey. It sounds a little thin, but still creates the mood nicely. 3:35, those arabic guitar bits sound amazing and should have been on the studio version. 7:15 and on, he's playing those ascending riffs perfectly but the leads are very erratic. 8:08, whatever that was, was fantastic. Not bad at all. No Quarter- Nitpicking Jones, he's creating a very nice mood with the keys. Jones is killing it with this groove. 7:12, the crowd joins in with perfect timing. Page comes in with elegance. 8:54-9:15 reminds me of Gilmour's solo on "Another Brick In The Wall" for some reason. Page's soloing is solid here, but certainly not 73 level. Outro solo- Page comes alive and shows some vigor. The phrasing and articulation is ok, but not above par for 75. Trampled Underfoot- Normal start. The solo- This was the new song that was really supposed to be a showcase for Page during the solo, but for most versions I've heard it sounds like he's just trying to cram as much improvised material as he can into the solo section. Here, he plays a good solo, but it sounds just exactly like that. There's no structure or buildup, just note cramming. Moby Dick- Yep, sounds like Moby Dick. Dazed And Confused- A very inspired start and the band sounds fresh. Reminds me a little of the Europe 73 versions. First solo section- Not bad, articulation is a little off but not much. San Francisco- Sounds pretty good with Page being very rhythmic with the wah pedal. Plant's voice is good again. Bow section- 8:15, I swear someone says "God hates fiddle." Some people might dismiss Page's bow playing as gimmick, but listening closely will reveal that he truly used this technique in a very artistsic manner, and this version is very haunting and ethereal. Bonham comes in and completes the otherworldy experience. 13:33- the second half, let's see where this goes. It's obvious this audience recording doesn't match up to something like TSRTS soundtrack, so I've gotta listen with that in mind. 16:14, No missed or strained notes so far, but nothing mind blowing either. 8:20, some decent fluidity. 19:22-19:32, again nice fluididty. 19:53, Mars-Bringer Of War section- disaster. I don't think Page was ready. He jumps back on track afterwards, but not sounding great. 21:16, Page jumps into the ending bar, but Jones and Bonzo don't follow til the next bar. Stairway To Heaven- Perfection through the beginning. All members are sounding great. The solo- Page starts off great, good flow and articulation. 8:13, there's some kind of accidental off notes that come through. 8:36-9:20, man, he's ripping this solo apart. One of the best I've heard. Phrasing and fluidity are there with no strained or forced notes. Absolutely beautiful. Plant's voice is rough again at the climax, but he pushes through. Whole Lotta Love (Partial)- Very rushed intro, as was common through 75. Black Dog- They're sounding lively for the end of the show. 1:00, a nimble fill that doesn't quite end right. Solo- 3:50-3:56, a little bit of turkey gobbling, but not bad. Those big bends aren't great, but not bad either. 4:28, he jumps into the Heartbreaker part. He keeps a steady flow through to the end. 5:26, some excellent articulation and speed to end it. Not a bad Black Dog solo at all for 75 (God knows he had some bummers). Heartbreaker- The solo- Starts off strong, although twangy. 2:37, sticky fingers on the ascending pull-offs. Afterwards it's the usual series of motifs he uses for this solo, but a little uninspired sounding. 5:08, finally comes alive with a flurry of notes. I'd say the show ends very mediocrely. My final assessment of Page for this show? I had previously thought this was the best Page of 75. I'm not so sure now after listening in detail. He definitely gets on a high level on certain parts, mainly the beginning, but drops back down in areas as well. He doesn't strain on Sick Again. OTHAFA has good articulation and phrasing. The Stairway solo is great. Does he have the overall musicality and ability of pre-75? I couldn't say he did, but he did great with an injured finger. And a fifth of Jack. I'd certainly rate his playing way above 3/21.
I know people complain about the recording quality, but there are far worse sounding boots. Plant's voice isn't great, but it's as good as the MSG 73 shows. This show stands out to me as one of the few where Page is actually playing on his usual level with few flubs, and quite amazingly compared to most of the shows from 75. He must have ran out of whatever drugs he was taking for this show as his fingers are much more nimble. The "Sloppy" monicker can't be applied here when listening to his blistering Stairway solo. Of course an audience recording masks a lot of mistakes, so a soundboard might put it on a more level playing field. I actually like the string break on Over The Hills, which sends Jones and Bonham into a funk breakdown while Page switches guitars. Sick Again is played fluently without the "Fingers stuck in strings" sound Page usually has on this song. The tape clears up tremendously for Dazed and is played exceptionally.The encores are played with so much energy they almost sound like the show openers from 72/73, with Page again hitting every mark on the Black Dog solo just like his old self. The only thing that bugs me is the frequent panning. Not sure if that was done through the monitors (I've heard it in other shows} or if the tapers were doing it. I'll take this semi good audience recording over just about any of the soundboards from 75, with the exception of maybe Deus Ex Machina. But honestly, Page conjuring up his old self almost makes this more listenable in my opinion. What do you guys think?