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  1. Nitpicking Page 9/23/1971 Budokan, Tokyo (Flying Rock Carnival) There are seemingly endless audience sources for these shows, but to keep things simple I'll be using a balance between consistency and good audio. This is mainly source 7 with some others used to fill the gaps. I'm also introducing a new rating, "A-". Whereas I used "B+" before for a performance that was near flawless but had a few small flubs, I think that still seems unfair to put it at a "B" level if everything else was top notch. So "A-" will basically be just that- a well played song with good energy that has maybe one bad vocal squeak, a bad guitar phrase, or a slightly flubbed transition that doesn't detract from the overall performance. So this will be the "minor flaws" category and I think I will need it for this run of shows. Immigrant Song- Thundering tempo. Opening wails sound on point and powerful. Solo- 2:30-2:50, Page lets loose on the usual array of triplet pulloffs. 3:23, a little inarticulate here. 3:47, some nice bends and pulloffs. Good solo overall. Exciting version. "A-" considering the sloppy descending solo phrase. Heartbreaker- Speedy tempo and excellent start. Solo- the pulloff and rockabilly sections are flawless. The smear section isn't too sloppy and phrased well. Bouree is short and flawless before Page takes off on the fast section. Excellent phrasing and flow throughout. Absolutely nothing bad to point out here as this is the definition of a solid performance. Also good energy from Bonham. "A". SIBLY- Guitar overdrive is perfectly crunchy. 0:33, Bonham's double kicks echoing off the walls. 0:54-1:07, superbly fluid guitar run. 2:57, semi airraid. 3:03, Page almost jumps into the pre-chorus phrase early. Solo- fluid run off the bat. Flawless phrasing and fluidity throughout. 4:53, playing this bend to the fullest. 6:03, Bonzo getting loose with the beat but brings it back in. "A-". Black Dog- Keeping with the fast tempo. 2:00, a wrong note in there somewhere but nothing major. 2:33, Page having a little trouble keeping up. Plant's pre-solo scream is a little subpar. Solo- good flow, fluidity, and phrasing throughout. This one felt extremely rushed and there were some flaws because of it. "B+". Dazed- Average start. First workout- not much here as it goes straight to the bow section. Second workout- Page begins with the usual riffs. Good noodling throughout with some country sounding bends thrown in. Excellent phrasing. 17:18, Mars section still in it's infancy. 18:21, some bad chords by Page on the climax. The outro is pretty average sounding. Fairly solid, but not the most intriguing version. "A-". Stairway- Flawless verses. Solo- an effortless flow of notes but it's almost too straightforward. 6:19, small tape cut. 6:57, this phrase sounded a little off. 7:12, some flubbed notes. 7:30, Page almost caught off guard and quickly plays the final phrase. Plant sounding excellent on the climax. For 1971? "B". Celebration Day- Not the cleanest intro by Page. Fantastic energy with Jones just dominating the mix on this. Solo- takes a while for Page to lift off but he gets some decent noodling in. The ending turns into a rhythmic faceoff between the three. Not bad, not great, with a lacking solo. "B+". That's The Way (BYAS false start). Nice relaxing tempo with subtle mandolin accents. Plant singing every lyric with tremendous emotion and intimacy. Very good. "A+". GTC- Beautiful version all the way through. "A". (Plant scolds the crowd for whistling) WIAWSNB- Solid start. 1:08, Page hits a unique minor sounding chord here. Solo- played perfectly. The second half winds out nicely. 4:12, some nice chording to end a good version. "A+". WLL- The crowd gets riled up as they kick this one off. Sounding good on the start. Page comes out of the theremin section with some good free form jamming and knocks down the solo. Plant shreds his vocal chords before launching Boogie Chillen. Chillen is played with precision and Page gets a good solo in. Hello Mary Lou- audio gets a little worse but sounds decent. The solo doesn't flow perfectly but it's still a solid version. Mess Of Blues- tempo drags a little but still good with solid leads from Page. I'm A Man (partial). Tobacco Road- good verses and Page plays an excellent solo. Good Times Bad Times- sounding great as the crowd continues to clap out of time. 20:35, Page skips straight to the outro solo which is played nicely and continues jamming. How Many More Times- Plant calls it out and Page responds. Played with tremendous energy and swagger. 25:21, excellent bends by Page. The Hunter is played nicely. You Shook Me- as heavy as it gets and Jim's slide is on point. Solo- 29:48, long, fluid series of runs by Page. 31:22, massive trills. 31:48-32:02, one of the best lead runs I've heard by anyone. Just a phenomenal solo here as Page flexes every blues muscle he's got. 34:04, Plant straining a bit on the return. The outro is nailed down to end a ground-shaking medley. 35 minutes of near perfection. "A++". Communication Breakdown- Plant tells the crowd to cool it before Page launches the intro. Plant's vocals are a little half-hearted probably due to the commotion in the crowd. Solo- some decent wah soaked runs. Plant again scolds the crowd. An ironic scene considering the song. the jam section and ending sounds good. Would have to be "B+" considering the interruptions. Final Assessment- First of all, after all the examinations of every year after, it's quite shocking to hear how consistently good these guys could be when they were focused and not under the influence, Page in particular with how free-flowing his lead phrasing is. It's a pretty tight show overall, though still not perfect. WLL is the biggest standout with a massive medley. Very strange that Stairway is where Page couldn't get entirely on track with the phrasing, almost sounding like he was trying too hard. Plant isn't exactly summer 1970 level but the high range is still there. Bonzo and Jones aren't showing off here, but doing their respective duties very well. One of the stark contrasts to me is how underwhelming Dazed is compared to later years. It feels like it's still in early construction here.
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