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gibsonfan159

Nitpicking Page 1980

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To put the 1980 Tour into further context, Led Zeppelin was following the scorched earth 1980 European tour of Van Halen. Van Halen toured all over Europe and the U.K. from May 26 to June 24. Led Zeppelin started their 1980 Euro tour on June 17.

I can forgive Jimmy Page his lack of fluency and articulation and speed in his playing post-1975. The man suffered two injuries to his fretting hand on two consecutive tours and played through them, causing who knows what permanent damage to his fingers. Speed is overrated anyway. Neil Young can say more with one note than a thousand guitarists can with a thousand notes. It's all about tone.

That is the one thing I can't absolve Jimmy Page of...his total loss of control of his tone. From 1968-1973, one of the hallmarks of a Led Zeppelin concert was Jimmy's command of his guitar and the incredible tone and range of sounds he coaxed from his guitar.

After 1975, his mastery of tone became more inconsistent and his lack of proper intonation marred many of his solos. Thank god he had the echoplex and wah-wah pedal to bail him out at times. 

By the 1980 tour, his haphazard tone really is noticeable.

And it would especially be noticeable to any European or American serviceman who saw Led Zeppelin shortly after seeing Van Halen on their respective European tours in 1980.

For whatever you think of Van Halen, one thing is indisputable...Eddie had an incredible tone, especially during those first four years of international touring 1978-1981. 

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On 7/1/2020 at 9:40 PM, Strider said:

To put the 1980 Tour into further context, Led Zeppelin was following the scorched earth 1980 European tour of Van Halen. Van Halen toured all over Europe and the U.K. from May 26 to June 24. Led Zeppelin started their 1980 Euro tour on June 17.

I can forgive Jimmy Page his lack of fluency and articulation and speed in his playing post-1975. The man suffered two injuries to his fretting hand on two consecutive tours and played through them, causing who knows what permanent damage to his fingers. Speed is overrated anyway. Neil Young can say more with one note than a thousand guitarists can with a thousand notes. It's all about tone.

That is the one thing I can't absolve Jimmy Page of...his total loss of control of his tone. From 1968-1973, one of the hallmarks of a Led Zeppelin concert was Jimmy's command of his guitar and the incredible tone and range of sounds he coaxed from his guitar.

After 1975, his mastery of tone became more inconsistent and his lack of proper intonation marred many of his solos. Thank god he had the echoplex and wah-wah pedal to bail him out at times. 

By the 1980 tour, his haphazard tone really is noticeable.

And it would especially be noticeable to any European or American serviceman who saw Led Zeppelin shortly after seeing Van Halen on their respective European tours in 1980.

For whatever you think of Van Halen, one thing is indisputable...Eddie had an incredible tone, especially during those first four years of international touring 1978-1981. 

I think Jimmy's slop and weird tone from 75 onward is because of a few things, but his finger injuries aren't in the mix.

For one, you can't be both a guitar hero and a junky.

The next issue is that Jimmy was pursuing a cleaner tone. He wanted to hear more of the actual note, the actual tone, than the distortion or overdrive. So he modded the amp to get much more head room. However, playing with less overdrive tends to highlight the mistakes one makes. It really highlights any slop. This also made the tone suspect for songs like black dog which just didn't sound quite right.

Another issue is Jimmy got lazy. He was having too much fun living like a rich man, traveling, buying art and, of course, doing heroin, to practice his guitar. He basically only played on tour plus the rehearsals before the tour. When he was younger he was attached to his guitar at the hip. He wouldn't put it down. He was obsessed with it. That youthful enthusiasm tends to fade and when you combine in other factors that led him to distraction, it's clear that he was severely rusty from 75 onward, but especially in 1980.

 

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23 hours ago, Christopher Lees said:

I think Jimmy's slop and weird tone from 75 onward is because of a few things, but his finger injuries aren't in the mix.

For one, you can't be both a guitar hero and a junky.

The next issue is that Jimmy was pursuing a cleaner tone. He wanted to hear more of the actual note, the actual tone, than the distortion or overdrive. So he modded the amp to get much more head room. However, playing with less overdrive tends to highlight the mistakes one makes. It really highlights any slop. This also made the tone suspect for songs like black dog which just didn't sound quite right.

Another issue is Jimmy got lazy. He was having too much fun living like a rich man, traveling, buying art and, of course, doing heroin, to practice his guitar. He basically only played on tour plus the rehearsals before the tour. When he was younger he was attached to his guitar at the hip. He wouldn't put it down. He was obsessed with it. That youthful enthusiasm tends to fade and when you combine in other factors that led him to distraction, it's clear that he was severely rusty from 75 onward, but especially in 1980.

 

I didn't mention the drug problem because it was so obvious he had a drug problem that everyone already knows about it and it doesn't need to be rehashed over and over. It is what it is.

Besides, I have seen plenty of guitar players with drug problems still play coherently and with great tone...Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, Mick Ronson, Mick Jones, Hillel Slovak, Dave Navarro, etc.

Of course Jimmy Page's problems with tone on the 1980 tour only signifies the beginning of an entire decade of inconsistent tone from Jimmy. And it points to the question on a whole lotta people's minds...If Bonham had not died, would Led Zeppelin have survived the 1980s and what would they have sounded like?

1980 was not 1970. Guitars and guitar effects, Stage gear and sound systems, and P.A.s, everything was more sophisticated and it was harder for bands to get away with being sloppy and out of tune on stage anymore.

This wasn't the days when tripping hippies would forgive an out-of-tune guitar because there was only one guy to tune everyone's guitar and he had to do it by ear in a hot and sweaty auditorium. Nobody expected the band to sound exactly like the record. The bands that came close enough were the bands that became popular on the road...Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Stones, Allman Brothers, Elton John, Jethro Tull, Yes, Sabbath, Purple.

By the 1980s, bands were getting more proficient and professional. Boston, Queen, Rush, The Eagles, AC/DC, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac. These bands always sounded great live and could replicate in concert every guitar and keyboard tone that was on the record.

To watch Alex Lifeson nail every tone, texture, part in "Xanadu" or "La Villa Strangiato" in concert was amazing. After watching that, going to see Jimmy Page fumble his way with his anemic Fender B-bender was anticlimactic.

The Rolling Stones took the rest of the 1980s off after their horrible-sounding 1981 tour...I saw them blown off the stage by ZZ Top in Texas and JJ Geils and George Thoroughgood in L.A. By the time the Stones reconvened in 1989 they had got their shit together and sounded 2,000 light years better than they did in 1981.

I saw Pink Floyd, Tom Petty, ZZ Top, Eagles, Clash, Who, Queen, Fleetwood Mac, AC/DC, and Van Halen put on great shows in 1980. If Led Zeppelin had come to America with that weak 1980 Euro tour bullshit, Led Zeppelin's aura would have taken a mighty blow. It would have gotten particularly ugly during one of Jimmy's painful "White Summer" wankathons. 

Considering Jimmy spent a good portion of the 1980s obsessed with that thin-sounding B-bender, I'm not so sure Led Zeppelin would have survived the 1980s on top if Bonham had lived. There's a good chance they would have suffered a dip in their popularity in the 1980s just as Kiss, Jethro Tull, Elton John and other kings of the 1970s did.

 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Strider said:

I didn't mention the drug problem because it was so obvious he had a drug problem that everyone already knows about it and it doesn't need to be rehashed over and over. It is what it is.

Besides, I have seen plenty of guitar players with drug problems still play coherently and with great tone...Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, Mick Ronson, Mick Jones, Hillel Slovak, Dave Navarro, etc.

Of course Jimmy Page's problems with tone on the 1980 tour only signifies the beginning of an entire decade of inconsistent tone from Jimmy. And it points to the question on a whole lotta people's minds...If Bonham had not died, would Led Zeppelin have survived the 1980s and what would they have sounded like?

1980 was not 1970. Guitars and guitar effects, Stage gear and sound systems, and P.A.s, everything was more sophisticated and it was harder for bands to get away with being sloppy and out of tune on stage anymore.

This wasn't the days when tripping hippies would forgive an out-of-tune guitar because there was only one guy to tune everyone's guitar and he had to do it by ear in a hot and sweaty auditorium. Nobody expected the band to sound exactly like the record. The bands that came close enough were the bands that became popular on the road...Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Stones, Allman Brothers, Elton John, Jethro Tull, Yes, Sabbath, Purple.

By the 1980s, bands were getting more proficient and professional. Boston, Queen, Rush, The Eagles, AC/DC, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac. These bands always sounded great live and could replicate in concert every guitar and keyboard tone that was on the record.

To watch Alex Lifeson nail every tone, texture, part in "Xanadu" or "La Villa Strangiato" in concert was amazing. After watching that, going to see Jimmy Page fumble his way with his anemic Fender B-bender was anticlimactic.

The Rolling Stones took the rest of the 1980s off after their horrible-sounding 1981 tour...I saw them blown off the stage by ZZ Top in Texas and JJ Geils and George Thoroughgood in L.A. By the time the Stones reconvened in 1989 they had got their shit together and sounded 2,000 light years better than they did in 1981.

I saw Pink Floyd, Tom Petty, ZZ Top, Eagles, Clash, Who, Queen, Fleetwood Mac, AC/DC, and Van Halen put on great shows in 1980. If Led Zeppelin had come to America with that weak 1980 Euro tour bullshit, Led Zeppelin's aura would have taken a mighty blow. It would have gotten particularly ugly during one of Jimmy's painful "White Summer" wankathons. 

Considering Jimmy spent a good portion of the 1980s obsessed with that thin-sounding B-bender, I'm not so sure Led Zeppelin would have survived the 1980s on top if Bonham had lived. There's a good chance they would have suffered a dip in their popularity in the 1980s just as Kiss, Jethro Tull, Elton John and other kings of the 1970s did.

 

Damn Sean that was brutal! Maybe you saw some bad Firm shows or just hated the b-bender but the show I saw in Phoenix 85' he played very well indeed. I also liked that Jimmy had reinvented his style, evolved, and played very differently than his Zep days. I liked the b-bender and what he did with it on tunes like Dreaming and Satisfaction Guaranteed. Not many players would have the balls to reinvent their style after being in one of the biggest bands in the world. Even if you hate the b-bender you have to give Page credit for trying something new. After all, he used all of new style merged with the old for the 94'-2000' period and I for one think that period had Jimmy's finest playing on a consistent basis since 73'.

Edited by PeaceFrogYum

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53 minutes ago, PeaceFrogYum said:

Damn Sean that was brutal! Maybe you saw some bad Firm shows or just hated the b-bender but the show I saw in Phoenix 85' he played very well indeed. I also liked that Jimmy had reinvented his style, evolved, and played very differently than his Zep days. I liked the b-bender and what he did with it on tunes like Dreaming and Satisfaction Guaranteed. Not many players would have the balls to reinvent their style after being in one of the biggest bands in the world. Even if you hate the b-bender you have to give Page credit for trying something new. After all, he used all of new style merged with the old for the 94'-2000' period and I for one think that period had Jimmy's finest playing on a consistent basis since 73'.

Oh gawd...The Firm.

Well, at least Jimmy played better on The Firm tours than he did at the A.R.M.S. show. But something about The Firm never quite clicked for me. The idea was always better than the execution and the whole never added up to the sum of their parts.

It wasn't all Jimmy's fault. Chris Slade is the whitest, most boring milquetoast of all the meathead drummers there was in the 1980s. Tony Franklin was a bad 1980s hairdo too in love with his fretless bass. And Paul Rodgers seemed like he was mailing it in half the time.

I didn't truly enjoy a Jimmy Page show until the 1988 tour. And you might find this hard to believe but I actually didn't find the Coverdale/Page album embarrassing. I actually was looking forward to a Coverdale/Page tour hitting the U.S. But it was not to be.

Then MTV stepped in...and the rest is history. Jimmy got his mojo back.

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Posted (edited)

Nitpicking the Nitpickers?:  1980 dream compilation

 

During this 40th anniversary interim between Led Zeppelin’s final concert tour of Europe and demise, I finally got around to listening to all the soundboard/matrices I could find online, and, where possible, audience recordings of minimal quality that still captured reasonably full ambience of the band.  From there I deduced the following compilation that in my view would capture the best elements I heard into a killer composite representation of a show of this period:

 

TKAR – Cologne.

NFBM – Mannheim #2.

BD – Bremen, with Dortmund vocal verses spliced in.  Captures Jones’ menacing twang and Bonzo’s final fill turned over-the-top solo (a la end of RAH ICQYB).  And yet what sold me on the Dortmund version was Plant’s supremely confident, down-and-dirty bluesy delivery that lifted the verses out of the familiar recorded version.   One might also splice in, from a performance later in the tour, the understated, whimsical seventh chord with which Page would underline the word ‘dreams’.

ITE – Brussels, despite the buzzing.  This could be augmented even further by splicing in from later performances in the tour the ‘but the girl don’t come’ line into verse 1 (Brussels yet lacks Plant’s bluesy liberation from the recorded template), the ‘gotta have’ line before the solo (Brussels lacks Plant’s grudgingly lower note that defines most other performances on this tour), and Bonzo’s syncopated response to Plant’s ‘got to, got to’ ad lib near the end of the final verse.  ITE is one of a handful of songs on this tour’s set list that I found very difficult to locate in a single, satisfactory performance otherwise—in this case, particularly in Page’s inconsistent Strat dive-bombs.  (The guitar solo in Vienna is also quite good, ending and leading into the synthesizer solo particularly well--which one cannot necessarily say of most renditions on this tour.)

RS – Vienna.  In the instrumental section at one point, Page essays a beautiful cascading elaboration reminiscent of Hendrix’ ‘One Rainy Wish’; perhaps it would help to splicing such bit in from a later performance which may be more developed.  At least Page does not rush this version, as he does many others on this tour.

HD—Mannheim #1.  Everything works just about right on this, including Plant’s country-style spoken-verse parody.  (A close contender would have been Vienna, where Jones’ piano part was among the most developed, even for such a supposedly simple song.)

AML—Munich.  The audience source in fact enhances the ambience of this softer number, and Page gathers himself for a coherent solo, free of the apathy of other performances.

TU—Frankfurt.  The band nails this, firing on all cylinders.  I concur with Zep Head on the A+ rating.  (Rotterdam was quite excellent and no less funky, but Frankfurt is transcendent.)

SIBLY—Hannover, with Vienna perhaps spliced in for the second part of the solo.  Hannover gets the nod for providing the best balance between the solid and the mercurial, whereas Vienna tilts more toward the former, and Brussels and Zurich more toward the latter. Hannover also offers Plant’s more committed delivery (particularly at the start) compared to other versions, and some very interesting patterns resulting from Jones and Page, which are more a matter of superimposition than interaction.

ALS—Frankfurt.  Had the sound on my source been clearer, then I would have opted for Rotterdam, which features perhaps Bonzo’s most engaged performance on this tour.  However, sound quality has to be the differentiator, and Jones’ eight-string bass is given more definition in Frankfurt, which is also a most consistent performance.

WS—Brussels.  I might have chosen Munich, as I found that performance undeniably fluent but in the end a touch too quicksilver.  For me, the Brussels performance is clear and convincing—particularly the beautiful, controlled fingerstyle/arpeggiation.

BMS—Zurich.  A fine performance.

K—Would go for Cologne, which features a strong vocal entrance, then for the ‘I’ve been flying’ break  segue into Frankfurt (where Jones takes lovely and risky modal bass steps), through the body of the song, then for the coda segue into Mannheim #2 which highlights Bonzo’s better fills.  Bremen was fine indeed as a single performance; still, this composite would be the best of the best otherwise in my opinion.

STH—Ditto a composite, as a single consistent performance of such warhouse on this tour is also difficult to find.  I would begin with Munich, which features a transcendent audience singalong, then with the ‘jazzy’ section segue into Rotterdam (which highlights’ Jones piano beautifully—although splicing in from other performances perhaps one or two alternate bass voicings would showcase even further his modulatory talent), then segue into Hannover for the solo onward. 

RAR—Berlin, which noses out Bremen although both are equally savage.

H--Rotterdam.  I know that Zep Head and Dave Lewis touted this as a tour highlight, but somehow I find the Rotterdam performance more intense and satisfying.

CB—Cologne.  Gets in, does the work and gets out.  The best version of the new headbanger riff (a fitting bookend to TKAR) and Plant’s ‘in my soul, yes it is’ ad lib near the end.

WLL—Berlin.  Off the rails transcendent, with post-psychedelic hallucinations, echoplex manipulations, and portents of Ministry.

 

Such top choices and contenders give the lie to the dismissal of Page & Co on such tour as a burnout case.  If anything, Bonzo’s overall effort on this tour seems more subdued and even muffled than in previous tours, and even Jones’ keyboards occasionally falter.  At least Page is taking some chances, some of which are still fascinatingly inscrutable, and Plant is generally strong and consistent, at times loaded with attitude which carries the day, others indeed tinged with indifference but almost no bum notes.  That said, indeed there is no call to canonize Nuremberg, the Zurich version of Kashmir, or (God forbid) the Berlin version of White Summer.

 

As complete concerts, Brussels (which I prefer to Zurich) and Frankfurt (and perhaps even Dortmund) seem to present the best overall performance arc or brush-stroke.  Yet curiously, in the case of Frankfurt, the whole indeed appears much better than the sum of its parts—likely due to the superior qualities of both the soundboard and Plant’s vocal performance.  (Admittedly, I have yet to locate a complete recording of Bremen, or a clear recording of the opening numbers of Rotterdam up to Rain Song.)

 

 

Edited by zep scholar
correction

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corrections:

STH:  meant to say not 'warhouse' but 'warhorse'

RAR:  by 'tour highlight' I meant the Zurich performance compared to Rotterdam.

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On 7/6/2020 at 9:17 PM, Strider said:

I didn't mention the drug problem because it was so obvious he had a drug problem that everyone already knows about it and it doesn't need to be rehashed over and over. It is what it is.

Besides, I have seen plenty of guitar players with drug problems still play coherently and with great tone...Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, Mick Ronson, Mick Jones, Hillel Slovak, Dave Navarro, etc.

Of course Jimmy Page's problems with tone on the 1980 tour only signifies the beginning of an entire decade of inconsistent tone from Jimmy. And it points to the question on a whole lotta people's minds...If Bonham had not died, would Led Zeppelin have survived the 1980s and what would they have sounded like?

1980 was not 1970. Guitars and guitar effects, Stage gear and sound systems, and P.A.s, everything was more sophisticated and it was harder for bands to get away with being sloppy and out of tune on stage anymore.

This wasn't the days when tripping hippies would forgive an out-of-tune guitar because there was only one guy to tune everyone's guitar and he had to do it by ear in a hot and sweaty auditorium. Nobody expected the band to sound exactly like the record. The bands that came close enough were the bands that became popular on the road...Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Stones, Allman Brothers, Elton John, Jethro Tull, Yes, Sabbath, Purple.

By the 1980s, bands were getting more proficient and professional. Boston, Queen, Rush, The Eagles, AC/DC, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac. These bands always sounded great live and could replicate in concert every guitar and keyboard tone that was on the record.

To watch Alex Lifeson nail every tone, texture, part in "Xanadu" or "La Villa Strangiato" in concert was amazing. After watching that, going to see Jimmy Page fumble his way with his anemic Fender B-bender was anticlimactic.

The Rolling Stones took the rest of the 1980s off after their horrible-sounding 1981 tour...I saw them blown off the stage by ZZ Top in Texas and JJ Geils and George Thoroughgood in L.A. By the time the Stones reconvened in 1989 they had got their shit together and sounded 2,000 light years better than they did in 1981.

I saw Pink Floyd, Tom Petty, ZZ Top, Eagles, Clash, Who, Queen, Fleetwood Mac, AC/DC, and Van Halen put on great shows in 1980. If Led Zeppelin had come to America with that weak 1980 Euro tour bullshit, Led Zeppelin's aura would have taken a mighty blow. It would have gotten particularly ugly during one of Jimmy's painful "White Summer" wankathons. 

Considering Jimmy spent a good portion of the 1980s obsessed with that thin-sounding B-bender, I'm not so sure Led Zeppelin would have survived the 1980s on top if Bonham had lived. There's a good chance they would have suffered a dip in their popularity in the 1980s just as Kiss, Jethro Tull, Elton John and other kings of the 1970s did.

 

Excellent post Strider.

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On 7/5/2020 at 8:38 PM, Christopher Lees said:

I think Jimmy's slop and weird tone from 75 onward is because of a few things, but his finger injuries aren't in the mix.

For one, you can't be both a guitar hero and a junky.

The next issue is that Jimmy was pursuing a cleaner tone. He wanted to hear more of the actual note, the actual tone, than the distortion or overdrive. So he modded the amp to get much more head room. However, playing with less overdrive tends to highlight the mistakes one makes. It really highlights any slop. This also made the tone suspect for songs like black dog which just didn't sound quite right.

I agree with all of this.

Page was "sloppier" throughout 1975 well beyond his injury. He was a user, no way around it. I've also noticed that Page (who's admitted it himself) learned to play with a different technique after his injury. He rarely used his ring finger for solos.

As far as tone, I think Page rebelled against the current emphasis on beefing up overdrive to an EVH level, and went in an opposite direction and dialed back the gain to impress people with a cleaner tone.

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Damned fine job gibsonfan159.

I always thought Tour Over Europe got a bad rap.  I personally felt it was some of their better work.  How many 25 minute drum solos can a human take?  Or 30 or 40 minutes of DAC?  They sounded good in 80, they sounded stripped down and a bit punkish, if that was the goal.  Stairway probably should have been dropped or reworked somehow, but you gotta give the crowd what they want I guess.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/25/2020 at 8:53 PM, zep scholar said:

Nitpicking the Nitpickers?:  1980 dream compilation

 

During this 40th anniversary interim between Led Zeppelin’s final concert tour of Europe and demise, I finally got around to listening to all the soundboard/matrices I could find online, and, where possible, audience recordings of minimal quality that still captured reasonably full ambience of the band.  From there I deduced the following compilation that in my view would capture the best elements I heard into a killer composite representation of a show of this period:

 

TKAR – Cologne.

NFBM – Mannheim #2.

BD – Bremen, with Dortmund vocal verses spliced in.  Captures Jones’ menacing twang and Bonzo’s final fill turned over-the-top solo (a la end of RAH ICQYB).  And yet what sold me on the Dortmund version was Plant’s supremely confident, down-and-dirty bluesy delivery that lifted the verses out of the familiar recorded version.   One might also splice in, from a performance later in the tour, the understated, whimsical seventh chord with which Page would underline the word ‘dreams’.

ITE – Brussels, despite the buzzing.  This could be augmented even further by splicing in from later performances in the tour the ‘but the girl don’t come’ line into verse 1 (Brussels yet lacks Plant’s bluesy liberation from the recorded template), the ‘gotta have’ line before the solo (Brussels lacks Plant’s grudgingly lower note that defines most other performances on this tour), and Bonzo’s syncopated response to Plant’s ‘got to, got to’ ad lib near the end of the final verse.  ITE is one of a handful of songs on this tour’s set list that I found very difficult to locate in a single, satisfactory performance otherwise—in this case, particularly in Page’s inconsistent Strat dive-bombs.  (The guitar solo in Vienna is also quite good, ending and leading into the synthesizer solo particularly well--which one cannot necessarily say of most renditions on this tour.)

RS – Vienna.  In the instrumental section at one point, Page essays a beautiful cascading elaboration reminiscent of Hendrix’ ‘One Rainy Wish’; perhaps it would help to splicing such bit in from a later performance which may be more developed.  At least Page does not rush this version, as he does many others on this tour.

HD—Mannheim #1.  Everything works just about right on this, including Plant’s country-style spoken-verse parody.  (A close contender would have been Vienna, where Jones’ piano part was among the most developed, even for such a supposedly simple song.)

AML—Munich.  The audience source in fact enhances the ambience of this softer number, and Page gathers himself for a coherent solo, free of the apathy of other performances.

TU—Frankfurt.  The band nails this, firing on all cylinders.  I concur with Zep Head on the A+ rating.  (Rotterdam was quite excellent and no less funky, but Frankfurt is transcendent.)

SIBLY—Hannover, with Vienna perhaps spliced in for the second part of the solo.  Hannover gets the nod for providing the best balance between the solid and the mercurial, whereas Vienna tilts more toward the former, and Brussels and Zurich more toward the latter. Hannover also offers Plant’s more committed delivery (particularly at the start) compared to other versions, and some very interesting patterns resulting from Jones and Page, which are more a matter of superimposition than interaction.

ALS—Frankfurt.  Had the sound on my source been clearer, then I would have opted for Rotterdam, which features perhaps Bonzo’s most engaged performance on this tour.  However, sound quality has to be the differentiator, and Jones’ eight-string bass is given more definition in Frankfurt, which is also a most consistent performance.

WS—Brussels.  I might have chosen Munich, as I found that performance undeniably fluent but in the end a touch too quicksilver.  For me, the Brussels performance is clear and convincing—particularly the beautiful, controlled fingerstyle/arpeggiation.

BMS—Zurich.  A fine performance.

K—Would go for Cologne, which features a strong vocal entrance, then for the ‘I’ve been flying’ break  segue into Frankfurt (where Jones takes lovely and risky modal bass steps), through the body of the song, then for the coda segue into Mannheim #2 which highlights Bonzo’s better fills.  Bremen was fine indeed as a single performance; still, this composite would be the best of the best otherwise in my opinion.

STH—Ditto a composite, as a single consistent performance of such warhouse on this tour is also difficult to find.  I would begin with Munich, which features a transcendent audience singalong, then with the ‘jazzy’ section segue into Rotterdam (which highlights’ Jones piano beautifully—although splicing in from other performances perhaps one or two alternate bass voicings would showcase even further his modulatory talent), then segue into Hannover for the solo onward. 

RAR—Berlin, which noses out Bremen although both are equally savage.

H--Rotterdam.  I know that Zep Head and Dave Lewis touted this as a tour highlight, but somehow I find the Rotterdam performance more intense and satisfying.

CB—Cologne.  Gets in, does the work and gets out.  The best version of the new headbanger riff (a fitting bookend to TKAR) and Plant’s ‘in my soul, yes it is’ ad lib near the end.

WLL—Berlin.  Off the rails transcendent, with post-psychedelic hallucinations, echoplex manipulations, and portents of Ministry.

 

Such top choices and contenders give the lie to the dismissal of Page & Co on such tour as a burnout case.  If anything, Bonzo’s overall effort on this tour seems more subdued and even muffled than in previous tours, and even Jones’ keyboards occasionally falter.  At least Page is taking some chances, some of which are still fascinatingly inscrutable, and Plant is generally strong and consistent, at times loaded with attitude which carries the day, others indeed tinged with indifference but almost no bum notes.  That said, indeed there is no call to canonize Nuremberg, the Zurich version of Kashmir, or (God forbid) the Berlin version of White Summer.

 

As complete concerts, Brussels (which I prefer to Zurich) and Frankfurt (and perhaps even Dortmund) seem to present the best overall performance arc or brush-stroke.  Yet curiously, in the case of Frankfurt, the whole indeed appears much better than the sum of its parts—likely due to the superior qualities of both the soundboard and Plant’s vocal performance.  (Admittedly, I have yet to locate a complete recording of Bremen, or a clear recording of the opening numbers of Rotterdam up to Rain Song.)

 

 

correction re:  TKAR--meant to say Brussels--i admit some bias since this is one of the first 1980 recordings I ever heard, but it did set the bar high.

really looking forward to others' feedback on this, with all of course entitled to their own opinions.

Edited by zep scholar

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3 hours ago, zep scholar said:

correction re:  TKAR--meant to say Brussels--i admit some bias since this is one of the first 1980 recordings I ever heard, but it did set the bar high.

really looking forward to others' feedback on this, with all of course entitled to their own opinions.

I have yet to get around to revisiting 1980. Currently immersed in 1970 with side-trips into 1972, 1973, 1975, and 1977.

But I can pretty much say with some assurance that when it comes to 1980 "Trampled Under Foot" and "Whole Lotta Love", Berlin is my choice for both songs. The rest of the set list is up for grabs.

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On 7/1/2020 at 8:40 PM, Strider said:

To put the 1980 Tour into further context, Led Zeppelin was following the scorched earth 1980 European tour of Van Halen. Van Halen toured all over Europe and the U.K. from May 26 to June 24. Led Zeppelin started their 1980 Euro tour on June 17.

I can forgive Jimmy Page his lack of fluency and articulation and speed in his playing post-1975. The man suffered two injuries to his fretting hand on two consecutive tours and played through them, causing who knows what permanent damage to his fingers. Speed is overrated anyway. Neil Young can say more with one note than a thousand guitarists can with a thousand notes. It's all about tone.

That is the one thing I can't absolve Jimmy Page of...his total loss of control of his tone. From 1968-1973, one of the hallmarks of a Led Zeppelin concert was Jimmy's command of his guitar and the incredible tone and range of sounds he coaxed from his guitar.

After 1975, his mastery of tone became more inconsistent and his lack of proper intonation marred many of his solos. Thank god he had the echoplex and wah-wah pedal to bail him out at times. 

By the 1980 tour, his haphazard tone really is noticeable.

And it would especially be noticeable to any European or American serviceman who saw Led Zeppelin shortly after seeing Van Halen on their respective European tours in 1980.

For whatever you think of Van Halen, one thing is indisputable...Eddie had an incredible tone, especially during those first four years of international touring 1978-1981. 

Good comment! Thanks.

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