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MakeToesKurlyMan

Best Live Versions of Stairway to Heaven

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True story. I met a 80 year old neighbour (Rose) recently. She stopped to talk to me due to my 75 LED Zeppelin concert tshirt I was wearing. Rose told me she loves Stairway to Heaven! She has a LZ 4 CD and she puts STH on repeat all day!! Before the CD she had the album and cassette. Rose once in a while cranks it up and dances to it. So I let her listen to the live versions on TSRTS and HTWWW on my phone. The look of astonishment and joy was priceless. She never heard a live version before. So I want to burn a cd or two for her with the best 10 live versions. I have the above two plus Earl’s Court. Could use some advice on the last 7.  Thanks for the help, Rose will love it!

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, MakeToesKurlyMan said:

True story. I met a 80 year old neighbour (Rose) recently. She stopped to talk to me due to my 75 LED Zeppelin concert tshirt I was wearing. Rose told me she loves Stairway to Heaven! She has a LZ 4 CD and she puts STH on repeat all day!! Before the CD she had the album and cassette. Rose once in a while cranks it up and dances to it. So I let her listen to the live versions on TSRTS and HTWWW on my phone. The look of astonishment and joy was priceless. She never heard a live version before. So I want to burn a cd or two for her with the best 10 live versions. I have the above two plus Earl’s Court. Could use some advice on the last 7.  Thanks for the help, Rose will love it!

That's a touching story MTKM. I look forward to cranking Zeppelin at 80 just like Rose. I'm assuming Rose doesn't have "bootleg ears" and will only recommend the best "Stairways" that also have great sound...either a soundboard or a great audience tape. Since you already have LA Forum '72, MSG '73, and Earls Court '75 covered, here are the remaining seven I recommend in chronological order.

1. August 31, 1971 Orlando, Florida.

2. September 14, 1971 Berkeley California. A fantastic sounding audience tape.

3. September 28, 1971 Osaka, Japan.

4. March 12, 1975 Long Beach Arena, California

5. March 21, 1975 Seattle, Washington

6. June 21, 1977 L.A. Forum, California

7. June 23, 1977 L.A. Forum, California

I love the early 1971 Stairways because they were performed before Led Zeppelin IV had even been released...the audience was hearing this song for the FIRST TIME! It is the only tour where the beginning of "Stairway" isn't drowned out by applause because people didn't know the song yet. I also like 1971 because John Paul Jones has not got the mellotron yet so he uses the organ for the flute part in the beginning. I think Rose will appreciate the church hymnal feeling this gives the song.

1973 and 1975 were rough patches for Plant's voice which is why I went with the two March 1975 choices for this period, as March was the best month for Plant's voice on the 1975 tour. And since there is no better 1973 "Stairway" than the TSRTS version, it seemed superfluous to pick another.

1977 had Plant's voice back in full power (well, except for that weird third leg of the tour). And these two 1977 "Stairways" will give Rose a chance to hear the song with John Paul Jones using a grand piano instead of the Fender Rhodes electric piano that he usually used on previous tours.

Edited by Strider

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2 hours ago, Strider said:

That's a touching story MTKM. I look forward to cranking Zeppelin at 80 just like Rose. I'm assuming Rose doesn't have "bootleg ears" and will only recommend the best "Stairways" that also have great sound...either a soundboard or a great audience tape. Since you already have LA Forum '72, MSG '73, and Earls Court '75 covered, here are the remaining seven I recommend in chronological order.

1. August 31, 1971 Orlando, Florida.

2. September 14, 1971 Berkeley California. A fantastic sounding audience tape.

3. September 29, 1971 Osaka, Japan.

4. March 12, 1975 Long Beach Arena, California

5. March 21, 1975 Seattle, Washington

6. June 21, 1977 L.A. Forum, California

7. June 23, 1977 L.A. Forum, California

I love the early 1971 Stairways because they were performed before Led Zeppelin IV had even been released...the audience was hearing this song for the FIRST TIME! It is the only tour where the beginning of "Stairway" isn't drowned out by applause because people didn't know the song yet. I also like 1971 because John Paul Jones has not got the mellotron yet so he uses the organ for the flute part in the beginning. I think Rose will appreciate the church hymnal feeling this gives the song.

1973 and 1975 were rough patches for Plant's voice which is why I went with the two March 1975 choices for this period, as March was the best month for Plant's voice on the 1975 tour. And since there is no better 1973 "Stairway" than the TSRTS version, it seemed superfluous to pick another.

1977 had Plant's voice back in full power (well, except for that weird third leg of the tour). And these two 1977 "Stairways" will give Rose a chance to hear the song with John Paul Jones using a grand piano instead of the Fender Rhodes electric piano that he usually used on previous tours.

Great suggestions. Thank you very much!!  I think Rose must hold the world record for most times listening to STH!

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I wonder if you should test the waters and try introducing other studio gems to Rose along with live STH version? Ten Years Gone, Ramble on, Going to California, In the Light.... there might be other songs she would love - and might never have heard - with a similar vibe to STH.

Maybe Rose should get a Youtube "reaction channel" going!

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Here are the 1971 versions I suggest. I am switching the 9.29.71 Osaka to the 9.28.71 Osaka...slightly better sound and a better guitar solo.

1. Orlando 8.31.71

 

2. Berkeley 9.14.71

 

3. Osaka 9.28.71

 

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Posted (edited)

4. Long Beach March 12, 1975.

5. I couldn't find a YouTube video for the Match 21, 1975 Seattle Stairway song by itself.

Edited by Strider

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The 1977 Stairways...

6. Los Angeles Forum June 21, 1977.

 

7. Los Angeles Forum June 23, 1977.

 

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Rose should also hear the  1971 BBC version.   Fantastic clarity and Plant sings all the notes.     Even by 1972 he was singing lower at the end of the song.  Sure, I love the 72 versions and the way he adjusts his voice, but after 1971 he could not hit all the notes on that ending.

And there is something about the 1971 versions - it was new.  It had a freshness to it without all the hype, pomp and expectations. 

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I sincerely want to thank everyone on their suggestions. Monday is CD burning day. And great idea from rm2551 on introducing Rose to Ten Years Gone, In the Light etc. I think I will include an bonus CD for her. 

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10 hours ago, MakeToesKurlyMan said:

I sincerely want to thank everyone on their suggestions. Monday is CD burning day. And great idea from rm2551 on introducing Rose to Ten Years Gone, In the Light etc. I think I will include an bonus CD for her. 

Start with "Tangerine", as that was a sort of trial run and prototype for "Stairway to Heaven". And I mean the "Tangerine" on Led Zeppelin III, not the live version on HTWWW.

Edited by Strider

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You must include either Vancouver 1975/03/20, Fort Worth 1975/03/03, or Copenhagen 1979/07/24 since during those shows Plant does some lovely scream right before the solo. I love those performances.

Also while Stairway To Heaven was incredible live, don't forget the several different studio rough takes found on the Studio Sessions bootlegs as those are also some damn good recordings!!

Recently I downloaded a copy of the 1971-04-01 BBC Sessions show (EV version) and was blown away by it! Stairway To Heaven is incredible on it.

I would definitely wrap it up with Frankfurt 1980-06-30 as it sounds so unique compared to earlier performances.

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9.14.71 has always been my favorite. Robert is so on form, and Jimmy's solo is superb. Love the TSRTS version too.

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