Classic Rock Review

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Led Zeppelin Montreux Casino 1971 (August 1971)


Monteux Casino, Montreux, Switzerland – August 7th, 1971

Disc 1 (54:25): Introduction, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Black Dog, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven

Disc 2 (46:34): Going To California, That’s The Way, Celebration Day, What Is And What Should Never Be, Whole Lotta Love (including Boogie Chillun’, That’s Alright, Ramble On, I’m A Man, Honey Bee), Weekend

Led Zeppelin’s Montreux concerts in 1971 and 1972 were rumoured to exist on tape and it is great that one of these four concerts has finally surfaced. One of the reasons why this tape is so valuable is because the first half of 1971 is so poorly documented for Led Zeppelin.

Except for the Ireland tapes and the “BBC In Concert” broadcast, the Back To The Clubs tour is shrouded in almost complete mystery. A tape for a Liverpool performance is said to exist, although I have my doubts. There is the wonderful Copenhagen tape from May, the Milan fragment from July, and that is it until the seventh tour of North America.

The first Montreux concert surfaced several years ago and was quickly pressed first on Casino Royale (Empress Valley Supreme Disc 2005 EVSD378/379) and then on Peter’s PA (Black Dog Records BDR-001-1,2). Empress Valley was ruined by excessive mastering making the tape very hissy and horrible sounding.

The Tarantura version was much better with an emphasis upon clarity. This release by the new label Graf Zeppelin sounds slightly louder and more clear than Pete’s PA, sounding like it comes from a legitimate low generation tape. It is a great version of the show worth having. The only negative is the very dark and hard to read artwork, the same problem this label had with their Newport release.

The setlist for Montreux is close to the standard they used for most of the year. The Montreux Concertsby Gilles Chateau and Sam Rapallo claim that “Moby Dick” was played before “Whole Lotta Love,” that “Celebration Day” was played before “Stairway To Heaven,” and that “Communication Breakdown” was played as an encore.

As it turns out “Moby Dick” was not played, “Celebration Day” was played after the acoustic set, and “Weekend” is the only encore for August 7th. Further, this is the earliest recorded reference to “Celebration Day” as a stand-alone track. The only previous appearance is the Copenhagen show where it was played inside of “Communication Breakdown.”

As it is this is a very good sounding tape of an excellent performance by the band and with Plant hitting most of the high notes in “Black Dog” and “Stairway To Heaven.” “Dazed And Confused,” clocking in at eighteen minutes, is introduced as “one from long ago.” The acoustic set is recorded nicely with “That’s The Way” bitterly dedicated to anyone who came from Milan, the site of the disaster in July (“I don’t know how I’m gonna tell you / that I can’t play with you no more!”).

The “Whole Lotta Love” medley substitutes “Mess O’ Blues” with “I’m A Man”. “Honey Bee” is followed by a long blues improvisation and does not go into “You Shook Me,” which was the custom at that time. “Merci beaucoup et bon soir. We’ll do one more then we’ll be back tomorrow” Plant says before a very fast and heavy version of Eddie Cochrane’s “Weekend.”

March 10, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Montreux Casino 1971 | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin BBC Rock Hour (Playhouse Theatre London, June 1969)


BBC Playhouse Theatre, London – June 27th, 1969

Intro, Communication Breakdown, I Can’t Quit You, Interview, Dazed And Confused, Liverpool Scene sketch, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, You Shook Me, How Many More Times

Bonus disc: Communication Breakdown, Dazed And Confused, Going To California, Stairway To Heaven, What Is And What Should Never Be, Whole Lotta Love

Bumble Bee’s BBC Rock Hour, just like their Blue Flame, is another release of a Zeppelin tape that has been released many times before in the past. The June 27th, 1969 In Concert appearance has had releases dating back to the Neolithic era. On vinyl it was released well over a dozen times with the better titles being Complete BBC Performances on Toasted, Dazed And Confused on Royal Sound (RS009), Hot London (Kolne), and Four Symbols (Accord). The version on Accord was reissued this twice. Other vinyl titles include Flight Of The Zeppelin (Jolly Good Sound), In The Light 69-75 Zipp Zapp (LZL 4 A-D), and Idolescence (Volsung) and the poor sounding My Rider on Idi Amin.

White Summer (TSPCD019) on The Swingin’ Pig, How Many More Times (QCP 69008) on the Korean Quality label, and Classics Off The Air Vol. 2 (NZCD 005) on Neutral Zone are among the earliest compact disc releases. About the time Antrabata released Rock Hour, which was copied onto BBC 69 (BBC Transcription Series), the complete broadcast with interview and the Liverpool Scene sketch became the norm.

Several months ago Empress Valley released a great version on disc two of their four disc Complete British Broadcasting Corporation Radio Sessions. This new release on Bumble Bee is in similar excellent quality. It isn’t as loud as the Empress Valley. However, older releases have a fifteen second cut in “White Summer” at 2:53 into the track, but BBC Rock Hour does not have the cut making it the most complete and as close to definitive as possible.

Led Zeppelin had many appearances on the BBC during their first year of existence. This one has always stood out from the others because it is the only one to be taped in front of a live audience. They sound very raw and it captures the excitement of their early live show. Up until June they were finding ways of expanding their sets to ninety minutes to two hours long, but the summer was filled with appearances at festivals beginning the following day at the Bath Festival on June 28th. This gives a glimpse into their stripped down, hour long festival set.

Alan Black introduces the format which gives the band an opportunity to give a true statement about their music with “complete creative freedom and a chance to communicate”. Ironically the first song is “Communication Breakdown”, the normal encore. This version includes Page playing a funk riff over which Plant sings “I wanna do little mama babe yeah but I don’t seem to mind / I can’t stop the feelin’, baby mama, I’m givin’ you a ride” before quoting from the Isley Brothers “It’s Your Thing”. The song segues perfectly into “I Can’t Quit You Babe”.

The interview following this song is conducted by the host with Plant and Page, speaking about the popularity of underground groups like them and Jethro Tull. At the end Black encourages the band to play one of their longer numbers. John Paul Jones can be heard in the background replying “Oh really?” and Page, for some reason, says “Jim Morrison?” before Plant says, “when we finish that, we’ll be well out of breath”.

What follows is an excellent eleven and a half minute version of the piece. The late Adrian Henri, Andy Roberts and Mike Evans of the band The Liverpool Scene who released their first album Incredible New Liverpool Scene on CBS in 1967 and broke up in 1970 perform the following sketch. They were a band that wove together music, poetry and satirical humor. This faux commercial is done for the “next great war” in which they advertise PAD meat (Prolongs Active Death), BOMB (the international passport for smoking ruins), and FALLOUT.

The mc introduces Jimmy Page to play “White Summer/Black Mountain Side”, one of the most perfect versions on tape. “You Shook Me” is a rare version which has John Paul Jones playing the Hammond organ. The opening notes are still much louder than the rest of the track, probably due to the engineer not expecting the loud volume. The finale “How Many More Times” lasts for thirteen minutes and includes snippets of “Smokestack Lightening” before the first verse. This recording is one of the best sounding and played of the early Led Zeppelin which accounts for all of the editions available.

The first one hundred copies come with a bonus cdr of the hour long edit of the April 1st, 1971 BBC session sourced directly from a noisy vinyl copy. It is a nice extra although certainly not essential. Overall BBC Rock Hour is a solid release of a very popular tape. The artwork is a bit thin but has rare photographs on the cover and back. Given the complete “White Summer” contained, this is a title worth seeking out.

March 10, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin BBC Rock Hour | , | Leave a comment

Joe Satriani Surfing With The Alien (1987)


I had never heard of Joe Satriani until my band mates introduced him to me. They are big fans of his, and as guitarists themselves, it is obvious why they admire him. The first Satriani song I ever heard was “Surfing with the Alien,” but I liked it so much I decided that I had to get this album. The Legacy Edition of Surfing with the Alien includes a remastered audio CD of the original album and a DVD of the previously unreleased concert from the Montreux Jazz Festival on July 15, 1988, which also happens to be Joe Satriani’s birthday.

All I can say after listening to the CD and watching the DVD is that I’m amazed by what Satriani can do with his guitar. And this was 20 years ago. I’ve heard he’s better now than he was before, and if that’s true, I can only imagine how phenomenal he must be now. He does things with his guitar that I never thought were possible. Granted, I’m not very knowledgeable about guitars, but I’ve seen enough to know that he’s brilliant.

Listening to the CD, I fell in love with “Ice 9,” which was inspired by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s book Cat’s Cradle, “Circles,” which has a great melody and an interesting arrangement, “Midnight,” which has a very crisp sound and wonderful melody, and “Always With Me, Always With You”, which he says himself was the best melody he had written for this album, and I agree. “Always With Me, Always With You” is my favorite track in this album.

I didn’t fully appreciate his talent until I watched the DVD of the Montreux concert. It was absolutely mind-blowing, and I’m amazed at the great audio. It’s hard to believe this concert was recorded 20 years ago. I was so drawn in by his passion for the music, and it’s going to be hard to describe it without getting explicit. I’ve often heard people describe music or musicians with words like orgasmic and sensual, and I’d always thought that they were just exaggerating. I must have been missing out on a lot of passionate music before I heard Satriani!

Seriously though, watching him perform on stage was like watching him make love to his guitar. Sometimes he makes wild and sexy love to it, and it screams in pleasure, other times he caresses it gently and it murmurs back lovingly. It was truly an orgasmic experience, and none of the songs were more sensual than “Rubina.” I really can’t find a better word to describe the song than with that word.

Stuart Hamm, who plays the bass, amazed me too with his skill with a fretless bass guitar on this track. “Bass Solo” like its title says, is a bass solo by Hamm, and it showcases his amazing talent. He shows off different techniques of playing which include tapping as well. I have seen my band mates using this technique, but never to the level that Satriani does with “Midnight.” His two-handed tapping technique on “Midnight” is a sight to behold. The drummer, Jonathan Mover, was spectacular too, by the way. At the end of the track “Circles”, he has a drum solo which tired me out just to watch. The speed, coordination, and energy of his playing simply astounded me.

Watching Satriani perform on stage is an experience every guitar enthusiast should have. If you’re a fan of his, and even if you already have the original Surfing with the Alien album, you must get this remastered edition, if only for the DVD. It includes extra tracks like Hamm’s “Bass Solo,” “Memories,” “Rubina,” and “Hordes of Locusts.” They’re great and you shouldn’t miss out on them. The DVD also includes bonus features; an interview with Nigel Tufnel (the fictional lead guitarist in the movie This is Spinal Tap played by actor Christopher Guest), the “Satch Boogie” music video, and the “Always With Me, Always With You” music video.

While guitar isn’t my musical instrument of choice, watching and listening to Satriani made me appreciate the beauty and the potential of the instrument. I’m so glad my band mates introduced his music to me, and I will definitely be looking for his future works.

March 10, 2013 Posted by | Joe Satriani Surfing With The Alien | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin The First Time At The Forum (LA Forum, March 1970)


Great Western Forum, Inglewood, Los Angeles, CA – March 27th, 1970

It is axiomatic, when discusing Led Zeppelin’s live performance, in pointing out the special relationship the held with this particular city. The concerts seemed longer, looser and more wild than in other cities raising many of them into legendary status. In 1969 they played the Whisky A Go-Go in January and other shows in the region, but made played the first of sixteen total shows at the Forum on March 27th, 1970. Two unique audience recordings exist for the event and have been issued before. The First Time At The Forum, however, is the first one to offer both sources complete from low generation tapes.

-1st Source-

Disc 1 (69:05): We’re Gonna Groove, Dazed And Confused, Heartbreaker, Bring It On Home, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Organ Solo, Thank You, What Is And What Should Never Be

Disc 2 (70:57): Moby Dick, How Many More Times, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown, announcements

-2nd Source-

Disc 3 (68:09): We’re Gonna Groove, Dazed And Confused, Heartbreaker, Organ Solo, Thank You, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick

Disc 4 (41:03): How Many More Times, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown

The first tape on the first two discs was taped far from the stage. It is very unstable at the beginning of “We’re Gonna Groove” and cuts out at 11:23 in “Dazed And Confused,” has a small cut after “Bring It On Home,” at 2:20 in “What Is And What Should Never Be” and at 22:46 in “How Many More Times.” The tapers are having a great time at the show however and hold conversation between the songs, really appreciate Jimmy Page’s solo in “Thank You” and are impressed with John Bonham’s stickless banging of the drums in “Moby Dick.”

The second tape source sounds much better than the first. Whomever taped it was closer to the stage and didn’t talk too much throughout the performance. It has a nice live sound and captures the dynamics, paranoia and hostility in the performance very well. The major flaw is that it is missing “Bring It On Home,” “White Summer / Black Mountain Side,” and ”Since I’ve Been Loving You.” It is a strange omission and suggests either the taper intentionally held these songs back for some reason or the tape was damaged.

D’Ya Feel Alright? (Mad Dogs-029/30) released many years ago is the only other silver release of the entire first tape. The two titles utilizing both tapes, LA Jive & Rambling Mind(Holy Grail HGCD 106/7) and Everybody Feel Alright? (Empress Valley EVSD-463/464), use the better sounding second tape as a base and edit in “Bring It On Home,” White Summer / Black Mountain Side” and “Since I’ve Been Loving You” from the first tape. Regarding the new TCOLZ release, both tapes sound as good as possible without excessive remastering.

Regarding the performance, if there were tapes circulating that are as good as their September show in the Forum, this would be considered one of the all time greats and would be much more common. Zeppelin were touring off of Led Zeppelin II (still a big seller after being out for five months) and were introducing songs from Led Zeppelin IIIas well. The tape begins with Robert Plant promising to “get everybody loose, as loose as everybody’s ever been loose, even with cod liver oil. So you must help us right?” before they start with “We’re Gonna Groove,” one of their more effective openers.

“I Can’t Quit You,” which was played as the second song for every show up to this point, was dropped in favor of a direct segue into “Dazed And Confused.” “Heartbreaker,” the third song of the set, lacks the theremin introduction that Page used for this tour but does have a moment of Hendrix-like feedback and distortion. “Bring It On Home” is good enough to make one wish it were on the better sounding tape. This is such an effective vehicle for improvisation and fun on-stage antics between Page, Plant and Bonham that it makes me wonder why it was dropped from the set list the following year and played only on rare occasions.

Plant gives a rather cryptic introduction to “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” saying: “we’d like to get some birdseed for the geese over there. We’d also like to dedicate this next song to the little men with the big sticks who keep pushing everybody back down the aisle. It’s their big day you see? They can’t understand it”

John Paul Jones’ organ solo before “Thank You” is the first attempt to introduce an improvisational keyboard solo in the Zeppelin live repertoire. Many times on this and the following American tour the solo sounds disjointed with the experiments sounding more stupid than interesting. But on this night it lasts only three minutes and is melodic and enjoyable.

“What Is And What Should Never Be” is usually one of the more “standard” numbers inthe set, being performed the same every night with very little difference. But Plant adds many interjections between the verses making this version stand out. Before “Moby Dick” Plant thanks everybody who saw them in Anaheim the previous year. “How Many More Times” lasts for twenty-five minutes with Plant promising to get the audience “looser and looser”. He introduces the band as “four survivors of the Graf Zeppelin” and the band get very intense. Page plays Ravel’s Bolero in increasing intensity and Plant tries to calm the police presence down throughout the entire medley.

“Whole Lotta Love”, their newest single at this time is the first encore and includes Page’s theremin solo in the middle and Jones banging on the keyboards to create the appropriate cacophony. The show closes with a version of “Communication Breakdown” that includes a reference to Neil Young’s “Down By The River” which was his latest hit that spring. The presentation from TCOLZ is very good with many rare photographs from the event.

March 10, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin The First Time At The Forum | , | Leave a comment

The Who Quadrophenia (1973)


Another great but seriously flawed album, this ambitious second installment in the Who’s rock opera fetish is Townshend’s tribute to Mod culture as seen through the eyes of a young schizophrenic named Jimmy. Actually, Jimmy is a schizophrenic squared due to excessive pill popping, and each member of the band represents one of Jimmy’s personalities. As per usual, this all gets a bit confusing at times, but overall Quadrophenia tells a far more coherent and interesting story than Tommy.

Now, I’m an American and know squat about U.K. Mod culture, but I was a teenager once, and as such I can easily relate to the frustrated and disillusioned young man’s struggles. Besides, much like its spiritual predecessor it’s the individual songs on Quadrophenia that matter far more than the story itself. Simply put, “The Real Me,” “The Punk Meets The Godfather,” “5:15,” “Doctor Jimmy,” and “Love, Reign O’er Me” are among the greatest rock songs of all-time. Of course, this being a double album, there is some filler, and as with Tommy the band again repeats certain themes throughout the album, stealing a melody from “5:15” for “Cut My Hair” and reprising parts of “Love, Reign O’er Me” several times, for example.

But at least Pete, who wrote and arranged every song, always varies the arrangements, and he also cuts some of his most melodic guitar solos, while the band’s ever-expanding sound prominently features piano, horns, strings, and lots more synths. Granted, at times the album is overproduced, as the songs themselves are sometimes drowned out by the abundance of sounds, and the album on the whole will likely seem a bit monotonous and dreary at first.

Quadrophenia is an album you need to live with for awhile to fully appreciate, after which I for one developed a healthy admiration for album tracks such as the title track (which serves the same purpose here that “Overture” did on Tommy), “Dirty Jobs” (I like the melody and Roger’s vocals on this one), “I’ve Had Enough” (though its several sections don’t really fit together all that well, I enjoy the individual sections), “Sea And Sand” (more multiple sections, tender vocals from Roger, and terrific soloing from Townshend), “Drowned” (a solidly enjoyable take-no-prisoners rocker with some stellar piano work by Chris Stainton), and “Bell Boy” (another excellent melody and Roger vocal, plus Keith “sings” (!!) and it has that symphonic touch that’s such a big part of this albums sound).

As for the certifiable classics, which are easy to pick out, “The Real Me” gets the album off to a rousing start (after the forgettable “I am The Sea” intro), with great riffs, phenomenal bass playing, symphonic horns, a busily spellbinding Moon performance, a raging Roger vocal, and an exciting climax on which the song builds and builds. The also-explosive “The Punk Meets The Godfather” is all about its flawless riffs and catchy, theatrical vocals, but really, the performances of all band members are spectacular here and throughout the entire album. “5:15,” about a particularly memorable train ride, is the albums best-known song (even then it was only a minor hit, though the album itself continued the band’s recent success by hitting #2 in the U.S. and U.K.) and is another knockout, with great use of horns (though perhaps they’re a tad too prominent) making for a dramatic, moving (yet more great vocals from Roger), and flat-out rocking centerpiece. On the epic front, both towards the end of the album, are “Doctor Jimmy” (8:42) and “Love, Reign O’er Me” (5:48).

Both songs are utterly fantastic, the latter perhaps more spectacularly so, with Roger’s striking, earth-shattering vocals, Moon’s pulse-pounding flurries, and those lush synth-strings being the most notable attributes of the song, which provides a stellar climax to the album. I mean, the sheer power of the band at their best can damn near be overwhelming, enough so that the occasionally uneven material and at-times overly cluttered sound become but minor flaws of yet another major work. Note: Get the remastered 1996 reissue, which remedied most of the much-criticized aspects of the original pressings (Roger’s voice being too low, John’s bass too high, etc.).

In fact, the band’s pleasure with the remastered version of the album played a large part in their regrouping (yet again) for a small scale Quadrophenia tour in 1996, which won rave reviews and won back some of the credibility that was lost from the last “cash in” stadium reunion tour of 1989.

March 10, 2013 Posted by | The Who Quadrophenia | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Texas, Two Steps (Dallas, March 1969)


Disc 1 (64:21) Dallas Memorial Auditorium, Dallas, TX – March 28th, 1970: We’re Gonna Groove, Dazed and Confused, Heartbreaker, Bring It On Home, White Summer / Black Mountain Side, Since I’ve Been Loving You, organ solo/Thank You

Disc 2 (58:25): What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick. Hofheinz Pavillion, University of Houston, Houston, TX – March 29th, 1970: White Summer / Black Mountain Side, How Many More Times

Texas, Two Steps gathers two fragment from Led Zeppelin’s spring tour of 1970. This is the only silver pressing for both of these tapes and will probably remain so since neither of them are really good. The Dallas tape in particular is distant, hissy and distorted but is listenable once the ears adjust to the fidelity. There is a cut at the end of “White Summer” and the tape ends after “Moby Dick” eliminating “How Many More Times,” “Whole Lotta Love” and whatever else they chose to play for an encore.

Dallas is the show immediately following their legendary debut at the Forum in Los Angeles. After a brief tune up and Robert Plant telling the soundman for “more treble” they rip into a chaotic version of “We’re Gonna Groove.” Without any breaks they head into “Dazed And Confused.” Jimmy Page loses his place and tries to lead the band into the first fast section after the first verse. But otherwise the song hangs together.

Plant greets the audience afterwards with the standard “everbody feel alright?” and he thanks “everybody who contributed” to the next song “Heartbreaker.” It has the theremin introduction and a long guitar solo in the middle including Bach’s Bouree.

“Since I’ve Been Loving You” sounds very ornamented and pretty tonight with Plant actually crooning some of the lyrics instead of belting them out. John Paul Jones follows with a two minute ecclesiastical organ solo with hints of “A White Shade Of Pale.” The distortion increases during the track and there is much talking by the taper’s microphone, but Page’s thunderous guitar solo can be heard in the general mush. Dallas ends with a twenty minute “Moby Dick,” one of the longest from this tour.

Dallas is good show, but nothing like Houston the following night. Only two songs totalling a bit more than a half hour survive and it’s almost certain this is all that survives. It is a bit clearer than Dallas but still merely fair sound quality. The performances contained on the fragment are among the strangest committed to tape.

“White Summer / Black Mountain Side” is thirteen minutes long and it includes a strange, discordant but utterly fascinating “Bron-Y-Aur” interlude in the middle. Page had been including, but none so much at odds with the tenor of the rest of the piece.

The second track is the final song of the set “How Many More Times.” Page doesn’t feel like playing the heavy riff and plays “For What It’s Worth” instead and they continue through the band introduction. Not until the first verse do they play the familiar melody. Plant celebrates Neil Young with snatches of “Down By The River,” his big song of the day and the showpiece of his tour with Crazy Horse that year. But Page keeps going back to the Buffalo Springfield tune until they finally play it by the end. It’s an interesting performance all around but it’s a shame the entire show isn’t available.

This is one of the more adventurous releases by TDOLZ, released at a time when their agenda was to release every piece of Led Zeppelin tape in circulation. And although these two tapes are listenable, it will appeal only to the committed Zeppelin collector. The two discs are house in a single cardboard sleeve with two photos from the first Fillmore East show in 1969.

March 10, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Texas Two Steps | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin A Sudden Attack Boston (January 1969)


Boston Tea Party, Boston, MA – January 26th, 1969

Disc (75:26): Train Kept a Rollin’, I Can’t Quit You, Killing Floor, Dazed and Confused, You Shook Me, Communication Breakdown, White Summer / Black Mountain Side, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, Pat’s Delight

Disc 2 (63:00): How Many More Times. Boston Tea Party, Boston, MA – January 23rd, 1969: Train Kept a Rollin’, I Can’t Quit You, As Long As I Have You, Dazed and Confused, and You Shook Me

By the time Led Zeppelin’s first US tour was a month old, they played four shows at the Tea Party in Boston between January 23rd and January 26th. With San Francisco and Los Angeles behind them and New York next on the itinerary, they delivered some of their legendary performances. Of particular note is the January 26th show, the final night in Boston.

A ninety minute tape of most of the show has been in circulation, but this is said to be the legendary night when they went on for four hours, exhausting everything in their repertoire and giving the birth of “head banging.” The recording is good but unbalanced with the guitar dominating the mix. It is a very good document of the show albeit incomplete. There are cuts before “White Summer,” in “How Many More Times,” and the encore and as much as two more hours, are missing.

The tape made its debut on vinyl on Killing Floor (Trade Mark Of Quality TMQ 71117). Compact disc issues include Fillmore East (Mud Dogs 006/007), Killing Floor (Cobra Standard Series 018), Sudden Attack Boston (STTT 073/074), and Tight But Loose (Tarantura T2CD-2) and Whisky And Tea Party (Ocean Recording). “How Many More Times” is included in both Whole Lotta For Your Love (Pirate SCLE 003/03) and Fillmore 1969 (House Of Elrond).

John Paul Jones recalled this show several years later in an interview with NME in 1973, saying: ”As far as I’m concerned, the key Led Zeppelin gig – the one that put everything into focus – was one that we played on our first American tour at The Boston Tea Party. We’d played our usual one-hour set, using all the material from our first album and Page’s ‘White Summer’ guitar piece and, by the end, the audience just wouldn’t let us off the stage. It was in such a state that we had to start throwing ideas around – just thinking of songs that we all might know or some of us knew a part of, and work it from there. So we” go back on and play things like ‘I Saw her Standing There’ and ‘Please Please Me’ – old Beatles favorites. I mean, just anything that would come into our head, and the response was quite amazing. There were kids actually banging their heads against the stage – I’ve never seen that at a gig before or since, and when we finally left the stage we’d played for four and a half hours. Peter was absolutely ecstatic. He was crying and hugging us all. You know… with this huge grizzly bear hug. I suppose it was then that we realized just what Led Zeppelin was going to become.”

There are rumours of a complete tape, but it’s doubtful it exists. It’s also doubtful they played for four hours. It is common to exaggerate the length of Led Zeppelin concerts, and it’s more realistic to assume they played for another hour after “How Many More Times.”

But what is special about the show is the extreme lengths Page goes to introduce improvisation and variations into the songs. “Train Kept A Rollin’” is introduced by some funky riffs, and ”Dazed And Confused” veers off into several different and unique improvisations. Sometimes it sounds as if Page is imitating Jeff Beck in attempting impromptu variations.

“You Shook Me” contains a rare organ solo in the middle, something not usual on the first tour. “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” is referred to as something that I never really get off as completely as I want to.”

Plant thanks Boston for the warm reception throughout the week. “We’d like to thank all of the ladies we’ve met in the United States who’ve befriended us in this foreign land. All the ladies in the United States. We’d really like to thank them because, not only that, I’d like to thank John Law, for supplying us with English beer, and I’d also like to thank the staff of the Lennox Hotel for not letting us eat in the dining room, and most of all, we’d like to thank you for coming along tonight because Sunday night apparently it isn’t usually open, so its very good of you to have enough faith in us to come here.”

The sixteen minute long medley contains several rare and interesting references including “Duke Of Earl” and the Yardbird’s “For Your Love.”

Grand Lodge include the January 23rd tape on disc two. This is the first night at the Tea Party and first surfaced on the vinyl Boston Tea Party (A&BRD&C – BMD 001A-B). CD releases include Complete Boston Tea Party (ARMS 07/08PR) and Boston After Dark (Empress Valley EVSD-65). The Empress Valley is slightly cleaner and sharper than Grand Lodge, remaining the definitive version of the first night in Boston.

The music that is present is an outstanding 1969 Led Zeppelin performance where they seem to straddle their aesthetic between hard blues and psychedelia beginning with an aggressive version of “Train Kept A-Rollin’” in which Page busts a string. There is a lengthy delay as Plant talks to the audience saying: “let me say it’s great to be in Boston. According to Jimmy, its one of the best places he’s ever played” and promotes the just released first album. Bonham and Jones lock onto a heavy rhythm while waiting but it doesn’t, as it would in other shows, develop any further.

Twelve minute dramatic version of “As Long As I Have You” follows “I Can’t Quit You” which confirms the review’s assessment by stating, “Rhythm changes abruptly, time patterns change abruptly, volume levels change abruptly, yet melodic line and chord skeletons manage to merge kaleidoscopically as each member of the band feeds one another and in turn plays off the idea thrown out. The entire approach is very loose and very improvisational. The result is a surprising intricacy developed out of a form that is usually considered to be quite simple. Yet the basic power is never lost. In one sense, the Led Zeppelin represents the best of two worlds.” (“Jimmy Page: After the Yardbirds…Comes Led Zeppelin,” Ben Blummenberg Boston Phoenix February 5, 1969).

Plant expresses some astonishment before “Dazed And Confused” saying, “Well we’ve only been here about four weeks, but we never expected receptions like this. So it’s really a gas. What with English beer and this sort of thing.”

“Dazed And Confused” surprisingly sounds very close to the studio counterpart. The following song, and the final one on the tape “You Shook Me” is truly improvisatory in this show and would be on their initial tours. It is a shame the tape runs out at the end since with such fiery playing the finale would have been outstanding to hear. However we are fortunate to have this fragment floating around.

A Sudden Attack Boston (Revised Edition) is a good and affordable way of attaining these two tapes. While not a huge improvement over previous releases, it is still very good for such hard shows to pick up. The artwork and packaging is very clean and classy with the long NME John Paul Jones quote printed in the liner notes.

March 10, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin A Sudden Attack Boston | , | Leave a comment

Jimi Hendrix First Rays Of The New Rising Sun (1997)


Hendrix novices should be very careful when it comes to Hendrix postmortem releases: everybody knows there’s at least half a hundred of them, and most are either pathetic rip-offs or lousy live recordings (one of the few most nasty of these is the infamous New York ’68 jam session with a, er, ‘pixilated’ Jim Morrison mostly spitting out obscene copulation metaphors, if you get my drift. Strange enough, it’s available under at least a dozen different titles. Avoid it like plague).

However, since Jimi’s family finally took control over his legacy, things seem to start getting better, and we might hope for a decent, straightened out catalogue appearing soon with all the rip-offs deleted and gone for eternity. So far, most of the interesting stuff that, according to Prindle, Jimi recorded in Heaven and fed-exed down on Earth, has re-surfaced on two of these re-issues: First Rays Of The New Rising Sun and South Saturn Delta (reviewed below).

This concrete album replaces the earlier issued and generally better known Cry Of Love released in March 1971 – the album that Hendrix didn’t have enough time to record, rather like Janis’ Pearl, along with some lesser known tracks. So you might easily dub it ‘the great lost fourth Hendrix album’.

Unfortunately, while I’m not going to argue with the ‘lost’ thing, calling it ‘great’ seems quite an arrogant task to me. ‘Cuz it’s not great at all, in fact, it’s even worse than Electric Ladyland. No, it doesn’t have any fourteen-minute jams – most of the songs are three or four minutes long. And it doesn’t have any dated gimmickry: no buckets of water for the amps that time. But somehow these songs never thrill me as much as his 1967 albums. Say what you want, and I’ll say what I want (again): Jimi’s terrible lack of songwriting ability comes through once again.

Moreover, these songs are as rambling and unsecure as never before: the time was pressing hard on Jimi, and his problems didn’t translate well onto music. Call me crazy, but I think he was in a somewhat Barrett-ish state at the time: stoned nearly out of his mind, personal affairs a mess, the Experience annihilated and musically and artistically exhausted. God only knows what he would go on to make… anyway, let us not digress any more. There are some good compositions on here.

Sometimes Jimi’s tortured soul steps on the surface and he lets go with a blazing, confessional ballad (‘Angel’) that rivals ‘Little Wing’ as his most emotional piece of writing. Sometimes he gets an interesting technical idea – the unique guitar tone on ‘Room Full Of Mirrors’ turns it into a head-spinning psychedelic experience. Sometimes he delivers a scorching blues tune with precise and thought out, Creamy licks that we’re not grown to expect of him (‘Freedom’). Finally, there’s a fantastic riffing excercise (the instrumental ‘Beginnings’). But that’s about it.

Most of the other tracks fall into three categories. First of all, there’s a lot of aimless guitar wanking on uninspired bluesrock tunes like ‘Dolly Dagger’ or ‘Earth Blues’. They’re all fairly impressive from a technical level, but for how long did Jimi expect he could impress us? Nothing can be more impressive than ‘Foxy Lady’! Creatively speaking, they’re all weak. His lyrics are maybe getting more poetic, but I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or a flaw.

It seems obvious he was trying to step off the psychedelic hippie train, but it seemed to be moving too fast for him. So he ends up sounding like a cross between Marty Balin and Jim Morrison, with a slight touch of Syd Barrett again (the stupid cosmic song ‘Astro Man’). To be honest with you, his derivative mystical lines do not impress me in the least: while he was always trying to present himself as the ‘intelligent’ one, I never found any signs of real ‘intelligence’ in Jimi’s lyrics. Pretension, yes, sometimes. But he was mostly ripping off other people, just as well as other people were trying to rip off his songwriting.

Next, the second category is ‘Bad Ballads’. ‘Drifting’, for instance, which just drags for three and a half minutes and tries to sound exalted but just manages to sound phoney, or the overlong title track. Finally, the third category includes a Dylan rip-off: ‘My Friend’ is a feeble imitation of a) Dylan’s singing; b) Dylan’s lyrics; c) Dylan’s arrangements (the drunken company noises remind one of ‘Rainy Day Women’). It’s amusing, but hardly essential for anybody but those whose only aim in life is to prove that Hendrix was a better songwriter than Dylan (fancy that).

So no, I’m not impressed. I do admit that I can’t call the album ‘bad’ in a plain sense of the word. The playing is good, and the decent songs I’ve named above are enough to redeem it. But it’s a serious letdown compared to Jimi’s ‘classic’ works, and had he continued in that blues-o-mystical direction, I’m sure he’d have ruined his career in less than a couple of years. Now wait, maybe the problem is… yes… YES that’s where the rub lies. The album is too long, you see? It’s like seventy damn minutes! Scoop out all the filler and you’ll get a nice little record stuffed with delicacies like ‘Room Full Of Mirrors’ or ‘Angel’.

I respect Jimi as much as anybody, but he never deserved a double album – and he put out one before his death and one after his death. What a silly trick of fortune.

March 10, 2013 Posted by | Jimi Hendrix First Rays Of The New Rising Sun | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin A Quiet Before The Storm: The Day On The Green Tapes Vol. 1 (Oakland, July 1977)


The Day On The Green, Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, CA – July 23rd, 1977

-source one-

Disc 1 (61:14): The Song Remains The Same, The Rover Intro/Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Over The Hills And Far Away, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter

Disc 2 (60:20): Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Black Country Woman/Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, Trampled Underfoot, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Kashmir

Disc 3 (45:56): Guitar Solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll, Black Dog

-source two-

Disc 4 (64:56): The Song Remains The Same, The Rover Intro/Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Over The Hills And Far Away, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore

Disc 5 (70:59): Going To California, Black Country Woman/Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, Trampled Underfoot, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Kashmir, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll, Black Dog

Led Zeppelin’s Oakland concerts occur in the first week of the third part of their massive tour in the spring of summer 1977. While the Seattle show was a bit flat and the Tempe show a disaster, these two represent a significant improvement. And with the tragedy that occurred to Plant’s family after the second Oakland date, these turned out to be their final US live appearance. The penultimate gig on July 23rd exists in two good to very good audience recordings collected together for the first time by TCOLZ on A Quiet Before The Storm. The first tape is contained on the first three CDs and has been pressed before on It’s Been Great (Image Quality IQ-010/11/12).

It is relatively close to the stage and reasonably clear and enjoyable although the taper seems to be picking up the music from the speakers rather than the stage. There are small cuts at 5:59 in “No Quarter,” after “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp,” and cuts after “Stairway To Heaven” and “Rock And Roll.” The second tape source on discs four and five was first pressed on Confusion (no label) many years ago. It seems to be taped closer to the stage but is overloaded with distortion in the bass.

Part of the Day On The Green series of concerts organized by Bill Graham, Zeppelin were supported by Rick Derringer and Judas Priest for both days. With Plant wearing the “Nurses Do It Better” shirt (do what though is never answered) and Page in the black dragon suit, they deliver a decidedly uneven performance. “The Song Remains The Same” and “Sick Again” sound sloppy and sluggish. “Well good afternoon. I see we finally made it. I guess I must personally apologize for a two year delay, but it’s very nice to be here and to be back. We should just waste no time at all, and give you something that we should have given you a while back, yeah?” Plant says before the first new song of the day “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.”

He apologizes before “Over The Hills And Far Away,” saying, “If we seem to be just a little bit sluggish now we shall start to liven up cause we’re not even awake about forty five minutes. You know how it is, which is no excuse admittedly. We’re gonna do a song from before the flood you might say. We must have a short break while Jimmy puts a belt on his trousers. He’s losing his pants. That would be one of the worst things to happen. It’s just one of the formalities of getting dressed in the morning. So this is what they call daylight?”

A twenty-five minute version of “No Quarter” is perhaps the first standout in the early part of the set but “Ten Years Gone” is extremely sloppy. Page forgets his cue in the transition and the band have to figure out where they are. The acoustic set begins with a long word of explanation with Plant saying, “A long time ago ah, I guess in the days we used to play Winterland, Bill, where is he? We used to do an acoustic set, and we decided that as it’s been so long since we’d been here, like about that long, we should do an acoustic set this afternoon. Besides the fact we’ve done it everywhere else, it brings to the front of the stage ah, a very famous percussionist. A master of peace and quiet, John Bonham.”

The entire four song set is inspired in front of the massive crowd and is followed by one of the best 1977 versions of “Trampled Underfoot.” The rest of the show comes off very well and they even include a rare version of “Black Dog” which is one of the very few times they ever play it without an instrumental introduction of some kind. TCOLZ package this with many photos of the event and since this is the first time this show has been pressed in over a decade is worth seeking out.

March 10, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin A Quiet Before The Storm: The Day On The Green Tapes Vol. 1 | , | Leave a comment

Santana 1st Album (1969)


My first acquaintance with Santana was quite banal – well, not nearly as banal as hearing ‘Black Magic Woman’ on FM radio, but almost up there; namely, by means of the Woodstock movie. Meaning I pretty much learned of the band and its gutsy goatee-sprouting leader the same way everybody else back in 1969 did, by sitting through their performance of ‘Soul Sacrifice’. On this self-titled record, ‘Soul Sacrifice’ is but six minutes long and looks positively tame next to its live cousin; thankfully, the live version in question has been tackled onto the album for the special 30th anniversary edition (and if the record company got any sense, there it will stay forever).

‘Soul Sacrifice’. What’s there to be said of that masterpiece? Had Santana never yielded anything else worthy of notice, this little gem alone would have still deserved to be the band’s ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’, not that Iron Butterfly could ever be worthy to lick the bootheels of any given Santana member. The funniest thing is, it’s just an instrumental jam. People were doing these things all over the place in 1969 – in New York, San Francisco, LA, all over the place. It’s basically just a jam, alternating between emphasis on individual members and collective playing; but at the same time it’s something deeply spiritual indeed, nowhere near as pretentious as Santana’s later experiments, but just as cathartic. They know how to build up tension – I admire this gradual increase in energy, with the bongos getting gradually louder and louder and Carlos’ guitar “sighing” heavier and heavier, right until they launch into the unforgettable main riff.

So much to enjoy. Some of the most furious (and well-structured) guitar soloing ever captured on tape. Mike Shrieve’s impeccable drum solo, one of the few in this world I can not simply tolerate, but actually enjoy – the man’s playing all these ultra-complex drum rhythms as if he were tapping away at his computer or something. (You oughta see that in the movie as well – Mike’s “reduplication” onscreen, as he’s being shown from two mirror-reversed angles simultaneously, is so in tune with the actual playing! And another interesting observation: his Woodstock solo is exactly three minutes long, as in, precisely, from 3:46 to 6:46 into the song. Coincidence or a superhuman sense of time?). And then, of course, the magnificent “race-to-the-end”: just as Rolie’s organ solo starts lulling you off to sleep, they all come together for one final punch.

Imagine my disappointment, now, when I put the record on and it turned out there was not that much else to it. None of the songs even come close to ‘Soul Sacrifice’ in their intensity – bah, forget ‘come close’, all of them at best sound like pallid copies of ‘Soul Sacrifice’, even though the tune actually closes out the album, and at worst, are plain boring in these modern days when you don’t really surprise anyone any more by the mere fact of crossing rock’n’roll guitar with samba rhythms. Word of the day is “restrained”, which Santana are indeed, most of the time, from first to last member. Obviously, the emphasis was upon showcasing the spirit of brotherhood within the band, but gimme Sly & The Family Stone or Funkadelic if I really want to enjoy me some genuine “brotherhood”. The original Santana band had two virtuosos: Carlos himself and Mike Shrieve. You don’t need to go further than ‘Soul Sacrifice’ to see this. So why the heck are they underplaying all the time, stepping into the shadows and letting the perfectly average Greg Rolie take over?

Not that the band isn’t willing to indulge in some lightweight pop entertainment, either. Classic rock radio addicts might not even be acquainted with ‘Soul Sacrifice’, but they’ll be sure to recognize ‘Evil Ways’, the album’s single that managed to get to #4 on the US charts, and helped prop up Santana’s rise to power from the other side of Woodstock. The way I see it, though, it’s not a very good song. The main melody is just a rather primitive little rootsy-tootsy stomper, the solo is played by the all-pervasive organist; it ain’t until the very last minute that the song shifts gears, speeds up, and begins to catch fire, and then it just fades away? What a buncha crap. Okay, not a bunch of crap. Decent (yawn) song. I give it a B-. Now can I call myself Devadip?

To be fair to ‘Evil Ways’, none of the other vocal numbers are even remotely interesting – they’re trying to fit somewhere in between R’n’B and pop, with only slight tinges of Latin style, and they always come up with something desperately searching for a point and finding none. Rolie is responsible for some of these, but he’s not that much of a composer (‘Persuasion’ – what the hell is that? the funky groove is good, but I’m looking for a composition here); and even when the credits are shared by the ‘Santana Band’, it doesn’t help much. To be fair to the instrumental numbers, there are extremely few vocal numbers here. I don’t even think they actually worried about writing vocal melodies, given they had one they could use for a hit.

The instrumentals do have a certain appeal and ultimately save the album – even if ‘Soul Sacrifice’ more or less covers everything that the other instrumentals have and much more. For instance, ‘Waiting’ opens the album in very much the same way as ‘Soul Sacrifice’ closes it, by gradually strengthening the rhythm section, guiding the song through soft passages alternating with rip-roaring outbursts of guitar power and inserting a brief all-out percussion passage for you to bang your head to the groovy rhythms alone. Too bad the guitar doesn’t practically come in at all until halfway through, while Shrieve is all but buried in the mix by the rest of the percussionists. And ‘Savor’ goes through two minutes of energetic funky drive just to crumble into another massive percussion solo later.

‘Jingo’ is quite wonderful, though, because of how they manage to make this emphasis on the bass drums and bass guitars so that the song becomes a harsh, dark, brutal trip through the jungle, quite reminiscent of the lion head on the album cover; and Carlos gives out appropriately scathing solos. Even so, quite often he plays nearly the very same licks that distinguish… ‘Soul Sacrifice’, yeah you got it, and the power buildup again lies in the same department. In the end, the only notable exception to the formula turns out to be ‘Treat’ – the song begins as a pretty piano shuffle and then finally turns into a true guitar-led jam, with the slower tempo allowing Carlos to stretch out and deviate a bit from the uniform style. On the other hand (see, there’s just no stopping me when I’m in one of those nasty sacrilegious moods!), isn’t it sort of an instrumental companion to ‘Evil Ways’ that way?

In the end, my final rating is a very weak 10, somehow propped up, however, by the bonus tracks. Like I said, I’ll take the Woodstock version of ‘Soul Sacrifice’ over the original any day; and ‘Savor’ likewise gains in intensity when played live before an audience of half a million stoned motherfuckers. The third track is a previously unknown nearly-instrumental tune called ‘Fried Neckbones’ – it’s not exactly written in Midgard, but somehow it sounds moodier and scarier than all of Santana put together. Funny, now that I’m well acquainted with Nuggets, I’d say ‘Fried Neckbones’ was based around the main melody line of the Strawberry Alarm Clock’s ‘Incense And Peppermints’! Coincidence? Probably! But considering both bands used to hang out in California, the probability is certainly lower than a hundred to one.

March 10, 2013 Posted by | Santana 1st Album | | Leave a comment