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Supertramp Even In The Quietest Moments (1977)

26377From sputnikmusic.com

Even In the Quietest Moments… is the third attempt at a full LP with the lineup of songwriters Hodgson and Davies, as well as, Helliwell, Siebenburg and bassist Dougie Thompson. The album is truly a unique edition to the band’s catalogue. Not only does it not use the trademark Wurlitzer Electric Piano, not one song is less than 4 mintues long, while the last track is a 10-minute epic. As well, both Davies and Hodgson wrote the title track. Each other song was composed individually, while giving the album a much more intimate feel.

The album starts off with the famous single Give a Little Bit, written by Roger Hodgson. It fits the program of the album, as it is a much more acoustic driven piece than most other hits the Supertramp catalogue. The album itself gives off a very personal feel, almost as if the band is telling us the problems with today’s life and society through each song. Give a Little Bit encompasses this ideal and provides the catchy pop single needed to propel the album farther.

Lover Boy was a composition by Davies that while being a pleasure to listen, it is a little too long and forgettable. The album itself is not Davies’ finest hour as Roger Hodgson takes most of the glory with his three and a half pieces. Lover Boy leads in to Even in the Quietest Moments, the title track. Composed by both songwriters, it begins with birds chirping and sounds of nature, creating a serene atmosphere. Roger’s lyrics are vague and easily misinterpreted. They seem to be speaking of love for nature, a higher being or another person. The intimate feel of the album is in full force with this track, making the listener feel as if they are with Roger in the forest, listening to the birds chirp while playing guitar.

My personal favourite track on the album comes with Downstream which closes off side one. It is a solo composition by Davies’ and carries a theme that would often be used in the post-Roger Supertramp. It is a beautiful intimate piece with such a personal touch; the audience feels a real connection with Davie’s emotional piano playing and his touching lyrics that fittingly close off the side.

Side two begins with Roger’s track Babaji. The song itself is a fun little piece but in the end it is forgettable. It again creates the personal touch and embodies and emotional reaction among listeners. Yet, the piece never fulfills its realized potential and drags on a little too long without really climaxing. Davies’ comes in to save the day with a terrific composition called From Now On. The first half of the song is quite dull, and lamented but it picks up as the entire band joins into sing the chorus with Davies for a few minutes, making a lasting on any first time listener.

The album closes with one of the most ambitious pieces in the Supertramp catalogue. Roger’s 10 minute long epic, Fool’s Overture. The many overlapping melodies, sound effects, and clear vocals show a very dark and grim Supertramp that would later be echoed in the Davies lead Brother Where You Bound. The song is dark at times, yet completely free and joyful at others. It is a strange and enigmatic song without a true meaning. The best part in probably the whole album is Roger singing Dreamer in the background, a little homage to his song on Crime of the Century. It sets imaginations ablaze and creates mystery and intrigue among listeners, this one included. It is nearly a perfect song, except for the ending. Roger never really properly ends the piece with a final line or chord. It slowly fades off while the tuning of an orchestra slowly fades in and then back to silence again, closing the album. Truly a thoroughly composed piece with many sections and emotions flowing through it. A highlight of the Supertramp catalogue.

Though categorized as a progressive rock album, it bridges on Folk and other genres while keeping some of its progressive lore that the band first developed on Crime of the Century. Even in the Quietest Moments… would eventually be used as a stepping-stone for Supertramp’s most famous release, Breakfast in America. Similar engineering and productions techniques are used throughout the two albums, giving each track more echo and reverb than normally expected for songs of this nature.

The band again elects to go with a dual songwriter system, so that both singers alternate throughout the album. The album is definitely a fine catch but never really develops into a true full LP like Crime of the Century did before. Though they build off of Crisis? What Crisis?, the full form and sound of the band is just not there yet but it would be found on their next LP, becoming one of the biggest selling bands of the decade along with it. Even in the Quietest Moments… has its moments, but they never unable to reach their full potential in the end.

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March 14, 2013 Posted by | Supertramp Even In The Quietest Moments... | | Leave a comment

Supertramp Breakfast In America (1979)

114875046From sputnikmusic.com

Honestly, I never thought I’d find a piece of music my parents liked that was actually good. My mother really doesn’t listen to anything from back in her day. She listens to whatever the biggest hit is, such as James Blunt. Sure, she likes the occasional Beatles, but she said she was never a Beatles fan in her day. My father is a Kenny G and Alabama fan. I gave up on him. However, one day, he told me his favorite band is Supertramp.

Now of course, everyone knows the song “Take the Long Way Home”. I never really paid attention to the band, though. I decided to pull out Breakfast in America and see what the band was all about, and why my father found them interesting enough to save up his money and go to his first concert ever to see them.

Supertramp’s roots lay in progressive rock. The British band draw influences from their progressive contemporaries of the time and commercial successes, most noticeably the Beatles. Their first few albums in the early 70s were strictly progressive albums, but as they continued to find more and more commercial success, they moved to a much poppier sound and attempted to create commercial success.

However, the prog keyboards remained, they kept their woodwind instruments an immense and vital part to the band’s music, and the song lengths exceeded the normal pop standards, most capping out at over 5 minutes. Supertramp’s largest success came with Breakfast in America, spawning 4 huge hits.

Supertramp manages to create enjoyable pop music. Disco, at the time, was just beginning to fade away, as 1979 was “the year disco died.” In more up-tempo songs, disco influenced bass fills occur all over the place. However, the real instrumental standout on this album is the keyboard. The keyboards carry everything interesting about the music on the album. Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson both are accomplished keyboardists, and create a jazzy feel with their chord accompanying along with melody creating.

If both are playing, they can carry the tune themselves, and the rest of the band is pretty much just there, not doing much of anything. No wonder the band had so many breakups in its career, with both keyboardists competing for melodies and grabbing all the attention for themselves. John Davies brings a whole new dimension to the music with his harmonica, most noticeably in Take the Long Way Home. Overall, the band draws many influences in, such as Bee Gees vocal harmonies and Beatle-esque melodies.

However, one last part of the music is either hit or miss. John A. Helliwell plays various saxophones and clarinets, usually taking solos in a bridge. His best playing is usually in the lighter songs, such as Lord Is It Mine. Helliwell tries to bring power into his solos, but ends up just squealing horribly and only distracting the listener.

Of course, as this is essentially a pop album, the singles are generally best songs on the album, as they are mainly the only songs that are able to make the catchy hooks needed to make a good pop song. The 4 singles, The Logical Song, Goodbye Stranger, Breakfast in America, and Take The Long Way Home, all have a voice of their own and are instantly recognizable. There are a few hidden gems on the album, such as Just Another Nervous Wreck, but mostly, the singles take the cake.

Goodbye Stranger, which would have made for a terrible song without the guitar solo at the end, shares the same intro as nearly every other song on this album, the main keyboard theme and singing. The bass and drums add in accents here and there, but the main theme for the first half of the song is the keyboards and singing. When approaching the two minute mark, the drums pick up for a bit, but the song eventually reverts back to the intro.

Goodbye Stranger gets boring after a few minutes and is drawn out for far too long before reaching the climatic point at the end with a guitar solo. The guitar solo is by far the standout solo on the album, beating out anything Helliwell throws out.

Breakfast in America is the shortest song on the album, and makes a good length for the song. No extenuated keyboard intros, the song enters into the verse immediately. The bass and keyboard compliment each other very well in this song, and Helliwell makes an ok appearance on the clarinet, trading off with the vocals. The trombone makes some great nuances in the verse that really add to the texture of the song. Breakfast in America is the best single on the album.

However, Supertramp is absolutely terrible at making ballads. Lord Is It Mine is terrible, just a keyboard and vocals for most of the song. The vocals fail to impress, and the climatic chorus absolutely falls apart and leaves a listener let down. Unfortunately, the standout on the song is actually Helliwell. In the bridge, he pulls out the clarinet for a solo, and it’s his best appearance on the album. The song continues to make horrible attempts at pop hooks, and is by far the largest letdown on the album.

Supertramp stands out at creating pop singles and still maintaining their own style and their own voice. I give them credit for doing that, but not much more. My father must have been taken aback by the occasional occurrences of harmonica and woodwind instruments, and thought he’d found himself a pretty cool band.

He was right, in that Supertramp makes some of the better 70s pop songs, and some are still heard today.

March 14, 2013 Posted by | Supertramp Breakfast In America | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Avocado Club The Legendary Fillmore Series West Vol. 1

lz_avocado_fFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Discs 1 & 2: Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco, CA 26th April 1969 (audience recording)
Discs 3 & 4: Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA 27th April 1969 (audience recording)
Discs 5 & 6: Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA 27th April 1969 (soundboard/audience recordings)

Disc 1 (57.32): Intro / Communication Breakdown / I Can’t Quit You / Dazed And Confused / You Shook Me / How Many More Times
Disc 2 (61.57): White Summer – Black Mountain Side / Killing Floor / Babe I’m Gonna Leave You / Pat’s Delight / As Long As I Have You / Whole Lotta Love
Disc 3 (67.41): The Train Kept A’ Rollin’ / I Can’t Quit You / As Long As I Have You Medley / You Shook Me / How Many More Times / Communication Breakdown
Disc 4 (54.41): Killing Floor / Babe I’m Gonna Leave You / White Summer – Black Mountain Side / Sitting And Thinking / Pat’s Delight / Dazed And Confused
Disc 5 (68.51): The Train Kept A Rollin’ / I Can’t Quit You / As Long As I Have You Medley / You Shook Me / How Many More Times / Communication Breakdown
Disc 6 (62.24): Killing Floor / Babe I’m Gonna Leave You / White Summer – Black Mountain Side / Sitting And Thinking / Pat’s Delight / Dazed And Confused

I wondered how long it would take Empress Valley to release these two early classic Led Zeppelin concerts. Empress Valley has chosen to call the release Avocado Club, in reference to the famous green Fillmore series poster of an avocado announcing the four Led Zeppelin concerts in April 1969. Well, the time has come and the results are stunning.

The source tapes for the two shows have been circulating for years. The sound quality on Avocado Club is equal to the best versions available for both nights. What makes the Empress Valley release so valuable is that this 6 CD set includes the audience source for both night on discs 1-4 and a seamless mix of the soundboard and audience tape from the 27th of April on disc 5 and 6, available together for the first time in one release.

The original Tarantura label release, Lead Set, had the audience source tapes for both nights available as a 4 CD box set. However, Lead Set is extremely expensive and a very difficult title to find. We have also had the excellent soundboard/audience mix from April 27th released by TDOLZ as Collage and one of my personal favorites of the soundboard version, Simplistic Atmosphere, on the Jelly Roll label. These two shows are legendary.

They are evidence of a young band melding together to create music that is truly mind boggling. As I listen, I can only imagine what must have been going through the minds of the audience of these shows. The performances are scorching hot. I never tire of hearing a young Zep, blasting through songs like “As Long As I Have You,” “You Shook Me,” “I Can’t Quit You,” and “Communication Breakdown” among others. These two shows are testimony to what can happen when four incredibly talented young musicians come together to create something larger than the sum of the parts.

If you are a Zeppelin fan you need these two shows. Empress Valley has made it easy to get both nights plus the soundboard/audience mix from April 27th in one release rather than trying to hunt down several older hard to find titles to obtain the same material. This title is highly recommended.

March 14, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Avocado Club | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin I (1969)

untitledFrom guypetersreviews.com

Whether you consider them the epitome of self-indulgent dinosaur rock, the greatest rock band ever or a boring bunch of self-obsessed wankers and blues recyclers who eventually turned to mysticism and folklore to hide the emptiness between their ears, it’s hard to deny Led Zeppelin was an immensely important, gifted and accomplished band, right from the start. Admittedly, Page was hardly a rookie, having played in the Yardbirds and already having made a name for himself as a session ace, while also bassist John Paul Jones wasn’t an unfamiliar face for those who were bad-ass and happenin’ at the time, but I’d say that if this were a consistent album (and it’s not), it would’ve been one of the all time greatest debut albums.

There have always been quite some accusations of plagiarism, and they did borrow heavily without acknowledging it, but I’m not going to spend too much time on that, the internet will provide you with everything you want to know and more. What I do know is that they borrowed, but rarely imitated slavishly, they always turned it – whatever it was: a riff, a catchphrase, a structure – into Led Zeppelin.

Even though they’d get more experimental later on (especially from the third album onwards), not always with successful results, you might argue that the essence of Zeppelin is already here, unless you consider the later excess essential as well. Robert Plant’s exalted wails and high-pitched shrieks (they didn’t call him ‘the banshee’ for nothing) are already present and the remnants of his improvisational style are hard to hide (the repetitive “baby, baby, baby” and other ways to fill the silence), but it’s all kept in check here. Sort of.

What’s extraordinary about Led Zeppelin is that they, much like The Who, were basically a band of equally fascinating musicians. Well, I don’t know if Jones was as technically versatile as Page, but he does combine heaviness with refinement once in a while, whereas Bonham is still one of the most recognizable drummers you can imagine. Seemingly not that gifted, because of his rudimentary sound that was obviously influenced by that other notorious hard-hitter, Ginger Baker, his thunderous and plodding technique sounds perfect for this kind of album. Finally, there’s of course Page, an extraordinarily gifted musician who could be both incredibly sloppy and mind-blowingly fantastic in one song and probably is one of the few who can rival AC/DC’s Young brothers’ knack for writing brick-solid riffs.

The forceful attack that characterises so many of his songs is already present in the album’s opener “Good Times Bad Times,” which is basically much more accessible and poppy than the sound might make you believe. What sets it apart – besides Page’s guitar antics – is the booming drum sound. Even if it’s probably not the first hard rock album (Jeff Beck’s Truth, released half a year earlier, is indeed a good candidate, and coincidentally, Jones also played on it), but I’d say this album is where mainstream hard rock got really heavy, as in ‘pounding, menacing, evil music.’ Or check out the fast “Communication Breakdown” and convince me they’re not pre-dating their own nemesis (punk?) with some 8 years or so. Crashing cymbals, loud guitars and a rhythm section that’ll make an entire building shiver, that’s what it’s all about, or am I wrong?

Anyway, those aren’t even the highlights, as I agree with the majority of people that tracks 2-4 basically define what the band was about. “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” is in a way already a precursor to the later folk/hard rock melting pot, an awesome marriage of acoustic parts and electrical power, as Plant moans and wails with passion (not theatre) and the band adds Spanish-sounding accents. These soft/loud-dynamics are something that not only they themselves would recycle, but the entire hard rock following during the next few decades.

It also features Page’s much criticised “rock scat” (“I know I’m nevahnevahnevahnevah gonna leave you baby … ooohhhh, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, ooohhh, … woman, woman, woman,” etc.) but it actually works here and goes to show his instinctive approach to singing could work very well. Similarly instinctive is also his attitude/ pose: Plant was a horny bastard, and he’d let you know all about it as well. Whereas Mick Jagger was already your mother’s nightmare, Plant became your father’s as well, certainly if you were a female between 15 and 30 or so.

“You Shook Me,” for instance, which was basically copped from Beck’s version (who was pissed off), presents the band at their sleaziest, churning out perverse, over-sexed blues with an unmatched arrogance. Beck’s version was already quite extraordinary – especially because you couldn’t decide whether that distorted guitar was actually a guitar or a recorded fart – and added the piano that only enters at a later stage here (well, it’s an organ, but OK), but Zeppelin made it more accessible, overtly sexual, and, well, better. Whereas the overall sound of the album in a way kick-started hard rock, it’s “Dazed and Confused” that arguably started heavy metal in the process as well. From that bass/guitar intro onwards, the songs sounds as creepy as they come, with those loud, crashing parts directly influencing Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid.”

But that’s not nearly everything, as the song also introduced Page’s legendary bow-technique (giving the guitar that Satanic sound) and was a showcase for the powerful rhythm section. More than anything else, however, I’d say “Dazed and Confused” was already Plant’s peak as a vocalist, as he roars, moans and wails his way through the song with one of rock’s greatest vocal performances (ever). The remainder of the album isn’t as impressive (and that’s why I’ll never get people who claim it’s one of the greatest albums ever while admitting its flaws), but a lot better than the weakest stuff on their other albums.

“Your Time Is Gonna Come” is quite enjoyable once when it’s on its way (that organ intro should’ve been shorter), but no match for those previous three songs, whereas “Black Mountain Side” is an unspectacular Eastern-tinged instrumental that’s actually a nice interlude and a great way to prepare you for the onslaught of “Communication Breakdown” (ain’t it cool how these songs segue into each other?), which was the testosterone-driven highlight of the second half. Usually dismissed as a lazy blues rendition, but in my opinion a delightfully greasy slab of blues that sounds great (dig the reverb on the guitar!), their take on Willie Dixon’s “I Can’t Quit You Baby” is only slightly less impressive than “You Shook Me.”

Paving the way for other extended album closers, the pummelling “How Many More Times” is mainly a great showcase for Page’s guitar, which turns this boogie into something special with extracting howlin’, cajolin’ and slashing sounds from his six-stringed weapon. Man, that guy could play a mean & dirty guitar. Anyway, Led Zeppelin 1 has a second half that’s a bit too weak to justify a maximum score, but its highlights are among the best the band ever did, while the faults and excess that would mar later albums is largely absent.

So, what you get is a very generous dose of thunder, fire and bulging crotches, and who can say no to that?

March 14, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin I | | Leave a comment

Santana 1st Album (1969)

santanaFrom guypetersreviews.com

It’s kind of sad that most people these days only know Carlos Santana from his latest releases, slick products so obviously obsessed with the lowest common denominator that it almost becomes a joke. It’s not that these successful releases are worthless – far from it – but they can’t hold a candle to the music the band Santana created 35 years ago. Although they were considered part of the Bay Area music scene, the six-piece still stands as a unique unit, one of the most innovative and adventurous of its day. While most other likeminded bands (Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Moby Grape) sought refuge in psychedelic excess to concoct their merger of influences, Santana was the first band to offer an exciting melting pot of (bluesy) rock, jazz and Latin roots.

The band caused quite fuss when they set the Fillmore on fire in 1968, but the major breakthrough came when the band turned in a now legendary performance at the 1969 Woodstock festival, which took place in the same month this debut was released. The members of the band had white, black and Latino roots, which was all reflected in the music. While Carlos and keyboard player/vocalist Gregg Rollie had obviously been listening to what was happening at the time, they also betrayed a jazz sensibility that – coupled to the percussion work by Jose Chepito Areas and Mike Carabello – resulted into an infectious merger of calculated western structure and Afro-Cuban stress on rhythm.

This is nowhere more applicable than in the album’s centrepiece “Soul Sacrifice,” which basically shows what they were all about at the time. An instrumental with a great, natural flow, it was the first masterstroke in a long series of epics that were showcases for the guitarist’s impossibly stretched notes, Rollie’s sweeping organ lines and the rhythm section’s use of congas and timbales. Whereas the studio version is already ace, it’s simply blown away by the version recorded at Woodstock that’s fortunately included on most editions available. It’s not that it deviates that much from the studio counterpart, but it simply sounds better, more energetic and contains Mike Shrieve’s legendary solo.

The climax of his performance and the moment where the band picks up the main theme again must’ve been one of the festival’s highlights. The majority of the album is less impressive, with the focus less on virtuoso musicianship, but it nevertheless contains some excellent jamming. That’s right, the album’s quite often criticised for being rather weak in the songwriting department – something they would improve upon – but I’m just a sucker for most of these grooves. Opener “Waiting,” for instance, isn’t half as mind-blowing as “Soul Sacrifice,” but the band’s interplay is so goddamn exhilarating. It’s obvious that these people nearly communicated on some paranormal level with each other, not once losing the flow of the song, substituting one restrained solo with another one, never losing sight of the natural rhythm, giving each musician the opportunity to shine. The song’s climax, when Carlos’ stretched notes rejoin the percussion and Shrieve switches to that galloping rhythm, is pure gold.

The album’s greatest hit, the Latin pop of “Evil Ways” is an entirely different matter. It was suggested to them by Bill Graham (the Fillmore dude) who taught them that in order to score, they should come up with something more than just a jam of epic proportions. He was right, as the song – rightfully – became the band’s first hit song. The remaining six songs don’t follow the rigid pop structures, which is why they might sound as rehearsal jams to some people’s ears. In “Shades of Time,” Santana’s guitar tone and jazzy inflections are immediately recognizable, but it’s surely not their best song.

The same goes for “Savor” and second hit “Jingo,” basically two lightweight songs, the first one being a showcase for the Afro-Cuban percussion, the second one more of the same thing with some repetitive vocals added. Apart from Rollie’s passionate vocals and some nifty guitar soloing, I’ve never been a sucker for “You Just Don’t Care,” it must be the whole start/stop-thing. The two tracks left are damn fine though: “Treat” shows the band in a jazzy mood with some impossibly fluent soloing from Carlos, while the straightforward “Persuasion” is entirely dominated by Rollie’s raucous vocals and pumping organ. Santana might have its flaws, but it’s an album that never gets boring, on the strength of the strong overall musicianship. These guys were onto something, and they knew it, and this made them rise above themselves, despite the occasionally slight material.

It’s exactly this genre-bending and liberating atmosphere of discovery and confidence that lies at the core of the album that makes it still so invigorating in 2004.

March 14, 2013 Posted by | Santana 1st Album | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin When A Glass Was Thrown (Buffalo, October 1969)

lz_glassFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo, NY – October 30th, 1969

Disc 1: Introduction, Good Times Bad Times, Communication Breakdown, I Can’t Quit You, Heartbreaker, Dazed And Confused, tuning, White Summer

Disc 2: What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, band introduction, How Many More Times

Tapes from Led Zeppelin’s fall tour in 1969 of the US are hard to find and those that are in circulation rarely considered for silver release. The October 30th show at Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo has seen several releases many years ago, but all of them have been problematic in one way or another. One of the earliest is Pat’s Delight (Tecumseh TRC-001), the early incarnation of the Tarantura label.

This is a two disc set with the May 19th Boston Tea Party tape and the Buffalo tape incomplete with only “Communication Breakdown,” “I Can’t Quit You,” “Heartbreaker,” “Dazed And Confused,” and “White Summer/Black Mountain Side.” Tarantura released the same incomplete tape on Long Tall Sally (Tarantura T2CD-3-5,6) with the August 18th Toronto tape.

Buffalo Sixtynine (New Plastic Records NP 55002) was released in 1993 and included ”How Many More Times” but was missing “What Is And What Should Never Be,” “Moby Dick” and ran at the wrong speed. Headliner (Magnificent Disc MD-6901) is a more recent release of the show but like the New Plastic is missing two song and suffers from too much mastering in an attempt to improve the fidelity of the tape.

When A Glass Was Thrown is the first silver release to offer the complete tape including the two songs omitted from all previous releases. It runs at the correct speed and the label didn’t apply heavy handed remastering letting the sound to stand on its own merits. There are cuts at 5:17 in “Dazed And Confused,” at 9:33 in “White Summer,” and “How Many More Times” cuts out after 10:37. There is also a short spurt of static at 10:33 in “Dazed And Confused.”

Buffalo occurs right after their first really big show at the Boston Garden on October 25th. Compared to shows from earlier in the year, they play with tremendous confidence and are extremely tight. The sound is clear, capturing the atmosphere of the performance perfectly. The tape picks up when the band take the stage and a girl by the recorder says, ”we’re sitting in front of Jimmy Page.”

The first thirty seconds of ”Good Times, Bad Times” serves as an introduction to “Communication Breakdown.” Played close to the album version, there is very little elaboration during the song’s course which in later years would be the place for extended wah-wah laden riffs, bass solos and short medleys. During “I Can’t Quit You” someone throws a glass at Plant and he challenges him in the second verse: “If you think you’re so smart, come up here and do it again!”

“It’s a great pleasure to be here tonight. And we’d like to welcome our friend who is so used to throwing coconuts in the fairground. Thanks for the glass. We’d like to carry one with…a track from the new Led Zeppelin II album. This is a thing called ‘Heartbreaker.’” The song is close to an exact duplicate of the studio version but would begin to evolve in different directions. “Dazed And Confused” lasts for seventeen minutes with an interesting solo in the middle.

There is a long period of tuning for “White Summer.” Plant explains that the song is in a “drone tuning” while everybody is waiting. When Page is finally ready he plays an eleven minute masterpiece which has Plant saying ”too much” at the end. “We’d like to ah, you’re gonna have to turn it down a bit George…this is a thing called ‘But What Is And What Should Never Be.’”

Plant introduces John Bonham for his solo piece “Moby Dick” and this tape is the earliest recorded live version of the drum solo. Plant introduces Jimmy Page as “king of the Caribbean” and he gives himself a “Smokestack Lightening” fanfare. Page plays the melody in a higher key for thirty seconds between 3:30 and 4:00. There are no medleys in the improvisation but several minutes of intense riffs before they reach “The Hunter.” Tarantura apply a fade at the end and the tape cuts out when Plant reaches “ain’t no place to hide…”

The rest of the song and the encores are missing. What the encores were is hard to say since “Communication Breakdown,” the encore from previous tours, is played first. The only tape from this tour with the encores is the November 7th San Francisco which has the Eddie Cochran tunes “C’Mon Everybody” and “Something Else.” But what was played in Buffalo will never be known unless another tape source were to surface. When A Glass Was Thrown is an excellent release and stands as the definitive version of the show. It is packaged in a cardboard gatefold sleeve and is limited to one hundred copies.

March 14, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin When A Glass Was Thrown | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Drive Me Insane (Fillmore East, January, February & May 1969)

ledzep-driveFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Fillmore East, New York, NY – January 31st, February 1st, & May 30th, 1969

Disc 1, January 31st, 1969, early show (46:23): Introduction, The Train Kept A-Rollin’, I Can’ Quit You, Dazed And Confused, Pat’s Delight, How Many More Times, You Shook Me

Disc 2, February 1st, 1969, early show (44:38): White Summer/Black Mountain Side, The Train Kept A-Rollin’, I Can’t Quit You, Pat’s Delight, How Many More Times, Communication Breakdown

Disc 3, May 30th, 1969, early show (60:07): The Train Kept A-Rollin’, I Can’t Quit You, Dazed And Confused, You Shook Me, White Summer/ Black Mountain Side, How Many More Times, Communication Breakdown

Drive Me Insane collects together the three earliest tapes of Led Zeppelin playing in New York. The first two discs, taken from the end of their first tour, are of better sound quality and more interest than the third, but this offers a fascinating glimpse into the beginning of their legendary stage show. Two weeks after the release of their first LP Led Zeppelin, they make their New York debut with two shows each on January 31st and February 1st in support of Porter’s Popular Preachers and Iron Butterfly, but tapes from the early shows only exist. This appearance is legendary for Zeppelin eclipsing the headliners so much so that the Butterfly refused to play the second night. (Their popularity in the wake of “In A Gadda Da Vidda” was on the wane anyway with multiple line up changes and styles in music).

The January 31st tape is very clear and close to the stage with slight distortion in the louder passages. One of the earliest releases can be found on The Grande Ball (Missing Link ML-010), which is mislabeled as a Detroit show and is missing “Pat’s Delight” and “Communication Breakdown.” The full show can be found on East/West (Digger Productions), Psychedelic Raw Blues (Immigrant IM-017~18) and on New York In The Wind (Empress Valley EVSD 312/313). Scorpio is sourced from an alternate master tape and is an improvement over the Empress Valley with more clarity and definition. The distortion also is not loud enough to cause distraction either.

The set is a compact, intense forty-five minutes. There is a minute of tune ups and an eerie silence before the first number. It is difficult to interpret the audience’s silence. It could be either disinterest or anticipation, but the opening notes of “Train Kept A Rollin’” explode on the stage. Polite applause greet them as they make the transition to “I Can’t Quit You.” ”Thank you very much indeed” Plant says afterwards, eerily echoing Chris Relf’s greeting in The Yardbirds Anderson Theater show the previous year. “We’re gonna carry on with a thing off the new Led Zeppelin album, if you permit. This is called ‘Dazed and Confused.’”

They play a version very close to the studio version including the final cadence that was essentially dropped soon after. The drum solo “Pat’s Delight” is about eight minutes long. The audience becomes much more animated during the final song, a ten minute version of “How Many More Times.” Plant introduces the band as was the custom, saying, ”On bass and Hammond organ, when it’s available, John Paul Jones, John Paul Jones. On drums, John Bonham, John Bonham. Lead guitar, Jimmy Page, and myself Robert Plant.” He changes the lyrics in the second verse to “How many more years / are you gonna wreck my life? / I gotta get you together baby / ’cause I want you to be my wife” while Page plays the “Smokestack Lightening” riff. “You Shook Me” makes a rare appearance as the closing number.

The following night’s tape is more dull and distorted but still listenable. It has been issued only twice before, on Legendary Fillmore Tapes Vol.1 (Savege Beast Music SB-949629) and New York In The Wind(Empress Valley). Scorpio sounds the same as the Empress Valley and runs at the correct speed. The audience are much more lively this time as Plant begins the show making an embarrassing confession. “Thank you very much. Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re sorry about the delay, but um, because we’re all a bit stupid, we forgot the bass players guitar, would you believe that? Well there you go. We forgot the bass player’s guitar, so we’re going to open up without the bass player, and we’re gonna feature Jimmy Page and a thing that ah, yeah Jimmy Page. This is a thing that was very popular when he was with the Yardbirds, and it’s also one we feature now with Led Zeppelin. It’s called ‘White Summer,’ Jimmy Page.”

A nine minute version of the Jimmy Page virtuoso piece is followed by the opening duo of “Train Kept A Rollin’” and “I Can’t Quit You Babe.” And as they try to “cram as much as we can into about another twenty minutes or so,” they move into Bonham’s solo “Pat’s Delight” as someone by the tape recorder says, “to hell with the Butterfly.” Perhaps to compensate for the lack of more ensemble playing, they play a fifteen minute long version of “How Many More Times” with Page’s ”Smokestack Lightening” references and studio versions violin bow on strings. Before the final song “Communication Breakdown” plant complains about splitting his trousers. Page’s guitar goes out of tune in the middle of the piece and it is cut short.

In May Led Zeppelin came back to New York and played four shows over two nights in support of Woody Herman And His Orchestra and Delaney & Bonnie, but only the early show from the first night exists. This comes after a very busy month where they were not only touring America for the second time and playing longer sets, but were also beginning the recording of their second album. The first song written ”Whole Lotta Love” would be premiered on this tour, and played five days before this show, but not in New York.

The tape for the early show on May 30th really redeems Drive Me Insane from being a reheated rehash into something more interesting. Although the sound quality for this tape is the worst of the three, this is the first silver release in more than fifteen years. The first silver release is Legendary Fillmore Tapes Volume 2 (Savage Beast SB-959630) where the tape runs too fast. The second title is the no label Early Days, Latter Days which runs closer to the correct speed. On Scorpio the tape is still a difficult listen since it is distant and distorted, but it is good to have for the hardcore collector for the historic significance. It was the following day when the band supposedly attacked Life reporter Ellen Sander which resulted in bad press, and these shows which Variety referred to when they wrote that Zeppelin’s “obsession with power, volume and melodramatic theatrics leaves little room for subtly…the combo have forsaken the musical sense for the sheer power that entices their predominantly juvenile audience. “

The set list is common for the tour but this show is about twenty minutes longer than the shows from the first tour. They still begin with “Train Kept A Rollin’” and “I Can’t Quit You” which drives the audience hysterical. “Thank you very much. Good Evening. It’s very nice to be back at the Filmore East. Since we’re only able to do short sets, we’d like to get on with it. Not much talking this time. This is a thing from the first album. Thank you very much. I take it you’ve heard it? This is called ‘Dazed And Confused.’” Twelve minutes long with a great improvisation, and something strange happens when Plant is moaning along with Page during the violin bow episode. It isn’t clear why, but the audience erupt in laughter.

“You Shook Me” is the heaviest number of the night and is stretched to almost eleven minutes, sounding like a pile driver on the stage. Afterwards Plant says, “Thank you very much. I must admit, you’re very kind at this early hour of the night. Thank you. We’d like to feature, for a solo thing, Jimmy Page. This is a song with a variation on two themes. One theme recorded some time ago, and the more recent one which you’ll probably hear as we go along. This is a thing called ‘White Summer.’”

The set closes with a version of “How Many More Times” that reaches almost twenty minutes. It includes the violin bow solo as the studio version and a primitive version of “Boogie Chillun’.” The rest of the song features a long solo before Plant gets into “The Hunter” and the finale. It’s pure melodrama at its best. The encore is “Communication Breakdown” which runs at the correct speed. Drive Me Insane is packaged in a fatboy jewel case with nice picture discs and various Angel photos which come from the same time as the show.

This can be considered to be the definitive release of these concerts until both better tape sources surface for these, and tapes for the missing shows, finally surface (which probably won’t happen, but you never know).

March 14, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Drive Me Insane | , | Leave a comment

Neil Young Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969)

Neil+Young+-+Everybody+Knows+This+Is+Nowhere+-+LP+RECORD-228318From alexwritesaboutstuff.blogspot.co.uk

It seems the greatest artists of all time can have their careers divided into trilogies, or even have their best works sorted into groups of three. The Beatles had a great one-two-three punch of Help!, Rubber Soul, and Revolver, maturing rock and roll and readying it for psychedelia alongside Dylan’s own electric trilogy of Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde On Blonde.

Though I can bicker to no end about this (and I’m sure I’m not alone), The Kinks’ string of Something Else, The Village Green Preservation Society, and Arthur (Or The Decline And Fall of The British Empire) is regarded by the heavily opinionated Kinks writer John Mendelssohn as a trilogy. On one hand, I see where he’s coming from – three distinctly British records, musically timeless, and each equally approachable and palatable without any overt anger or vitriol towards anything other than “the man.”

Dylan’s career can almost completely be broken down into a series of trilogies, with the occasional odd one out – his first album is almost all cover tunes, but then came The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin’, and Another Side Of Bob Dylan, these three being the albums that turned the world onto Dylan. Then came the electric trilogy. Then came the roots trilogy of John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline, and New Morning, allowing for the odd one out of the almost unanimously-panned crapfest of Self Portrait.

After a spell on the sidelines, his “divorce trilogy” came out – Planet Waves, the fantastic Blood On The Tracks, and Desire, though Glenn Gass suggested in his course on Bob that Street Legal is just as much part of this set, being the first album he did after his divorce from Sarah Lownes-Dylan. Then came the Jesus trilogy – Slow Train Coming, Saved, and Shot Of Love – love them or hate them. His last string of albums are considered part of a latter-day grouping of mature albums by one of rock’s most revered elder statesmen.

Aside from Dylan, Neil Young stands out to me as the one artist who can be defined by trilogies (even with the odd fourth record, making a tetralogy). He had gained acclaim as a member of Buffalo Springfield, which had also featured a young Stephen Stills and Richie Furay (later to form Poco along with Jim Messina…less said about that guy the better, unless of course “Your Mama Don’t Dance” is your kind of thing.) Unfortunately, Buffalo Springfield was marred by in-fighting and the fact that they were never able to capture their stage sound in the studio.

His first trilogy (throwing in his 1968 debut Neil Young to form a tetralogy) of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, After The Gold Rush (1970), and Harvest (1972) forms a story arc of sorts. Neil makes a name for himself as a solo artist, with the greatest garage band in the world (Crazy Horse) backing him on the first two, able to promote himself further as a member of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, before finally recording a fairly slick-sounding country/folk/singer-songwriter album in Nashville (Harvest) with a bunch of session players, which in turn becomes the greatest-selling album of 1972.

As he said, success “put me in the middle of the road. Travelling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there.” (Neil Young, Decade liner notes, 1977.) The so-called “ditch trilogy” makes up what I consider his best work: the rough ‘n raucous live album Time Fades Away (1973), the schizophrenic On The Beach (1974), and the so-depressing-it-sat-for-two-years-before-it-got-released-but-it’s-a-fucking-masterpiece Tonight’s The Night (1975), the most haunting, harrowing, and desolate album of the 1970’s, the brutal murder, embalming, and burial of the spirit behind the 1960’s. It probably didn’t help that his friend/Crazy Horse collaborator Danny Whitten overdosed on heroin purchased with money Neil gave him to help him get clean.

Once he was back on his feet artistically, Zuma (1975) embodied this feeling that the dark times were over. He reunited Crazy Horse for a great, rocking album, additionally marked by Neil’s development as a guitar hero. After a stint with Stephen Stills as The Stills-Young Band, the 1977 hodge-podge American Stars & Bars featured a side of shit-kicking country music and another side’s worth of bitchin’ guitar rock, including the sublime “Like A Hurricane.” It’s as if that album was a collection of extra songs from Zuma and the country/folk Comes A Time (1978), the odd man out in what could have been a trilogy. This “trilogy” ends with Rust Never Sleeps, a eulogy for the classic rock era; one side of the LP was beautifully done acoustic folk/rock, representing the best of Comes A Time, while side B showed Crazy Horse playing in a previously-unheard balls to the wall style, taking their primitive style and making it leaner, with “Hey, Hey, My, My (Into The Black)” featuring the most distorted guitar sound you could possibly play on the radio without it being called noise rock.

I could keep going, but the album at hand is by this point waving and yelling, “Um, hello?! What about ME?” with perfect reason. Let me preface the rest of this discussion by saying that I love Neil Young. Aside from Link Wray and Dave Davies, he stands as my favorite guitarist – noisy minimalism does a lot more for me than seeing Eddie Van Halen or even Jimmy Page wanking their ways up and down a fretboard.

To put it simply, to get your point across, would you stand in the middle of a riot and deliver a well-written piece of rhetoric or light a molotov cocktail and lob it at a(n unoccupied) bus? It isn’t difficult to see where I stand on the issue. Neil also has a great sense of tone on guitar, right alongside Rick Nielsen with the sounds he’s capable of making, whether it’s that aching squeal on “Like A Hurricane” or the farting buzzsaw of “Hey, Hey, My, My,” I hear his playing and hear beauty.

Neil also has a flair for deeply personal lyrics. He’s got a brand of artistic honesty – see the ditch trilogy – that pulls at the heart, all his own, separate from the poetic approaches of Dylan and Ray Davies, just as intense as John Lennon’s debut album at his personal low points, and just as mystical as George Harrison with his sense of romance. I’ve met a few people who bitch about Neil’s singing voice…I fail to see the problem, much like Dylan as a singer. People, I listen to The Residents, Captain Beefheart, and Masonna. (Not a typo – Masonna is a noise artist from Japan. If you can listen to him, consider yourself my newest friend. Special thanks to Dan Crall for the introduction.) With that, I can listen to pretty much anything else.

Pretty much. That’s a pretty vague caveat. Some tones just strike my ears as offensive – for example, I HATE the sound of the clarinet in almost any setting – while the stuff we’re not supposed to like – feedback, the atonal shrieking of an out-of-tune (or burning) guitar – I think sounds great! Maybe now would also be a good opportunity to say I am a fairly weird guy.

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere stands as a very solid album. It is musically entertaining, consistent (for the most part), and it set the standard for his career. Isn’t that what we look for in a good album? It’s hard to describe an album I rank fairly high without this turning into a handjob convention. I’ll just let the songs speak for themselves.

01. Cinnamon Girl [11]

This is essential Neil. Using a heavy guitar tuning of DADGBD, the song crunches from the get-go, contrasted by the beautiful two part harmony sung by Neil and Danny Whitten (Neil on the low part, Danny on high.) Ralph Molina is a great powerhouse of a drummer, with his hi-hat and ride cymbals sounding like instruments all their own. I don’t think this guy ever played a fill in his life, but that’s hardly the mark of a bad drummer. In fact, it arguably takes more talent to play like that than it does to play like a bat out of Hell sitting in a dynamite pond.

It also bears mentioning that the guitar solo at the end is just one note. Therein lies the power of minimalism.

02. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere [9.5]

Too short! Again with a great Danny Whitten harmony, the lyrics tell a good story of escaping to “nowhere.” It’s just right where a guitar solo would come in had this song been on, say, Zuma, followed by a repeat of the chorus, it fades out. I’m sure this song is fantastic on stage.

03. Round And Round (It Won’t Be Long) [5.5]

The great fun of these first two songs is almost interrupted by this folk/country ballad. Neil would do a whole album of songs in the style of this one called Comes A Time, which seems like a bunch of Crazy Horse tunes minus Crazy Horse and the perpetual female backing vocals, sharing as much or even more airtime than the song’s composer’s own voice. Plug this song in, get Danny, Ralph, and Billy Talbot (the bassist from Crazy Horse) to do their thing, and you might have a great song. At the very least, a good song. Just not this.

To be fair, it’s a good melody. It’s just too repetitive. The chorus repeat of “Round and round…” doesn’t help to remedy this quality of the song.

04. Down By The River [10]

Oh, hell yes! This brooding rock song takes its time, and in the best way possible. Two electric guitars lead the song in. Billy and Ralph enter the fray without much fanfare before Neil starts the verse. The beautiful pre-chorus leads into the chorus at 1:10 with a muted drop of feedback (keep in mind, this was 1969, before Sonic Youth but after Jimi Hendrix – needless to say, that above linked clip of Pete Townshend making his guitar squeal at Woodstock was at the time not considered a sound one’s guitar should make), transitioning into the chorus with a touch of majestic irreverence. And that chorus! If I didn’t love “Cinnamon Girl” for reminding me of the girl I intend to marry, this would have easily been the 11 on this record.

The song thumps along for 9 minutes and 15 seconds, ending side A with an epic rock song.

05. The Losing End (When You’re On) [7.5]

Hardly a filler tune, it just seems aloof among the rest of the titans of this album. An odd choice to start side B of this record. This song would have been welcome on Comes A Time, or even Harvest. I don’t know…this one is just kind of there, not unlike “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” on the next album.

06. Running Dry (Requiem For The Rockets) [10]

Now I know just why “The Losing End” seems like a lost child of a song, sandwiched between “Down By The River” and this haunting, borderline lo-fi elegaic masterpiece of shame, regret, and sadness. The best songwriters can own up to their own failings as humans, and this song nails it. The violin weeps through the song, briefly double-tracked in the middle portion, which in tandem with Neil’s mournful melody makes this sound like something centuries old. This wouldn’t have been out of place, lyrically, in the ditch trilogy; its musical offspring is “Will To Love” off American Stars & Bars, a similarly moody acoustic ballad with an equally odd, off-center feel that makes it disturbing with little in the way of studio trickery.

07. Cowgirl In The Sand [10]

One could assume that two extended guitar exercises would be monotonous on the same album (I’m looking at Frank Zappa’s Zoot Allures as a fine example proving this theory), but other than the fact that they are long and have plenty of guitar work worth fawning over, they are quite different. It isn’t until we’re almost at the two-minute mark that Neil starts singing. If anyone finds his voice annoying, look towards his delivery on this. He is able to hit some high notes without cracking. Much goes to Billy for laying down a remarkable bassline, especially during Neil’s solos. Yet another classic Neil Young song -and on an album with only seven tracks, this is something quite noteworthy.

Subtotal: 90.7% A-

Replayability Factor: 2

A great album to have on in the car, plenty of “classic rock” essence to it, and for my money the heaviest of what I consider his first trilogy. A great introduction to a great artist, but it’s hard to sit and concentrate during the big guitar solos on every single listen. The 2 I’m awarding for this is hardly a sign of this record being a slouch, as it’s no crime to have music on to get lost in.

Consistency Factor: 2.5

This became the benchmark for later albums being considered a “return to form, in the style of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere”, though I personally don’t like that phrase all that much. Still, clichéd as it sounds, for a “return to form” to be an album driven by heavy, thumping rockers and the occasional beautifully arranged ballad, you could do far worse. It’s really hard to ponder what the “average” Neil Young record is. On one end of the spectrum is an album like this, and on the opposite end is Harvest, with plenty of head-scratching albums in the middle (including a techno album, rockabilly, the bipolar Rust Never Sleeps, and even lean R&B featuring Booker T. & The MG’s as his backing band) that makes him hard to peg down. But Neil’s refusal to be pegged down is one of his most endearing qualities.

This album gets its 2.5, first of all, for being a good album, but for being diverse enough in only seven songs for being a fine example of Neil flexing all of his songwriting muscles, from hard rock to country to folk. Little bits of the career to come is here on this album. I honestly don’t think he’d ever have such a broad palette on a single album ever again, hardly a criticism for the rest of his career, but a mighty comment for this album.

External Factors: 1

Just a year after leaving Buffalo Springfield, Neil’s second album overcame the threat of the “sophomore slump” – mainly because his first album wasn’t that popular, to the point that this writer thought this was his debut – and showed his flexibility as a folk balladeer and as one of the leading precursors to grunge, all on the same record. Different moments from his future were foreseen on this album. Unfortunately, Neil’s had a bit of an inconsistent career, so when it’s good it’s fucking on…but when it doesn’t succeed it stands out. On its weakest track, it’s overlong, and while it can’t always be back-to-back tens, this veering into extended and repetitive country-stuff is a predecessor to the weak spots on Harvest, American Stars ‘N Bars, Comes A Time, etc. However, this album marks the debut of Crazy Horse, a great backing band; no bullshit, no frills, just good playing. This album doesn’t sound dated – it isn’t too slick or too bleak – and it could just as easily have been recorded last week.

March 14, 2013 Posted by | Neil Young Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere | | Leave a comment

Coverdale Page Two Days In The West (Osaka, December 1993)

coverdale_page_two_daysFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

With the music press concentrating on the grunge bands in the early nineties, the Coverdale / Page project came as a surprise. The album seemed to come out of nowhere (there was little interest leading up to its release). With no massive tour and little exposure on MTV, it seemed to disappear as soon as it came out. Before we knew it Page teamed up with Plant for “Unledded” and Coverdale reformed Whitesnake for a tour for Greatest Hits.

Their brief tour of Japan in December yielded several unofficial titles of the Tokyo and Nagoya shows. A four disc set titled Western Daze (Hard Knockers HSP-2621~4) came out with the two Osaka shows on December 20th and December 21st.

Two Days In The West on Cannonball covers the same two shows but with improved sounding tapes. Western Daze was good, but the Cannonball is much better. The same taper recorded the two and both are uniformly excellent stereo recordings capturing the energy and hilarity of each performance.

Steeped in obscurity as it is, Coverdale recently spoke about the project and revealed previouslyu unknown details. In an article called “David Coverdale Reflects: Going in Through the Out Door with Jimmy Page” published for Jam Magazine Online, David Huff writes:

“With his personal life in shambles, and his professional career in a state of flux, the singer seriously considered opting out of the music business to become a country gentleman. A phone call from his agent in London changed everything. Would David be interested in taking a meeting with Jimmy Page? The invitation was too intriguing to pass up. … The Coverdale / Page project would revitalize the spirits of both musicians. Though the album was mostly overlooked by the grunge buying public at large, for those fans longing for the good ol’ rock and roll days of the ’70s, this album was an instant classic. Jimmy Page rediscovered his inner Led Zeppelin, and was musically brilliant. Coverdale wrote some of the smartest lyrics of his career. Unfortunately, the one thing that would have the won public over – a world tour – would never see the light of day, (outside of a handful of select dates in Japan).”

Coverdale mentions in the article that “We were preparing to go on the road two to three weeks after our album was released in March of ’93. The record blew out of the box if you remember. This is the ’90s. You didn’t release an album and wait around to see how it sold. You jump on it. The whole arrangement for the Co­verdale / Page project was to go directly to the theatres, to the stage, and nothing, not even a whisper, came from Jimmy’s manager when the album was released. It was one of the singularly most frustrating periods of my professional career.”

And that the Japan shows came about because they “were supposed to be the end of our six-month tour. We were going to cover the world in six months. Everybody who would have wanted to see Coverdale / Page would have seen it. I finally talked to Jimmy directly, and told him it would be a shame if we didn’t at least play live once. The seven dates in Japan were tentatively still booked. Since Jimmy hadn’t been to the country in 20 years, he agreed to perform the shows.”

Osaka Castle Hall, Osaka, Japan – December 20th, 1993

Disc 1 (57:25): Absolution Blues, Slide It In, Rock And Roll, Over Now, Kashmir, Pride And Joy, Take A Look, Take Me For A Little While, In My Time Of Dying

Disc 2 (59:26): Here I Go Again, White Summer – Black Mountain Side, Don’t Leave Me This Way, Shake My Tree, Still Of The Night, Black Dog, Feeling Hot

The Coverdale / Page tour started with four shows around Tokyo. On December 2oth it moved to Osaka for two nights before ending in Nagoya on December 22nd. The first Osaka show can be found also on the first two discs of Western Daze (Hard Knockers HSP-2621~4) and audience shot footage was released on DVD on Pride & Joy (no label) in 2008.

Cannonball use an excellent recording. The audience are strangely subdued throughout the performance and Coverdale tries very hard to whip them into a frenzy. One can almost hear a pin drop as they walk onstage to start the show with “Absolution Blues.” They continue with Whitesnake’s “Slide It In” and Led Zeppelin’s “Rock And Roll.”

Coverdale sounds wired, constantly shouting “domo arigato.” After “Rock And Roll” he singles out Page, saying “Here’s a song now, Jimmy Page will introduce it.” Instead of saying anything, he spits out a few power chords as an introduction to “Over Now.” It is one of the better songs from the new album and its similarity to “Kashmir” lends it to segue directly into the Zeppelin classic.

“Pride & Joy” is from “the collaboration album” and was the biggest single, hitting #1 on Billboard earlier in the year. It’s a fantastic mash-up of styles and is a compelling live piece. Guy Pratt plays a brief bass solo as an introduction to “Take A Look.” Page is again given the task of introducing a song and calls “In My Time Of Dying” as a song from “the annals of rock history. Let’s see if you can remember this one. Let’s see if I can remember it too.”

Before “Here I Go Again” Coverdale says to those who have never heard the song ”where the fuck have you been the past couple years???” It is one of the best examples of metal-pop to come out of the eighties and is a highlight of both Osaka shows. Afterwards Jimmy Page has his little solo spot, playing “White Summer” and “Black Mountain Side” like on the old Zeppelin tours. But he also includes references to “Over The Hills And Far Away” and “Kashmir” (both of which came out of the song’s development).

“Don’t Leave Me This Way” has quick and sharp Denny Carmassi drum solo in the middle and “Shake My Tree,” including Page’s theremin solo, closes the main set.

When they return for the encores the first number is the Whitesnake song “Still Of The Night.” An interesting version of “Black Dog” follows. It begins with the familiar opening riff to “Out On The Tiles” as it has since its live debut, but they play several more measures of the song before “Black Dog.” Coverdale stretches out each verse for maximum effect increasing the song’s drama. The final number is “Feeling Hot” from Coverdale Page including the introduction to “The Ocean.”

Osaka Castle Hall, Osaka, Japan – December 21st, 1993

Disc 3 (59:27): Absolution Blues, Slide It In, Rock And Roll, Over Now, Kashmir, Pride And Joy, Take A Look, Take Me For A Little While, In My Time Of Dying

Disc 4 (59:36): Here I Go Again, White Summer – Black Mountain Side, Don’t Leave Me This Way, Shake My Tree, Still Of The Night, Black Dog, Feeling Hot

The following night was taped by the same guy and has identical sound quality as the previous night. The setlist is identical, and Coverdale a bit less wired but still maintains high energy throughout the performance. Over Now (ARMS 12/13PR) and discs three and four of Western Daze (Hard Knockers HSP-2621~4) are two other silver pressed releases featuring this concert.

At the start of the show the audience are a bit quiet, just like the previous night, but they warm up quickly and Coverdale doesn’t need to coax cheering out of them as much. The opening “Absolution Blues,” “Slide It In” and “Rock And Roll” are almost magical in execution. But improves greatly when Coverdale introduces Page for “Over Now.”

But Coverdale is also interesting in having the spotlight on the other musicians onstage. He singles out Brett Tuggle on keyboards before “Pride & Joy” and introduces “squadron leader Guy Pratt, the ace of bass” before “Take A Look.”

“Here I Go Again” sounds a bit limp for some reason, as does “White Summer.” Page includes the “Over The Hills And Far Away” and “Kashmir” references, but the song abruptly stops without further elaboration. The finale of the show, however, is exception.

“Don’t Leave Me This Way” has a majestic feel in the guitars and Covedale’s shrieks fit in very well. The set ends with “Shake My Tree” and the encores are again “Still Of The Night,” “Black Dog” and “Feeling Hot” with “The Ocean” and “The Wanton Song” references included.

The Coverdale Page project is certainly one of the more bizarre, interesting, and yet rewarding eras for rock. It stood out from the Pearl Jam / Nirvana / Soundgarden saturation of the airwaves at the time and, because of Robert Plant’s hatred of Coverdale, seemed doomed to failure. Taken on its own terms, however, it has really good music and several exciting live performances.

Two Days In The West is packaged in a standard quad jewel case with very basic but appropriate artwork. Overall it offers a great opportunity to hear two of the latter shows from the short tour in excellent quality.

March 14, 2013 Posted by | Coverdale Page Two Days In The West | | Leave a comment