Classic Rock Review

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Led Zeppelin Black Beauty (Fillmore West, April 1969)


Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA – April 24th, 1969

Tuning, As Long As I Have You, Killing Floor, White Summer / Black Mountain Side, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, Pat’s Delight

This tape from Zeppelin’s first night at the Fillmore West on their second US tour first circulated as a soundboard recording intended for a radio broadcast. Early releases like San Francisco ’69 on Aulica (A137), Fillmore West ’69 on Scorpio, and Who’s Country Joe? on Flying Disc (CD 6-824) gave this a January 9th, 1969 attribution.

Titles since then have been given the correct date and they include Cracker Jack Blues on Jelly Roll (JR15), Fillmore West on Last Stand Disc (LSD-9/10/11 along with the April 27th soundboard), Psychedelic Raw Blues on Immigrant (IM-017~18 along with tracks from Fillmore East and Dusseldorf), and Fillmore West 69 on House Of Elrond.

More recent releases include Blues Anytime on Empress Valley (EVSD 145), Conquering California on Dinopower Records (DP673). Listen To the Difference (EVSD-357) is Empress Valley’s second release of this show last year which they claimed is sourced from the original reel-to-reel and not from the source posted on the internet. Black Beauty sounds closest in timbre to the second Empress Valley release. It is more loud and clear than the older versions without any hint of remastering distortion present on the tape.

There really are not any bad versions of this tape, but this release on Wendy sounds very good and any comparisons with other versions are due completely to one’s preference. The earliest releases claimed this to be a professionally recorded tape made on January 9th intended for a radio broadcast that was not used because of equipment failure. It is now assumed to be an audience recording made either very close to the stage or on the stage itself.

It is excellent sounding picking up very subtle details and powerful. Negatively, it is very unbalanced with the bass and drums dominating with the guitar lower in the mix. The vocals sometimes sound like mere echoes and are difficult to hear. To make matters worse John Paul Jones has a serious blowout on stage during “As Long As I Have You” and the band take a while to recover and at one point leaving Plant to sing with Bonham and a tambourine.

The tape at that point is marred by low hums and buzzing noises. The other imperfection is the awful speed-up in the tape during “White Summer”. Earlier releases left it in but the newer titles have dealt with it by cutting it down or eliminating it altogether. Wendy does the latter and splice what sounds like tape from another concert. Again whether one like this approach or not is up to personal taste, but the defect is very jarring and any way to deal with it is welcome.

This concert was the first of four in San Francisco on their second U.S. tour. Zeppelin played two sets and this tape obviously documents only one. Judging by the set lists of the other shows this looks like the second, but Plant says “Good evening” after the first song so it could be the first set. The “As Long As I Have You” medley is interesting not only for the blow out but also for the inclusion of the Willie Dixon song “You Can’t Judge A Book”.

“White Summer” is introduced as ”something old something new”. The tape closes with a great version of “Pat’s Delight”. Through all the years this tape has been circulating, there have never been any hints or rumors about a more complete version. Also no alternate source for this concert has ever surfaced leaving this a mysterious fragment. Although many collectors say this is great for the general collector, I disagree. It is too unbalanced and the band are fighting too many externals to be a good representation of early Zeppelin.

The audience recording from April 26 and the soundboard from April 27 are far superior documents than this one. Nevertheless for those who must hear this Black Beauty is a good and affordable way to obtain this show. Wendy use picture discs and thick glossy paper inserts that are beautiful to look at.

March 27, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Black Beauty | , | Leave a comment

Lynyrd Skynyrd Nuthin’ Fancy (1975)

nuthin' fancy - coverFrom

Ask any critic and he’ll go on raving all about how Second Helping was great and this album was really stagnated and dull and ‘never quite managed to take off’ and all that crap. Critics are stupid. Just because this album has no all-time hit like ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ or ‘Free Bird’ doesn’t mean that it never ‘takes off’ or ‘achieves ignition’ (two of the most popular Rolling Stone critiques; you’d think these guys were originally in spacecraft constructing business).

Sure, it’s hard to pick off a favourite of this album. But it also shows significant artistic growth: the diversity of styles they tackle on here is impressive, considering that it’s kinda hard to stay in the ‘roots-rock’ basin and manage to flow in several different directions at the same time. And these songs are rarely generic. Now Skynyrd were never great composers, true, but at least what I see here is several persons painfully trying to step away from the boogie-woogie and soulful balladeering cliches of Helping and doing something, well, if not original, at least something in a style and with hooks of their own, not just nipped from some ancient bluesman.

Not that it grows on you; none of these songs are able to creep under your skin as well as the ones on the debut album do. But on the other hand, this is an album that I found out I wanted to give another listen, while everything was absolutely obvious with the redneck paradise of Second Helping. There are just so many little things and tricks here to fire your imagination – a pity the critics didn’t take the time to take a second listen, now.

On the count of ‘one two three four’ (a trick used on every successive Skynyrd album, by the way), the album opens with ‘Saturday Night Special’, a rip-roaring condemnation of handguns embellished by fiery guitar solos and moody synthesizer effects. This is sometimes called Skynyrd’s most hard-rocking number ever; dunno about that, not having heard everything, but it sure rocks pretty hard for a Southern band. ‘Cheatin’ Women’ is everything ‘I Need You’ tried to be but failed: same slow, lethargic mood, but the ballsy lyrical matters (Eric Clapton gets sued for such things these days) and the pretty organ passages more than makes up for it. Not to mention that Ronnie’s vocals are at least a trillion times more expressive here than on that crappy seven minute ‘epic’. Then, after the calm, three uptempo numbers, none of them hits, none of them great, but all quite solid.

‘Railroad Song’ has a cool groove to it – I particularly love it when they slow down the rhythm to get the impression of a train slowing down. ‘I’m A Country Boy’ is my second favourite song on the album: there’s something stately in the way Ronnie pronounces his death sentence to city civilization. ‘I don’t even want a piece of concrete in my town’, he says, ‘I’m a country boy, I’m as happy as can be’. Pedestrian? Banal? Dismissable? Perhaps, but such things often depend on how well you put yourself to it. And this performance is awesome: moody, precise guitar lines interweaving with Van Zant’s relaxed, ironic, slightly swagger-swaggering vocals, and all this makes the song a definite ‘country life’ anthem. Finally, there’s the funky, weird, sickeningly macho ‘On The Hunt’: this one does not particularly impress me at all, but at least it’s loud and proud.

Out of the next three songs, I’d like to pick out ‘Made In The Shade’, a terrific country-blues workout: ’tis one more humble tribute to Ol’ Black Blues Man (Ronnie even begins it with saying ‘when I was a young-un they used to teach me to play music like this here…’), and the boys once again show that nobody can beat their acoustic/slide guitar attack. By the way, they did this kind of style much, much better than the Allman Brothers, and that’s saying something. ‘Am I Losin’ is just a pretty, simplistic ballad with some deeply hidden charms, and the closing number, ‘Whiskey Rock-A-Roller’, is just your average by-the-book blues rocker with not a lot to say. Which actually means that it gets worse as it progresses.

Even so, the album is more consistent than Helping; and I insist on that. There were three great songs there (‘Sweet Home Alabama’, ‘Working For MCA’, ‘Curtis Loew’) which cannot be matched by anything on Fancy. But Fancy hasn’t got any ridiculous embarrasments like ‘Needle And The Spoon’ or ‘I Need You’, either, and, like I said, I definitely see signs of trying here. So what if the songs are mostly slow? Skynyrd aren’t that fast a band – they’re not your Ramones, and, well, they’re not even Deep Purple.

There are elements of taste on here, while there are definitely elements of lapse of taste on Helping. Sorry for all these shitty ramblings, folks, especially if you haven’t heard either and are wondering why the hell you have to read this: I just want to point out that the critics made a mighty mistake by drawing a deep, definite line in between these two albums and putting the first one above it and the second one under it. It’s just the opposite, and if you’re going to argue with me, I’ll see to it personally that you burn in the hottest furnace in Hell for three hundred thousand years.

March 27, 2013 Posted by | Lynyrd Skynyrd Nuthin' Fancy | | 1 Comment

Led Zeppelin Live In Central Park (July 1969)


Schaefer Music Festival, Central Park, New York – July 21st, 1969

Disc 1 : The Train Kept A Rollin’, I Can’t Quit You, Dazed & Confused, You Shook Me, White Summer – Black Mountain Side, How Many More Times (includes Woody Woodpecker Song, For What It’s Worth, The Hunter, The Lemon Song), Communication Breakdown

Bonus disc, Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, CA – August 8th, 1969: Train Kept a Rollin’, I Can’t Quit You, I Gotta Move/improvisation, Dazed and Confused, White Summer, You Shook Me, How Many More Times

Live At Central Park is Empress Valley’s version of the often-released Central Park show from the summer of 1969. There have been many releases of this tape beginning with Super Stars (TNT-910117) on TNT followed by Schaefer Music Festival (Rock Calendar RC 2107), followed by Twist (no label), Complete Central Park (TMOS96901) on Sanctuary label and most recently on Woody Woodrocker Show (TCD-23) on Tarantura. It is a very clear, detailed and up front audience recording and among the many that have surfaced from Led Zeppelin’s summer of festivals. The only drawback is the minor amount of tape hiss present.

Empress Valley sounds as good as the Sanctuary and Tarantura versions. It isn’t as loud as Sanctuary or as “fat” sounding as the Tarantura, and the closing remarks by the tapers at the end of the show are missing. Central Park is a popular tape because it presents their shorter and more intense festival set debuted earlier in the summer. It has both “You Shook Me” and “White Summer/ Black Mountain Side”, two songs which would be alternated in other concerts pushing the duration to just over an hour played in front of a vocal and rowdy New York audience.

Zeppelin played two shows that day for the Schaefer Music Festival and this tape documents the early show at 7pm. No tape has ever surfaced nor even hinted for the late show so this is all that exists from that day. The show opens with the double attack of “Train Kept A-Rollin’” followed immediately by “I Can’t Quit You Babe” before a very nervous sounding Plant says, “we’d like’s getting a bit dark innit?”

What follows is a fourteen-minute version of “Dazed And Confused” sounding very similar to the June BBC recording. Plant adds his orgasmic moans before his non-sequiter interjections during (“I want you to talk to me”) and after (“bamma lamma ding dong”).

Afterwards Plant becomes apologetic by saying, “Let me tell you, we’re really pleased we weren’t playing here last week despite the fact that we wanted to play because it was so hot. So it seems we read the cards right because it said it’s gonna be cool. It’s cool. It’s COOL. We got a new album coming about the second week in August but at the moment there’s been a bit of a delay on it. And there’s been a bit of a delay on us getting the numbers ready for stage because we’re still doing the old ones. We’d like to do something that was…”

A heckler interrupts Plant with “White Summer!” “In a bit. It was written by Willie Dixon. It’s a thing we in England heard on and EP called Muddy Waters Twist. I don’t know what that means really but this is called ‘You Shook Me’”. What follows is a slow, heavy version of the blues piece with Plant struggling to reach the high notes by the end. There is another heckler at the end to which the audience laughs, but what he says is inaudible.

There is some audience commotion at the end of the piece and Plant chides the audience to be quiet. “White Summer”, which was requested by the audience, sounds fantastic in this show with Page pushing the boundaries of the eastern scales. “How Many More Times” contains the earliest reference to “For What It’s Worth” and the only one for the Woody Woodpecker theme, imitating Page’s staccato riffs.

A short, compact version of “Communication Breakdown” is the only encore before the band leave the stage for the second performance of the evening. The mc comes on at the end to point to the exits but EV edits out the conversations between the tapers afterwards. It is not a major loss but it does add to the atmosphere. The first edition of Live At Central Park comes with a free bonus silver cd containing the Rubber Dubber master of the August 8th, 1969 San Bernardino tape. (On the back EV encourages the buyer to look at their copy for this).

This tape first surfaced more than a decade ago and really hasn’t been seen since its initial release. Many collectors claim this is clearer than the Rubber Dubber tape although it is tough to tell listening to this. The taper was close to Page’s amplifier and he drowns out the rest of the band. He is having a good night but it is distant, distorted and disturbing making this is a tough listen which will appeal to completists only. This title is packaged in a double slimline jewel case holding the two discs.

Since there are several photos from this show it would have been nice to place one on the front cover but Empress Valley chose an older picture with Page playing the telecaster from the first two tours. The back has a rare photo of Page in the studio playing acoustic guitar dating from the Led Zeppelin II sessions. In line with other current releases, Empress Valley priced this moderately making it very appealing to those who missed out on the Sanctuary and Tarantura issues. The New York tape is one of the best from Zeppelin’s first year and is an essential show to own.

March 27, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Live In Central Park | , | Leave a comment

Robert Plant 29 Palms And 1 Plant (Amsterdam, December 1993)


Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands – December 20th, 1993

(78:12): Interview, 29 Palms, Thank You, That’s Why I’m In The Mood, Whole Lotta Love, Hurting Kind, Ship Of Fools, If I Were A Carpenter, Going To California, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You. Bonus track: I Believe (Later with Jools Holland (BBC) 1993)

29 Palms And 1 Plant captures Robert Plant at the very end of his initial solo career before he began working with Jimmy Page in the Unledded project. Plant’s attitude for Fate Of Nations is a return to his roots and drawing inspiration from late sixties psychedelia (which would be the same approach as the decade ended with the short-lived Priory Of Brion project). This attitude is certainly reflected in live performance and is audible on this release.

This contains a radio broadcast from the Paradiso in Amsterdam on December 20th. On the artwork this show is attributed to December 13th, but Plant played at the Zenith Club in Paris on that date. Most of the show is present but missing are “Tall Cool One,” “Ramble On,” “What Is And What Should Never Be,” “Calling To You” and “Heaven Knows,” all songs regularly included in the set.

It sounds as if there were two half hour broadcasts edited to run consecutively. There is a cut after “Whole Lotta Love” (which was the encore and not played in the middle of the show) and a faint snippet of a DJ’s comments.

The disc starts with a short interview with Plant while he visited Amsterdam. He discusses the inspiration for his music in general and for “29 Palms,” the latest single, in particular. It’s a breezy, fun song (a rarity for Plant) and segues directly into “Thank You.”

Most of the first broadcast is occupied by the following track “That’s Why I’m In The Mood.” It is a fifteen minute long medley which has never seen official release and alone brings worth to this release. It has snippets of “In The Mood,” the Zeppelin songs “That’s The Way” and “In The Light” and a cover of Donovan’s “Season Of The Witch” interspersed with his patented shrieks and screams. It is a moody piece of work which foreshadows some of his material in Page & Plant, Priory Of Briton and Strange Sensation.

The second broadcast, from “Hurting Kind” to “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” is much more mellow and laidback than the first. It is interesting that the final song was the one which formed the artistic bond between him and Jimmy Page at the very beginning of Led Zeppelin, and would be important for their reunion the following year.

The bonus track “I Believe” is taken from ”Later…With Jools Holland” telecast on May 21st, 1993. The complete broadcast also contains “If I Were A Carpenter,” “8.05,” “Bluebirds” and “Whole Lotta Love.”

29 Palms And 1 Plant (Hammerjack HJ014) is a minor release from the mid-nineties and is among several other titles. Live At Paradiso, Amsterdam (SRS) is a Russian release with the broadcast from “29 Palms” through “Going To California” and Paradiso, Amsterdam (Tie Dye 98118) is a Dutch release which has both broadcasts but in reverse order. It is an essential title for Robert Plant collectors.

March 27, 2013 Posted by | Robert Plant 29 Palms And 1 Plant | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Rave On (Manchester, November 1971)


Free Trade Hall, Manchester, England – November 24th, 1971

Disc 1 (61:01): Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Celebration Day, Stairway To Heaven, Going To California, That’s The Way, Tangerine, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp

Disc 2 (45:50): Dazed And Confused, What Is And What Should Never Be, Rock And Roll, Whole Lotta Love, Thank You

After their triumphant tour of Japan in September and right after the release of the often delayed fourth album, Led Zeppelin did a sixteen date tour of the UK in November and December to end a year of almost constant touring. Only seven tapes exist from this tour and many, like Dundee and London, are of poor to fair sound quality.

The Manchester tape featured on Rave On is merely fair in sound quality, just good enough to gain an appreciation of the band’s effort this night. The ”Whole Lotta Love” medley cuts out after eleven and a half minutes and only ninety seconds of the encore “Thank You” was preserved.

There are cuts during the tune up to “Going To California,” before “That’s The Way” and a cut by the end eliminates the last few seconds, at 20:45 in “Dazed And Confused” and between each song in the latter part of the show since the taper paused the recorder to conserve his tape.

The tape begins with Robert Plant giving a word of explanation, saying, “we’re sorry about the delay but there was some ice on the motor way, and John Paul Jones wanted two helpings of apple pie.” Jimmy Page plays a riff that sounds like the soon to be written “The Rover” as a tune up before starting “Immigrant Song.” “Heartbreaker,” the second song of the evening, contains bits of Bach’s Bouree and “Feelin’ Groovy (59th Street Bridge Song)” in the long solo.

After “Black Dog” Plant tells the audience, “I think I got that flu that’s going about.” It seems whenever they toured in the winter months he complains about a flu. There is a bit of a delay, ” just a technical fit. If you could talk amongst yourselves for a bit.” Page tries several variations on the “Since I’ve Been Loving You” melody.

“Celebration Day” follows having been moved up from later in the set. Plant gives the routine discussion about the song’s origin, stating, “somewhere a little bit to the west of here there’s the United States, and just before you get to the United States, there’s a statue that sticks up, and that’s the place called New York and this is a thing dedicated to New York.” The final guitar solo played in a clanging tone is extended ad infinitum.

After a four song acoustic set they get into a twenty-five minute version of “Dazed And Confused.” Around this time Page like to emphasized high pitched, creepy sounding drones while playing the guitar with the violin bow. He makes it sound as if there are jet liners flying into the venue. During the improvisation the gets into the theme from Shaft as he does during this short tour. In the “Whole Lotta Love” medley they get into a funk arrangement of “That’s Alright Mama” before “Boogie Chillun’.”

Buddy Holly’s “Rave On” is played for the second known time before leading into “Hello Mary Lou,” although only the first few notes are present. The taper pauses the recorder a couple of times and captures the final notes of “Whole Lotta Love.” It is a shame the tape doesn’t have better sound quality and become so fragmented by the end because it is a great show to have. Rave On is an early release on TDOLZ packaged in a gatefold cardboard sleeve.

This is the only release of the tape and probably will remain so unless a better tape surfaces.

March 27, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Rave On | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin In Yokel Mode (Bath, June 1970)


Bath Festival Of Blues & Progressive Music ‘70, Bath & West Showground, Shepton Mallet, Somerset, England – June 28th, 1970

Disc 1 (63:57): Intro, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Dazed And Confused, Bring It On Home, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Organ Solo, Thank You, The Boy Next Door (That’s The Way), What Is And What Should Never Be

Disc 2 (64:56): Moby Dick, How Many More Times (incl. Mr. Soul/Down By The River/The Hunter/Think You Need A Shot (The Needle) /Boogie Chillun’/Long Distance Call/Honey Bee/Sweet Home Chicago/The Lemon Song /I Need Your Love Tonight/That’s Alright Mama), Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown, Rock Medley (incl. Long Tall Sally/Say Mama/Johnny B. Goode/That’s Alright Mama/Bye Bye Johnny)

In Yokel Mode is the latest silver pressing of the new Led Zeppelin Bath Festival recording that surfaced earlier this year. Tarantura applied some mastering to the tape and increased the volume and sharpness over other releases such as The Boy Next Door (no label). Unlike the no label, In Yokel Mode presents only the new tape and does not edit in the poor source for the small cuts present.

Participating in rock festivals in 1969 was instrumental in Led Zeppelin’s rapid success. But with Led Zeppelin II hitting number one on the charts by year’s end, they stopped booking festivals and instead made their own appearances an event. The lone exception was the Bath festival in June. Zeppelin participated in the first Bath festival the previous year and used their appearance at the second as a way to promote themselves in the UK without an extensive tour.

Bath would be Led Zeppelin’s final appearance in England in 1970 and would be one their last rock festivals. The August 29th Man-Pop Festival in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada is probably the last one. (Knebworth in 1979, although a festival in the strictest sense, isn’t in the same spirit as the festivals in the late sixties and early seventies).

Bath was their second show (after Reykjavik) after a two month break for writing and recording the third album. “Immigrant Song” opens the show, replacing “We’re Gonna Groove” used the first half of the year. Led Zeppelin legend relays that Robert Plant wrote the lyrics to the song inspired by the trip to Iceland. The tune was rehearsed before that, but the words were added that week and are very similar to the final version of the song except they don’t really fit the melody at parts. It would be smoothed over later.

“Dazed And Confused” clocks in at fourteen minutes, a bit shorter than other versions during this time. Before “Since I’ve Been Loving You” Plant tells the audience that “eventually will go into a studio and we’ve got nearly to the end of Led Zeppelin III.”

After “Thank You” Zeppelin perform “That’s The Way,” which Plant says is “something a little different, if I can remember the words. You’re gonna have to hold off on the trumpet for half a minute mate, just for half a minute,” he tells someone in the crowd. “This is really a medley of all the famous Lonnie Donegan tunes, all the really good ones. Especially for John Bonham” Plant jokes.

This the first time Zeppelin played an acoustic ballad live before (it’s unknown if the song premiered in Iceland the previous week). Anytime one takes a risk in presenting something new there is tentativeness, but they do deliver a tight version and it is received well. “Well, I don’t know what to say” Plant responds to the ovation.

The set ends with a very long and lively version of “How Many More Times.” It is comparable to the Royal Albert Hall performance the previous January with all of the obscure references and intensity of the playing. The throw in a version of “Sweet Home Chicago” and during the “Lemon Song” reference Plant stops to acknowledge Robert Johnson, the author of those tunes. Bath would mark the end of this show showstopper with “Whole Lotta Love” taking its place when they resume touring in Germany in July.

The second encore is a short and violent version of “Communication Breakdown” in which Plant sings what sounds like a line from ”Deep Elem Blues” during the funk section. Before “Long Tall Sally” Plant gives a long speech to the massive crowd, saying: “We, we’ve been playing a lot in America recently and we really thought that coming back here we might have a bit of a dodgy time, but we’re starting to get a bit. There’s a lot of things going wrong in America at the moment, that are getting a bit sticky, and what not, and it’s really nice to come to an open air festival where there’s no really bad thing happening, and everything has carried on decently. On the news last night, on the television news. They said Shepton Mallet would never be the same, but I think it’s just added to everything that’s here already. So we’d like to do something that we probably owe to people who came a long time before. I think that every group on the scene’s got that a little bit every now and then.”

A ten minute jam on the Little Richard classic closes one of the most intense and exhilarating Led Zeppelin performances on disc.

In Yokel Mode is in a single pocket cardboard sleeve with the Jimmy Page photo on the front and a still picture from a very rare 8mm film of the event on the back. It is also limited to three hundred numbered copies. It is certainly the nicest packaged version of this tape, and the clarity also makes it stand out.

March 27, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin In Yokel Mode | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Balloon Goes Up On Led Zeppelin (Sydney, February 1972)


Fairgrounds, Sydney, Australia – February 27th, 1972

Disc 1 (64:10): Black Dog, Stairway To Heaven, Going To California, That’s The Way, Tangerine, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, Dazed And Confused, What Is And What Should Never Be

Disc 2 (64:39): Moby Dick, Rock And Roll, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown, Thank You

Balloon Goes Up On Led Zeppelin is the curious title for Empress Valley’s latest release chronicling Zeppelin’s only tour of Australia. The show in the country’s capital city on February 27th has two extant tape sources available.

The first release of this show came on the Australian label Black Cat on Australian Tour 1972 Part 1 (Black Cat BC-34) released in 1992. This title has “Immigrant Song” to “Dazed & Confused” from the Melbourne show on disc one and “Rock And Roll” and “Whole Lotta Love” from Sydney on disc two. The tape is poor sounding and runs too fast. In the summer of 2000 the Equinox label released a great seven disc box set called Thunder Downunder with all of the tapes from the tour that were available at that time (Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane).

Live In Sydney 1972 (Equinox EX-00-005) is a one-disc title that has the older audience source with “Black Dog,” “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp,” “Rock And Roll,” and “Whole Lotta Love.” The disc is complimented with the GTK television broadcast of “Rock And Roll” and the “Whole Lotta Love” fragment along with the Germaine Greer interview and a broadcast from Perth Radio.

In 2001 a longer and better sounding tape source surfaced. The taper captures the show from dead center, six feet back from the stage, and was able to tape the entire show except for the opening two numbers “Immigrant Song” and “Heartbreaker,” and has the only encore section from the entire tour.

Tarantura issued it on Ayers Rock (Tarantura TCD-2), limited to 250 numbered copies, but this was criticized for overzealous remastering that basically killed an otherwise great tape with a layer of the metallic crunch. Further the label didn’t bother to patch two holes, in “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp” and “Rock And Roll” with the first audience recording. At the same time the ones who found the tape issued their version on CDR titled Live In Sydney (Genuine Masters GM-LZ-27.02.1972-02 A/B).

Rumble In Sydney (Further Along FAP-010/011) came out in early 2004 and likewise suffered from too much mastering, although they did utilize the first tape to complete the show. Robbers Return (Sharaku Productions SHARAKULED-1-1,2) came out several months later, and the sound quality on this release is the same as on Rumble In Sydney, but again the first tape source wasn’t used to fill the gaps.

Genuine Masters re-released their version but on DVDR-A called The Rover’s Return (GM-LZ.27.02.1972-DVD-A-001) which was copied on silver DVDR with the same title on Digital Line (DL-602). Balloon Goes Up On Led Zeppelin is a two-source mix with the final minute of “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp,” beginning at 3:40, edited in from the other tape as well as “Rock And Roll.” The sound quality is very good and clear. There was some concern expressed about the “metallic” sound plaguing this release. There are times, especially when the older tape source is used where it is faintly there.

Those who are particular about it will have an issue, but it isn’t to the point of distraction and Empress Valley is a big improvement over the original Tarantura release of this show. There are numerous small cuts between songs since the taper wanted to capture as much of the show as possible (his girlfriend can be heard nagging him about it), and there are two cuts in “Moby Dick,” at 11:23 and at 11:37. Despite this, most of Plant’s song introductions are present on the tape.

The tape begins with the final fury of “Heartbreaker” and Plant saying, “Good afternoon. Now listen. We’ve already come across the one problem that we were told about. There has already been some mistakes about this thing, but we don’t want to make any mistakes and neither do you, right? So don’t come past this barrier or otherwise we’ll be in the shit…And if it rains we’re gonna have to stop or else we’ll blow up. That’s a fact.” What follows is a heavy version of a new song “Black Dog.” There is a cut in the tape afterwards which eliminates “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” the normal fourth song of the set, and “Celebration Day.”

That song was played regularly in 1971 but dropped for the Australian dates. The taper did originally have these songs on the tape but dubbed over them in the intervening years. “Stairway To Heaven” follows and is another excellent version.

Before “Going To California” Plant says, “Let’s get some seating together. When people sit down they seem to be a lot quieter. That’s just about what we want at the moment. Not too far from that place New York lies near place called San Francisco. We should all say thank you to San Francisco for so many things, Love and Jefferson Airplane an all the beauty that came out of it. It’s got really twisted around now. Since they introduced an acoustic set to the act in 1970 the list in 1972 is the longest.

They added “Tangerine” while in Japan and “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp” in the UK to make it four songs lasting almost twenty minutes in duration. In fact “That’s The Way” is extended to seven minutes in this performance with Page wandering around in the middle.

“Tangerine” is the weak link in the set. The acoustic arrangement is never really convincing, but “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp” is a fun number and a great way to lighten the mood. The tape cuts in at the very beginning of “Dazed And Confused.” This version lasts for twenty-three minutes and Page produces otherworldly noises from the guitar before the lengthy improvisation that ranks among the better ones in Australia.

“Moby Dick” is eighteen minutes and Bonham plays furiously by the end. The “Whole Lotta Love” medley from Sydney is known mostly for the very rare inclusion of “The Rover.” It occurs right after “Hello Mary Lou” as they finish that tune and figure out what to play next in the medley. Page begins it and the rhythm section follow with Plant standing at the side.

They play the opening riff and through what would be the first verse and chorus before breaking down and going into “Let’s Have A Party.” It sounds very rehearsed and must have been a tune they began working on before the tour instead of being a spontaneous, on-stage creation. The song would be recorded with lyrics four months after this show and be released three years later on Physical Graffiti.

“Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” the 1952 hit for Lloyd Price, is another rare inclusion in the “Whole Lotta Love” medley played before “Going Down Slow, a piece that concludes every medley during this year. The two encores, “Communication Breakdown” and “Thank You” are holdovers from 1971. The latter has a five-minute prelude played on the organ where Jones plays in several different tempi leading into the bombastic ballad from Led Zeppelin II. Of all the Australian dates, this is perhaps the best known since television footage has been released officially.

Balloon Goes Up On Led Zeppelin is packaged in the thick, cardboard tray with cardboard slip cover, the same style packaging they have used for all of their releases from this tour. There is effective use of several stage shots from the actual gig which is a benefit for this packaging. Empress Valley are able to dramatic photos for the covers to invoke an emotional response much like the vinyl sleeves were able to so. Despite the hints of remastering, this still sounds much better than the other silver releases that are out there and is an enjoyable listen of an important show.

March 27, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Balloon Goes Up On Led Zeppelin | , | Leave a comment

Joe Walsh But Seriously, Folks… (1978)


Joe Walsh is one of those artists you can never forget. It may be from his work with The James Gang or The Eagles or simply for his sense of humor and the escapades he went on under the influence of alcohol earlier in his career. It could easily be all of the above. All of these elements are what make the artist what he is today.

On December 11th Audio Fidelity reached back into the archives and unearthed the Walsh classic “But Seriously, Folks…” (1978). Releasing this collection of classic rock music was an easy choice. There are 8 choice cuts on the album and now they can be enjoyed in the label’s 24 karat gold format which lends itself well to rock music.

From the crazy cover depicting the legendary guitarist/vocalist in an underwater restaurant of sorts to outstanding instrumental forays that separate itself from the rest of the album on “Theme From Boat Weirdos,” this is musical entertainment at its very best. Walsh was and is to this day a unique guitar player. He is very talented, so much that whatever direction he decides to go, it sounds great.

On the opening track “Over and Over” he offers up some reggae atmospheres and on his soon to be signature song “Life’s Been Good” (8:57 version), he cranks out a few outrageous riffs to give it more depth and keep the listener wondering what might be right around the corner. You always thought you knew what to expect when Walsh recorded an album but it never was the case. This is what separated him from everyone else and made his music something to look forward to.

His band mates from The Eagles help out on the recording making this a “cannot miss” release for Walsh. Certainly he never needed any help but it did not hurt to have such talent to add to the mix. If you travel back further into Walsh’s Barnstorm days he was already taking things to another level by the brilliant mixing of genres and dazzling guitar wizardry. Not only does the man have a distinctive vocal style that is instantly recognizable, he mastered his instrument many moons ago. This solo recording is yet another example of his prowess as a musician and consistent creative force.

Audio Fidelity has impeccable taste. They also released Walsh’s incredible The Smoker You Drink The Player You Get in 2009 (read the review). What would make this collection of 24kt Gold releases complete is to resissue So What and Barnstorm. James Gang albums would be a welcome addition as well.

There is not a bad cut on this album. Besides the previously mentioned tracks “At The Station” is classic Walsh and anyone that is a fan of his music will find great joy in hearing this in such a clear and crisp format. This is Joe in his element and providing another very strong solo album. When you think the album is closed out when “Life’s Been Good” tails off, wait, there is a very interesting a funny segment that takes you out. All I can say is beware of the “Flock of Waa Waa’s.” This is one part of this album I totally forgot about after all these years. And by the way, if you are not familiar with the history of Walsh, that particular is track is spot-on autobiographical as it was prior to him getting sober.

There is still time to grab this classic Walsh solo album for your music fan before the supplies run out. They are numbered limited editions. This is good time of year to think about a great stocking stuffer and what a surprise it would be to be able to find this gold CD tucked in between your sweet favorites this year.

March 27, 2013 Posted by | Joe Walsh But Seriously Folks | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin You Really Got Me (Orlando, August 1971)


Civic Auditorium, Orlando, FL – August 31st, 1971

Disc 1: Intro., Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dazed And Confused, Black Dog, Stairway To Heaven, Celebration Day

Disc 2: That’s The Way, Going To California, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love (including Boogie Chillun’, My Baby Left Me, Mess O’Blues), organ solo, Thank You

Led Zeppelin’s seventh tour of North America is one of the all time greats with the consistency and inventiveness in performance. Every document from this era is an essential title to own no matter how obscure or fragmentary (and for some of the shows all we have are frustrating fragments).

An incomplete audience tape for their August 31st Orlando show was first released as Orlando Madness Volume 1 (H&Y Records HY-002) (“Introduction” to “Black Dog”) and Orlando Madness Volume 2 (H & Y Records HY-003) (“Stairway To Heaven” to “Moby Dick”). These were copied by Lemon Song Records of Japan as Welcome To Disneyland Part 1 (Lemon 7201) and Welcome To Disneyland Part 2 (Lemon 7202). The sound quality is only fair to good but is listenable if you put effort into it.

One of the highlights in 2003 was Empress Valley’s finding and releasing an incomplete soundboard for this show which contains material missing from the audience, namely the “Whole Lotta Love” medley and one encore “Thank You” contained on the release. They released two versions of Florida Sunshine (EVSD-225/226/227/228), a limited edition four disc set with a redaction of the soundboard and audience on the first two discs and the audience alone on the second two.

The normal version was the first two discs with the two sources together. Orlando Magic (ZP033-29A/B) on Eelgrass is a copy of the two-disc set. You Really Got Me, the latest on Akashic Records, follows suit and presents as complete a concert as possible with the two sources edited together and sounds more clear and sharp than the Empress Valley version.

The audience source is used for the introduction where the announcer is telling people to relax, sit down, turns down the house lights and brings out the band to wild applause. The soundboard picks up with Page’s brief tuning and Bonzo’s count in to “Immigrant Song”.

The audience source is used for forty-five seconds at 3:20 in “Dazed & Confused”, for “Celebration Day”, acoustic set and for the first ninety seconds of “What Is And What Should Never Be” where the soundboard comes back in and runs to the end with a major cut in “Whole Lotta Love”.

The quality of the soundboard tape is much better than the September 9th Virginia tape which is the only other soundboard to surface from this tour. It is in stereo, not mono, and has a wider degree of frequencies being very detailed and lively. The audience sounds far away but the band’s comments are picked up off mic putting you right on stage with them.

The concert itself is great and contains some unique moments. At 20:46 in “Dazed & Confused” Page gets into an almost complete ”White Summer” with a wah-wah arrangement. The next album is announced as coming out in three weeks before “Black Dog” where Plant hits the first high note and then avoids it for the rest of the song.

“Stairway To Heaven” is played very close to the studio arrangement. “Celebration Day” is introduced as “one for New York” as Page slowly builds up to the introductory fanfare. “Whole Lotta Love” begins with Page playing a very chunky riff with Plant yelling for “everybody” before launching into the song. John Paul Jones plays a very delicate cocktail piano underneath Page’s theremin solo. The audience begins to move forward (who wouldn’t?!) and Plant warns, “Oh, that’s far enough. Clive. Clive. Clive!…So I’m gonna sit down…boogie chillun” calling for the roadie Clive Colson to restore order at the front of the stage.

After ”Mess O’ Blues” Page gets into an amazingly catchy and heavy riff with Plant singing improvised lyrics before the tape frustratingly cuts out. They usually played a long blues like “You Shook Me” at this point but is absent on this recording. It picks up again at the beginning of the organ solo and runs to the end of “Thank You” with the rest of the encores (normally “Communication Breakdown” and “Rock And Roll”) being absent.

The tape ends with the house announcer asking for William Combis, because “your wallet is up here”. The great thing about Zeppelin in the early years are the surprises and unique moments and riffs they pull out of their head and this concert is an excellent example of this. It was hoped more tape was found for this release but unfortunately that isn’t the case.

Akashic package this in a cardboard sleeve that is very stylish and attractive. The cover art is very confusing though. When I first opened my package I thought a mistake had been made and I received a new release with demos and outtakes from the first King Crimson LP In The Court Of The Crimson King (which would be killer if they existed).

Why Akashic used Barry Godber’s 21st century schizoid man for a Zeppelin release named after a Kinks song is quite strange. The Kinks reference is understandable since Page plays that famous riff as a tune up to “What Is And What Should Never Be”. Despite that You Really Got Me is a good upgrade to the Empress Valley edition and an essential document of the 1971 tour.

March 27, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin You Really Got Me | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Complete Performance In Minnesota (July 1973)


Civic Center, St. Paul, MN – July 9th, 1973

Disc 1 (50:22): Rock and Roll, Celebration Day, Black Dog, Over the Hills and Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter

Disc 2 (47:14): The Song Remains the Same, Rain Song, Dazed and Confused

Disc 3 (60:43): Stairway to Heaven, Moby Dick, Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown

July 9th is the third date of the second half of Led Zeppelin’s fabled 1973 US tour. Following the first two in Chicago, notable for Robert Plant’s weak vocals, St. Paul is a considerable improvement as the band play in inventive show overall. This tape surfaced in the late nineties and is very distant from the stage but clear enough to capture the atmosphere of the event. There is a significant cut at 3:48 in “Stairway To Heaven” and on after “Moby Dick” that cuts out the introduction and first verse of “Heartbreaker.” Blues Quaaludeon the cdr label Red Dragon is the first commercial title. TDOLZ issued Complete Performance in Minnesota soon afterwards with slightly improved sound quality and running at the correct speed. In the decade since its release this remains its only silver pressing.

Looking past the limitations of the sound quality and the obscurity of the show, this is one of the more interesting performances from the tour. An announcer can be heard the very beginning telling the crowd to behave before the lights go down. The band hit the stage with “Rock And Roll,” “Celebration Day” and “Black Dog” all played in a row. Robert Plant greets the audience before telling them that they would “like to do a song off the new album, Houses of the Holy. This is a song about the passage through time and life.” Page’s solo during “Over The Hills And Far Away” is the first of what would be many interesting variations on well known pieces.

Afterwards Page plays the “Dancing Days” riff before Plant addresses the audience about the commotion during the song. He tells them that “there’s one thing that we’d like to get straight at every concert that we ever play, and that behavior like that is just a real bummer for everything that we’re all trying to do together, right? So listen, if you want to, if you want to continue to do that, you know that it could you that ends up getting underneath all that pushing and shoving. So please stop, right? I mean, there’s no point is there really? It may be a total physical impossibility for you to revers a little bit so the people a long here don’t look like over easy eggs, you know? Can you do that? Just a little bit move back. It would be a lot simpler because then everybody could breathe. This is what happens when you, now that’s really silly, isn’t it boys?”

“No Quarter,” which Plant introduces as “another thing about the journey that lasts a lifetime if you know what I mean” is characterized by John Bonhan trying hard to engage in a duel with Page in the middle solo. His beats are all out of time with the guitar and Page continues with the proper solo to the song. It’s a strange effect which isn’t duplicated in any other show. “Dazed And Confused” is called “white Christmas” and “John Bonham comes to you courtesy of the makers of Quaalude, and all we’re waiting for is Mr. John Paul Jones.” The middle improvisation sees Page trying several intricate riffs.

“Heartbreaker” contains more interesting soloing by Page where he tries a country and western style riff over the heavy Bonham beat in the guitar solo. In “Whole Lotta Love” they hit a bit of a snag when Page is late coming out of the theremin solo. The rhythm section plays a very heavy beat until Page finds his way again. The only encore is “Communication Breakdown” which was played for the first couple of nights on this leg of the tour. TDOLZ package this title in a single cardboard sleeve with a photo from Kezar on the front. Overall this is not one of the classic shows of the era and not the greatest recording, but it is good enough and has interesting points to make it worth investigating.

March 27, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Complete Performance In Minnesota | , | Leave a comment