Classic Rock Review

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Led Zeppelin Welcome To The 1979 Knebworth Festival 4th Of August


Knebworth Festival, Stevenage, England – August 4th, 1979

Disc 1 (63:28): Introduction, The Song Remains The Same, Celebration Day, Black Dog, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Over The Hills And Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter

Disc 2 (65:05): Ten Years Gone, Hot Dog, The Rain Song, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Kashmir, Trampled Underfoot, Sick Again, Achilles Last Stand

Disc 3 (69:06): guitar solo, In The Evening, Stairway To Heaven, Rock And Roll, Whole Lotta Love, Heartbreaker

Led Zeppelin disappeared after the tragic events in 1977 and remained hidden from the public eye for two years, an eternity in the world of music. When they chose to play their first concerts in two years, and their first in England in four, they planned it in the most spectacular way imaginable by headlining not just one but two massive Knebworth festivals. This was the only way they could possible accommodate the demand for tickets.

The importance of these shows is best summed up by author Dave Lewis, who wrote: “For many in attendance it was their first ever concert experience. For many it would be the only time that they would get to see Zeppelin perform live. For that reason alone it holds a special affection in their live history. The first show in particular, with so much riding on it, was perhaps the most important they ever played.” (Led Zeppelin: Celebration II: The ‘Tight But Loose’ Files).

The two warm up shows in Copenhagen revealed a band who were not quite ready to headline such massive events, a point that Robert Plant stated shortly after the two when he said: “Knebworth was useless. It was no good at all. It was no good because we weren’t ready to do it, the whole thing was a management decision. It felt like I was cheating myself because I wasn’t as relaxed as I could have been. There was so much expectation there and the least we could have done was to have been confident enough to kill. We maimed the beast for life, but we didn’t kill it. It was good, but only because everybody made it good. There was that sense of event.”

Journalist Chris Welch, fifteen years afterwards, observed: “Fans [at Knebworth] were still supporting the band, but there was definitely a feeling [Led Zeppelin’s] days were numbered. Audience reaction at Knebworth had not been overwhelming and many seemed content to stand and stare, like mesmerised spectators at an alien ritual, a far cry from the hysteria of earlier shows. Robert Plant seemed perplexed at the silence between songs, when you could practically hear a pin drop in that vast, cold field. It wasn’t until he led the way into ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and ‘Trampled Underfoot’ that roars of appreciation began to echo around Knebworth. Robert’s only comment at the end of the last show was a guarded ‘It’s been quite good.’”

At least five audience recordings exist but in 2002 an almost complete soundboard recording surfaced. It is clear and well balanced but also very narrow sounding and has cuts in “The Rain Song” and “Whole Lotta Love.” It was issued on Blind Date (Empress Valley EVSD-214-219), You’ll Never Walk Alone(Tarantura 2000, TCD-9-1/2/3 & DVD) and on the horrid Lost Masters Knebworth ’79 (Celebration CDM-007, LTDCDM-007RE). Watchtower released the tape first in a seven disc set housed in cardboard sleeves and a deluxe box with the soundboard of the second Knebworth soundboard and a bonus disc with the first hour of the May 25th, 1975 Earls Court soundboard. Later they issued the two Knebworth shows separately in jewel cases. Of all the soundboard recordings, this is considered to be the better balanced and clearer of them all. The soundboard tapes caused a general re-evaluation of the event which was given another boost when much of the August 4th show was used on the official Led Zeppelin DVD.

The tape begins with the pre-show canned music before “The Song Remains The Same” and “Celebration Day” both sounding very intense and afterwards Plant sounds very excited greeting an audience in England for many years: ”Well, I said Well. ah ah. I said Well. Good evening. Good evening. It’s nice to see you again. I told Pagey that one or two people would be here, but he said he doubted it very much. Well I can’t tell you how it feels. I think you can probably, you’ve got a good idea anyway, but it’s great.” “Black Dog” in the 1979 sounds very light and punkish compared to versions in the past. “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” is referred to as the time they “went to Munich and made an album called Presence which had a track on it Charles Schaar Murray really liked…he’s still taking the pills.”

One of the highlights of the show is “No Quarter” where Plant introduces John Paul Jones as “the man from Casablanca…some say a man in his own right, other say Royal Orleans” because of his white suit. At eighteen minutes long, Jones plays a tasteful solo on the electric piano recalling the same unified vision of the Earls Court performances capped off by one of the best solos by Page of the evening. “Ten Years Gone” is also tight. This is also the final time it is played live by Led Zeppelin since it will be dropped the following week.

Before “Hot Dog” Plant addresses all the people who came, from “Comharden, Newcastle, Birmingham, Kiddaminster, Freddie Bannister” and laments the delay of the new album, “so the album that came out two weeks ago unfortunately got delayed again. First it was a fortnight ago, and then it was a week ago, now it’s next Friday. It just goes on and on and on. This is a track from it that we should dedicate to trials in America.” He is surprised that people know the title already, “How come you know what it’s called? You’ve been reading about the Swedish and the Danish, hey?” After the tepid performance he becomes defensive, saying “Yes, still got a sense of humor….So we got all the way here, and now the equipment blows up. Never mind. It’s got to be better than Earls Court. Who’s the person who owned that goat and the little wagon that we saw out there two nights ago, camping out there? Just come round the back with us afterwards, and write an acoustic set with us.”

The guitar solo before “In The Evening” is a bit longer than in Copenhagen with the same fanfare Page used on the 1977 tour. The Götterdammerung introduction is very effective as a prelude to the new track which has its rough patches but is a great live vehicle. Before the final number Plant thanks the crowd for coming, saying “well all you people who’ve come so far, it’s been like a blind date, if you like. We’ve even loosened up and laughing. This is a song I guess we should …so many people who’ve helped us over the years, and no people more important that yourselves who come here on a blind date. This is for you.”

There is no editing in the tape after “Stairway To Heaven” so several minutes of chanting and cheering in audible before the encore set. Each of the Copenhagen shows received one, but both Knebworth shows got three. “Rock And Roll” is the first and following which the crowd serenade the band with “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Plant joins and in twenty years afterwards, in an article in Mojo magazine, Page is quoted saying, “there were tears in the eyes” during that event. “Whole Lotta Love” is played in the same arrangement premiered in the second Copenhagen show and although Page stumbles at bit in the transition from first verse to middle, comes off fine and “Heartbreaker” closes what is one of the most important gigs in Zeppelin’s career. Plant’s assessment is correct. It is a very good and professional performance that hints at their former prowess but their two year layoff is all too apparent. Nevertheless Watch Tower produced a great version of the event which is an important piece of Zeppelin’s live history.

March 28, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Welcome To The 1979 Knebworth Festival 4th Of August | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin High Heeled Sneakers (Hampton Beach, September 1971)


Hampton Roads Coliseum, Hampton Beach, VA – September 9th, 1971

Disc 1 (66:04): Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Black Dog, Dazed & Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Celebration Day

Disc 2 (77:12):That’s The Way, Going To California, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick. Bonus tracks, Maple Leaf Garden, Toronto, Ontario, Canada – September 4th, 1971: Stairway To Heaven, Celebration Day, That’s The Way, Going To California, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick

The bulk of High Heeled Sneakers on Godfather Records in the popular Hampton Virgina tape from Zeppelin’s seventh tour. Beginning with its appearance on One More Daze (DS92D046) on Dynamite which contains “Immigrant Song” to “That’s The Way” and its full release in 1996 on Tarantura’s Jim’s Picks (HAMP-1,2) to last year’s Hampton Roads Coliseum 1971 (Scorpio LZ-08019), there have been a myriad of different editions.

The sound quality between all these titles is so similar that to single out one release as “definitive” really borders on being too pedantic. High Heeled Sneakers does sound very nice with a touch more bottom end that the older releases giving the flat sounding tape more liveliness.

Unfortunately there are some digital clicks scattered throughout “What Is And What Should Never Be” not found on the others which ruins what is an otherwise very solid effort. If Godfather were to perhaps go back and fix this problem this could be as close to definitive as possible.

Zeppelin collectors are well aware that there are some very painful cuts existing on this tape. The first verse of “Immigrant Song” is missing, there is a cut in the middle of “Dazed & Confused” eliminating the second verse, some minor cuts between songs, and ”Whole Lotta Love” with the encores are all missing totaling about forty-five minutes of music. It is a shame since this is a great show in the middle of one of Zeppelin’s greatest tours.

Robert Plant introduces “Since I’ve Been Loving You” as “something a little cooler.” “Dazed & Confused” is referred to as “a little ditty from way back.” The versions of the piece in late 1971 contained several interesting variations from others. It was about this time where Page began to introduce the Bouree into the violin bow section as well as the descending drone over which Plant sang a high pitched moan. (A motif that is very effective in the first Tokyo show on September 23rd, 1971).

This tape has one of the better-recorded versions of “Celebration Day” (a song that is very hard to find a clean version) and acoustic set. The playing is so relaxed it makes one wonder exactly how the concert ends. Godfather include the forty-five minute soundboard fragment from the Toronto show a week earlier. Unlike Hampton, there is tremendous depth and atmosphere to this recording which only exacerbates its incompleteness.

This first surfaced in the early nineties on Jennings Farm Blues on Scorpio and last heard on Maple Leaf Gardens on Empress Valley, where it is edited with the audience recordings to great effect for the complete show. This is packaged in a trifold cardboard gatefold sleeve which is the norm for this great label and have several photographs from the era. Included also is a four page booklet with extensive liner notes giving the historic setting of these gigs.

Overall this is a solid effort by Godfather which, if the problems in “What Is And What Should Never Be” on the Virginia tape were fixed, would be a sterling release.

March 28, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin High Heeled Sneakers | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Strange Tales From The Road


Disc 1 (70:38): C’mon Everybody, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown, Something Else, Bring It On Home, How Many More Times (Royal Albert Hall, January 9, 1970), The Song Remains the Same/Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine (Chicago, April 9, 1977)

Disc 2 (61:20): Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, Ten Years Gone (Chicago, April 9, 1977), Who’s To Blame, Carole’s Theme (Death Wish II soundtrack), Merry Hopkins Never Had Days Like These (B side of PJ Proby single), The Song Remains the Same/Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine (Tampa, June 3, 1977)

Disc 3 (61:21): The Song Remains the Same/Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Over The Hills and Far Away, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter (New York, June 14, 1977)

Disc 4 (51:39): Ten Years Gone, The Battle of Evermore, Going to California, Black Country Woman/Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, White Summer/Black Mountain Side/Kashmir (New York, June 14, 1977)

Disc 5 (65:30): Bring It on Home, How Long, Got My Money, Stormy Monday, Splanky, Big Boss Man, Whole Lot of Energy, Love & Money, Invitation, Jimmy Page solo, King Of All I Survey (Nottingham, June 5, 1984)

Disc 6 (22:45): Got My Mojo Working, Every Day I Got the Blues, Hoochie Koochie Man (Nottingham, June 5, 1984)

Disc 7 (37:52): White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Kashmir, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway to Heaven (May? Sept?, 1980)

Disc 8 (49:29): Santa Claus Is Back in Town (NBC studio, Christmas 1984), Spaghetti Junction (Scream For Help soundtrack), Black Dog, That’s The Way, Dazed and Confused (Osaka, September 29, 1971)

This is a straight transfer of the old vinyl set onto compact disc, this is a laudable effort for those of us who were never able to obtain this on vinyl. The only part which is not sourced from the original vinyl is the Royal Albert Hall material, which comes from the soundboard that surfaced in the mid-nineties.

This is a joint project between TDOLZ and The Smokin’ Pig, and it sounds as if they found the noisiest vinyl copy they could find. The pops and the clicks become irritating after a while. And did they have to take this so literally? Instead of just copying the vinyl release, couldn’t they have maybe expanded on the concept? Maybe include other “strange tales” which came to light since the original release, like the Nuremberg show in 1980, or the Milan show from 1971?

That aside, it is interesting to hear some of these shows. The Chicago tape, which was cancelled after Jimmy Page collapsed from food poisoning, is very interesting. It really shows that, despite Page’s ill health, it still sounds decent! They use only the older tape source which misses Plant’s and Richard Cole’s announcements. The Tampa show is the one which was rained out after three songs, and the taper running for cover is audible.

The New York material from June 14 was previously released in Tarantura’s A Week For Badgeholders where it is used for the June 22nd, Los Angeles concert. The playing is inspiring, but the only thing “strange” is the human heartbeat you hear at the end of the “No Quarter” solo. But this is still one of the only ways to get this show on silver disc. The best part of the set is on discs 5 and 6, where Jimmy Page plays in the Alexis Light Orchestra for the Alexis Korner tribute broadcast on Radio Trent. We hear a band composed of Ian Stewart, Jack Bruce, Charlie Watts and others playing blues and jazz standards.

March 28, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Strange Tales From The Road | , | Leave a comment

Beady Eye: Different Gear, Still Speeding (2011)

beady_eye_album_sleeveFrom The Guardian

Expectations surrounding the arrival of Beady Eye were low in one respect but mega in two others: forget their record, because any incarnation of latter-day Oasis minus their chief songwriter was scarcely likely to ring the sonic changes; rather, first, what about the interviews?

Noel Gallagher was the sharper wit, but there was always something irresistible about his younger brother’s outbursts: by turns caustic and surreal, Liam succeeded in emulating his idol John Lennon when it came to giving journalists memorable quotes just as much as in any other respect. So given the opportunity to set up the release of his new band’s record in the wake of Oasis’s ugly split in August 2009, Liam, you felt, would come out of his corner snarling.

Instead, he’s sounded just a bit defensive, and while scarcely conciliatory towards “our kid”, neither has the Pretty Green fashionista minted anything quite so damning as his famous description of Noel’s “old man vibe… big woolly jumpers and cardigans… Terry Wogan, Val Doonican shit”. Nor has he been mouthing off about contemporary bands who might be seen as real rivals to Beady Eye, whereas Oasis could dish it out without recourse – even if few could resist the pop he did have recently at Radiohead: “Them writing a song about a fucking tree? Give me a fucking break! A thousand-year-old tree? Go fuck yourself!”

None the less, any concerns that the fight has gone out of Liam are quickly assuaged when you see Beady Eye live, the second treat that the idea of the band promised – partly because any audience chanting Liam’s name was always going to be prone to feistiness itself. So it proves at the Troxy in east London on the last night of the group’s first short UK tour, with the lads rucking down the front and, up on the balcony, blood spurting from someone’s lip one minute, before he puts his arm round the mate who’s punched him the next. The appeal of Oasis from the off was in no little part located in the licence they gave a generation to, well, rock’n’roll, following the indie wallflower years, and it wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t clever, but since they’ve been gone, no one – not Kasabian, not the Enemy, certainly not yet the Vaccines – has filled their boots. So why not Beady Eye, who, if you squint, look oh-so-very-much like Oasis?

One answer might be that the generation weaned on “Supersonic” and “Some Might Say” should surely have grown up by now, and mellowed. On “Lippy Kids” on Elbow’s new album, Guy Garvey sings of the charms of reckless youth; it’s a gentle, wistful song, in which he notes that he, for one, “never perfected the simian stroll”. But Liam is actually a year older at 38 than Guy, and he still walks that walk, exuding menace, leaning up and into his mic like he might butt it.

Nothing’s changed, except, and it’s in no way a reliable memory, when Oasis played Knebworth in 1996 and Liam wore a ridiculous chunky jumper very much in the style of T Wogan, I don’t remember seeing him from half a mile back sweat any then; too cool. But tonight, he refuses to take off his macintosh even as damp patches begin to spread across it. But that’s less a sign of his ageing than an indication that, once again, he really means it, maaan.

The wall of noise that the band produces is similarly both fierce and deeply comforting, constructed using some classic templates. Last year’s first single “Bring the Light” actually sounds quite novel, because it mines the barrelhouse boogie of Little Richard, rather than the fab sounds of the 1960s; they come, too, inevitably, and “The Roller” could scarcely be more Lennonesque, although they do a clever thing on “Beatles and Stones” – “I just want to rock’n’roll/I’m going to stand the test of time/Like Beatles and Stones” – because that one actually sounds just like the Who.

Subjected to this noise, faced with Liam as a frontman, that part of the brain that tells you that this is desperate stuff, devoid of originality (and just look at how the rest of the band are dressed, like they’re auditioning for a film of the Britpop years, a pastiche of a pastiche), shuts down, and “The Beat Goes On” actually does sound like the big Zippo lighter moment it so plainly wants to be. “Someday all the world will sing my song,” Liam sings, and heard live, it doesn’t sound a wholly absurd suggestion.

It’s not “Champagne Supernova”, never mind “Let It Be”; but there’s also the rather touching – from Liam! – acknowledgment that “I’m the last of a dying breed.” But then, back out on the streets afterwards, it turns out that it is still 2011 after all.

March 28, 2013 Posted by | Beady Eye Different Gear Still Speeding | , | Leave a comment

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (2011)

noel_gallagher_high_flying_birds_album_cover_location_beverly_hillsFrom The Independent

This is apparently the first of two completed albums Noel Gallagher has readied for release. The other, a collaboration with studio duo Amorphous Androgynous, will follow next year, and it’s to be hoped it has a touch more sparkle and sonic invention than Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, which, while not a bad effort, doesn’t exactly set the heart racing.

The album shuffles in on hazy waves of mellotron strings and choir, before the haze disperses to reveal Noel advising us to “hang in there love, you got to hold on” in “Everybody’s on the Run”, an almost friendly dismissal of someone trying to walk in Noel’s shoes. The late addition of strings, rather than bringing uplift, ends the song on a slightly elegiac note.

The next few tracks lollop along in familiar Oasean manner: “Dream On” chugs pleasantly without once implying there were some compulsion behind its existence, while “If I Had a Gun”, were it on …Morning Glory?, might make a decent support to “Wonderwall”, though never threatening its supremacy.

The addition of trad-jazz trumpet to the former, and to “The Death of You and Me”, just seems a badly misplaced attempt to spice up Noel’s standard sound, and it’s almost a relief when the Beatle-esque Oriental-style strings make an appearance on “(I Wanna Live in a Dream in My) Record Machine”. Though bookended with gimmicky children’s voices, it’s the most welcoming track here, a classic Gallagher concoction of hints and influences – in this case, The Lovin’ Spoonful transforming into psychedelic-era Fabs – which fully bears out its titular desire.

The next few tracks continue the 1960s tour: “Aka… What a Life!” features a rolling piano groove reminiscent of the Stones’ “We Love You”, layered with raunchy guitar chords and mellotron, and is as pleasing as that makes it sound, Noel exultantly proclaiming how he’s “gonna take that tiger outside for a ride”. It’s not quite that exciting a ride, though it will probably be a show-stopper if he gets round to touring this material.

Yet another trumpet appears on “Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks”, whose plonking electric piano riff and vocal line have a certain Kinks-y charm, an aspect emphasised by the lyric reference to the “village green”: one imagines Noel driving through a village and thinking not of the actual village itself, but of Ray Davies’s song about the village, as if his whole worldview were seen through the refracting prism of pop.

Unfortunately, from there the album slides ignominiously towards the exit. “Aka… Broken Arrow” is routine Wonderwallery, Noel seeking to “ease [his] troubled mind” over acoustic guitar and mellotron; and “(Stranded On) the Wrong Beach” is a textbook penultimate track, a nothing song.

At least “Stop the Clocks” ends proceedings on a burst of energy, with a soaring guitar-noise climactic freak-out; but one can’t help wondering whether this was really the album that Noel Gallagher set out to make when he contemplated a solo career, or just the one he settled for.

March 28, 2013 Posted by | Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds | , | Leave a comment

The Who Live At The Isle Of Wight (1996)


Amazingly, despite having prime live stuff in the vaults, the band instead decided to release the dreary post-Moon live albums Who’s Last, which documented their first “farewell” tour in 1982, and Join Together, which documented their later “farewell” tour in 1989.

The numerous other rip-off compilations and their decidedly weaker later studio albums caused The Who’s reputation to suffer in recent years, with many seeming to come to the conclusion that the band is overrated. Nonsense! Any artist should primarily be judged by their prime work, and The Who at their best were among the best bands ever.

Also, in recent years the band (or MCA – I fault both) has thankfully begun to rectify past mistakes by releasing prime material previously locked up in the vaults, and Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970, one such item released 26 years after the fact, joins Live At Leeds as the prime Who live document.

For those who don’t know, the huge 1970 festival was the most famous Wight (an island off the south coast of England) concert, largely because it was one of Jimi Hendrix’s final live performances. The Doors, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Joe Cocker, Jefferson Airplane, The Move, T. Rex, and Jethro Tull also played that year, but as per usual back then The Who’s performance eclipsed them all. In short, this is a tremendous live album, with an agreeably rough and heavy sound, and a whopping 30 songs, including almost the entirety of Tommy.

In truth, I tend to skip most of the more straightforward songs that are duplicates from Leeds – that excludes the “Shakin’ All Over” medley that also includes “Spoonful” and “Twist and Shout,” and another fine romp through “My Generation” – since these versions are generally inferior, and as such I consider this album a perfect companion piece to the ’95 Leeds reissue; by contrast, this makes the Deluxe Reissue version of Leeds expendable since this version of Tommy clearly eclipses it.

In addition to more Tommy, another difference is that Leeds (’95 version) has old songs like “A Quick One” and “Tattoo,” whereas this one has later Lifehouse-era songs like “Naked Eye” and “I Don’t Even Know Myself,” as well as a 9+ minute version of “Water” (the best version I’ve heard, though it’s still not a great composition per se). As for a Tommy comparison with the original, it depends on what you’re in the mood for; the original studio version offers a more melodic, multi-colored palette, this one cuts out some of the excess fat (the only song I really miss is “Sensation,” and the band wisely cut the “Underture”) and wins hands down in the raw power department, culminating in a definitive, truly towering version of “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

Some may fault the band’s performance as “sloppy,” with Pete in particular missing notes or sounding out of tune at times (likely while jumping around stage like a lunatic – again, get the DVD – or windmilling like a lunatic), but this album isn’t about hitting the right notes. What it is about is pure primal power and a rare band chemistry, both of which are on ample display throughout.

Perhaps the album is overly generous, and as such is for the serious rather than the casual Who fan, but said serious fan should love this.

March 28, 2013 Posted by | The Who Live At The Isle Of Wight | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Heavy Machinery (Nancy, March 1973 & Salt Lake City, May 1973)


Exposition Park, Nancy, France – March 27, 1973

Disc 1: Rock and Roll, Over The Hills And Far Away, Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop/Since I’ve Been Loving You, The Song Remains The Same/The Rain Song, Dazed And Confused

Disc 2: Stairway to Heaven, Whole Lotta Love (Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, Boogie Chillun’, (You’re So Square) I Don’t Care, Let’s Have A Party, I Can’t Quit You)

The latest release from Empress Valley contains two shows about two months apart. The first two discs document the March 27th, 1973 at Exposition Park in Nancy, France in a recently discovered audience recording that is good to very good and almost complete. The Rain Song contains some small cuts.

This tour has rightly been singled out as one of the greatest by Zeppelin, and this show doesn’t betray that reputation. It is energetic, dynamic, and imaginative, especially Bonzo. The liner notes were written by Hamish Rock (not Aquarius 11), and is very informative, giving us Plant’s observation of the French tour, the previews and a review in L’Est Republican newspaper of the show (calling the show a “real low”).

The only negatives are that Dancing Days and Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp were dropped that night, and the encores are missing.

The Dirty Trick (Empress Valley EVSD 223/224)

Salt Palace, Salt Lake City, UT – May 26, 1973

Disc 3: Introduction, Rock and Roll/Celebration Day/Black Dog, Over The Hills and Far Away, Georgia On My Mind, Misty Mountain Hop/Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, The Song Remains The Same/ The Rain Song

Disc 4: Dazed And Confused (severely cut), Stairway To Heaven, Heartbreaker/Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown

The May 26th, 1973 show at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah has been previously released on an excellent soundboard recording. The Dirty Trick uses a previously unreleased audience recording. The quality of the tape is a notch below the Nancy tape, and can be considered good. It contains high end distortion.

The taper was also concerned about getting the whole show on two tapes, making numerous minor cuts between songs. Much of the between song commentary from Plant is still present. The biggest cuts, unfortunately, eliminate the bulk of Dazed And Confused. The San Francisco part is missing, as is the solo after the violin bow portion of the song. The show itself is very good and enjoyable until Stairway To Heaven, where the band seem to loose some steam and enthusiasm.

The real value in the tape, as pointed out by the Empress Valley commentator Aquarius 11 (whose notes this time around are more understandable) is to hear the parts of the show that are missing from the soundboard tape released last year; namely, the beginning of Rock and Roll, the later half of Whole Lotta Love, and the encore. Whole Lotta Love contains no surprises like the San Diego show would. The band even dropped Boogie Chillun’ from the medley, playing Whole Lotta Love in early 1970 fashion.

March 28, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Heavy Machinery | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Peter’s PA (Montreux, August 1971)


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

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

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

Led Zeppelin’s Montreux concerts in 1971 and 1972 were rumoured to exist on tape and it is great that one of these four concerts has finally surfaced. One of the reasons why this tape is so valuable is because the first half of 1971 is so poorly documented for Led Zeppelin. Except for the Ireland tapes and the “BBC In Concert” broadcast, the Back To The Clubs tour is shrouded in almost complete mystery. A tape for a Liverpool performance is said to exist, although I have my doubts.

There is the wonderful Copenhagen tape from May, the Milan fragment from July, and that is it until the seventh tour of North America. The setlist for Montreux is close to the standard they used for most of the year. The Montreux Concertsby Gilles Chateau and Sam Rapallo claim that “Moby Dick” was played before “Whole Lotta Love,” that “Celebration Day” was played before “Stairway To Heaven,” and that “Communication Breakdown” was played as an encore.

As it turns out “Moby Dick” was not played, “Celebration Day” was played afterthe acoustic set, and “Weekend” is the only encore for August 7th. Further, this is the earliest recorded reference to “Celebration Day” as a stand-alone track. The only previous appearance is the Copenhagen show where it was played inside of “Communication Breakdown.” As it is this is a very good sounding tape of an excellent performance by the band and with Plant hitting most of the high notes in “Black Dog” and “Stairway To Heaven.” “Dazed And Confused,” clocking in at eighteen minutes, is introduced as “one from long ago.”

The acoustic set is recorded nicely with “That’s The Way” bitterly dedicated to anyone who came from Milan, the site of the disaster in July (“I don’t know how I’m gonna tell you / that I can’t play with you no more!”) The “Whole Lotta Love” medley substitutes “Mess O’ Blues” with “I’m A Man.” “Honey Bee” is followed by a long blues improvisation and does not go into “You Shook Me,” which was the custom at that time.

“Merci beaucoup et bon soir. We’ll do one more then we’ll be back tomorrow” Plant says before a very fast and heavy version of Eddie Cochrane’s “Weekend.” Peter’s PAis released on Black Dog Records, an imprint of the Tarantura label. They chose to retain the name of the tape’s initial appearance on the Small Fish CDR label, utilizing the third and fourth discs of that set (the “remastered” version). Thus some of the tape flaws in “Stairway To Heaven” and “Whole Lotta Love” have been addressed.

Empress Valley released Casino Royale just before this one and they chose to boost the volume on the tape, raising the level of music and tape hiss. The volume on Tarantura is softer and the hiss is lower and not as intrusive. It is a matter of taste (and budget) which title is better, but I found this one to be easier on the ears. It comes in a cardboard gatefold sleeve with either the “Jimmy” or “Peter Grant” cover.

March 28, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Peter's PA | , | Leave a comment

Santana Caravanserai (1972)


Recorded in 1972, Santana’s landmark Caravanserai marks the legendary guitarist’s foray into the jazzier, more adventurous territory that would define his career for the better part of the next two decades. Drawing from Miles Davis’ pioneering period work, Santana ups the musical complexity, ditching vocals on most tracks and embracing moodiness as a form of expression.

Despite its sharp move away from conventional structures, Caravanserai reached the Top 10 of the Billboard charts and attained lavish critical acclaim.

Re-mastered from the original analog master tapes, Caravanserai benefits from Mobile Fidelity’s meticulous engineering, with the windows on the sparse production and the discernible live feel opening up on hybrid SACD with palpable transparency and exquisite detail.

Brimming with atmospheric textures, three-dimensional spaciousness, and freshly uncovered microdynamics, this version follows on the heels of Mobile Fidelity’s definitive, critically acclaimed editions of Santana, Abraxas, and Love Devotion Surrender.

The last Santana effort to feature guitarist Neil Schon and organist Greg Rollie, who would leave and form Journey, Caravanserai also welcomed the arrival of keyboardist/composer Tom Coster, whose impact is immediately felt. Displaying no hints of the discord that would cause the ensemble to splinter after the record’s release, the band seamlessly melds with Santana’s divine jaunts into instrumental nirvana.

And while prior releases spread the wealth, Santana’s role here is evidently clear from the start—this is where he’s elevated from a pioneering star to a guitar god. His guitar effortlessly darts amidst a rich aural canvas, knitted with contributions from a sextet of percussionists as well as Schon’s magisterial efforts.

With Santana, nothing is more important than soulfulness. And the profound spirituality and heartfelt expressiveness that pulse throughout the ten songs here are on par with the most personalized playing and music making he’s ever done. The highly original Caravanserai distinguishes itself from most instrumentally based albums in that its purpose isn’t to tout virtuosic jamming abilities but to take the listener places they’ve never been, and do so in a manner that’s cohesive, focused, and inventive.

Santana delves deeply into jazz’s boundless possibilities without exploiting technique or structure, arriving at sonic intersections where jazz is the main landing spot for soul, Latin, and funk tangents.

Whether it is the deep sound of a saxophone, polyrhythmic beat of a groove, or the intricate bend of Santana’s guitar string, every nuance and note of Caravanserai is heard with supreme detail and clarity on this numbered, limited-edition hybrid SACD.

We guarantee that you’ve never heard this record sound so lively, vivid, or monumental.

March 28, 2013 Posted by | Santana Caravanserai | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin A Soundboard Platter


At first glance A Soundboard Platter is nothing more than “new wine in old wineskins” which will be overlooked because of the concern that the skins will burst. This collection of soundboard fragments is actually quite relevant and an interesting release. Zeppelin’s tour of the United Kingdom and continental Europe in 1973 is one of the most fertile for soundboard fragments and Scorpio gather five of the six shorter tapes. Not present, and could have easily fit on this release, is the fifty-minute January 18th Bradford tape.

Scorpio also chose not to include any material from the three longer tapes from Oxford on January 7th, Liverpool on January 14th, and Stoke the following night. The sound quality of the tapes on this release is as good if not an improvement over previous releases of the same material. After the initial release of these soundboard fragments, it has been the trend of boot labels to complete the shows by grafting these with the appropriate audience recordings. Listening to these productions is difficult since the first hour of the show would come from an audience source.

While the ear adjusts to the fidelity of that tape, the excellent soundboard would kick in producing a jarring effect, and once one gets used to that tape the audience recording would return again and would be a let down. It is an interesting tactic but one that is unconvincing in the end. With this new Scorpio release it is possible to enjoy these fantastic sounding documents, and only these, in one collection.

Disc 1, Stadthalle, Vienna, Austria – March 16th, 1973 (59:43): Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Heartbreaker

The complete first disc is devoted to the Vienna soundboard. Among the cache of soundboards surfacing in the late eighties and early nineties, this is the longest of the five with five unique songs including generous portions of the two epics, “Dazed & Confused” and the “Whole Lotta Love” medley. Its first release is on Led Poisoning (Flying Disc CD 6-822) in 1991. Three years later it was included on “Stairway To Heaven” (Vol. 4) (BAN-050-D) on the Australian Banana label.

Releases since include the soundboard recording onto various permutations of the three audience recordings that circulate for this date including Zig Zag Zep (Tarantura T3CD-13-1~3), Wrench In the Works (Cobra 034) which was the final release by that label, Vienna 1973 (TDOLZ Vol. 48), Remains of the Holy (CSCD-007/8) on the short-lived Cashmere label, and most recently on Happiness is a Warm Gun (Empress Valley EVSD 448/9). The tape cuts in, as do they all, during the fast guitar solo after the second verse of “Dazed & Confused.”

The versions of this classic are among the very best from the European tour of 1973 and Plant acknowledges this by quoting John Lennon “happiness is a warm gun.” “Stairway To Heaven” is complete but the mix becomes questionable during the guitar solo with the keyboards raised quiet high. “Whole Lotta Love” cuts in late in the medley, during “Boogie Chillun’.” After the two Elvis numbers “(Baby You’re So Square) I Don’t Care” and “Let’s Have A Party” the band launch into a sludge laden version of “I Can’t Quit You.” The encore “Heartbreaker” is complete and includes a catchy opening riff not heard in any other recording.

Disc 2, Deutschlandhalle, Berlin, Germany – March 19th, 1973 (59:37): Whole Lotta Love. Caird Hall, Dundee, Scotland, UK – January 27th, 1973: Whole Lotta Love, Heartbreaker, Communication Breakdown

Berlin is the shortest of the fragments with only on song, twenty-minutes of “Whole Lotta Love.” This is also the most rare of the group with only three silver releases in the past. The first release was on the one-disc Let’s Have A Party (ARMS 15 PR). The early Tarantura label released it under the Tecumseh label in 1992 on Air Raids Over Germany (TRC-005).

Limited to three hundred copies, it also included a half hour of the July 12th, 1970 Berlin tape and the complete seventeen minute recording from the June 27th, 1980 Nuremberg concert. Finally Antrabata included it on Two Penny Upright(Antrabata ARM 171171/ARM 180773/ARM 190373) along with the November 16th, 1971 Ipswich and July 18th, 1973 Vancouver fragments.

Berlin cuts in during the theremin solo in “Whole Lotta Love”, much earlier than the Vienna tape. Plant is very enthusiastic during “Boogie Chillun’” repeating “I’ve been boogieing in Müchen, I’ve been boogieing in Müchen, I’ve been boogieing in Müchen,” Why he mentions Munich instead of Berlin is not explained. His microphone cuts out during “Let’s Have A Party” and the lines “I’ve never kissed a bear / I’ve never kissed a goon / But I can shake a chicken in the middle of a room” are low in the mix.

The bulk of the second disc is devoted to the Dundee, Scotland soundboard. This is the only one of the five that began life on vinyl, with “Heartbreaker” and “Communication Breakdown” appearing on Trouble At The Front (Tropo 411) along with a fragment of the Liverpool soundboard. The first compact disc incarnation was on the famous From Boleskine To The Alamo(Flying Disc CD 6-818) with the songs out of proper sequence. Tarantura include “Heartbreaker” and “Communication Breakdown” on the third disc of Nasty Music (T3CD-011-1), a compilation with several documents from the British tour.

Most recently Wendy included this on the excellent British Story (Wendy WECD – 82/83). A popular cdr release titled Dundee-ism received heavy circulation several years ago and includes the soundboard on the second disc coupled with the audience recording on disc one. The quality of the recording is closer to the Stoke soundboard than the German ones. It is very clear and powerful with noticeable hiss present. “Whole Lotta Love” cuts in earlier than either Vienna or Berlin during the fast guitar break before the theremin solo with Plant telling security to “put their hands together.”

During the boogie section Plant says that he “remembers what happened last time we came here” with the trouble at the front. But, “I’ve got some more news.” Plant has a lot of fun with the lyrics during “I Can’t Quit You” by complaining “you made me miss me my two childs!” Page’s guitar solo leads into Howlin’ Wolf’s “Going Down Slow,” a regular inclusion in the 1972 medleys but a rarity in 1973. Plant throws in a line from “Rambling On” during the final reiteration of the main theme. Two encores, “Heartbreaker” and “Communication Breakdown,” are present on the tape.

Disc 3, Musikhalle, Hamburg, Germany – March 21st, 1973 (55:57): Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love

The third disc documents only the popular Hamburg tape from March 21st. The earliest releases attributed this tape to the first Paris show on April 1st. These include 1st April (A Paris Affair) (Oh Boy 1-9011), April Fools Day (LZ 05), and Baby I Don’t Care (Turtle TR-52), all of which also include “Immigrant Song” from the January 18th Bradford soundboard fragment. The latest release of the Hamburg soundboard, with the correct attribution, is on Fallin’ In Love With the Fallin’ Angel (Led Note LCD-1507A/B) where it is coupled with the complete Bradford tape.

Just like the Berlin soundboard, there has never been an edition mixing both audience and soundboard tapes for a complete show and the underrated Image Quality label has the only commercial release of the audience recording on Suspended Animation (IQ075/76). Hamburg includes twenty-three minutes of “Dazed & Confused,” cutting in during the fast solo after the second verse and Plant quoting from James Brown’s “Cold Sweat.” Bonham includes interesting jazzy rhythms during “San Francisco” before Page’s violin bow solo.

It sounds like both Page and Bonham want to get into “The Crunge” but keep missing one another until Page plays the “Whole Lotta Love” boogie riff right before the call-and-response part. The tape continues until the peak of the guitar solo in “Stairway To Heaven.” “Whole Lotta Love” cuts in right at the beginning of the theremin solo. The improvisation in the middle contains moments of unbearable tension including Bonham shouting out which serves as a contrast to the lighthearted Elvis numbers.

Disc 4, Grugahalle, Essen, Germany – March 22nd, 1973 (51:24): Dazed And Confused, Whole Lotta Love

The final disc features the two songs from the Essen soundboard on March 22nd, one of the best performances of the five contained in this collection. Early releases include Essential Led (Flying Disc CD 6-807), Essen 1973 (Savege Beast Music SBM-73-1/2), and “Stairway To Heaven” (Vol. 2) (Banana BAN-050-B). “Whole Lotta Love” is included on the fifth disc of the Cabala box set, where it is attributed to Mobile, Alabama in ’73. Two recent releases include Essentially Led Complete (Live Remains LR-04011/2/3), and Gracias! (Empress Valley EVSD-300/301/302) which is a title editing this with the audience source.

Like with the others, both “Dazed & Confused” and “Whole Lotta Love” cut in early and run to the end of each song. “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love,” which is played before “Boogie Chillun’,” contains very strange lyrics from an unknown song that are a chilling contrast with the rest of the number (“You are the one / You took my heart / You took it darling / And you tore it apart / You left me sitting / Down and crying / Because my love / For you is dying / So c’mon babe / So c’mon babe.”) Since the cuts in each of the songs are very similar, it raises the question about the purpose of these recordings.

In the fifteen years since they first surfaced no other fragments from the other parts of these concerts has emerged. It could be they were recording the improvisations to see what sounded best for the upcoming U.S. tour, or it could have been for some projected live album. Nevertheless these dates are among the very best in Led Zeppelin’s live history and A Soundboard Platter, even though it is a repackaging of material that has seen many releases, is worth seeking out.

March 28, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin A Soundboard Platter | , | Leave a comment