Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Led Zeppelin Having A Party (Munich, March 1973)

ledzep-having1From collectorsmusicreviews.com

Olympiahalle, Munich, West Germany – March 17th, 1973

Disc 1 (57:36): Introduction, Rock And Roll, Over The Hills And Far Away, Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dancing Days, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song

Disc 2 (74:16): Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Heartbreaker

Led Zeppelin’s Munich show on their 1973 tour was never pressed on vinyl but received circulation in the mid nineties on titles such as Lunatics In Munich (Holy Grail HGCD 102/3) and Olympiahalle 1973 (Immigrant IM-022~23). Two titles featuring this tape were released several weeks apart in late 1999, Pure Percy (Flagge) and Storm Und Drang (LedNote LCD-1503A/B) and both of these were upgrades over the older titles. Several years ago Tarantura released Going Down Slow (Tarantura TCD-80-1, 2) which was a slight upgrade over LedNote. The sound quality is very clear but slightly distant with the emphasis upon the high frequencies with a very thin bass and no hiss.

Having A Party on no label is very similar to the Tarantura. They boosted the gain slightly and it sounds louder. There are small cuts in the introduction, after “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp,” “Dazed And Confused” and at 5:58 in “Heartbreaker” with very little music lost.

The European shows are notable for a uniformity in sound which is different from other eras of their live history. Jimmy Page’s guitar tone is much dirtier than before and the drums, which are normally very loud and boomy, sound much flatter. Bonham spends a lot of time throwing wild fills at every opportunity and it is probably his attempt to assert himself in the mix to make some sort of impression. Playing in the Olympia Halle, which was built for the previous year’s Olympic games, they were one of the first rock acts to play the venue and before one of the biggest audiences of the tour. The tape begins with the house announcer listing all of the upcoming acts to play in Munich including Emerson, Lake & Palmer, who receive a loud cheer.

The opening “Rock And Roll” and “Over The Hills And Far Away” are played briskly before Plant addresses the audience inter German, “Danke Schöne.” He makes rather cryptic remarks, saying, ”We’re gonna endeavour to have a good time here. Last time I saw this place there was a lady from Russia doing some very good things, remember?” Their previous appearance in Munich was at the Circus Krone Bau on March 8th, 1970 but what exactly he is referring to isn’t clear. “Black Dog” is about a ”creature who couldn’t stop boogieing” but there is a short delay before he lets out a shout and the band kick into the song.

After “Since I’ve Been Loving You” Plant says, ”Here is a song off the fifth LP, from an album called Houses of the Holy, which I suppose this is one of them. There’s at least four of us anyway. It’s about our affection for young girls. It’s called ‘Dancing Days.’” After a chaotic version of the new song Plant thanks the “happy people” and speaks about the next song as “a son about another dog. This dog’s got a little bit more life left in him.” The band almost get lost in the middle of this song.

Many collectors praise the “technical proficiency” of the band, and Page in particular, as a strength on this tour but it isn’t exactly the case. Page botches his solo in “Dancing Days” and the band almost get lost in “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp.’” After a cut the tape fades back in with Plant saying, “…this requires your attention, as opposed to the noise. It’s a number by Bobby V. It’s called ‘The Song Remains the Same.’” They deliver a tentative but effective version of the complicated song and things get much better with a tight and gorgeous version of “The Rain Song” captured beautifully in this recording.

“Dazed & Confused” is one of the main points of interest in these shows. The beginning is very soft but as they hit the first fast section Plant lets out some elongated groans. The ”San Francisco” section comes in quite early. Bonham wants to play “The Crunge” but Page and Jones don’t go along. It doesn’t matter to Bonzo though as he just keeps playing “The Crunge.” Then Page plays a delicate melody as Jones and Bonham play a smooth jazz rhythm.

“Whole Lotta Love” is close to a half hour long. After the theremin battle they play “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” as an introduction to “Boogie Chillun’.” Plant comes in too early for “(You’re So Square) I Don’t Care” and sings over Page’s boogie. “I Can’t Quit You” is the slow blues number played towards the end and they included “Going Down Slow.”

They play the Howlin’ Wolf arrangement from 1962 with Plant beginning with the Willie Dixon spoken portion: “Now looka here… / I did not say I was a millionaire… / But I said I have spent more money than a millionaire! / Cause if I had’ve kept all my money that I’d already spent, / I would’ve been a millionaire a looong time ago…” This was a regularly played as the final song of the medley in 1972, rarely on the UK tour in 1973, and only once in Europe. Munich represents the final recorded time they played this song. The only encore of the night is “Heartbreaker.”

Advertisements

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Having A Party | , | Leave a comment

The Rolling Stones Goats Head Soup (1973)

tumblr_m8ynj71DbS1rc22qso1_1280From donignacio.com

And thus begins The Rolling Stones’ long, long, long, long, long, long post-1972 career in which they were widely perceived by critics and fans alike as being reduced to mere shadows of their former, godlike selves. In a way, I suppose that was true; The Rolling Stones would never again release a string of albums quite like Beggars Banquet to Exile to Main St. ever again. But, contrary to popular opinion, these post-1973 Rolling Stones albums are still quite good. At least until the ’80s. So, let’s start talking about The Rolling Stones’ excellent and often-overlooked 1973 album called Goats Head Soup.

The way this album begins, with a mild and simple dance song called “Dancing With Mr. D,” has been a source of much-woeful howls of pain from many Rolling Stones fans. It’s the first Rolling Stones album in a long while to begin with something that doesn’t deserve to be played once per hour on the radio station. It doesn’t create much of an interesting atmosphere, and Mick Jagger’s singing with these funny, raspy vocal intonations that comes off as really weird. But, on the other hand, I actually find listening to that song incredibly enjoyable. For a start, the riff is remarkably catchy, and so is the chorus… And I honestly find Jagger’s vocal performance weirdly engaging. So, whatever. I guess I’m of the opinion that anything’s a good song if it makes me want to get up and wiggle my behind a little bit.

“100 Years Ago,” on the other hand, sounds a lot like a Rolling Stones classic, and I’ve got to wonder why it isn’t. It’s full of multiple excellent hooky lines, and the instrumentation sounds fabulous. It starts out like a nice, old nostalgic mid-tempo rocker with a thoughtful guitar casually playing some grooves and a pretty piano twinkling in the background. After suddenly turning into a country ballad, it slowly develops into a rip-roaring funk tune. That’s quite an eye-popping amount of genre-hopping, something that I don’t really recall The Stones ever trying before. So, I guess this shows that The Stones still had some tricks up their sleeve despite their supposed descent into Dinosaurism.

There are three ballads here, and two of them are great. This is the album with “Angie” in it, of course, which constituted the album’s biggest hit. That’s a gorgeous song with one of the loveliest melodies that they’ve ever come up with. Jagger manages to turn in one of his more heartfelt vocal performances, and it’s nice to note that the drugs haven’t screwed him up so much at this point that he wasn’t capable of being a good singer anymore! The second good ballad is “Winter,” and it also features a very compelling melody. Really, if you don’t think that these guys were masters of melody, then you’re a freak. They were also masters of the guitar, of course, and that’s evident all throughout this album. The solo on “Winter” is as sweet and melodic as the vocal melody, and the guitar at the end of “100 Years Ago” is about as funky as it could possibly be.

Despite this being a very good album altogether, it did have more than its fair share of missteps. “Coming Down Again” is the album’s lesser ballad. While the central hook is OK, they keep on REPEATING IT AND REPEATING it with woefully little development. It doesn’t start to grow tiring until around the four-minute mark, though, but it makes me wonder why they couldn’t have garnered enough sense to chop off the last two minutes (apart from that very brief, but truly awesome sax duet). The voodoo-inspired “Can You Hear the Music” is pretty good although that also seems like it was a missed opportunity for something a little bolder and more bracing. I like that trippy atmosphere they create, but it takes some work on my part to become fully immersed in it. “Hide Your Love” is undoubtedly the album’s biggest disappointment for me; it’s a poorly mixed and R&B ditty that rocks about as convincingly as a dead rat. If that is the only reason music fans the world-round have a major distaste for Goats Head Soup, then I guess it’s understandable.

But they do end the album on a very high-note, with the Chuck-Berry-inspired rocker “Star Star” that manages to kick up quite a storm (despite the almost off-putting obscenity in the lyrics). So, I’m going to reiterate my opinion that Goats Head Soup is a good album by all accounts. It’s not a perfect album, but not everything has to be *perfect* in the world, you know. Unless you’re some sort of mental-case perfectionist. In which case, I think you’re better off listening to some Bach. Or Telemann, if you thought Bach was too much of a renegade.

April 3, 2013 Posted by | The Rolling Stones Goats Head Soup | | Leave a comment

Supertramp Crisis? What Crisis? (1975)

crisis-what-crisis-4ee32c32f1a5cFrom starling.rinet.ru

The previous album made the band a little bigger; this album, however, made them rather small again. It is indeed a little weaker, sounding like all these notorious ‘weak’ follow-ups to classic albums; adding nothing to the by now firmly established Supertramp style, it still has its share of nice songs, but much too often the guys are just coasting and toasting, stuck in their jazzy grooves and not really understanding where to head next.

The album’s title comes out as thoroughly deceptive, then – the band obviously has a crisis, no matter how they attempt to conceal it. That said, the amazing ‘mediocre consistency’ (or ‘consistent mediocrity’) of Supertramp shows through even here, and I have no problem at all listening to the poor piece o’ plastic (that was a metaphor, of course – I can’t find a poetic way to describe a bunch of MP3 files yet). I do have problems trying to memorize it, though.

Of course, if only the album could live up to its opener – the delicious McCartnyesque acoustic popper ‘Easy Does It’, bouncy and cozy and catchy beyond words, I would be significantly happier and better disposed. But that’s actually the catchiest moment on the album, although both Hodgson and Rick Davies have some more moments of relative triumph as well.

The former contributes the near-hysterical, jerky acoustic rocker ‘Sister Moonshine’ that’s a gas to try to sing along to (you’ll end up looking like a paranoid idiot in most cases) and the moving ballad ‘Two Of Us’ that goes much deeper than the Beatles song of the same name, even if it certainly loses in the instant memorability department. Hodgson really shines on the song – his voice may be whiny, but at least he modulates it on the spur of the moment and never ends up sounding like a robot (like somebody else I know).

On the other hand, Rick Davies goes for a rougher sound on the bombastic ‘Ain’t Nobody But Me’, partially based on the same moderate, relaxated jazzy pattern as ‘Forever’ off Indelibly Stamped, but incorporating more different sections.

The way the song goes from the mean-sounding verses to the optimistic, ‘thoughtful’ refrain makes it really stand out. And finally, I’m a sucker for ‘Just A Normal Day’; while the number hardly has any distinct traces of melody, the very idea of a ‘philosophic dialogue’ between Davies and Hodgson, with Davies representing the ‘seeker’ side of the individual and Hodgson representing the ‘melancholic scepticist’ side, is carried out brilliantly. Could you imagine a ‘philosophic dialogue’ between, say, John Lennon and Paul McCartney? The closest thing I can recall is ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’… (!!!!).

Everything else strikes me as being sordidly underwritten, although it’s really hard to tell – with a band like this, the overall impression can often depend on the most tiniest of hooks hidden deep in the background. Hodgson’s piano melodies on ‘Soapbox Opera’ and ‘Lady’ are thin and don’t do anything that stuff like ‘Hide In Your Shell’ or ‘Dreamer’ hasn’t respectively done better on the previous album. And Davies writes convoluted, but pretty dull and pointless sagas like ‘Another Man’s Woman’.

I won’t stoop to condemning the arguable silliness of the band chanting ‘if you know what the meaning is, if you know what the meaning is’ for what seems like ages on ‘The Meaning’, because I don’t see the potential offensiveness here, but I gotta say, if this was considered ‘cool’ by the guys at the time, they must have really been at a loss.

Strange enough, ‘losses’ like these always resulted in the band’s falling out of the picture for a while – their following album wouldn’t come out until nearly three years later. Oh well, in any case these ‘fallings out’ are a more honest thing than just putting out more and more crap and gradually transforming oneself into a muzak writing machine. Thumbs up for creativity.

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Supertramp Crisis? What Crisis? | | Leave a comment