Classic Rock Review

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Led Zeppelin Final Winterland (San Francisco, November 1969)


When Led Zeppelin II was released Led Zeppelin toured the US for several weeks. This was their fourth unique tour and was the first to include major venues such as the Boston Garden and Carnegie Hall. This trip ended in the city of some of their wildest, and best documented, performances on their first two tours. Zeppelin played three shows at the Winterland Ballroom with Issac Hayes and Roland Kirk. They made their first apperance at Winterland in April and these three would be their final shows at the venue.

The first two nights, November 6th and November 7th, were taped from the audience and have been in circulation, but the last night is still missing. November 6th has two good tapes and the November 7th has one. Final Winterland on TCOLZ collects together all three tapes from low gens together for the most complete collection of these shows available in one title.

This is the final TCOLZ title to be manufactured before shutting down and is available in less quantities than the others. It’s a shame since they catered to the hardcore collector. Their mistakes are outnumbered by the number of quality releases that stand at or near definitive for their respective shows.

Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco, CA – November 6th, 1969

Disc 1 (48:27): Introduction, Good Times Bad Times / Communication Breakdown, I Can’t Quit You, Heartbreaker, Dazed and Confused, White Summer / Black Mountain Side

Disc 2 (47:28): What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, How Many More Times, C’Mon Everybody, Something Else

Discs one and two of Final Winterland contains the older of the two tapes for the November 6th show. It is a fair but distant audience recording containing the complete concert. It was released before on Blow Up (Immigrant IM-029~30), Punk (Tarantura T2CD-8) and its European clone End of ‘69 (Whole Lotta Live WLL007/8), and Room 2/3 (Image Quality IQ-019/20/21) where it is paired with the second night. It is also used as filler to complete the better sounding second audience source on Winterland Party (Wendy Records WECD-23/24) and Something Else (Tarantura TCD-91-1, 2).

The sound, compared to Tarantura, isn’t as loud but is clear enough. There are cuts at 3:28 in “I Can’t Quit You,” a small cut at 11:38 in “Dazed And Confused” and one directly afterwards, at thirty-eight seconds and again at 8:38 in “White Summer,” a cut at 2:13 in “How Many More Times.”

Disc 3 (47:15): Introduction, Good Times Bad Times / Communication Breakdown, I Can’t Quit You, Heartbreaker, Dazed and Confused, White Summer / Black Mountain Side

disc 4 (43:31): What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, How Many More Times, C’Mon Everybody, Something Else

Discs three and four contain the more clear and enjoyable recording that surfaced in 1999. This was first released on the CDR title C’Mon Everybody (House Of Elrond). Both of the prior silver pressings, Winterland Party (Wendy Records WECD-23/24) and Something Else (Tarantura TCD-91-1, 2) use this tape as a base and the first tape source for “What Is And What Should Never Be” and for Plant’s stage banter before “Heartbreaker,” “Dazed And Confused” and audience noise before the encore.

Final Winterland is the first silver pressing of this tape without the filler. There is a small cut after “Dazed And Confused,” a big cut after “White Summer” which eliminates all but the final ninety seconds of “What Is And What Should Never Be,” and cuts after “Moby Dick” and “How Many More Times.” Like with the first tape source, compared to Tarantura it isn’t as loud but is very clear and enjoyable.

The beginning of the tape has Robert Plant (not Bill Graham) nervously addressing the audience before the show starts. “Good Evening. It’s very nice to return again to San Fransisco. We’d like to try and… rather than say that, and give you a load of bullshit. We’d rather like to try and show you through what we’re gonna do now. So let’s go…” The “Good Times / Bad Times” riff is one of the heaviest openings Zeppelin used, but it is destined to be only a interim between “Train Kept A Rolling” and “We’re Gonna Groove.” The audience are much more quiet in these shows compared to the first two tours.

Afterwards Plant says, “Thank you very much. Everybody feel alright? Tonight we intend if possible to do some things off the new Led Zeppelin II album. This is the first one. It’s called Heartbreaker.” The song’s sledgehammer riff sounds great leading off side two of the LP, but even at this early stage Page softens it with a lead in note to build some momentum. The middle solo already has changed from the recorded version, but they keep the song to just about five minutes. “What Is And What Should Never Be” and “Moby Dick” are the only other songs from the new album played and not, curiously enough, “Whole Lotta Love” which received most airplay at the time.

The show concludes with an epic twenty minute version of “How Many More Times.” There are hints of The Yardbirds “Over Under Sideways Down” and a short medley of “Boogie Chillun’,” “Bottle Up And Go” and “Hideaway.” The encores are the double shot of Eddie Cochran tunes “C’Mon Everybody” and ”Something Else.” John Paul Jones said in an interview once this was common in those days, although only a handful of recordings managed to capture this.

Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco, CA – November 7th, 1969

Disc 5 (50:23): Good Times Bad Times / Communication Breakdown, I Can’t Quit You, Heartbreaker, Dazed and Confused, White Summer / Black Mountain Side

Disc 6 (41:09): Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, How Many More Times

The second night in Winterland, and the final taped show, exists on a very good audience recording of most of the show. The taper attended the previous evening’s show, naming the songs before they are played and making sure he has enough tape to capture the long songs. He was very close to the stage and picks up much detail but hits the pause button several times during “Dazed And Confused” and “How Many More Times” and at other points scattered throughout the show to check his tape. He also misjudged how much he would need since it runs out twelve minutes into “How Many More Times” during “The Hunter” eliminating the rest of that song and the encores.

There is also some tape deterioration during “White Summer.” November 7th is also the rarest of the four Winterland shows, previously available on Winter Of Our Content (Missing Link ML-008/9) and Room 2/3 (Image Quality IQ-019/20/21), and most recently on Heartbreaker (Tarantura TCD-92-1, 2) in the Good Old Led Zeppelin boxset.

The introduction is cut out and the tape starts at the “Good Times Bad Times” introduction leading into a heavy “Communication Breakdown.” Before the new song “Heartbreaker” there is some disturbance in the crowd. Plant says: “this is the second night out of three that … hang on a minute … yeah this is the second night out of three nights that we are spending in this place. That’s something like what over here you might call a head. This is the English equivalent. I just picked it up on stage with a question mark by it. So let’s try a couple things shall we? If we can get the people in the front to sit down a bit so the people behind can sit down. If everybody paid the same bread to get in then everybody’s entitled to see exactly what they want to see. So this brings us to ah, hang on, we don’t want an out and out riot. This is really uncalled for. Come on. Anyway, this is a thing off the new album.”

It’s performed as it was the previous night with a one-note introduction and a completely improvised guitar solo in the middle. “Dazed And Confused” is “something from a long time ago, perhaps nine months ago.” Seventeen minutes the epic lasts and sounds slightly slower and deliberate in this show. Plant gets a bit mixed up at one of the breaks but avoids catastrophe.

After a long “White Summer” they play “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” for the final (recorded) time. It is assumed to be played the following night and then dropped forever, only to be resurrected almost thirty years later in the Page & Plant era. It being dropped is strange since it is still a compelling live piece and even seems to have evolved since the spring. Plant even throws in a verse of Neil Young’s “Down By The River” in the middle. “Thank you. Good Evening. This is a thing that sort of carries on a little bit, and this is on the second album. This is a thing called ‘But What is and What Should Never Be’” is Plant’s puzzling introduction.

Jimmy Page plays with an infectious lyricism not present in many versions of this song. The set ends with and intense “How Many More Times.” It is a shame the tape cuts out since, judging by the length of the first night, almost half of the song is missing. The first half’s guitar solo is again very melodic as it builds into “The Hunter.” The cut eliminates the rest of the song and the encores, which were probably “C’Mon Everybody” and “Something Else.”

Final Winterland is packaged in a fatboy jewel case which carries the six disc. The cover artwork has a boarder on top, something lacking in previous TCOLZ titles. Overall this is another very highly recommended title for the Led Zeppelin completist who wants the definitive collection from their final US tour in 1969. The label goes out on a high note with this release.

April 19, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Final Winterland | , | Leave a comment

Pete Townshend Who I Am: A Memoir (2012)


Review If you read this memoir for all the events in Pete Townshend’s life, you’re missing the main thrust, the larger picture, of this book. This is not about all the many (albeit interesting and fascinating) stories Townshend lays out, but more about how these events affected him. Townshend has opened up his life-both personally and professionally-in able to (hopefully) tell us and himself just who he is. “…I both want this book to entertain, but also to convince”. Pete Townshend.

This clearly written, straightforward book (separated into three “Acts”) lays out, in a matter of fact style, everything that has made (and is still making) Townshend who he is. He is at times brutally honest in his writing. At other times he seems to be more removed from the events he talks about. You may at times agree or disagree with what he writes. But taken together, this is one of the most honest attempts to paint a picture of one’s self and the things that he’s experienced, that any artist has written. The book is always fascinating, and sometimes riveting to read, but it’s not openly self-analytical. From his beginnings through his life in music-everything is laid out as Townshend remembers it. Of course The Who and that part of his life are interesting and informative, and are naturally a large part of the book, and go some way in helping to explain who Townshend is. But all aspects of his life he writes about help fill in the gaps for a better picture of Townshend.

“This is as much a note to myself as one to you. It’s all the same thing. If in doubt, just play”. Pete Townshend.

The sixteen pages of photographs (in two sections) is helpful and adds depth and some interest to the story. No picking out highlights (or low lights), no overview of the many things Townshend writes about is needed-some will be familiar to you-others not. But taken together, this is a real attempt by Townshend to look beneath the surface, to put into some kind of perspective, all the events (both important and seemingly unimportant) that have shaped and moulded him into the person he is today. “Away from therapy I still used the technique I’d learned, writing more diary entries than usual, as well as bitterly honest letters I never sent”. “…this time I thought seriously about writing my autobiography”. Pete Towhshend.

To sum up-this book is the only way we’re going to know this much about Pete Townshend. Any closer and we’d be him.

“Enjoy life. And be careful what you pray for-remember, you will get it all”. From a letter Townshend wrote many years ago to his “eight-year-old self”, the “kid brother inside me”, saying, “The letter I wrote to my eight-year-old self is still one of the most important affirmations in my life”.

Review The story of Pete Townshend and his band The Who have been documented in dozens of books already and when news began to circulate early in 2012 that Pete was (at last) preparing this book for publication there was a mixed reaction that ranged from: “Well at last he’s gonna tell his side of the story” to: “Oh, no! How is he gonna put his foot in his mouth this time?” and there is good reason for that later response as Pete has a habit of saying such ridiculous things to the media in the past it has made many a bad situation much worse after his comments were printed.

Well, after finishing this more than 500 page document of Pete’s life it reads as an amazing journey of total entertainment and the touchy subjects (the deaths of Keith Moon and John Entwistle, Cincinnati) were handled with care and style and as Pete is still trying to tell all he is now looking back and in reflection telling his story with plenty of heart. I Thank his editors for doing their job as word warriors in keeping Pete somewhat under control here. We are not reading a 2000 page drama of Pete rambles that he just may have turned in before this was trimmed and presented in the more streamlined fashion that can be found here. This is overall insight of Pete’s life with 200 pages of story told AFTER the death of Keith Moon in 1978.

All the normal stuff already featured in all the other books already published (from Geoffrey Giuliano’s horrible: “Behind Blue Eyes” published from 1996 to a very good 600 pager: “The Life Of Pete Townshend” from Mark Wilkerson in 2008.) But, the difference found in: “Who I Am” is that so many of the stories Pete reveals here are personal memories that he didn’t blab to the press in past rants and we really do (at last) get behind those blue eyes at last to gain new insight into Pete’s life and the story of The Who.

There are two 8 page photo inserts included and most of them come from Pete’s personal files and have not been published before. The photograph of Pete and Roger at the closing ceremony of the London Olympics on 12 August 2012 proves this account of Who tales was still being worked on and pieced together at the 11th hour and we are not left hanging on as if Pete stopped documenting his story two or three years ago like plenty of other books have.

A major reason that The Who became so popular (besides the amazing music and stage show) has been the ongoing honesty of Pete Townshend and here he goes again. If you enjoy rock music and the music of The Who and Pete Townshend “Who I Am” is a perfect early Christmas gift to enjoy.
Five Stars!!!

April 19, 2013 Posted by | Book Pete Twonshend Who I Am A memoir (2012) | , , | Leave a comment

Robert Plant interview: How I got my ‘big voice’ out again (August 2012)

robertplant_2316396bFrom The Telegraph

Robert Plant stands on a small stage 4,500 miles from his birthplace, and yet he’s never been so close to home.

We’re in Clarksdale, in the very heart of the Mississippi Delta, which the former Led Zeppelin frontman has appointed as the setting for the American debut of his latest musical shenanigan, with his new band, the Sensational Space Shifters.

Plant is headlining the 25th annual Sunflower Blues Festival, topping a bill that features such stalwarts as James “Super Chikan” Johnson and Charlie Musselwhite. With his new confederates, he’s mixing and mashing songs from a lifetime of devotion to this heartland, once known as the golden buckle in the Cotton Belt.

In a blinding performance, the band roars through retooled versions of Zeppelin’s Black Dog, Bron-Yr-Aur and even a burst of Whole Lotta Love, also making selections from his solo catalogue alongside nods to Howlin’ Wolf, Bukka White, Willie Dixon and other blues titans.

This place lent its name to the 1998 collaboration that marked Plant’s first studio work with Jimmy Page in two decades, Walking Into Clarksdale, and it’s a true spiritual home from home. That’s obvious from the minute he sits down the following morning on the front porch swing of one of the festival’s organisers, a personal friend who got him to take up their longtime invitation.

“The whole reason for coming to America right now was that I’ve been asked a zillion times to play at this festival, and I wanted it to be Africa returning to Africa,” he tells me, acknowledging the extraordinary flavours of Space Shifter Juldeh Camara. The Gambian master musician adds to the feeling of a music that came out of African-American pockets of the South, now being sent back there.

Plant says he has almost completed a new album with the Space Shifters, “12 tracks, 11 originals and no sentimental stuff”. If they deliver on disc as they do on stage, it’ll be a record to savour. The group, who made their British debut at Womad last month, boasts lusty guitar lines from both the longtime collaborator Justin Adams and Liam “Skin” Tyson, with some vocals by Plant’s partner Patty Griffin.

The frontman’s working choices of recent years have been peripatetic. After he and Alison Krauss had taken bluegrass and Americana to a massive new audience by selling three million copies worldwide of the 2007 collaboration Raising Sand, he constructed the Band of Joy, featuring Griffin, guitarist Buddy Miller and others, for a tour and self-titled 2010 album. For Plant, a change is better than a rest.

“The events between 1968 and 1980 were the kind of cornerstone for everything I’ve been able to do, they gave me the springboard,” he says, referring to the Zeppelin era. “All I’m doing is using the same amount of licence, with different people, to what we did in 1969.

“That was the great thing about the adventures with Alison, and singing with Patty and Buddy, that I started singing differently. Somebody said to me in London when we played the Forum recently, ‘You had your big voice back.’ I put the big voice away for quite a long time because I thought, we know how to do that. So it was good to get it out again. It’s all the same really, you just have to use the right colours for the right picture.”

Plant is on sharp and thoughtful form. The lines on his face may be trying to betray his 64 years, but his unquenchable inquisitiveness is infectious, as he joins the improbable dots between the Delta and his West Midlands heritage with a level of knowledge that’s scholarly but never showy.

“I don’t know when it was that I first came here,” he muses. “If I said I came looking for Robert Johnson… I was actually just looking for clues. And I found clues.

“When I came here in the 1980s, before the museum was here, when RL Burnside and Junior Kimbrough were still playing, there was still an actual scene for that grinding [blues] stuff, so it was very easy for white kids to get on to that. I suppose that was the last really great flurry.”

More recently, Plant visited Clarksdale’s reopened Roxy club. “I went there in winter and saw Lightnin’ Malcolm with Kimbrough’s grandson, playing hip hop drums against this grinding, excessive guitar thing. It was really good, fire baskets blazing and the stars over the Mississippi. Suddenly I thought wow, how did I get here?”

For a boy from West Bromwich, the route might seem serpentine, but in inspirational terms, it was really a direct route from the Black Country to the Mississippi River. On Plant’s earliest recordings, long before Zeppelin and even before the original Band of Joy, you can hear that he had answered the call of the Delta, and it’s been in his bones ever since.

“I’ve got friends I went to school with, back home in Worcestershire, who’ve still got their programmes from going to see those festivals at the Birmingham Town Hall or wherever it was they played – Manchester Free Trade Hall – where you’d see Howlin’ Wolf, Hound Dog Taylor. We’re talking about 48 years ago. It doesn’t figure, really, but maybe that’s why it works. Maybe that was the draw for me.”

I remind him of a favourite tale he has told before of one particular British visit by another of his heroes, Sonny Boy Williamson, who tried to cook up his favourite repast, rabbit, in the only thing he could find in his hotel room, a coffee percolator, and promptly fell asleep. Legend has it that the whole floor had to be evacuated. “It was a bit of a stink,” says Plant with some understatement.

“But the connections for me were just those voices, drifting through West Midland adolescence. Unexplainable, really. In the British racial exchanges, we learned a lot from Studio One and all that great stuff coming out of Kingston, for sure, thanks to people like Chris Blackwell at Island Records. But this stuff was foreign.”

It informed Plant’s earliest ambitions and never budged, even when he and an early collaborator, drummer John Bonham, first met up with Page and bassist John Paul Jones. “It seemed to go hand in hand with a kind of underground, bohemian sub-culture coming along, that wanted to get as far away from the Cliff Richard world,” he says.

“So much Zeppelin did come from here. Almost subconsciously, just through the floor of the room where we were recording. With Jimmy’s enthusiasm and knowledge and record collection, between the two of us, on that level, we had such a mutual preference towards that stuff, and the wild side of rock ’n’ roll.”

The festival date featured a fine version of John Mayall’s I’m Your Witchdoctor, with Plant recognising how the blues went from the US to Britain and back again in an “upside down” reimagining.

“Without the people from around here, where would we have been? What would Mick and Keith have done?” he wonders. “It’s all a long way back, even to go back to Led Zeppelin or the Stones or whatever, but it did shape, and still does shape, the music from around here. It goes through to the Black Keys, to Jack White, to all over the place. There’s nothing new under the sun – you just get a can of paint out.”

April 19, 2013 Posted by | Robert Plant Interview 2012 | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Live: An Illustrated Exploration of Underground Tapes by Luis Rey (1991)


I cannot argue that Luis Rey has assembled a fantastic bootleg reference book, especially this third printing. When it comes to compiling song lists and tour dates he is second only to Howard Mylett, Dave Lewis, Richard Cole (like him or not he saw every show Led Zeppelin played for nine years in a row) and Chris Welch who, unlike Rey, are the world’s leading authorities on the band and personally acquainted with the group themselves, especially Cole.

Let me digress for a paragraph. Welch is guilty of writing one singularly dreadful puff piece book titled Power And Glory; avoid at all costs, but the rest of the books he’s authored about the band are quite good (which is another story altogether). Even Mylett’s Jimmy Page: Tangents Inside A Framework book is a similar sycophantic waste of verbiage, but buy it for nothing other than the rare pictures; and good luck finding it. Dave Lewis’ The Final Aclaim has a 1971 backstage photo of Page passing someone something that looks like a cigarette out of the frame—the cheeky caption: ‘Bringing the balance back.’ Rotsa ruck sourcing that book too! But I am reviewing Rey’s book, not one of Mylett’s, Welch’s or Lewis’.

As good as Luis Rey’s book is, it’s touring and performing reference material only. That’s all I really care about, Seattle mud sharks and Lori Maddox have nothing to do with Zeppelin’s musical talent! Rey also sorts out several date-unknown concerts here and links up a few other fragmented shows in admirable fashion. Rey’s song list compilations and rating of recording quality is impeccable, I cannot disagree with him. I own about 125 bootlegs of the five hundred and eighty something concerts the band performed while Bonzo was alive, half of them not listed in this book.

When Rey hazards an opinion about the band’s abilities is when his knowledge of the subject wears thinner than the seat of a long distance trucker’s pants. Rey makes the claim that the band’s March ’73 tour of Germany was Zep’s live performance pinnacle except that pinnacle would also have to have included the May and July ’73 American shows. The instrumentalists were indeed on fire then but it wasn’t like they ‘suddenly’ learned how to play; Zep’s reputation was long established prior to 1973. Plant’s top register shriek was at it’s finest from the band’s inception in September ’68 until June ’72; his vocals during this period were more the reason Zep was a worldwide phenomenon than Page, Jones and Bonham’s brilliant musicianship, although Page had always been recognized as a guitar hero. By the time of the German tour Percy’s voice had lost quite a few octaves. The February ’72 Australian tour was easily as incendiary as the one in March 1973. Australia was months before Plant had a node operation sometime between the superb June ’72 American run and the short Japanese October ’72 sojourn; where his voice was shot. His vocals were likewise painfully hoarse during the British shows in December ’72 and January ’73.

Where the author also falls woefully short of the mark is when he tries to talk like a musician and he is clearly not one. For instance, Rey cannot distinguish between a tempo change and a time signature. But he pretends to understand the basics of drums and guitars and his ‘pronouncements’ are laughable at best; I scoff at these. Another thing that irks me about him is he very obviously never saw Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham perform as a unit, but he acts like he has. Of the nearly 300 recordings listed herein not once does Rey claim: “I attended this show.”

Another area Rey is particularly lacking in is when reviewing performances, he makes some ridiculous judgment calls for someone who never saw the band in person. I went to five Zeppelin concerts in Texas between August 1969 and May 1977 and, now, have bootlegs of those shows. They sound absolutley nothing like the loud visceral live experience they were. Luis Rey especially rips on Zep’s ’77 tour. If Page played a bum note or two, Rey claims the whole show was a suckfest. One only had to watch the band in 1977 to figure out Page probably played the shows on coke and the encores on junk. There’s a little known but infamous story about an onstage monitor mixer who overheard Page ask Plant after he introduced a song in ’77: “How does that one go again?” and Plant hummed the riff to him. So what? If I could travel back in time and see one of those five shows again it would be the one in 1977, even though the two I saw in 1973 were the two best concerts I’ve ever seen. The only three bands I’ve ever wanted to see but didn’t were the Beatles, Cream and Zappa. I’ve seen the Doors, Hendrix, Dylan, the Airplane, Neil Young, the original Mahavishnu Orchestra, the Who, Stones, Quicksilver, the Dead, Grand Funk, Rush and a hundred others all the way up through Soundgarden and Guns & Roses in the 90s when I stopped buying concert tickets.

To be fair, Rey’s reviews aren’t always wrong, sometimes he gets it right; a good bootleg will trample you underfoot and anyone can tell ‘that must’ve been a helluva show.’ Even Luis Rey.

April 19, 2013 Posted by | Book Led Zeppelin Live An Illustrated Exploration Of Underground Tapes by Luis Rey | , , , | 1 Comment

Led Zeppelin The Chancellor Of The Exchequer (Earls Court, May 1975)


Earls Court, London, England – May 17th, 1975

Disc 1 (78:08): Introduction, Rock and Roll, Sick Again, Over the Hills and Far Away, In My Time of Dying, The Song Remains The Same, Rain Song, Kashmir

Disc 2 (56:30): No Quarter, Tangerine, Going To California, That’s The Way, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, Trampled Underfoot, Moby Dick

Disc 3 (59:49): MC, Dazed and Confused (incl. Woodstock), Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog

Led Zeppelin’s five Earls Court shows in 1975 are a high water mark of their influence and popularity. The final two nights of the set are the most popular with many different releases. The first two shows, which were scheduled to accommodate the demand for tickets, are not as well known or well circulated.

The opening night on May 17th has several tape sources in circulation. The earliest pressed version of the show can be found on the rare Japanese acetate Welcome To Home 1-4 (Private Collection PC 001, 002, 004, 005) and “Kashmir” is included as a bonus track on Custard Pie (Rock Solid Records RSR 3224) along with the 1973 Offenbach show.

“Kashmir” can be found on the compact disc edition of Custard Pie (Cobra Standard Series 001). The full show from this tape was released on Join the Blimp (Tarantura UK-1~4), Arabesque & Baroque(Antrabata ARM 170575) and Nice Opening Night (Image Quality IQ-028/29/30) all released within a year or two of one another.

In the late nineties a second, almost complete source surfaced and was first pressed on the incredibly scarce CDR title For Trainspotters Only (Anorak Records). It was utilized on Devil’s Banquet (Power Chord PC-0001-1/2/3/4) with the first tape source used for “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp,” “Trampled Underfoot,” some of “Moby Dick” and for some times between songs. Empress Valley used the same tactic for Complete Earl’s Court Arena Tapes “I” (Empress Valley EVSD 91~112) from the Demand Unprecedented boxset in 2002.

The Chancellor Of The Exchequer also follows Power Chord. The second tape is used as the main source and the first tape is used for “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” and ”Trampled Underfoot.” It is a distant, distorted and echo-filled but listenable recording.

After Bob Harris’ introduction, the evening gets off to a troubled start when the guitar cuts out in the middle of “Rock And Roll” due to faulty wiring. Robert Plant jokes about it, saying: “You wouldn’t believe that after all the trouble and, and messing about to try and get this unearthly monster with us, the first thing that gets blown, right? And all it is, is a six penny jack plug.”

Then in introducing “Over The Hills And Far Away” he gives a greeting to England, “we couldn’t make Nottingham Boat Club this time, but we managed to get here. what we intend to do is, what we just had a great time doing in America after eighteen months of laying about, we suddenly decided we were much better working together rather than sitting home pretending that we’d done it all, you know?”

He is also a bit polemic regarding why they’re playing so few shows in England. Blaming the high tax rate, while introducing “In My Time Of Dying” he calls it “ an old chain gang thing, and as we’re about a foot away from the chain gang with our dear Dennis Healey, we better dedicate this to Dennis.”

There is a tenseness in the performance which Plant himself acknowledges before “Kashmir,” saying that “you can’t believe the nerves that you get when you play.” And when referring to the last UK tour, Plant points out the break up rumours, replying: “In reply to the rumours in one of the very famous musical papers that was printed in February 1973 about us breaking up, I got to tell you, it’s not true.”

“Kashmir” goes a long way in loosening up the venue with it’s masterful rhythms and orchestration. It continues in “No Quarter” which makes its UK debut in this show. John Paul Jones plays an interesting piano piece in the middle improvisation, repeating a sad little melody repeatedly until Page and Bonham come in.

“Tangerine” follows, being played for the first time since 1972. Instead of the bare acoustic arrangement, they play a full electric version with four part harmony. The audience tapes are good at picking up the harmony, and although it’s quite rough it’s a good attempt by the band. Plant makes a big deal afterwards saying “that’s the first time that there has ever been such a thing as four part harmony on stage with Led Zeppelin. Nice one. Today Zeppelin, tomorrow the Hollies.”

The ending of the show is notable for a stand out “Dazed And Confused.” Plant introduces the origin of the song as: “Three wise men followed a star and we got together in a small room, and we ran through some … a total of about five numbers which we preceded to record. This is the first thing that we ever played together, and at the end of the first attempt at playing it, we realized that, despite the effort of the Melody Maker to break us up, we shall carry on forever.” Scaled back from the forty-five epics on the final nights of the US tour in March, this version is extremely aggressive during the middle improvisation.

While Plant is introducing “Stairway To Heaven” John Paul Jones plays a bit of “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” on the mellotron to much laughter and amusement by the audience. ”Stairway To Heaven” ends the set and the encores are “Whole Lotta Love” and “Black Dog.”

The Chancellor Of The Exchequer is packaged in a tri-fold gatefold sleeve and it stands as the best version of this relatively obscure show to date.

April 19, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin The Chancellor Of The Exchequer | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Berkeley Daze – 2nd Night (Berkeley, September 1971)


Community Theatre, Berkeley, CA, USA – 14 September, 1971

Disc 1: Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker [inc. The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)/J. S. Bach: Bourrée from Suite in E minor for Lute, BWV 996] Since I’ve Been Loving You, [Out On The Tiles Intro/] Black Dog, Dazed And Confused [inc. Back In The USA]

Disc 2: Stairway To Heaven, That’s The Way, Going To California, Whole Lotta Love [inc. Just A Little Bit, Boogie Chillun’, Hello Mary Lou, My Baby Left Me, A Mess Of Blues, You Shook Me, The Lemon Song]

Godfather here presents us with the latest incarnation of what began life as a legendary vinyl bootleg, Trade Mark Of Quality’s Going To California. Captain McCrunge, on the Underground Uprising website, contends that, “the phrase ‘Berkeley Community Centre, 1971′ usually brings knowing smiles from any collector. For many the second night was their first taste of illicit live Zeppelin.” Dave Lewis states in Led Zeppelin: The Concert File, that, “this concert was immortalized on an early double album bootleg release from the Trade Mark Of Quality label, under the title Going To California, complete with original sleeve caricatures by William Stout…another much loved and essential vinyl issue that lines up alongside Live On Blueberry Hill as a brilliantly authentic example of their live prowess of this era.” Similarly, gsparaco, reviewing the 4-CD Trade Mark Of Quality set elsewhere on CMR, writes that, “the September 14th show is one of the most famous Zeppelin bootlegs, right up there with Blueberry Hill and Mudslide.”

In the CD era, releases of this show have included Going To California (Electric Junk LZ-1992-1) on one CD, Going To California (no label, GTCA-7194CD 1/2), California Expedition (Cashmere CSCD-009/010), Going To California (Shout To The Top STTP-043/4), Going To California (Trade Mark Of Quality TMQ-0501002) on two CDs and Going To California – 1971, Berkeley 2 Daze (Trade Mark Of Quality [an imprint of Tarantura] TMQ-0501001-1,2, 0501002-1,2) on four CDs in company with the previous night’s show. There have also been the CD-R releases Going To California (Standard Series 031) and Pollution Alert!! (Beelzebub Records BSD 56/57). A couple of these releases fail to deliver all the music. As Rosina Diaz Scali points out on the Underground Uprising website, ”the violin bow episode” of Dazed And Confused “was sadly edited out” of the no label release, whereas the Electric Junk version fits the show on to a single disc by omitting the song in its entirety.

These two releases, however, are not alone in being incomplete; due to their being sourced from vinyl all editions inevitably fail to present the entire show, as gsparaco points out in his review of the “final edition” of theTMQ/Tarantura release posted on CMR on 5 June 2008: “It is unfortunate the master tapes are lost because the original vinyl releases edited the tape to fit on two LPs. ‘Celebration Day,’ ‘What Is And What Should Never Be,’ ‘Moby Dick,’ and the encores, which on good nights would include ‘Communication Breakdown,’ ‘Rock And Roll,’ and ‘Thank You’ with a solo organ introduction are all lost forever.” The setlist given on the band’s official website includes only one additional song, What Is And What Should Never Be, between Going To California and Whole Lotta Love.

Unfortunately, we may never be able to hear the complete performance. It has been widely contended that the stamper plates used to manufacture the original LPs were among those dumped in the ocean by a nervy bootlegger. (Despite a recent swoop on bootleggers by the authorities, the numerous secret service agents he thought were monitoring his activities seem to have been there to ensure the security of Ronald Reagan’s nearby ranch.) As gsparaco points out, it has sometimes been assumed that the master tape of this show was also confined to the deep; if true, this is particularly unfortunate as, according to Brian Ingham on the Underground Uprising website, “the story goes the taper turned the tapes directly over to the bootleggers and made no copies for himself.” Gsparaco, however, states that, “Luis Rey also mentions rumours that the master tape still exists with ‘Hey Hey What Can I Do?’ as an encore.” (Ingham, however, states that, “ Hey, Hey What Can I Do was not performed at this show.”)

Rey may be right to suggest that the tape survives. Those responsible for the Trade Mark Of Quality label were the legendary vinyl bootlegging duo Dub and Ken. However, as another bootlegger known as “Eric Bristow” testifies in an interview with Clinton Heylin, author of Bootleg! The Rise & Fall Of The Secret Recording Industry, it was a later associate of Ken, the “super-paranoid” Mike, who was responsible for the aforementioned watery destruction. In fact, the circumstances of the dissolution of the original partnership provides some evidence to suggest that the tape may still exist. Dub began producing bootleg LPs with his father, unceremoniously dumping Ken in the process. As “Bristow” relates: “Ken…went to the pressing plant himself and told this sob-story of how the two Dubs were shutting him out to the lady who owned and ran the pressing plant at the time…and she just said to him, ‘Well, why don’t I just make you your own stampers?’…All of a sudden there were two sets of stampers.” Clearly, then, if the stampers thrown into the ocean did include those for Going To California, they must have been Ken’s duplicates, leaving Dub’s originals in existence. With Ken being the partner frozen out, it is logical to assume that the tape also remained in Dub’s possession. It is noteworthy that “Bristow” only mentions stampers being disposed of, not tapes. Certainly, at least one set of the Trade Mark Of Quality label stampers survived. “Bristow” notes that in 1984 Ken went into partnership with “John Wizardo” and Peter, the latter having “inherited” the stampers. “He’d gone to the pressing plant,” relates “Bristow,” “and the woman at the plant was going to throw them in the trash, so he said, ‘I’ll keep them!’” Ken subsequently teamed up with “Bristow,” bringing the stampers with him. Of course, this does not preclude the loss or destruction of these stampers or the tape in the intervening years, and the casual treatment of the stampers does not bode well for the tape’s chances of survival. As gsparaco states, “I’m sure if it does still exist it would have surfaced by now.” However, we can always hope.

The second Berkeley show opens with what gsparaco calls “the double onslaught” of Immigrant Song and Heartbreaker. Immigrant Song provides a suitably brutal, ear-assaulting beginning and an eight-minute Heatbreaker contains a splendid guitar solo from Jimmy Page. As Paul Holdren writes on Underground Uprising, “the audience appreciates every moment of Page’s crystal clear ‘Heartbreaker’ solo. Page’s performance in this song, and on the evening as a whole, transcends description. His play throughout is fluent, daring and extraordinarily fast. And despite taking so many risks, his play is impeccable…This is the most enjoyable ‘Heartbreaker’ imaginable.” Argenteum Astrum, posting on the band’s official website, is similarly impressed, commenting that, “the playing is simply wonderful, with Jimmy’s playing shining through as true musical inspiration, especially in his Heartbreaker solo.” During a brief quiet section Page plays a little of Simon And Garfunkel’s The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) before giving us a snippet of the Bourrée from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Suite in E minor for Lute, BWV 996. Rey, in Led Zeppelin Live: An Illustrated Exploration Of Underground Tapes (Updated Edition, 1993), surmises that Plant would play this, “probably as an ironic ’tribute’ to Jethro Tull’s own famous version.”

There has been some debate about Robert Plant’s vocal performance, particularly at the beginning of the show. Brian Ingham, on the Underground Uprising website, contends that, “Plant’s vocals at the start of the show are terrible. They do improve, but cannot match his efforts from the previous night’s show.” On the same site, however, Paul Holdren argues that, “Plant’s voice, one of the true wonders of this entire tour, literally seems to float above the audience, as the instrumental machinery wreaks havoc in ‘Immigrant Song.’” Ingham’s view has some substance; although Plant’s singing in Immigrant Song is, in my opinion, not so bad, the wordless wailing is painfully off-key. However, even Ingham seems to imply that the problem might not rest entirely with Plant, stating that, “the tape starts off in very good mono. Plant’s vocals are slightly distorted on the tape until it switches to excellent stereo.” Plant himself seems aware that there is an issue, stating before Dazed And Confused that, “there was a pollution alert today and I lost my voice.” (“After the incomparable range that he’s just demonstrated on [Black Dog],” argues Holdren, “you can only wonder what he is talking about.”) Personally, though I consider that Holdren exaggerates the quality of Plant’s vocals, I have no significant issues with his performance overall, having some sympathy with Rey’s assessment that, “although Plant has lost half of his voice (in his own words) [sic], he still sounds fresh and clear.”

The next song is a splendidly moody and atmospheric version of Since I’ve Been Loving You. As Don Wheeler, posting on the band’s official website, rightly argues, the song is ”incredible on this show.” Holdren writes that, “Plant forces his voice to the limits. Page highlights every line with a different flourish, alternating between subtlety and bravado.” The website The Year Of Led Zeppelin rates it as, “a spine-chilling performance, one of the best thus far.”

A short instrumental intro taken from Out On The Tiles provides, as usual, a powerful preface to the first of the songs from the untitled fourth album, Black Dog. Here Page brilliantly plays an expanded instrumental section. The song would have been unfamiliar to the audience, with the album not being released until November. Keith Shadwick, in Led Zeppelin: The Story Of A Band And Their Music 1968-1980, argues that the band was, “taking a risk putting their new material – ‘Black Dog’ and especially ‘Stairway To Heaven’ – to their audiences without prior warning. It was the ultimate test for the material and one not taken lightly by any popular group at the time” However, despite one Atlantic Records executive’s opinion that touring before the new album’s release constituted “professional suicide,” the concerts were both sold out and well-received by fans, as the audience reaction at the end of Black Dog attests.

The first disc ends with a truly staggering version of Dazed And Confused, twenty-two minutes here, though it would soon get longer. Rey states that the song is, “prolonged by rare song references inside what seems an interminable, cloudy solo. The violin bow solo is particularly dramatic, with ominous, deep, droning vocals in perfect exchange.” Page’s violin bow section and his fast solo are equally impressive and here, as for much of the show, Plant is in good voice and he sings a few lines of Chuck Berry’s Back The U.S.A. (which had been released on the album of the same name by the MC5 the year before this performance) during the latter part of this performance.

The second disc’s opening performance of Stairway To Heaven, a song which, like Black Dog and Going To California, was still unreleased at this point, is marvellous. Having received only a handful of public performances, the song still possesses a beguiling air of freshness which makes it both my preferred live version of the song and my favourite number from the show. Dave Lewis, in Led Zeppelin: The Concert File, refers to it as, “another superb performance…as impressive as on any night on the tour.” At one point Plant inserts what Lewis claims to be the unique line, “You are the home of the children of the sun,” referencing the song Going To California, which contains the lines, “The mountains and the canyons started to tremble and shake/As the children of the sun began to awake.”

The acoustic section of the show, which features John Paul Jones’ mandolin to very good effect, comes across as wonderfully intimate. First we are treated to an utterly gorgeous rendition of the delicate That’s The Way. This is succeeded by a gently lyrical performance of Going To California, which, despite being another song from the as-yet-unreleased album, receives a warm welcome at the end of Plant’s rather meandering introduction, doubtless due to the location of the concert. (Plant’s introduction ends with him saying, “this is called Going To California…which is somewhere round here.”)

Disc two then concludes with a lengthy Whole Lotta Love medley. Holdren contends that, “the rest of the concert notwithstanding, the ‘Whole Lotta Love’ medley is the highlight of the night, and likely one of the best ever.” Argenteum Astrum is also impressed, arguing that, “the wild and long medley is exciting, especially with Robert’s great vocals.” Gsparaco comments that the medley section is, “played on fire with amazing fluidity.” and Rey comments on its “classic virtuosity.” Included in this performance are Just A Little Bit, the 1959 Rosco Gordon single, recorded by Roy Head (single, 1965), Them (The Angry Young Them, 1965), Etta James (Tell Mama, 1967) and Magic Sam (Black Magic, 1968), a couple of lines from which appear before the medley section proper, during the theremin section; Boogie Chillun’, recorded in 1948 by John Lee Hooker; Hello Mary Lou, the Gene Pitney-penned Ricky Nelson hit from 1961; My Baby Left Me, written by Arthur Crudup in the late 1940s and later recorded by Elvis Presley (b-side to I Want You, I Need You, I Love You, 1956), Dave Berry (single, 1964) and Creedence Clearwater Revival (Cosmo’s Factory, 1970); A Mess of Blues, written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman and originally recorded by Elvis Presley in 1960; You Shook Me (of which Holdren writes: ”Page’s guitar wails and moans more than Plant in an ideal version”) and The Lemon Song (which he adds, “returns the band to the WLL main theme. A spectacular conclusion”). The whole magnificent edifice comes in at twenty-five minutes.

Thus ends, at least on disc, a show which is quite rightly regarded as a classic among Led Zeppelin live performances. Gsparaco calls it, “one of the greatest Zeppelin performances on record,” and “an essential concert.” Captain McCrunge concurs, stating that, “For many, it…ranks among the higher points of their entire live career…The band really were hitting a peak.” Argenteum Astrum is of similar mind, arguing that, ”the whole band is playing better than ever,” Rey reckons it, “a most satisfying performance,” The Year Of Led Zeppelin calls it, “an amazing performance,” and Holdren rates it as “a classic show!”

The sound quality is most impressive for an audience recording from 1971, as numerous commentators testify. Gsparaco calls it, “the best recorded show from the tour,” and Argentium Astrum, posting on the band’s official website, contends that, “the sound on this recording is absolutely fabulous!” The Year Of Led Zeppelin states that, “the tape is an excellent audience recording…A wonderful recording.” Argenteum Astrum’s’s Led Zeppelin Database website refers to the Cashmere, Cobra and Beelzebub releases as, ”excellent mono/stereo audience,” whereas the Shout To The Top and TMQ/Tarantura releases are accorded the status of “superb mono/stereo audience.” The reference to mono/stereo is due to the fact that, as referred to above, there is a switch to stereo near the beginning of Heartbreaker. The Title Comparisons page of theBootledZ website comments: “TMQ could possibly be copied and edited from STTT. Their content is identical except for TMQ’s edits at cuts and removal of the vinyl noise. TMQ amplified their title significantly. Cashmere’s title is highly identical to TMQ but has a cut during Dazed not found on the other titles. Their sound is almost as loud as TMQ.” Despite the high quality of the tape, resulting in what gsparaco reckons is, “the best recorded show from the tour,” the sourcing from vinyl for all CD releases does cause problems with some editions. Rosina Diaz Scali, writing on the Underground Uprising website expressed a preference for the no label version over the Shout To the Top release, arguing that it, “used a much better preserved vinyl source with hardly any evidence of a crack or pop throughout, whereas Shout To The Top’s offering has its fair share of surface noise.” Brian Ingham, on the same site, notes specific problems on the latter release: ”Immigrant Song (vinyl scratching at beginning…a couple of vinyl ‘pops’ near ending)…Stairway to Heaven (minor vinyl “pops” at beginning)…You Shook Me (3 noticeable vinyl “pops” in middle…)…Lemon Song(vinyl scratching at beginning).”

Despite BootledZ’s contention that the TMQ/Tarantura version could “possibly” have its origins in the Shout To The Top release, Gsparaco suggests that the former is sourced directly from vinyl. He clearly rates it very highly, regarding it as, “the definitive version…The label uses what sounds like a virgin vinyl source and do a professional sounding, flawless transfer…their mastering is absolutely phenomenal…Listening to it you will have to remind yourself of its origins.” The TMQ/Tarantura and Godfather versions would therefore seem to have something in common, as the Recent Updates page of the Led Zeppelin Database states that Godfather’s source for this new release is an “unplayed LP.” As with the TMQ/Tarantura release, there is no sign of the set’s LP origins in the form of pops, clicks or scratches. The sound of Berkeley Daze – 2nd Night is most impressive. The TMQ/Tarantura release has, to my ears, a little more presence, but this new Godfather transfer sounds cleaner and more refined and it effectively eliminates the hiss that is clearly audible on the TMQ/Tarantura version.

Obviously, as all CD editions derive ultimately from the LPs, this release features the small cuts inherent on the tape. Ingham catalogues them thus: “Immigrant Song…first couple of notes cut…Since I’ve Been Loving You (small cut at beginning)…Dazed & Confused…(…cut during ending section).” Godfather’s sleeve notes are remarkably forthcoming on these cuts, including those between songs, and lists them at some length: “After [Heartbreaker] finishes there is a cut which connects to Plant saying the phrase Thank You.” After his introduction to ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ there seem to be two or three quick cuts. As the song starts with Page’s intro, the recording cuts again, connecting to a point a few seconds further into the song. the recording runs through to the end of that song and then cuts after Plant says another ‘Thank You,’ resuming with his spoken introduction to ‘Black Dog.’ After that song, there is another cut, again connecting to Plant’s introduction to the next song, ‘Dazed and Confused.’ There is a cut during Jones’ bass intro, similar in length to the brief cut at the beginning of ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You.” The song plays through complete until the outro guitar solo, where it is cut just as it starts getting going, connecting to the very end of the song with Bonham’s final drum rolls and Page’s final soloing…Afterwards, the recording is again cut, resuming with the silence just before the start to ‘Stairway To Heaven’…That song is complete, but the recording again cuts out afterwards, connecting to the moment just before Page starts, ‘That’s The Way’…The recording continues through the entirety of that song, as well as through to Plant’s intro and all of ’Going To California.’ Afterwards the tape cuts to Bonham hitting his snare just before the beginning of ‘Whole Lotta Love,’ which is also featured complete.” Although these problems may appear extensive when presented in such detail, they are in fact small enough to cause virtually no diminution in one’s listening pleasure.

This release comes in Godfather’s usual tri-fold card packaging, featuring William Stout’s classic artwork of the band members riding what appears to be a porcine version of Disney’s cartoon elephant, Dumbo, set against a yellow background. The sleeve also features both onstage and offstage photographs of the band members and the usual sleeve notes by “Paul De Luxe.” There is no booklet.

Godfather’s Berkeley Daze – 2nd Night restores this essential show to the catalogue in a very impressive sounding version at a reasonable price and it is therefore very highly recommended to Led Zeppelin collectors.

April 19, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin - Berkeley Daze 2nd Night | , | Leave a comment

Genesis Three Sides Live (1982)


…was a good year for Genesis. The commercial success of their 1981 album Abacab cemented the world-wide fame of the band. At the same time Phil Collins’ solo career took off with the smashing success of In The Air Tonight that made him a household name.

It is therefore hardly surprising that the Abacab tour was substantially more successful than all of Genesis’ previous tours. Things had changed since the days in which people noticed Genesis mainly because of Peter Gabriel’s threatrical mask plays. Now the band got famous for their bombastic stage shows that were supported by powerful light effects.

At the end of the 70s Genesis used mirrors to position the light effects in even more precise and varied ways. 1982, however, became a true revolution of light that would literally overthrow how things were done throughout the whole show business. Together with Showco Genesis supported the development of lights that could change their colour and focus by means of dichromatic lenses in split seconds. It is not surprising that the interior of the Three Sides Live album shows a stage photo that illustrates the impressive power of those lights.

The album came out in June 1982 in two versions. One was the eponymous release geared towards the American market. The fourth side is taken up by five studio songs that were written during the Duke and Abacab sessions. Vertigo also distributed the album in Europe so that this version was released here, too. In the UK it was decided not to have the studio songs and published another four live songs they recorded between 1976 and 1980. The UK version was much sought after in Germany, and a “Four Sides Live” label on the album cover indicated that the records were worth their steep price.

The songs do not follow the order of the setlist. This is a kind of tribute to the space constraints of an LP release. Back then people tried to make sure that the songs were distributed evenly across the four LP sides – just like on Seconds Out.

Three Sides Live differs distinctly from Seconds Out because of its harder sound. The drums have more oomph, the guitars are rougher and Collins’ vocals has an aggressive edge it has never had before. A certain lack of transparency is the price one has to pay for it. The album sounds more compressed and less detailed than Seconds Out.

The Songs

The album begins with Turn It On Again played slightly faster than the original, an exciting and effective opener. After the quiet guitar intro Collins counts them in and off they go. And it is fun to listen to because of the joy they have in playing the music so consummately. When the applause fades a giant rears its head, the intro to Genesis’ only prog classic from Abacab, Dodo. The song is even richer than the original. Mike’s bass pedals thunder while Daryl makes his guitar scream; together they show off the strengths of the band. Unfortunately these are the moments when one notices the compressed sound of the album. They lack brilliance and transparency. In fact, the recordings from five years before that were used for Seconds Out are superior.

Their 1981 hit Abacab comes across very strong and close to the original. Phil’s aggressive vocals lend their power to the song. The extensive instrumental section in particular profits from the live performance; this song comes into full bloom live compared to the studio version, and it ends very in a very determined way.

The second side of the LP begins with the actual opening piece of the concert, Behind The Lines. It is a masterpiece and a big highlight on Three Sides Live. Luckily the band decided to link this song with Duchess so that both songs excel in a very dignified and self-confident presentation.

Tony Banks claims in Chapter & Verse that Me And Sarah Jane is his last classical composition in the old Genesis style. The band did well to play this sophisticated complex of chords and harmonies live. Though critics frequently complain about the detailed performances that refrain from any interpretation it is precisely this performance that makes the song so strong: The band can really dedicate themselves to the drama and passion of the number.

The second side ends with Follow You Follow Me. In the reviewer’s opinion this song was performed much better in 2007. On Three Sides Live it lacks the necessary calm, and Collins in particular is too impulsive.

Misunderstanding is an easy entrance into the most demanding side of the original album. The emotional vocals at its end are quite fitting and add a touch of soul music to Misunderstanding.

The In The Cage medley is a real treat for prog lovers. No lifeless routine here, but passionate joy of playing. It is ever so exciting so hear the virtuosity with which the band play this strict composition. They light fireworks of arpeggios and melodies accompanied by a rhythm group that makes the audience groove even to these odd signatures. In The Cage does not fall apart, but keeps up the tension throughout. At its end the band move on into the equally gripping Cinema Show. As the number of musicians involved temporarily drops to three the Genesis core find enough space to perform this sumptuous music. The same goes for the third part of this mini suite, The Colony Of Slippermen. After this feast the music moves on into the quiet of Afterglow before it again ascends to a glorious finale. At this point the album proper ends because the fourth side offers something completely different, be it the “studio version” or the live songs from the UK edition.

The “fourth side”

The studio tracks have a very dry, direct sound. The first three songs were written during the Abacab sessions while the other two were originally planned for Duke. This surplus of really good material proves just how great their output was in those years. The concept of placing a chart success on the fourth album side proved successful; though Paperlate became a hit only in the UK it was nevertheless played frequently on the radio. That may have been because of Phil’s solo success since the brass section makes the song sound like a typical Collins product. It is, however, a joint composition.

You Might Recall is still quite relaxed, but Me And Virgil develops the impressive drama that distinguished Genesis’ pop music from all others. Evidence Of Autumn is a typical Banks composition that would have fit well on his first solo album A Curious Feeling and its melancholy mood.

Three Sides Live ends with a thoughtful sad song by Mike Rutherford, Open Door. It is an unusual ending for a lively, stirring live record.

The UK version seems a bit more harmonic, though the recordings do not really fit the first three sides, either. Prog listeners have field day, of course. It is, however, beyond the reviewer’s comprehension why the ID markers (track divisions) were not fixed.

One For The Vine takes us back to the epic songs of the 70s. When played live this song seems less weird than on Wind & Wuthering, but far more coherent. Again the supremely good performance and the passion of all the musicians are remarkable. They always perform with a view to the song, as one notices particularly with Daryl’s unobtrusive guitar playing. With an epos like this you do not want any meandering jams but pay close attention to the story.

The Fountain Of Salmacis rises very lively, a highlight of the fourth side live. Collins’ interpretation of Gabriel’s original works very well, and the band have a ball playing this song. You would be hard-pressed to find a better live version of this song!

The collection of old live recordings ends with another medley. It would have fit better on Seconds Out, though, because it was recorded back in 1976.

It is played very ambitiously, but it cannot get close to the drive the studio version has. Ending the album with a symphonic piece like Watcher Of The Skies is a good choice. It is, of course, regrettable that it is not the full version, but this finale is a big bang that brings the live set to a wonderful ending.

All in all…

Three Sides Live is worth getting, though using the original setlist might have been even more exciting. Prog lovers may want to buy the UK edition. If you prefer Genesis during their period of change and you like Abacab you are better off with the eponymous version. The only thing to consider is the circumstance that there is no version so far that combines the acoustic improvements of the remaster version with the five studio recordings.

April 19, 2013 Posted by | Genesis Three Sides Live | | Leave a comment

Carlos Santana The Swing Of Delight (1980)


Coming just one year after his previous Oneness album, this album is very much in the same musical vein, but it appears a bit less philosophy-induced, even if Carlos cedes his rights to Sri Chinmoy n three tracks, but no less excellent. But this album has a stellar cast of guest that most real jazz artistes would only dream of: Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams and Ron Carter are present on over half the tracks while the rest of his group is present as well on the other tracks.

As opposed to Oneness this album is more about semi-lengthy tracks (and the album clocks in at a whopping 57 minutes which was remarkable for a vinyl) which are mostly instrumental.

While the album is a full-fledged jazz-rock fusion product of its time, I find that the usual flaws of many of those albums are not present on this one. While the music can hover between Weather Report, Spiro Gyra and Return To Forever on the one side and Mahavishnu Orchestra on the other side, it mostly retains that typical Santana sound. Right from the almost 7-min opening scorcher Swapan Tan, you just know that the jazz-rock will be steaming and streaming out of your speakers like a floodgates overcome by the Carlos tsunami.

There are of course some calmer moments (would it still be a Santana album without those?) such as Spartacus (a gradual sublime crescendo with Carter’s bass just being awesome), Phuler Matan (and its Arabic-Spanish intro) or the delightful Song For My Brother (which we imagine is Jorge) where Carlos shines like a solar eruption.

Jahma Kala is one of scorching track where the funk bass and the ever-inventive drumming (Lear in this case) just allow for the soloists to wail but not at the expense of the track’s cohesion and Gardenia is much in the same vein; Sticking out like a bit sore thumb (but more like it is out of place rather than bad) is La Llave Latino-anthem.

Golden hours is a very funky track with a flute soaring over the track before a sudden shift brings it around to more Voodoo-like influences and Carlos and the boys are just tearing our brains apart with a series of high flying solos reminiscent of RTF. The closing Sher Khan is a calm outro, not far from cool jazz.

Graced with a strange abstract artwork, which might be a bit misleading (especially compared to its jazz-rock predecessors), this album is another jewel in Carlos’ crown, and a very instrumental jazz-rock excellence example, this album is a real must-hear for JR/F fans.

Very close to 4,5 stars, but not flawless either, this often overlooked gem is only waiting for the progheads to unleash its charms.

April 19, 2013 Posted by | Carlos Santana The Swing Of Delight | | Leave a comment