Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Led Zeppelin tickets

(If Zepp tickets ever go on sale again and this page gets indexed I’m gonna get swamped)

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May 9, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin tickets | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Tour Over Europe 1980 (Zurich, June 1980)

tourovereuropeFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Led Zeppelin enjoyed a special relationship to Switzerland in their live career. Appearances in Montreux in 1970, 1971 and 1972 are among their most well known and the two audience recordings from those dates (March 7th, 1970 and August 7th, 1971) are two of their best performances. In their last tour of Europe of the 70s in 1973 the didn’t play any dates in the country, but made up for that with the June 29th, 1980 show at the Hallenstadion in Zürich.

This show is the source for the first vinyl boot to surface from this tour and the very first compact disc release in 1988. Collectors are also convinced this to be one of the top, if not the best, show from their most obscure tour. Except for the past seven years this show has been in almost constant circulation and is considered to be the essential show from the tour for the collection.

A Good Hot One (TDOLZ Vol. 69)

Hallenstadion, Zürich, Switzerland – June 29th, 1980

Disc 1, soundboard (63:15): Train Kept A-Rollin’, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Black Dog, In The Evening, The Rain Song, Hot Dog, All My Love, Trampled Underfoot, Since I’ve Been Loving You

Disc 2 (55:11): Achilles Last Stand, White Summer / Black Mountain Side, Kashmir, Stairway To Heaven, Rock And Roll, Heartbreaker

An incomplete soundboard tape first surfaced in 1988. Capturing the show from “Train Kept A-Rollin’” to “Kashmir,” it was first released on Tour Over Europe 1980 (Twin Eagle). The reception with Zeppelin collectors was similar to Ultra Rare Trax on Swingin’ Pig had with Beatle collectors: it revealed the possibilities of the new medium in finding new sources and releasing them in excellent quality. The Twin Eagle release was quickly copied on Tour Over Europe 1980 (Seagull Records 004/2) and Tour Over Europe 1980 (Swan Song 806292). ”Stairway To Heaven,” “Rock And Roll” and ”Heartbreaker” were released in 1989 on Silver Coated Rails (Condor 1981). Another incomplete release about this time was The Final Tour (Paitrot Label 003) which is missing “White Summer/ Black Mountain Side” and “Kashmir” but with bonus tracks from Berlin.

Tracks from this show can be found on the Joker releases from Australia and “White Summer,” “Kashmir,” “Trampled Underfoot,” “Train Kept A Rollin’” and ”Nobody’s Fault But Mine” are on disc seven of the famous Cabala box set from Italy. Better sounding release began to emerge in the mid-nineties with Zurich (Tarantura 1980 17, 18), part of their big 1980 tour binder, and Gracias (Antrabata ARM 290680), a four disc set that also includes the June 24th show in Hannover. Antrabata re-released the Zürich show on Peerless Performance (Theremin) with discs “leftover” from the initial run. The latest release is on Conquer Europe (Empress Valley EVSD 70/71) which was released in 2001 and boasts “taken from Jimmy Page’s private master” but is more likely a very good mastering job. It has the advantage over other releases of the soundboard by having the cut in “Kashmir” filled by the audience recording. This is however sold out and commands a steep price when it does appear.

TDOLZ present the tape in similar sound quality to the Tarantura. There are two minor glitches during “White Summer,” a small cut after ”All My Love” and is missing the last couple minutes of “Kashmir.” That song is a disaster and the sound engineer probably turned the tape recorder off in embarrassment. There is very little tape hiss and the audience response is mixed in well preventing this from being a cold and sterile soundboard tape. Rather this is an enjoyable listening experience.

Swiss Made (TDOLZ Vol. 70)

Hallenstadion, Zürich, Switzerland – June 29th, 1980

Disc 1, audience (62:03): Train Kept A-Rollin’, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Black Dog, In The Evening, The Rain Song, Hot Dog, All My Love, Trampled Underfoot, Since I’ve Been Loving You

Disc 2 (59:47): Achilles Last Stand, White Summer / Black Mountain Side, Kashmir, Stairway To Heaven, Rock And Roll, Heartbreaker

Three audience tapes exist for Zürich. The earliest release, and the first to gain wide circulation, is was used for the rare Japanese manufactured Swiss Made (S8006) and was copied on the European produced Eye Thank Yew (Happy Hippo ZZYZX 090A-D). TDOLZ use this tape for Swiss Made and it remains the only complete silver pressed issue of any of the audience tapes. It is a good to very good and atmospheric recording with much more life to it an the rather sterile soundboard tape. It is hindered by a very loud bottom end which detracts in the louder portions of the show. There are several cuts scattered throughout the show including after “Hot Dog,” “All My Love,” “Achilles Last Stand,” by the end of “Black Mountain Side,” a small cut and repeat after “Kashmir” and before the encores. None of them are serious and no music is lost. The second audience recording is missing “Stairway To Heaven” and the third is missing “White Summer,” “Kashmir” and “Stairway To Heaven.” Apparently the taper was caught and ejected from the venue but managed to sneak back in for the encores.

The previous evening’s show in Nuremberg was cut short after three songs when John Bonham collapsed onstage. Zürich is a return to form with Led Zeppelin delivering one of their gutsiest performances in the latter days. Page’s steam-train whistles build the excitement before the opening notes of “Train Kept A Rollin’” cut the tension and segues seamlessly into “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” Jimmy Page has the opening words on this tour and greets the crowd, saying, “Well if you’ve noticed, I just took me glasses off so I can see the guitar a bit better and see you a bit better too. Right, right. Ok, we got an old one. I hope you can remember is cause it’s quite an old one. It’s called ‘Black Dog.’”

Afterwards Plant greets the audience in German, saying, “Guten Tag! I mean good evening. Everybody Ok? Sorry about the ah, small delay, unforeseen things. Very nice to be back in Switzerland again. Been quite a long time, I think since Montreux. Anybody remember Montreux? You’re showing your age kids. Well since we hit the road last time we managed to make, create and put out an album complete with artwork called In Through the Out Door. This is a track from it. It’s called ‘In The Evening.’” The opening track from their last original studio album was used as the epic tour-de-force in Knebworth complete with long guitar and tympani solos, but moved up much earlier in the set for the final tour a year later.

“The Rain Song” sounds nice in all of the shows on the tour although the keyboards, replacing the mellotron from past live versions, give the song a fundamentally different sound. Plant thanks the audience in three languages (“gracias! danke! merci bien!”) before introducing a song which ”relates to the rigors of relationships in Texas.” “All My Love,” which is never introduced on stage, closes the “mellow” section of the program. The intensity of “Trampled Underfoot” and “Since I’ve Been Loving You” cause the audience to move around the venue and get rowdy. “This is more like the European championships than a gig” Plant comments before “Achilles Last Stand.”

“White Summer” meanders like many versions on the tour and “Kashmir” suffers from a miscommunication in the middle. They get lost with Page and Jones playing different parts and it takes Bonham two attempts the get the band back together again. Plant acknowledges Bonham afterwards and says apologetically, “If anybody’s bootlegging that you’ll have to scratch that number cause it wasn’t completely correct. Never mind. We got through it. Heavens it’s warm. Alright? Ok? I thank you.” “Stairway To Heaven” closes the show and is one of the top five live versions on record. After the “tango” section in the solo Page develops delicate themes of great beauty, transporting the song into sublimity. “It’s been a good hot one. Good night. Claude Knobs, Buenos Dias. Alright? I thank you. Excellent. Excellent” Plant says afterwards.

Claude Knobs comes onstage to introduce the band for the encores and they play “Rock And Roll” and a version of “Heartbreaker” which quotes from the entire history of the piece. This would be the final time the Led Zeppelin II classic would be played by Led Zeppelin and is a fitting tribute. Diagrams issued these titles first in the boxset pictured above and then the two shows individually, which is more common. Given the sound quality of both, and that this is the only place to find the audience recording pressed on silver, makes this one of Diagram’s finest efforts and is worth seeking out.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Tour Over Europe | , | Leave a comment

Life by Keith Richards (2011)

Keith-Richards-LifeFrom amazon.com

This memoir, written with the help of writer James Fox, is an intricately detailed account of Keith Richards life, both in and out of music-but mostly in. All the stories are here-the funny, the touching, the horrendous, and the amazing. Some are well known, some weren’t even known to Richards-he only hears later, from others who were with him, what went on. And he’s put it all in this book. Included are 32 pages of b&w and color photographs (including one of the band, with Jagger driving, in a vintage red convertible, across the Brooklyn Bridge) in two groups, plus photos throughout the book itself chronicling Richards’ life. Also of interest is an early diary that Richards kept detailing the bands early gigs and impressions of the music the band played.

Richards has been known as many things-“the human riff”, as some kind of prince of a dark underworld filled with drugs, booze, and skull rings, as “Keef”, a rock ‘n’ roll pirate, as someone who should be dead (several times over) from massive drug use and other lifestyle choices, and as someone hounded by law enforcement-looking to incarcerate this bad example to all the kids. But Richards is also known as a settled (for him) family man. But somehow he’s survived it all. And now, with this autobiography, he’s letting us into his life. This book looks back at all the times-good, bad, and just plain strange.

Beginning with Richards’ boyhood in post-war England, no stone is left unturned in detailing his young life. A life which changed forever with his discovery of American blues. From that era the book details the formation of The Rolling Stones (I would like to have learned more about Brian Jones’ in relation to the formation of the group), which changed his life again-a life he continues to the present.

This book is important, interesting, and at times, harrowing, with a myriad of details surrounding Richards, his band, and anyone caught up in their universe of music, good times, misery, drugs, violence, and just plain weirdness. But the book also shows another side of Keith Richards. The pain he felt (and still feels) when his young son Tara, died while Richards was on tour. The loss of musician and friend/band hanger-on, Gram Parsons. Looking back with regret as people close to him sunk into a hellish pit of drug addiction. And Richards’ own account of his years of drug use-especially heroin and the misery he brought on himself, even while he was careful not to go to far over the edge.

Of course no memoir concerning Richards would be complete without accounts of the ups and downs, over many years, with Mick Jagger. There’s a number of fascinating asides and insights concerning their ideas of what direction the band should follow. Unfortunately, but not surprising, Jagger (and the other band members) are not heard from. That’s unfortunate because of all the valuable insight concerning Richards’ life on and off the stage, and the inner workings of one of the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands, that his long time band mates could bring to the story. But others who have known Richards over the course of many years were interviewed. People like Ronnie Spector, Jim Dickinson, Andrew Oldham, Bobby Keys, and a number of fellow musicians and friends, all have telling bits and pieces to add to the overall picture of just who Richards is.

The detail Richards and Fox have put into this well written memoir is almost staggering. Reading about the early days of the band is exciting and fascinating, if for no other reason the era they came up in is long since vanished. The discovery and idolization of musicians like Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed, Slim Harpo, and other blues greats, trying to emulate the hard scrabble lifestyles of American blues artists, the small scruffy clubs the band played in the beginning, living in abject poverty and squalor, the large concerts in later years, the songs, the albums, the drugs, and the many fascinating (and sometimes disgusting) characters that drift in and out of Richards’ life-it’s all here. And taken together, this is a story only Keith Richards could live (and survive) to write about in such detail.

While there have been other decent books on Richards and/or the Stones, for the straight, unvarnished truth, as he sees it and lived it, this is the book that matters. This memoir, written in a Richards-to-you conversational style, is interesting, exciting, gritty, informative, harrowing, and important. And with this book, written in his own words, we can’t get much closer to the man and his life than that.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Book Life by Keith Richards | , | 1 Comment

Stevie Ray Vaughan : Caught in the Crossfire by Joe Nick Patoski and Bill Crawford (1994)

2343705360_00668d1c1b_zFrom amazon.com

Review Very detailed. The author conducted what must have been hundreds of interviews with friends, acquaintances and family. He consulted as many newspaper and magazine articles and no doubt walked the streets of Austin and Oak Cliff. The result is a detailed description of his subject and the environment. Yet it’s not a forest for the trees situation. The details do not drown out the overall story. Sometimes excessive details can make a book boring or hard to follow. Not in this case.

The author begins the story with the Vaughan’s migration to Texas from Kentucky. He also describes the evolution of Dallas as a music town starting as early as Blind Lemon Jefferson. Stevie’s years as a school boy in Dallas, his years playing small clubs in Austin, and his non public life are described in as much detail perhaps more in depth than his life as a famous blues superstar.

SRV lived his entire life the same way he played guitar: pedal to the metal. Drugs, girls, partying, jamming were all done fast and hard until he passed out from exhaustion. After 18 hours or more of sleep, it would start all over again.

After decades of life pedal to the metal it is amazing that he survived. But he didn’t just survive. He cleaned himself up and became a better person. It seems like he was a nice person. He spent a lot of effort helping other musicians especially underappreciated blues musicians. He insisted that his Double Trouble band mates received the same salary as he even though clearly SRV was the only reason people came to see Double Trouble.

The book also explores the mystery of the 1982 Montreaux Jazz Festival performance where the band was booed. Besides a couple of freaked out hippies dancing in front, the rest of the crowd (probably arthouse goons) sat and watched the performance in contempt and booed enthusiastically in between songs. The book offers an explanation, but perhaps in some minds the crowd’s behaviour at that event will remain an enigma.

Summary: good book, well written. If you like SRV, then you won’t regret having gotten this book.

Review After much hype about this book, Caught in the Crossfire, I had to see for myself. I received this book as a gift and immediately picked it up to read it. I read 7 chapters in the first night.
Being an avid fan and well-read on Stevie and the blues, I was expecting to find something wrong or at least something to contradict what I had read before. Not in this book. One can see the research that Patoski put into this book and how much he cared about his work.

Patoski documented Stevie’s life from the time he was born until the time of death. He included everything; the good, the bad, and the ugly. After all, isn’t that what life is all about? And isn’t Stevie and his music about life? Patoski showed the reader that although Stevie was in a battle against himself, he also gave the optimistic feeling that Stevie would one day realize his problems and fix them. This gives the reader a feeling of hope, as in real life.

Caught in the Crossfire documents Stevie’s childhood, his pain of being made fun of at school by the other kids, his constant living in brother, Jimmie’s, shadow until later, his alcohol/drug abuse, and his triumph over his personal demons. Although Stevie went through so many harsh things in life, this book shows Stevie’s sweet nature and how it stayed through all his troubles.

Although the book was great and the information was very accurate and precise, there were times when I thought I was reading pieces of poetry. Just one word here or a couple of words there that seemed a little too cliche or too expected. Possibly even overused.

However, this didn’t affect the way the book afflicted my soul. Near the end, the author just tends to use the right way of wording and touch the reader’s heart, almost as if one was feeling Stevie Ray right there reading along with them, giving them a Blues Oasis which will quench their soul.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Stevie Ray Vaughn Caught In The Crossfire | , | Leave a comment

The Beatles Let It Be…Naked (2003)

Beatles%20-%20Let%20It%20Be%20NakedFrom amazon.com

Here is my unfinished review of “Let It Be…Naked”. I’m going to make two versions of it, decide they’re both rubbish and shove them in the drawer for a year, after which I’ll hand my rough notes over to Phil Spector for him to edit with a pair of garden shears. Which is more or less what The Beatles did with “Let It Be” originally.

It must have been difficult in 1969 having to compile an album from hours of material by a band who, whilst sounding much less ragged than rumours alleged, were not (except Paul) over-enthusiastic about the “Get Back” film and album project, or each other. Glyn Johns’ first version tried to replicate the documentary nature of the film, with a lot of studio chat etc. On his second go he put together an album not so far removed from “Let It Be…Naked”, but people were still not sure and the whole project was shelved. They may have thought it was too meagre a follow-up to the creative outpouring of the White Album just a few months earlier.

Whatever the reason, the poison chalice was handed to Phil Spector in 1970, and he had the unenviable task of revisiting old, rejected material to create an album retaining the fly on the wall documentary feel of the film whilst also being a cohesive set in its own right. He also had to try to satisfy the warring factions of a defunct band that had effectively collapsed when that material had been recorded. Unusually for Spector, he was actually a bit hesitant, so he gave some tracks ill-fitting new clothes and left others “naked”, and left in some chatter too.

The result was a ragbag of mismatched ideas and missed opportunities. It was neither a half-decent back to basics collection nor a full-blown studio set. John thought it was okay, Paul hated it. EMI stuck it in a box with a big booklet, which the NME promptly described as a cardboard tombstone. And that was the end of that. Until now.

Hearing “Let It Be…Naked”, you wonder why the band was reluctant to put out something along these lines in 1969. It might not have scaled the artistic heights of the White Album but it would have had the “authenticity” they were seeking, and they had scored a number one single with “Get Back” that spring. But that’s hindsight for you. So why is “Let It Be…Naked” better than “Let It Be”? It has a better running order than the 1970 version, and with Phil Spector’s production removed, and some careful remastering, it sounds a lot livelier.

It wasn’t just Spector’s inappropriate addition of strings etc to various tracks, it was his rather heavy handed production style generally that spoilt the original release. You wished someone had said at the time, “Come on Phil, you’re not producing the Ronettes now.” All the chat between tracks has been removed too. I thought I’d miss some of it but I don’t think I will and I doubt if the 1970 version will get much play now we have this alternative.

Paul has made a big fuss in the past about “The Long and Winding Road” in particular, even though the song is just candyfloss really. Now though, you get to hear George’s guitar on the track, rather lovely, far preferable to Spector’s violins. The stripped down “Across the Universe” now displays its delicate beauty. The track had been messed about in two versions on two albums before: first with unconvincing wildlife sound effects (for a WWF charity album) and dodgy backing vocals from a couple of fans dragged into the studio on a whim, and secondly with Spector’s burying techniques. The rockers like “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “Dig a Pony” now have the raw edge they always deserved, and Lennon’s “Don’t Let Me Down” from the legendary rooftop session takes its rightful position in place of the fillers “Dig It” and “Maggie Mae”.

“Let It Be” itself appears with a more restrained guitar solo than the previous album version. That makes four officially released versions of the track, all slightly different, so I’m looking forward in a couple of years to a new release, “Let It Be…Twelve More Takes”. George’s “I Me Mine” is now freed of Spector’s syrupy strings and rocks in a lean, hungry fashion. “Get Back” retains its rollercoaster appeal. It escaped largely unscathed in 1970 but it makes much better sense as an opener, not the concluding track. The title track is the perfect finale at last.

After the cleaning operation “Let It Be…Naked” achieves the ragged glory previously obscured by Spector’s haphazard bolt-ons. It may not be the Beatles’ finest hour, and people might argue for hours in the pub as to when that was, but it is now a respectable conclusion to a momentous body of work.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | The Beatles Let It Be...Naked | | 1 Comment

Up And Down With The Rolling Stones by Tony Sanchez (1979)

tonysanchezFrom amazon.com

Pretty much any book about the Rolling Stones in the 1970s, such as Robert Greenfield’s book on Exile on Main St, will mention Spanish Tony (he’s also named in the toilet graffiti on the cover of the Beggar’s Banquet album).

Tony Sanchez knew the Rolling Stones in swinging London in the 1960s, meeting first Brian Jones, and then the rest of the band, their hanger-ons and girlfriends, various other rock stars like John Lennon (who used to badger him for drugs) and Eric Clapton. Sanchez is often described as the Stones’ favourite drug dealer, although Sanchez never admits to dealing drugs, preferring to describe himself as someone who used to help the Stones get their drugs (while eventually also becoming a junkie himself). The book was likely ghost written by someone else, as it seems unlikely that Tony himself would have had the skill to turn some of the better phrases and descriptive passages of the book himself, or the socio-political commentaries that litter the book. First published in 1979, but updated to include Ron Wood’s wedding in 1985 and Bill Wyman’s marriage and divorce in 1989 and 1993 respectively, the book has a lot of overlap with Bill Wyman’s Stone Alone, published in 1991. Some reports say that Sanchez died in 2000.

The book contains very little information about Sanchez’s background, other than that he really was Spanish, and that he had cousins and other family members involved in organised crime; a wife and a child are mentioned. He also only appears in two of the many photos in the book. Sanchez apparently, ran the Rolling Stones’ night club Vesuvio for a time, before becoming Keith’s hired man. Otherwise, the whole book is about the Rolling Stones.

Not so many real revelations here, other than some description of the bands’ dabbling in the occult and black magic, with Anita Pallenberg especially becoming involved in curses. Sanchez claims that she once mopped up the blood of a man who was dying after being hit by a car, using the rag with the dried blood to curse others – seems that the blood of a man dying of violence having powerful magical qualities. He also tells strange tales of Kenneth Anger, who hung out with the band at one point, teleporting in and out of their meetings (Sanchez also tells weird tales of Aleister Crowley’s life, including his battle for control of a magical society from head warlock Samuel Mathers). According to Sanchez, the phrase “Get Yer Ya-Yas Out”, the title of the Stones’ live album of 1969, “is based on a phrase which recurs regularly in African Voodoo”.

Then there is the rise and fall of so many strange relationships (both Anita and Marianne Faithfull sleeping with at least three of the Stones – Brian, Keith and Mick… surely they would have slept with Bill too, though, right?), a few weddings, great bits about the power of Bianca Jagger, Brian’s wooing of Jerry Hall away from Bryan Ferry and their eventual Hindu wedding in Bali. He also talks about Brian Jones’ secret passion for buses, with an encyclopedic knowledge of bus models, sometimes sneaking out to go bus spotting, even going so far as to buy full buses for his collection! Sanchez writes a bit about Mick Taylor, although he derides him as having “about as much character as Bill Wyman (and you can’t have much less than that)”, putting down both Stones in one shot. Incidents that are described in Greenfield’s book on Exile on Main St and in Keith’s book Life are also mentioned here, in slightly different forms. Greenfield has open contempt for Sanchez in his book, but Sanchez only mentions Greenfield neutrally. Sanchez describes Keith and Anita as regularly turning people on to cocaine, and the linked drug heroin (when cocaine brings you up too high, you need heroin to bring you back to sanity), adding to the pile of 1970s junkies.

The interesting parts of the book are where Sanchez talks about the state of mind of the Stones, and how they were dealing with their increasing fame and power, and also how their lives became a combination of severe persecution by legal authorities and immunity to the law. One example Sanchez gives is that of Keith Richards on one US tour being supplied by the tour’s sponsors with a steady supply of pure pharmaceutical heroin so that he wouldn’t need to chase it from outside parties, any one of which could be sent from a US authority intent on busting the band. In other busts the band “got lucky” and police didn’t prosecute, nor did they get thorough searches any more in the 1970s. Sanchez has great descriptions of the madness surrounding the 1967 drug trials, and offers one interesting quote from Mick Jagger:

In the year 2000, no one will be arrested for drugs and those sorts of things. It will be laughable, just like it would be laughable if people were still hanged for stealing sheep. These things have to be changed, but it takes maniacs obsessed with individual microcosmic issues to bring it about. I could be ever so obsessed about the drugs thing, and if I really worked hard at it, I might speed up the process of reform by perhaps ten years or five years or perhaps only six months. But I don’t feel that it’s important enough.

Well, obviously it was important enough to ramble on about. But it’s now well past the year 2000, and Jagger’s prediction hasn’t come to pass. Sanchez also says that Jagger was at one point nearly tempted to enter politics and run for a Labour party seat, but decided against it and remained a rock `n’ roll ringleader preaching entertainment and potty humour instead of revolution.

One area where Sanchez diverges from Wyman is in matters of money, and it seems that Mick and Keith and Bryan had millions at their disposal in the 1960s, while Wyman contended that management choked off any real money. But maybe it was different for Brian, Mick and Keith.

The book is still full of typos, despite having been published by many different publishers in various editions over the years (you’d think that they would have cleared these up by now). Early on, Sanchez calls Keith Richards “Richard” instead of Richards, then he talks about the “Rolling Stones roch and roll circus”. When recounting the death of Gram Parsons, he talks about the crazed fan, Philip “Kafuran”, who snatched Parsons’ body, although the fellow’s name was Kaufman. Weird.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Book Up And Down With The Rolling Stones by Tony Sanchez | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Brussels Audience (Brussels, June 1980)

lz_brusselsaudience_t149From collectorsmusicreviews.com

Voorst National, Brussels, Belgium – June 20th, 1980

Disc 1 (58:41): Train Kept A Rollin’, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Black Dog, In The Evening, The Rain Song, Hot Dog, All My Love, Trampled Underfoot, Since I’ve Been Loving You

Disc 2 (61:55): Achilles Last Stand, White Summer, Black Mountain Side, Kashmir, Stairway To Heaven, Rock And Roll, Whole Lotta Love

Tarantura, in releasing shows from Led Zeppelin’s final tour, usually focus upon the many and various soundboard recordings that have surfaced for all but two of the shows. Brussels Audience is a bit of an anomaly because the label turns its attention to the very good audience recording that surfaced several years ago instead of the soundboard.

There is another audience recording that has not been pressed to disc, but the recording used by Tarantura was first pressed on Raid Over Brussels (Electric Magic EMC-010A/B/C). This is a very good and dynamic audience recording with a cut in “All My Love” and a big one in the middle of “Trampled Underfoot” eliminating the solo. Electric Magic runs a hair too slow, but Tarantura is speed corrected. Tarantura also raised the volume slightly making it more clear and powerful in contrast to both the Electric Magic and new TCOLZ editions.

Brussels was the third stop on the tour and is a tight and energetic performance that is a good paradigm for what Zeppelin were trying to achieve in performance in the new decade. The arrangements are tight and aggressive with little of the long improvisations inherent from the past.

Robert Plant’s voice is unfortunately very hoarse in this show limiting his capabiliites and there are problems with the PA that are more audible in the soundboard recording. The tape picks up with Page’s train whistles before ”Train Kept A Rollin’” explodes on stage and after “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” Page gives a very short introduction to “Black Dog,” calling it “Chien Noir.”

Plant addresses the rowdieness of the audience before “In The Evening” saying, “Good evening all you people from Belgium and a few people from England I think. We’re gonna have a really, our intention is to have a nice time, so all this pushing. Don’t push. Keep it cool.” The In Through The Outdoor track sounds very light and airy in this recording and is followed by the “light” section of the show.

Many criticize the trio of “The Rain Song,” “Hot Dog,” and “All My Love” being played consecutively because it really slows down the momentum built up in the beginning. This sequence is comparable to the old acoustic set, which would be a chance to slow down for a while before final fury. However the acoustic sets wouldn’t come until after the first hour when everybody needed a breather whereas the 1980 mellow section occurs soon in the show. Whatever one’s view, all three songs are played very well and “All My Love” sounds regal in this recording.

“Trampled Underfoot” is the vehicle for improvisation and Plant introduces the song saying, “many years ago there was several things that were written down about the use of the motor car. I said that before, but I’m running short of words cause it’s cause I haven’t said these sort of things for a long time. In fact, it’s quite peculiar being up here really. What’s it like down there? It’s weird man.” It is a shame the middle is cut because Brussels is very effective.

“Since I’ve Been Loving You” accomodates two guitar solos and Plant quotes “I’m Gonna Crawl” (“I’m gonna go by train / I’m gonna go by car.”)

“Achilles Last Stand” is the last great Led Zeppelin epic and Plant says, “Dinosaurs! This is a bottle of water, and as kind of semi-survivors from the 60′s I guess that we all had our dream along the way about music and ideals and stuff and in the middle of one of them we ended up in the Sahara desert, and we wrote, hello, we wrote this. It’s called Achilles Last Stand.”

Like ”In The Evening,” Page takes a light approach to the solo and tries to make it airy. During “White Summer” he stops playing and asks the audience to quiet down so he can hear himself play, a common occurrence during this tour.

“Stairway To Heaven” is very strange. It is obvious Plant does not want to sing it, yet Page tends to stretch the guitar solo to extended lengths, experimenting with different approaches and styles. After the “tango” section in the solo, he develops interesting ideas but gets lost. Thankfully Bonham saves him and keeps the song together.

“Rock And Roll” is the first encore and “Whole Lotta Love” is played for the second time on the tour as the finale. In Dortmund they played a strange version of the song with “Heartbreaker” in the middle, but in Brussels they play it as they did on the ninth US tour with theremin solo and “Boogie Chillun’.” Plant pokes more fun at his age by singing, “that boy’s reached the age of 31! I mean 24…sorry.”

Brussels Audience is packaged in a thick cardboard gatefold sleeve with several photos from the show. With the nice remastering in the beautiful packaging, this is another strong effort by Tarantura and worth having.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Brussels Audience | , | 1 Comment

Led Zeppelin Dinosaurs In The Park (Knebworth, August 1979)

ledzep-dinoFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Knebworth Festival – Stevenage U.K. August 11, 1979

DISC ONE: 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, Hot Dog, The RainSong.

DISC TWO: White Summer/Black Mountain Side/Kashmir, Trampled Underfoot, Sick Again, Achilles Last Stand, Guitar Solo – In The Evening, Stairway To Heaven.

DISC THREE: Rock and Roll, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown, White Summer/Black Mountain Side (8/4/79), Ten Years Gone (8/4/79), Heartbreaker (8/4/79).

After taking it on the chin from the British press during the entire week following the August 4th performance, the group bravely ascend the Knebworth stage once more for what turned out to be their last ever performance in the U. K. Being whipping boys of the press was nothing new to Led Zeppelin and Robert in his sharp-tongued, customary way never misses the opportunity to give it right back to them!

The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin label have documented this historic performance from what Bootledz cites as a poor generation of the video soundtrack. The amount of tape hiss present here as compared to other releases of this show that I have heard would lead me to believe that this is a correct assessment.

The musical performances themselves range from general apathy to outstanding and everything in between. “Kashmir” has always been a bit of a hit or miss proposition when performed live, often plagued by out of tune instruments, timing issues, etc. However tonight I consider this song to be one of the highlights of the show. When Led Zeppelin nails this number it’s majesty and power never fails to overwhelm me, and tonight they nailed it! “Sick Again” is another highlight of the night for me. At the other end of the musical spectrum, even though Robert dedicated “Stairway To Heaven” to “everyone who’s come from everywhere….”, you could tell his heart was just not into it. In fact the word is that Robert had petitioned to drop the song from the two Knebworth shows. In hindsight that might have been a good idea.

Apart from the aforementioned tape hiss there are relatively few technical issues on this release.

– Problems with the PA system throughout “Over The Hills And Far Away”

– “In The Evening” cut near the end

– “White Summer/Black Mountain Side”, “Ten Years Gone” and “Heartbreaker” on disc 3 come from the 8/4/79 show from the previous week.

I believe this concert has been unfairly critiqued over the years. True enough, it certainly was not Led Zeppelin at their all-time best, however there were the usual flashes of brilliance. But more important this show is a monster historically. It was the end of an era. The Dinosaur was about to morph, abandoning the marathon and often self indulgent set lists in favor of a more slimmed down, back to basics approach that they would debut across Europe in 1980. Coupled with the fact that this was to become the last ever U.K. performance and you have a release of significant importance. One can only imagine what could have been when listening to Robert Plant address the crowd after “Stairway” when he says, “We’ll see you again real soon…”. If he only knew…

TDOLZ has packaged this release in their simplistic, yet elegant way, utilizing a cardboard gatefold sleeve. Two discs slide into one half and the third disc slides into the other half. Beautiful photos adorn the front and inside of the package while the set list is presented on the back.

Collectors have many releases of this historic show to choose from, some of which are of better sound quality than this release. That said, the sound quality of this TDOLZ release is still very good and quite enjoyable. So if you are looking for an affordable, attractive option then you can’t go wrong seeking this one out.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Dinosaurs In The Park | , | Leave a comment

Hotel California: Singer-Songwriters And Cocaine Cowboys In The L.A. Canyons 1967-1976 by Barney Hoskyns (2006)

hotel-california-singer-songwriters-and-cocaine-cowboys-in-the-la-canyons-1967-1976From amazon.com

Barney Hoskyns is certainly one of the best historical music writers, having previously impressed with one of the best books on The Band (`Across the Great Divide’, later adapted into a show by Radio 2) and the epic `Waiting for the Sun: Strange Days, Weird Scenes and the Sound of Los Angeles.’

In many ways, `Hotel California’ is a successor to the latter title – where `Waiting for the Sun’ took in a wide view of LA, from artists featured here to the Germs to NWA, this book restricts its view more, and is superior because of it. Hoskyns’ engaging book generally focuses around Geffen’s Asylum label and various key artists of the 1960s who typified the hippie dream in California: The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Love, The Doors, and various acts that stemmed from them. If you enjoyed such books as Joe Boyd’s `White Bicycles’ or Barry Miles `In the Sixties’, you’re in safe hands here as Hoskyns charts the rise and fall of those ideals, blending music history with cultural history and charting the obvious excesses.

The sub-title `Singer-songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the LA Canyons 1967 – 1976′ which balances the Eagles-derived title (sometimes I feel like the Dude in the Big Lebowski regarding Henley & co!!!) – Hoskyns unafraid to criticise that band, though by the end `Hotel California’ (the album) reflected an unfortunate reality. Proceedings open with the Byrds and continue with the Californian scene and with artists such as the Springfield, CSN&Y, Love, Joni Mitchell (who appears to have slept with every male musician in California in the 1960s and 1970s!), David Crosby, The Eagles, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Gene Clark, Gram Parsons, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Neil Young, Poco, Randy Newman, Tom Waits, J D Souther and many more. Hoskyns has extensivly interviewed and researched this book, so it’s not only extremely entertaining, but likely to be hugely accurate.

The one chapter on country rock and who the originator of that scene that ended with the Eagles and Alt-Country is probably the best thing I’ve read on that genre – Hoskyns not simply buying into the Gram = God thing, and pointing out that it was a fairly recent thing that Parsons was lionised for his brief and brilliant career (I thought it was interesting how Keith Richards dumped Parsons, ironic when he turns up gushing about him and he hadn’t spoken to him in his final years!).

I like the fact there are many views – was it the Dillards album? Ricky Nelson? Sweetheart of the Rodeo? I’m probably with Chris Hillman in this chapter, who plumps for the first Dillard & Clark album – a record I was familiar with only via the few tracks on the `Flying High’ compilation and one I had to own after reading this. It should be pointed out that you may very well want to read this book to the music here, in fact, it probably makes more sense – knowing the inter-personal history of Crosby and Mitchell here, `If I Could Only Remember My Name’ and `Blue’ make much more sense!!!

I found this a hugely enjoyable read, despite the fact I was relatively familiar with much of the events, having read that huge book on the Byrds by Johnny Rogan, the over-long `Shakey’ and being aware of Parsons’ story through the recent documentaries and movies (you may want to view the overlooked movie `Laurel Canyon’ alongside Hal Ashby’s `Shampoo’). The utopia perhaps nailed by David Crosby with `Renaissance Fair’ or by Arthur Lee with `You Set the Scene’ failed to materialise – cocaine, excess, and the resulting behaviour punctured that brief dream alongside Altamont and the Manson Family. What started with the rootsy acts nodding to Americana and creating country-rock/alt-country/new country, lead to the FM-friendly dilution that was the Eagles – a band just too hard to like!

The delusion that these people made a difference is underlined towards the end when David Anderle gripes that contemporary acts aren’t engaged politically as they were at the time and no one is singing about what Bush has been doing of late. Yes, apart from: Neil Young (`Living with War’), Tom Waits (`Real Gone’), Bruce Springsteen (his protest songs of late), Eminem (`Mosh’), Madonna (`American Life’), Radiohead (Hail to the Thief’), Joe Lally (`There to Here’), Bob Dylan (`Modern Times’), Julian Cope (`Dark Orgasm’), John Cale (the return to his live set of `Ready for War’), REM, Patti Smith, Thom Yorke, The Dixie Chicks, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Primal Scream, Muse, Damon Albarn, The Rolling Stones (`Sweet Neo-Con’), Kanye West, Elbow, Sparks (`Baby – Can I Invade Your Country?’), Psychic TV (a track on their new album makes a link live with the Iraq war), Steve Earle, Dan Berns etc etc!!!!

So perhaps the Big Chill was correct showing how the hippy generation sadly sold out and very few of them remained true to their ideals – thank god for Genesis Breyer P-Orridge I say! Highly recommended regardless!!!

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Book Hotel California: Singer-songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the L.A. Canyons 1967-1976 by Barney Hoskyns | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin III reviewed by Lester Bangs in Rolling Stone (1970)

led-zeppelin-iiiFrom Lester Bangs Rolling Stone

I keep nursing this love-hate attitude toward Led Zeppelin. Partly from genuine interest and mostly indefensible hopes, in part from the conviction that nobody that crass could be all that bad, I turn to each fresh album expecting — what? Certainly not subtle echoes of the monolithic Yardbirds, or authentic blues experiments, or even much variety. Maybe it’s just that they seem like the ultimate Seventies Calf of Gold.

The Zep, of all bands surviving, are today — their music is as ephemeral as Marvel comix, and as vivid as an old Technicolor cartoon. It doesn’t challenge anybody’s intelligence or sensibilities, relying instead on a pat visceral impact that will insure absolute stardom for many moons to come. Their albums refine the crude public tools of all dull white blues bands into something awesome in its very insensitive grossness, like a Cecil B. DeMille epic. If I rely so much on visual and filmic metaphors, it’s because they apply so exactly. I’ve never made a Zep show, but friends (most of them the type, admittedly, who will listen- to anything so long’s it’s loud and they’re destroyed) describe a thunderous, near-undifferentiated tidal wave of sound that doesn’t engross but envelops to snuff any possible distraction.

Their third album deviates little from the track laid by the first two, even though they go acoustic on several numbers. Most of the acoustic stuff sounds like standard Zep graded down decibelwise, and the heavy blitzes could’ve been outtakes from Zeppelin II. In fact, when I first heard the album my main impression was the consistent anonymity of most of the songs — no one could mistake the band, but no gimmicks stand out with any special outrageousness, as did the great, gleefully absurd Orang utang Plant-cum-wheezing guitar freak-out that made “Whole Lotta Love” such a pulp classic. “Immigrant Song” comes closest, with its bulldozer rhythms and Bobby Plant’s double-tracked wordless vocal croonings echoing behind the main vocal like some cannibal chorus wailing in the infernal light of a savage fertility rite. What’s great about it, though, the Zep’s special genius, is that the whole effect is so utterly two-dimensional and unreal. You could play it, as I did, while watching a pagan priestess performing the ritual dance of Ka before the flaming sacrificial altar in Fire Maidens of Outer Space with the TV sound turned off. And believe me, the Zep made my blood throb to those jungle rhythms even more frenziedly.

Unfortunately, precious little of Z III’s remaining hysteria is as useful or as effectively melodramatic. “Friends” has a fine bitter acoustic lead, but gives itself over almost entirely to monotonously shrill Plant breast-beatings. Rob, give a listen to Iggy Stooge.

“Celebration Day” and “Out On the Tiles” are production-line Zep churners that no fan could fault and no one else could even hear without an effort. “Since I’ve Been Loving You” represents the obligatory slow and lethally dull seven-minute blues jam, and “Hats Off to (Roy) Harper” dedicates a bottleneck-&-shimmering echo-chamber vocal salad to a British minstrel who, I am told, leans more towards the music-hall tradition.

Much of the rest, after a couple of listenings to distinguish between songs, is not bad at all, because the disc Zeppelin are at least creative enough to apply an occasional pleasing fillip to their uninspiring material, and professional enough to keep all their recorded work relatively clean and clear — you can hear all the parts, which is more than you can say for many of their peers.

Finally I must mention a song called “That’s the Way,” because it’s the first song they’ve ever done that has truly moved me. Son of a gun, it’s beautiful. Above a very simple and appropriately everyday acoustic riff, Plant sings a touching picture of two youngsters who can no longer be playmates because one’s parents and peers disapprove of the other because of long hair and being generally from “the dark side of town.” The vocal is restrained for once — in fact, Plant’s intonations are as plaintively gentle as some of the Rascals’ best ballad work — and a perfectly modulated electronic drone wails in the background like melancholy harbor scows as the words fall soft as sooty snow: “And yesterday I saw you standing by the river / I read those tears that filled your eyes / And all the fish that lay in dirty water dying / Had they got you hypnotized?” Beautiful, and strangely enough Zep. As sage Berry declared eons ago, it shore goes to show you never can tell.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin III | | Leave a comment