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.