Disc 2 (48:08): Stairway To Heaven, That’s The Way, Going To California, Whole Lotta Love (incl. Just A Little Bit, Boogie Chillun’, Hello Mary Lou, My Baby Left Me, Mess O’ Blues, You Shook Me, Lemon Song)
Going To California on the Trade Mark Of Quality label is another release by Tarantura of Led Zeppelin’s second Berkeley show from 1971. Several years ago they released a four disc set with both nights and the second night in its own separate packaging. This is the “final edition” utilizing the exact same discs and catalogue number in new packaging. For those who have the previous releases there is nothing new here. But for those who missed out, this is another chance to own the definitive version of this essential concert. The label uses what sounds like a virgin vinyl source and do a professional sounding, flawless transfer.
Unlike previous editions, this latest is released in a deluxe box similar to what Tarantura have been using for their Clapton releases and comes with a poster of the William Stout artwork.
All releases are sourced from vinyl because the master tapes were thrown away in one of the most famous and heartbreaking stories. I wrote in the review of the original Tarantura release several years ago: “The story is that the one behind the Phoenix and other labels was paranoid to begin with, but became even more so after the FBI began to bust some major players in February, 1980. He lived in California close to Ronald Reagan’s ranch and saw the secret service milling around the neighborhood. The increase in activity had more to do with Reagan being in a Presidential campain, but in a fit of paranoia he threw all the stampers used to produce the vinyl copies into the Pacific. Master tapes aren’t mentioned which leads me to hope that maybe the tape does exists. Louis Rey also mentions rumours that the master tape still exists with ‘Hey Hey What Can I Do?’ as an encore. However I’m sure if it does still exist it would have surfaced by now and any other alternate tape sources for this date. (Then again…)”
It is unfortunate the master tapes are lost because the original vinyl releases edited the tape to fit on four 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. What is left is probably the best recorded show from the tour and one of the greatest Zeppelin performances on record. The tape begins in mono but switches to stereo twenty-three seconds into “Heartbreaker.” There are also various little cuts between songs and in the tracks themselves, but do not detract from the overall enjoyment of the tape.
The show begins with the double onslaught of “Immigrant Song” and “Heartbreaker.” “You should have come last night” Plant says. “Last night we were several bowler-hatted beatniks. ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You.’ You remember the last album?” Steven Davis reviews this show in his book Hammer Of The Gods, published in 1985. He claims this to be a Los Angeles date on September 4th, but judging by the Plantations it is definitely this show. Davis observes: “By then the audience was anesthetized. But the new ‘Black Dog’ woke it up and make the first ‘oldies’ part of the show sound rote and mechanical Playing the brand new music, the band perked up and sounded like they were interested.”
“There was a pollution alert today” Plant explains afterwards. “I lost my voice. This is one from millions and millions of years ago. Just when the good things began checking themselves out.” Davis makes some interesting observations about the next song when he writes: “The band plowed into Jimmy’s rite of doom, ‘Dazed And Confused.’ Now running almost twenty minutes, Jimmy had developed the song into a display of his avant-rock techniques. After the initial morbid chords of the theme, he launched into a fine, pinpoint duet with the hammering Bonzo. As the violin bow came out and the lights dimmed to one pure spot on Jimmy, he built delicate trellises of pizzicato notes, splendid Carnatic melodies, and loud blats of droning electro-murk. Later Robert joined in with his moaned oms and mock-tantric chanting, in and out of unison. It was a lunatic, totally self-indulgent performance. It got a big O.”
The unreleased “Stairway To Heaven” is played to an audience who hadn’t heard it yet, and it receives a standing ovation. Curiously Plant points out John Paul Jones on piano for particular applause. The two song contains “That’s The Way” and another new song “Going To California.” “This is a moving night for me. This is another sitting down song. We really don’t like people squeaking too much. This is a thing that got together… I was gonna say the Scottish highlands. I was gonna say the Welsh mountains. But I think it was something like The Gorham hotel West 37th Street. Here’s to the days when things were nice and simple and everything was far out all the time.” The final “Whole Lotta Love” medley contains the normal songs for the tour but played on fire with amazing fluidity. This is packaged in a single cardboard sleeve with a color duplication of the original vinyl artwork and, for those who don’t have this show, is highly recommended.
Going To California was released by Tarantura in two forms. The more common contains two discs covering the September 14th show, while the four disc set covers “2 DAZE” with the September 13th and September 14th. The four disc set, being reviewed here, comes in the “TMQ” packaging which is a thick cardboard sleeve with the old vinyl covers being replicated on the front and back. The back cover with the famous William Stout illustration is an insert just like in the old days.
There are both pros and cons to this approach by the labels. One the one hand it does recall the fun of buying the vinyl titles back in the 70’s and 80’s and the whole aura that brings. The cartoon elephant has been associated with this show for over thirty years and I’m sure invokes a powerful emotional response. On the other hand some claim that, given the asking price for this set, Tarantura could develop something better and sturdier. Perhaps use some pictures from the actual shows? Or maybe we shouldn’t even be speaking too much about the packaging since it’s the music that matters, right?
Community Theater, Berkeley, CA – September 13th, 1971
Disc 1 (77:42): Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Black Dog, Dazed & Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Celebration Day, That’s The Way, Going To California
Disc 2 (58:26): What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love (incl. Boogie Chillun’, Hello Mary Lou, Mess O’ Blues, You Shook Me), Communication Breakdown (incl. Gallows Pole)
The September 13th show has been released before as Back On the West Coast (Mad Dogs), Going To California II (Tarantura), and most recently as California Stampede (Magnificent Disc). These releases were, in one way or another, problematic with speed problems, scarcity and over zealous mastering. This new release on Tarantura runs at the correct speed and has no issues whatsoever and is probably as good as this tape will ever sound. It is a very distant, thin sounding yet very listenable sounding mono audience recording. It ranks a six out of ten.
The concerts themselves prove that, with these final two dates after a month long tour, they lost no energy whatsoever. After they are introduced they walk on stage and deliver an exellent performance. “Since I’ve Been Loving You” is briefly delayed due to Jimmy’s guitar. “Dazed And Confused” is about twenty minutes and includes Bach’s bouree in the violin bow segment.
Page plays a lyrical, pastoral passage right before the call and response section which he abandons in later tours. “We’ve been working for three years and you ain’t sweating. Sweat!!” before “Communication Breakdown”, where Plant throws in some extensive lines from “Gallows Pole” during the guitar solo. It’s not clear if they also played the rest of their usual “encore set” for this period, which would also include “Rock And Roll” and ”organ solo / Thank You”.
Community Theater, Berkeley, CA – September 14th, 1971
Disc 3 (48:28): Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Black Dog, Dazed & Confused
Disc 4 (48:08): Stairway To Heaven, That’s The Way, Going To California, Whole Lotta Love (incl. Just A Little Bit, Boogie Chillun’, Hello Mary Lou, My Baby Left Me, Mess O’ Blues, You Shook Me, Lemon Song)
The September 14th show is one of the most famous Zeppelin bootlegs, right up there with Blueberry Hill and Mudslide. Previous releases on cd include Going To California on Electric Junk and Going To California on Shout To The Top (STTP) along with several cdr releases. The cd versions are sourced from vinyl as is this new release on Tarantura although their mastering is absolutely phenomenal. The STTP release was very good but had the occasional pop and click, whereas this one is flawless. Listening to it you will have to remind yourself of its origins. Tarantura released this tape on the four disc version and seperately on two discs.
The story is that the one behind the Phoenix and other labels was paranoid to begin with, but became even more so after the FBI began to bust some major players in February, 1980. He lived in California close to Ronald Regan’s ranch and saw the secret service milling around the neighborhood (probably more activity since it was an election year).
Clinton Heylin says in his book Bootleg: The Secret History Of The Other Recording Industry says that he threw all the stampers used to produce the vinyl copies into the Pacific. Master tapes aren’t mentioned which leads me to hope that maybe the tape does exists. Louis Rey also mentions rumours that the master tape still exists with “Hey Hey What Can I Do” as an encore. However I’m sure if it does still exist it would have surfaced by now and any other alternate tape sources for this date. (Then again…)
Tarantura have produced and excellent title definitely worth having. Despite the issues with the packaging this is an essential title to own. It is a shame that is it limited and costly because it is priced out of the reach of most collectors. For both shows this is a definitive version and will only be topped if better and more complete tapes surface for these dates.
The labels are on a Led Zeppelin 1971 kick of late (Tarantura have also released the Rochester show, plus all the hoopla surrounding the Montreux tape) which is a good thing since this was a very important year for the band. About a year after the four disc Going To California was released Tarantura released another version of the September 14th tape in a cardboard sleeve replica of an old vinyl release. This is limited to only fifty copies and is another opportunity to own perhaps the best version of this essential show.