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Led Zeppelin – Blueberry Hill II (Wendy WECD-84/85)

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Blueberry Hill II (Wendy WECD-84/85)

Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA – September 2nd, 1970

Disc1:  Introduction, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Dazed And Confused, Bring It On Home, That’s The Way, Bron-Yr-Aur, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Organ Solo, Thank You

Disc 2:  What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love (inc. Boogie Chillun - Sugar Rhythm – Lawdy Miss Clawdy – For What It’s Worth – Honey Bee – I’m Moving On – Fortune Teller – That’s Alright Mama), Communication Breakdown (inc. Good Times Bad Times), The Train Kept A Rollin’, Blueberry Hill, Long Tall Sally

Live On Blueberry Hill II is another welcome release of Led Zeppelin’s September 2nd, 1970 Oakland gig on the prolific Wendy label.  There are two extant tape sources.  The first, and more poor quality tape can be found on Get Loose (HGCD 100/1) on Holy Grail.  Some has questioned the authenticity of this tape but it is commonly accepted to be legitimate.  The second, almost complete and better sounding source has been used for all other releases beginning with Two Days Before (SIRA-129/130) on Silver Rarities in 1994. 

Tarantura followed with Led Zeppelin Live On Blueberry Hill II (OAK 1,2) in 1996.  Seven years later Another Night On Blueberry Hill (EMC-019A/B) on Electric Magic was released in sound quality similar to the Tarantura.  And like Silver Rarities and Tarantura, it used the better sounding tape only, cuts and all.  That title was one of the final and most desirable from Electric Magic before they changed into Badge holders.  This new release by Wendy like the other more recent ones relies mostly upon the better sounding tape. 

There is very little attempt at equalization and it sounds very nice and is one of the better titles produced by Wendy and unlike Electric Magic they use the poorer sounding tape for four edits.  The first is the beginning four seconds of the tape during the introduction.  The second occurs between 10:00 and 10:08 after “Bring It On Home”.  The third is between 6:55 and 7:33 after “Thank You” with Plant saying “let’s hear it for John Paul Jones”. 

Finally in “Whole Lotta Love” about 7:15 in the track, while they are playing “Ju Sugar Rhythm” the tape becomes unstable and cuts out (probably at the end of the tape).  Wendy edit the older source beginning at 7:22 and it runs to 8:39 and doing their best to minimize the tape wobble.  The sound quality is a little distant but has fantastic atmosphere, perfectly capturing the deep fuzzy crunch favored by the band on this tour.  And this performance is THE most underrated Zeppelin show. 

Whenever people speak about their favorite performances, this one is never mentioned.  Even in discussions about the sixth tour where Los Angeles, Tulsa and New York are mentioned, Oakland hardly gathers much praise.  This may be due to the scarcity of silver releases but with several titles surfacing the past couple of years it has come into greater circulation.  The tape begins with Bill Graham introducing the band including  “the invisible John Bonham” on drums.  The opening salvo of “Immigrant Song” (still unknown to the audience at this point) and “Heartbreaker” are great and is still the best opening to a Zeppelin show. 

“This is something we played in our first time we ever came to San Francisco, and we were all filling our trousers and were a little bit worried about Bill Graham.  Anyway it all worked out…” before beginning “Dazed And Confused”.  What follows is an intense, sixteen-minute version with Page filling the Coliseum with otherworldly, spooky noises accompanied by Plant’s moans.  The improvisation in this recording sounds huge.  A nine-minute version of “Bring It On Home” follows after Page tunes his guitar with Plant getting everyone to clap their hands together.

This tour featured the first proper acoustic set they ever played and Plant introduces “That’s The Way” by saying, “We’ve got an album that is due for release in about three weeks time called Led Zeppelin III.  And we’d like to do a couple of things from it tonight.  The first one is an acoustic thing which requires us to sit down so give us two minutes.”  

The audiences in Oakland, as is common on many stops, are impatient and shout out rude things to the band at first but give the song a loud ovation.  He gives a long introduction to the rare “Bron-Y-Aur” and the audience greets it with shouts and whistles.  The show picks up again with “Since I’ve Been Loving You”, the third new track in a row.  The ending of the show is spectacular with a twenty-minute “Whole Lotta Love” which includes a very elaborate medley of oldies.  “Sugar Rhythm” is a strange track and “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” makes its first appearance in a Zeppelin show.  The band rewards the audience with four encores.  During the second guitar solo in “Communication Breakdown” the band drift into a complete version of “Good Times, Bad Times” including Page playing a short version of the explosive guitar solo.  

The old show opener “The Train Kept A-Rollin’” is played for the only time as an encore followed by their first version of “Blueberry Hill” and a riotous version of Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” to end the evening.   Live On Blueberry Hill II is packaged in a double slim line jewel case with obi strip as is standard for all of Wendy’s releases and the sound quality is a bit more clear than the Electric Magic making this release as close to definitive as possible.  Since this is an excellent show this title is definitely worth having.

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If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)

Led Zeppelin - Blueberry Hill II (Wendy WECD-84/85), 3.8 out of 5 based on 4 ratings

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