Going To California (Trade Mark Of Quality TMQ 0501002 1, 2)
Community Theater, Berkeley, CA – September 14th, 1971
Disc 1: Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Black Dog, Dazed & Confused
Disc 2: 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.
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 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. 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.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)