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Led Zeppelin – Lili Marleen (Tarantura TCD-49, 50)

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Lili Marleen (Tarantura TCD-49, 50)

It is unusual to have so many listenable tapes from a band’s tour so early in their career, but Zeppelin’s first proper tour of the continent in the spring of 1970 is very well documented.   From the first date on February 24th in Helsinki, Finland, seven of the eleven shows have extant audience tapes and all have been released in one form or another including the famous “Nobs” show in Copenhagen on February 28th. 

Only the two Göteborg, Munich and Amsterdam concerts are missing from the archives.  Several years ago the March 7th Montreux and the March 12th Dusseldorf appearances received several releases on competing labels. 

On Lili Marleen, Tarantura have issued perhaps the definitive release of the two Hamburg dates from the end of the short tour.  Neither of these tapes sound as good as Montreux or Dusseldorf, but they are better sounding than Vienna and overall this release is an improvement over the previous titles covering these two tapes.   

Musikhalle, Hamburg, Germany – March 10th, 1970

Disc 1, March 10th, 1970: We’re Gonna Groove, I Can’t Quit You, Dazed  & Confused, Heartbreaker, White Summer/Black Mountain Side

Disc 2:  Since I’ve Been Loving You, organ solo / Thank You, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, How Many More Times (incl. The Hunter, Eyesight To The Blind, Boogie Chillun’, Cumberland Gap, Rollin’ And Tumblin’, Down By The River, Traveling Riverside Blues, Long Distance Call Blues, The Lemon Song), Whole Lotta Love

The first two discs, subtitled “Down By The River” by Tarantura, contain the first show in Hamburg on March 10th.  The tape source is distant but clear taped a fair distance from the stage with moderate levels of hiss. 

This tape surfaced in the mid-nineties and was quickly booted by the Japanese label Immigrant on Hamburg 1970 (IM-024~25), followed by Mystery European Gig (BS 38/39) by The Symbols.  Zeppelin were scheduled to play in Frankfurt on this date but it was cancelled after riots broke out at a Jethro Tull concert several weeks before and deliver an interesting performance in the first of two shows in Hamburg. 

“We’re Gonna Groove” is a bit distorted but that disappears by the guitar solo and by the time the band reach “I Can’t Quit You” the tape becomes very listenable.  There is a tape crinkle about 12:55 in “Dazed & Confused”.  After a small cut in the tape Plant introduces the next song “from the second album, called ‘Heartbreaker’”.  After a collective gasp of horror and fascination from the audience he tries to calm them down and Page plays the opening riff very softly before the band crash in.  “Black Mountain Side” has a hint of “Swan Song”.  “Thank You” is cut after the guitar solo eliminating the final verse.

“How Many More Times” is simply a masterpiece of construction.  During the tense guitar solo at the nine-minute mark Plant chants lyrics from Ricky Nelson’s ”We’ve Got A Long Way To Go” followed by the heavy marching pattern leading into “The Hunter”.  Sonny Boy Willimason’s “Eyesight To The Blind” and John Lee Hooker’s “Boogie Chillun’” are played together before the boogie guitar solo leads into “Cumberland Gap”. 

Plant sings lyrics from Elmore James’ version of “Rollin’ And Tumblin” and Neil Young’s “Down By The River” together before the band slow down a bit and play, for the only known time, the original arrangement of Robert Johnson’s “Traveling Riverside Blues” (with the audience clapping along) which is segued with “Long Distance Call Blues” before wrapping up with “The Lemon Song”.  “Does everybody feel alright?” Plant asks to almost silence.  “Both of you!” he replies before the song concludes with the main theme.  This is one of the best-recorded versions of the song and the encore sounds anticlimactic afterwards. 

Musikhalle, Hamburg, Germany – March 11th, 1970

Disc 3, March 11th, 1970:  Introduction, We’re Gonna Groove, I Can’t Quit You, Dazed & Confused, Heartbreaker, White Summer/ Black Mountain Side

Disc 4:  Since I’ve Been Loving You, organ solo / Thank You, Moby Dick, How Many More Times (includes The Hunter, Ravel’s Bolero, Needle Blues, Boogie Woogie, Cumberland Gap, Long Distance Call Blues, Shake ‘Em On Down, Lemon Song), Whole Lotta Love

Discs three and four, subtitled  “Shake ‘Em On Down”, cover the second date in Hamburg on March 11th.  Parts were released on vinyl on the rare German titles Live (Best) and White Summer (Marc) with a reissue also called White Summer (Acid).  The only compact disc release is by the Image Quality label on  Everybody Everybody (IQ-053/54).  The music is louder and is more enjoyable than the first night but the tapers had their levels set too high and the tape is plagued with a significant amount of distortion. 

The tapers hold muffled conversations between themselves which aren’t distracting but are noticeable.  There are also several cuts in the tape and “What Is And What Should Never Be” is either missing or not played on this night.  “When I say good evening, you say good evening back.  Good evening!” Plant says.  He also complains about the house lights being on; “Lights!  Just a minute” as Page and the band play a little ditty to kill time before they start ”Dazed & Confused”.  “Feelin’ Groovy” is played as a short introduction to “Heartbreaker” and the guitar solo includes Bouree which elicits a reaction from the audience. 

“Since I’ve Been Loving You” is introduced as the first thing they got together for Led Zeppelin III.  The “How Many More Times” medley in this show is almost as good as the first night and two minutes shorter, clocking in at twenty-four and a half minutes.  Ravel’s Bolero is clearly played and it also includes the only known reference to Bukka White’s  ”Shake ‘Em On Down” which would be recycled later in the year for “(Hats Off To) Roy Harper” on the next LP and “Custard Pie” on Physical Graffiti.  

“Whole Lotta Love” reaches more than six minutes before having the tape run out at the end.  These are two great shows in front of a quiet audience.   Lili Marleen is limited to two hundred copies and comes packaged in a gorgeous four fold cardboard sleeve with pictures of the band from the March 12 show on the inside.  The set lists are printed on each of the panels but contain some mistakes, so Tarantura provide an insert with the correct ones. 

The title comes from the popular World War II era German song “Lili Marleen”.  The lyrics of the song are printed (in German) on the inside.  Unless better tape sources surface for these two concerts this can be considered definitive and it is great to see these two concerts receive the deluxe treatment. 

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Led Zeppelin - Lili Marleen (Tarantura TCD-49, 50), 2.5 out of 5 based on 1 rating

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