Ooh La La (Wild Street WS 004A/B)
La Cigalle, Paris, France – March 30th, 1998
Disc 1 (58:23): Intro., Wanton Song, Bring It On Home, Heartbreaker, Ramble On, Walking Into Clarksdale, No Quarter, When I Was A Child, Going To California, Tangerine, Gallows Pole, Burning Up
Disc 2 (48:07): Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, How Many More Times (incl. We’re Gonna Groove – In The Light), Most High, Whole Lotta Love, Thank You, Rock And Roll
The publicity surrounding Walking Into Clarksdale was enormous. The first album with all original music from Page & Plant since 1979 received much advance airplay with the single “Most High” appearing both on radio and MTV.
In the months leading up its release Page & Plant were busy with warm up gigs in eastern Europe (Croatia, Poland, Czech Republic), a much publicized surprise gig in Shepherd’s Bush Empire, and an appearance on Top Of The Pops. The publicity junket also included a trip to France for a gig in La Cigalle in Paris, broadcast on OUÏ FM radio on March 30th and a television appearance on Canal-1 TV the following day.
Ooh La La contains the complete OUÏ FM broadcast in excellent sound quality. It contains station IDs by both the French DJs and by Robert Plant and Jimmy Page themselves (recorded earlier in the day). They are very quick between some songs and in no way interfere with the show. The only imperfection is a big dropout about 1:14 in “The Wanton Song” and two glitches in “Most High.” The first glitch occurs at 3:31 where the music stops and a tone is audible. The second sounds like a cut at 3:53.
Another release of this tape from Europe can be found on Four Madmen And A Friend (Dandelion DL024/25) with the next day’s telecast as a bonus. Most High Live (Optimum OPT42/43) is a direct copy of the Dandelion.
The start of the show maintains a distinct feel of the Unledded tours from a few years prior. The same opening tape is played before a few measures of “Immigrant Song” lead into “The Wanton Song.” They follow with the Led Zeppelin II medley common from the past tour with an excerpt from “Bring It On Home,” “Heartbreaker” up to through the solo, and “Ramble On.”
Robert Plant speaks a bit of French in his opening comments. He mentions they now have “no Egyptians, no orchestra, no hurdy-gurdy, just four madmen and a friend” (the friend is keyboardist Phillip Andrews). As he’s introducing the title track from the new album, the audience cheer in recognition and prompts Plant to quip “that’s good, you’ve heard it already.”
The new songs in general sound much better played live than on record. “Walking Into Clarksdale” is a has schizophrenic dallying between various styles, flirting with many but with commitments to none. It’s a brave song which is followed by a stultifyingly orthodox version of “No Quarter.” While the arrangement on the Unledded tours were dark, apocalyptic nightmare visions, this sounds like almost identical to the Houses Of The Holy recording.
“When I Was A Child” is the second new song of the set which Plant says is “the second time we’ve wove our way through that. It takes some concentration. And a chair. A chair!” A three song acoustic set follows with “Going To California” (complete with Plant’s middle eastern vocal embellishments), “Tangerine” (which, like “No Quarter,” is performed almost exactly as the studio recording) and finally “Gallows Pole.”
They follow with “Burning Up,” the third new song. It would be played the opening week in the US but then dropped in favor of “Shining In The Light.”
Before “How Many More Times” Plant promises they’re “gonna break all the boundaries of music…it’s jazz time.” Played as a reference to the recently released Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions on Atlantic, they throw in the riff to “Smokestack Lightening” and short versions of “We’re Gonna Groove” and “In The Light.”
They close the set with the first single from the album “Most High,” which is their “desperate attempt to win friends and influence people under the age of ninety.” It is a brilliant synthesis of western rock and northern African arabic music and deservinly won the Grammy award.
Page & Plant give the French radio audience three encores: “Whole Lotta Love,” “Thank You” and finally “Rock And Roll.”
Walking Into Clarksdale was released on April 25th, a month after this broadcast. The publicity paid off. The LP entered the chart at number five and stayed in the charts for six weeks (it did slightly better in the UK by entering at number three).
Page & Plant would make two more trips to Paris this year. They played the Palais Omnisports de Paris Bercy on their European Walking Into Everywhere tour on November 10th, and in the same venue on December 10th they played a six song set as part of an Amnesty International benefit (and this would be the final live public Page & Plant appearance ever).
Ooh La La is packaged in a single pocket cardboard sleeve. The front has the basic publicity photo from the LP and lettering in the style of the Page & Plant LP with no futher clutter on the artwork. Wild Street was a minor Japanese label releasing several quality titles, and despite the minor imperfections is a good way to obtain this show.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)