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Robert Plant – Swedish Nirvana (Wardour-051)

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Swedish Nirvana (Wardour-051)

Koncerthuset, Stockholm, Sweden – May 26th, 1990

Watching You, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Billy’s Revenge, Tie Dye On The Highway, In The Mood, No Quarter, Liar’s Dance, Going To California, Your Ma Said You Cried In Your Sleep Last Night, Nirvana, Immigrant Song, Hurting Kind (I’ve Got My Eyes On You). Bonus Track: Mirror In The Bathroom (unreleased studio recording)

Swedish Nirvana contains two previously unreleased and uncirculated recordings from one of Robert Plant’s most creative periods. The tape cuts in during the opening number “Watching You” and runs through the complete seven minute set closer “Hurting Kind (I’ve Got My Eyes On You)”. The tape is an excellent, well balanced and professionally mixed soundboard recording that is startling in its clarity. The vocals and all of the instruments are very well balanced and one cannot ask for a better sounding tape. The only negative to mention is it is not the complete show.

It cuts in during the opening song “Watching You”, contains a small cut in “Going To California”, and cuts out after “Hurting Kind”. This tour for Manic Nirvana was Plant’s first tour of the continent as a solo artist and covered eighteen shows. Only six, from Brussels, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Lyon, Paris and Oslo are in general circulation. All of those are audience recordings making Stockholm the only soundboard. Only two and a half minutes of “Watching You” is present on the tape. It is an effective opener complete with the Arabic wailing before the thematic “Friends” bridge into “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”. The interpretation is missing the phased guitars but includes Plant’s harmonica solo and is followed by the catchy “Billy’s Revenge” from Now & Zen. “Tie Dye On The Highway” is next complete with the Wavy Gravy sound bites from Woodstock.

“Thank you very much. It has taken a little while to get back, but this was the only way I can come…. The sampling on that song was recorded the very same year I came here last so that tells you something.” He is obviously referring to 1969 and the early tours with Zeppelin, but Plant is off by four years since Zeppelin played Stockholm last in 1973. “In The Mood” is extended to eleven minutes with dreamy guitar and keyboard soundscapes interspersed with Plant repeating the line “I’ve been away so long”.

This is followed by the Led Zeppelin soundscape “No Quarter”. This song was added from the old catalogue by Plant for this tour. This version consists of the two verses followed by a brief interlude based upon the coda of the studio version and ending with the first verse again. “Liar’s Dance” is introduced as a song from the new album, featuring the remarkable playing of Doug Boyle. “It’s really remarkable when you think about the condition he was in when he woke up this morning” is his cryptic remark. It makes one wonder exactly they were doing? So begins a short, two-song acoustic set with that tune and “Going To California”. Plant’s cover of the 1962 Kenny Dino hit “ Your Ma Said You Cried In Your Sleep Last Night” is played in lieu of “Tall Cool One” which was most commonly played in this slot.

“Nirvana” is referred to “our favorite song”. “Immigrant Song” is introduced as about “a lonely Viking. This poor Viking has been waiting years to pillage and to enjoy the pleasures that a Viking was entitled to. He sat there and nothing happened and one day after sitting by the pool for years, an idea fell into his lap. And he stood up and said, ‘I can. I am. I must do this…” The seven-minute “Hurting Kind (I’ve Got My Eyes On You)” is the set closer and the tape cuts out at the song’s conclusion. There is no way of knowing what the encores were but usually some combination of “Misty Mountain Hop”, “Ship Of Fools”, “Communication Breakdown” and “Tall Cool One”. The bonus track is an unreleased studio recording of Robert Plant and the Manic Nirvana band covering The English Beat’s 1980 UK hit “Mirror In The Bathroom”.

Plant played this several times during this tour and appears on the December 15th, 1990 Wolverhampton tape but this is the first time the studio version has appeared. It is a faithful rendition except for the absence of the horn section for this ska hit. The timbre of the recording suggests this is probably a live rehearsal or a sound check instead of a polished studio recording. Swedish Nirvana is another quality Wardour Robert Plant release whose only flaw is the incompleteness of the Stockholm tape. These tapes may have surfaced in connection with the Nine Lives box set released late last year. The label use the glossy paper inserts and limit this title to three hundred copies worldwide.

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