Boston After Dark (Empress Valley EVSD-65)
Boston Tea Party, Boston, MA – January 23rd, 1969
(46:05): Train Kept A Rollin’, I Can’t Quit You, As Long As I Have You, Dazed And Confused, You Shook Me
Boston After Dark was released by Empress Valley in 2001 and is a rare pressed edition of the forty five minute fragment from Led Zeppelin’s first show in Boston on their initial tour. The only other silver pressed title with this tape is Complete Boston Tea Party(ARMS 07/08PR), a two disc set that also contains the May 19th Boston tape. EV use the same tape generation as ARMS but have amplified the volume producing a very good and clear sound. There is slight tape generation in “I Can’t Quit You” and the tape cuts out after “You Shook Me” eliminating, according to a review published the following week, “Pat’s Delight,” “White Summer” and a fifteen minute version of “How Many More Times.” Given JJ Jackson’s publicity there is no wonder the Boston Tea Parties were well attended and well documented with two of the shows at least existing on tape in one for or another.
The music that is present is an outstanding 1969 Led Zeppelin performance where they seem to straddle their aesthetic between hard blues and psychedelia beginning with an aggressive version of “Train Kept A-Rollin'” in which Page busts a string. There is a lengthy delay as Plant talks to the audience saying: “let me say it’s great to be in Boston. According to Jimmy, its one of the best places he’s ever played” and promotes the just released first album. Bonham and Jones lock onto a heavy rhythm while waiting but it doesn’t, as it would in other shows, develop any further.
Twelve minute dramatic version of “As Long As I Have You” follows “I Can’t Quit You” which confirms the review’s assessment by stating, “Rhythm changes abruptly, time patterns change abruptly, volume levels change abruptly, yet melodic line and chord skeletons manage to merge kaleidoscopically as each member of the band feeds one another and in turn plays off the idea thrown out. The entire approach is very loose and very improvisational. The result is a surprising intricacy developed out of a form that is usually considered to be quite simple. Yet the basic power is never lost. In one sense, the Led Zeppelin represents the best of two worlds.” (“Jimmy Page: After the Yardbirds…Comes Led Zeppelin,” Ben Blummenberg Boston Phoenix February 5, 1969).
Plant expresses some astonishment before “Dazed And Confused” saying, “Well we’ve only been here about four weeks, but we never expected receptions like this. So it’s really a gas. What with English beer and this sort of thing.” “Dazed And Confused” surprisingly sounds very close to the studio counterpart. The following song, and the final one on the tape “You Shook Me” is truly improvisatory in this show and would be on their initial tours. It is a shame the tape runs out at the end since with such firely playing the finale would have been outstanding to hear. However we are fortunate to have this fragment floating around. Empress Valley package Boston After Dark in a simple mini-LP style cardboard sleeve with era photos on the front and back and is worth tracking down.