Led Zeppelin – Florida Sunshine Orlando Magic (Empress Valley EVSD-225/226)

Florida Sunshine Orlando Magic (Empress Valley EVSD-225/226)

 Orlando Sports Stadium, Orlando, FL – August 31st, 1971

Disc 1 (68:52):  Introduction, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dazed And Confused, Black Dog, Stairway To Heaven, Celebration Day, That’s The Way

Disc 2 (64:06):  Going To California, You Really Got Me “excerpt”, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love (Boogie Chillun’, My Baby Left Me, Mess O’ Blues), organ solo, Thank You, ending announcement

Led Zeppelin’s seventh tour of North America is one of the all time greats with the consistency and inventiveness in performance.  Every document from this era is an essential title to own no matter how obscure or fragmentary (and for some of the shows all we have are frustrating fragments). 

An incomplete audience tape for their August 31st Orlando show was first released as Orlando Madness Volume 1 (H&Y Records HY-002) (“Introduction” to “Black Dog”) and Orlando Madness Volume 2 (H & Y Records HY-003) (“Stairway To Heaven” to “Moby Dick”).  These were copied by Lemon Song Records of Japan as Welcome To Disneyland Part 1 (Lemon 7201) and Welcome To Disneyland Part 2 (Lemon 7202).  The sound quality is only fair to good but is listenable if you put effort into it. 

One of the highlights in 2003 was Empress Valley’s finding and releasing an incomplete soundboard for this show which contains material missing from the audience, namely the “Whole Lotta Love” medley and one encore “Thank You” contained on the release.  They released two versions of Florida Sunshine (EVSD-225/226/227/228), a limited edition four disc set with a redaction of the soundboard and audience on the first two discs and the audience alone on the second two. 

The normal version was the first two discs with the two sources together and also on DVDA on Orlando Magic (EVSDVD-a 006/1-2).  Orlando Magic (ZP033-29A/B) on Eelgrass is a copy of the two-disc set.  You Really Got Me (Akashic AKA-33) came out afterwards, representing a slight improvement over the Empress Valley.

In 2009 Empress Valley again issued this on compact disc titled Florida Sunshine Orlando Magic.  The two discs are the same nice edit of the two sources offered for a bargain price.  Unlike many of the recent reissues from this label, this is not packaged in cheap cardboard sleeves with one page insert, but in a jewel case with nice artwork.  If this label really wants to just reissue their past catalog, this is how they should be doing it. 

The audience source is used for the introduction where the announcer is telling people to relax, sit down, turns down the house lights and brings out the band to wild applause.  The soundboard picks up with Page’s brief tuning and Bonzo’s count in to “Immigrant Song”. 

The audience source is used for forty-five seconds at 3:20 in “Dazed & Confused”, for “Celebration Day”, acoustic set and for the first ninety seconds of “What Is And What Should Never Be” where the soundboard comes back in and runs to the end with a major cut in “Whole Lotta Love”.  

The quality of the soundboard tape is much better than the September 9th Virginia tape which is the only other soundboard to surface from this tour.  It is in stereo, not mono, and has a wider degree of frequencies being very detailed and lively.  The audience sounds far away but the band’s comments are picked up off mic putting you right on stage with them.

The concert itself is great and contains some unique moments.  At 20:46 in “Dazed & Confused” Page gets into an almost complete ”White Summer” with a wah-wah arrangement.  The next album is announced as coming out in three weeks before “Black Dog” where Plant hits the first high note and then avoids it for the rest of the song. 

“Stairway To Heaven” is played very close to the studio arrangement.  “Celebration Day” is introduced as “one for New York” as Page slowly builds up to the introductory fanfare.  “Whole Lotta Love” begins with Page playing a very chunky riff with Plant yelling for “everybody” before launching into the song.  John Paul Jones plays a very delicate cocktail piano underneath Page’s theremin solo.  The audience begins to move forward (who wouldn’t?!) and Plant warns,  “Oh, that’s far enough.  Clive.  Clive.  Clive!…So I’m gonna sit down…boogie chillun” calling for the roadie Clive Colson to restore order at the front of the stage.

After ”Mess O’ Blues” Page gets into an amazingly catchy and heavy riff with Plant singing improvised lyrics before the tape frustratingly cuts out.  They usually played a long blues like “You Shook Me” at this point but is absent on this recording.  It picks up again at the beginning of the organ solo and runs to the end of “Thank You” with the rest of the encores (normally “Communication Breakdown” and “Rock And Roll”) being absent. 

The tape ends with the house announcer asking for William Combis, because “your wallet is up here”.  The great thing about Zeppelin in the early years are the surprises and unique moments and riffs they pull out of their head and this concert is an excellent example of this.  It was hoped more tape was found for this release but unfortunately that isn’t the case.

Orlando is one of the outstanding, but frustratingly incomplete, recordings from one of Zeppelin’s greatest tours.  It is a great recording to have for the collection, and this 2009 reissue on Empress Valley is a very good way to obtain the show.

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