Groovin’ You (Empress Valley EVSD-416/417)
Civic Center, Baltimore, MD – April 5th, 1970
Disc 1: We’re Gonna Groove, Dazed & Confused, Heartbreaker, Bring It On Home, White Summer/Black Mountain Side
Disc 2: What Is And What Should Never Be, organ solo, Thank You, Moby Dick, introduction, How Many More Times (Bolero, Boogie Chillun’, Move On, That’s Alright, My Baby Left Me, Honey Bee, Lemon Song), Whole Lotta Love
Groovin’ You is Empress Valley’s attempt at the Baltimore 1970 show, following last year’s Live At Tear Gassed Place on Tarantura. The latter is from the second tape source exclusively, but Empress Valley used the first, very poor sounding tape several times to fix some gaps in the better sounding source. These occur for several seconds near the beginning of “How Many More Times”, the crowd noise after that song, and the first several seconds of “Whole Lotta Love”. The edits are handled very well being smooth and not intrusive at all, making this the most complete document of the show.
The sound quality is a bit better than Tarantura’s. Whereas that label wanted to compress the tape and smooth over some of the dropouts at the beginning, EV increased the volume without trying to cut out all the hiss. Thus there are more high-end frequencies and it is easier to listen to the show improving the enjoyment of the concert.
It had a difficult start with the PA cutting out and the lights going on at one point. This causes the first half of the show to be tentative on the band’s part which Plant acknowledges before “White Summer”. “Every time we come here we have a great time audience wise and we want everybody to have a great time…forget the beginning and we’ll start fresh,” he says and the show improves considerably.
Groovin’ You comes packaged in Empress Valley’s unique thick cardboard cut out with slipcase. This is a design they developed dating from the beginning of their production in 1999 and hasn’t been co-opted by any other label. It can be an inconvenient storage medium, but it does offer a lot of room for creative and beautiful designs and this one stands out for the dramatic photo of Plant on the cover. It’s the wrong tour (it’s taken from the fall tour of that year), but still nice to see.
The tapes from their spring tour are interesting to listen to, including this, since they were dealing with lots of violence in the country and at their shows and was one of the reasons for their retreat to Bron-Yr-Aur in May and their recording more mellow material in contrast to the electric mayhem of Led Zeppelin II. Choosing between this and the Tarantura is again for personal taste, but I felt the Empress Valley really brings out the dynamics of the performance better.