Intimidator (Empress Valley EVSD-72/73/74)
Montreux Casino, Montreux, Switzerland – March 7th, 1970
Disc 1 (53:31): We’re Gonna Groove, I Can’t Quit You Baby, Dazed and Confused, Heartbreaker, White Summer / Black Mountainside, Since I’ve Been Loving You
Disc 2 (58:14): Organ solo, Thank You, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, How Many More Times, Whole Lotta Love
Disc 3 (58:31): We’re Gonna Groove, I Can’t Quit You Baby, Dazed and Confused, White Summer, How Many More Times, Whole Lotta Love
Led Zeppelin played at the Casino in Montreux in the middle of their first tour of Europe of the new decade. A year and a half before some stupid with a flare gun burned down the venue, Zeppelin played one of their tightest and most intense sets of the year. Most of the show was recorded from the audience. The tape is rich, deep, powerful and one of the most vivid documents of the band basking in the success of Led Zeppelin II. It is unfortunately incomplete, with minor cuts and with most of “How Many More Times” and “Whole Lotta Love” missing.
The excellent audience tape was pressed onto the vinyl titles Feel All Right – Live In Montreux (Audio Recording Audio Recording Inc. ARC 2002) and copied on Egg On Your Face (Wonderwall GA 104 A-D) and Hammer Of The Gods (Golden Age Entertainments GAE/SS 080102).
Early compact disc titles include Montreaux 1970 (Live Storm 51525), We’re Gonna Groove (Luna Records LU9314) and We’re Gonna Groove (Scorpio), all of which are incomplete and have the wrong date. Better versions of the tape came out after on The Dark Tower (Tarantura T70CD-3, 4), Feel All Right (Cobra Standard Series 003), All That Jazz (The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin Vol. 033) and Divinity (Atlantic Ocean 208/624 039 2).
A soundboard fragment surfaced with “We’re Gonna Groove,” “I Can’t Quit You,” “Dazed And Confused” and “White Summer” was pressed on Sunshine Woman (Flagge) and were included as bonus tracks on Intimate (Almost Mysterious) (Equinox EX-00-018/019) along with the Berlin show later that summer.
In 2001 a longer version of the soundboard surfaced featuring the complete “How Many More Times” and three minutes of “Whole Lotta Love.” It’s featured on Charisma on Tarantura and Intimidator on Empress Valley. The latter is one of the best productions of the label and has been reissued several times. The most recent came in July 2012, packaged in a quad jewel case.
The first two discs are an edit of the two tapes. The audience tape is obviously the base, but the soundboard is used to fix a gaps in “We’re Gonna Groove” between 2:08 to 2:11, in “White Summer” from 8:28 to 9:50 (a section which includes the dreamy descending riff Page would later use in “Midnight Moonlight”), and cuts in seven minutes into “How Many More Times” and runs through to the end of the show.
Disc three features the entire hour long soundboard in good mono. The audience tape on Intimidator sounds as good as on Divinity, and the edit between the two tapes is very nicely handled.
The show starts off with the rush of “We’re Gonna Groove.” The intensity of the rhythm section challenges Plant to keep up. He even seems to lose his place after the guitar solo. The segue into the slow blues sludge is seamless. The Led Zeppelin track is much heavier and loose than the studio recording and by this time was on its last legs. Zeppelin would drop it from the set then they went to America after this tour and it would reappear in the “Whole Lotta Love” medley in 1973 in a very loose arrangement.
“Dazed And Confused” follows and at this point in Zeppelin’s history is still a fifteen minute psychedelic masterpiece. Plant sings a unique second verse which introdcues a bit of levity in the piece, “I’ve been wonderin’ and I’ve been wandering / tell me what can I do? / I’m in love with a sweet little girl / and she looks exactly like you. But baby let them / say what they will / It’s gonna work out fine now / nothing can change my mind … but I will.”
Robert Plant has some problems with his microphone and attempts a bit of French, saying: “Je casser mon microphone [I broke my microphone]. You feel alright? Well, are we alright? Have we got another one?” From the new album “Heartbreaker” is played with the Jeff Beck Group’s “Rice Pudding” as introduction.
“White Summer” is introduced as “a thing that’s comprised of several different numbers in what might be called a peculiar tuning.”
“How Many More Times” reaches twenty-five minutes and is one of the most intense recordings of the medley available. After introducing the band, the band play the song through the verses and the opening instrumental break which includes references to “Susie Q” and “Beck’s Bolero.” In “The Hunter” Plant pushes the band into John Lee Hooker’s “Boogie Chillun'” with references to “Further On Down The Line,” and Page responds with the famous “Hideaway” riff.
Lonnie Donagen’s “Cumberland Gap” is referenced in the Tommy McClennan version of “Bottle Up And Go.” Plant sings “Now, nickel is a nickel A dime is a dime. I don’ need no girl, If she want wine” and “Now, the nigger and the white man / Playin’, set ’em up / Nigger beat the white man / Was scared to pick it up.”
The follow with a strange version of “My Baby Left Me” and their only known live reference to Little Richard’s “Jenny Jenny” (making this a true rarity). After Page jams a bit, Plant throws in “The Lemon Song” reference before having the girl in the sight of his gun and the song’s crashing finale. The encore “Whole Lotta Love” cuts out during the middle cacophony which features not only Page’s theremin but Jones’ crashing chords on the organ.
This reprint of Intimidator comes in a standard quad case with nicely design artwork and offered at a more than reasonable price. It seems Empress Valley have drifted away from the awful “TMOQ” style sleeve / inserts garbage they were using for their reissues several years ago and have returned to more standard, but sturdy, packaging. This version is an affordable way for collectors to obtain this worthy show.