World Champion Drummer! (Empress Valley EVSD-339-340)
Dorton Auditorium, Raleigh, NC – April 8th, 1970
Disc 1: We’re Gonna Groove, Dazed & Confused, Heartbreaker, Bring It On Home, White Summer/Black Mountain Side
Disc 2: Since I’ve Been Loving You, Organ solo/Thank You, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick
Led Zeppelin’s spring 1970 tour is bursting with confidence and swagger, probably riding a high from Led Zeppelin II ‘s reaching number one and causing much comment for knocking The Beatles’ Abbey Road out of the number one spot on the charts. For such a strong tour there are very few very good tapes available. This tape has been released several times before as Fearsome Four Live On Stage (Mandala), Groove (Tarantura), We’re Gonna Rock (Blimp) and American Accents (Baby Face). Two tracks, “Bring It On Home” and “organ solo/Thank You” were lifted from the Mandala release for the famous Cabala box set. It was a good and listenable tape which was very loud. “Bring It On Home,” sounded like a battle with Bonham’s drums fighting Jimmy’s guitar.
World Champion Drummer! is, compared to the Mandala release, a dramatic improvement in sound quality. I would rate the older versions a six at best. Empress Valley boosted the volume without any distortion to make this a solid nine and makes this arguably the finest document from this tour, and this concert definitely deserves such treatment. There are no negatives to this except that “How Many More Times” and “Whole Lotta Love” are still missing. After the opening number Plant says, “That was a thing called ‘Groove’ which we intend to do and we hope you as well, so get loose!” “White Summer” is played by the “pale Jimmy Page”. “We’ve done things from Led Zeppelin I and Led Zeppelin II, we’d like to do one thing from Led Zeppelin III” Plant explains before another early version of “Since I’ve Been Loving You”, six months before the album’s actual release. A girl in the audience shrieks and Plant responds: “Thank you, have a gargle.” Bonham’s drums still sound massive making both “Bring It On Home” and “Moby Dick” particularly effective.
Empress Valley and all the previous releases claim this is from April 7th in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was demonstrated several years ago through the discovery of ads and handbills that Zeppelin played in Charlotte on April 7th. The Raleigh show was the following night, April 8th. There is no mention of the location or venue on the tape, but this isn’t the Charlotte show since an eyewitness to that show posted his observations on the Electric Magic website and they do not correspond with this tape. So it’s definitely Raleigh but on April 8th instead of April 7th as posted on the artwork. Other than the date, everything else about this release is fantastic and is another EV release worth having.