Good Rockin’ Tonight (Empress Valley EVSD-90)
Montreux Jazz Festival 2001, Auditorium Stavinsky, Montreux, Switzerland – July 7th, 2001
(37:46): Claude Nobs introduction, Ahmet Ertegun introduction, Good Rockin’ Tonight, My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It, Heart In Your Hand, Candy Store Rock, Endless Sleep, How Many More Years, My Baby Left Me, Baby Let’s Play House
Since Robert Plant decided to walk away from the Page & Plant project in the mid-nineties, the only time it was resurrected was for the half hour set at the Montreux Jazz Festival in July, 2001. This appearance was a tie-in to the celebration for Sun Records in Memphis, so seminal in history of 20th century rock music. Page & Plant contributed the track “My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It” for Good Rockin’ Tonight: The Legacy of Sun Records which was released on October 2001 and they appear in the documentary of the same name.
The Montreux Jazz Festival set hasn’t appeared in official form. Two songs, “Heart In Your Hand” and “Baby Let’s Play House” appear on Ole Blues Festival (Nighthawk NH-01006). Empress Valley provide the only title with the entire show, utilizing an excellent DAT audience recording.
Claude Nobs starts off the show, introducing Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records. Ertegun calls Plant and Page “the most important in reviving black American music for the whole world” and “still today the greatest influence on young musicians in the whole world” and that he’s privileged, like the audience, to see the event.”
Appropriately enough they start off with “Good Rockin’ Tonight” and “My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It,” two songs with a strong rockabilly feel. The first original of the set is “Heart In Your Hand.” It sounds majestic in this recording and it’s one of their most underrated songs.
Plant speaks about the impact of American music upon Led Zeppelin, apologizes to Johnny Otis, and introduces “Candy Store Rock.” This ist he only Zeppelin song played in the set and this is the first and only time this song has ever been played live. It’s appropriate this song was played since it has such deep roots in rockabilly. A cover of Hank Williams Jr’s “Endless Sleep” follows.
“How Many More Years” is a fairly faithful rendition of the Howlin’ Wolf track except for the “Smokestack Lightening” reference at the very end. Closing the short set is “My Baby Left Me,” a song Zeppelin used to play sometimes in their medleys early on in their career. The encore is “Baby Let’s Play House,” the early Elvis Presley single which inspired Jimmy Page in particular to play rock and roll.
Montreux is a joyful set worth having. Empress Valley package this in a very cheap, flimsy cardboard sleeve with a single opening on top with the disc housed in another cardboard sleeve. The packaging is far below cheap. But since it can be found at a cost lower than officially released CDs, it’s worth picking up for the great sound quality and an enjoyable performance.