Atlanta International Pop Festival 1969 (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-705)
Atlanta International Speedway, Hampton, Georgia, USA – July 5, 1975
(41:40) The Train Kept A Rollin’, I Can’t Quit You Baby, Dazed And Confused, White Summer / Black Mountain Side, You Shook Me
There is a new team whose objective is to actively seek out Led Zeppelin material that is completely new to circulation, this collective is aptly named The Dogs Of Doom. They are hitting Led Zeppelin aficionados fast and furious with both audio and video, all of which has not previously circulated freely. Let’s take a look at their output for just 2021, Volume 1 audio recording of Led Zeppelin’s performance at the Atlanta Pop Festival in 1969, Vol 2 is 8mm film footage of the Detroit Olympia 1/31/1975 concert, Vol. 3 is a fourth source for Jimmy Page’s Manchester UK 11/26/1988 audio source, Vol. 4 is Auckland 2/25/1972 8mm film footage, Vol. 5 is a third audio source for the Sydney Australia 2/27/1972 concert featuring Immigrant Song and Heartbreaker, both of which were missing from the previous two sources. Vol. 6 features other artists from the 1969 Atlanta Pop Festival including Johnny Winter, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Janis Joplin and others, and most recently, Vol. 7 which features a second source for the 11/7/1969 Winterland Ballroom concert that is much longer and features a complete How Many More Times and encore of Bring It On Home. Previous year releases have included the incredible 8mm footage from the first Cleveland show 4/27/1977 and the second source for Glasgow 12/4/1972.
This new title from the Graf Zeppelin features the audio from the Atlanta Pop Festival in 1969, and is a reason to celebrate as there has not been a new Zeppelin recording to surface for eight years, that previous recording was the excellent Piston ’70 Chantenay-Malabry, France Dec. 6, 1969 concert. This new recording from the Atlanta Pop Festival in 1969 was shared on various torrent sites freely and was only a matter of time before it hit the collectors market. Atlanta Pop Festival 1969 (No Label), Rocks In Atlanta (Empress Valley Supreme disc EVSD), and Atlanta International Pop Festival 1969 (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-705), all feature this recording. I made the easy decision and went for the Graf Zeppelin title, the subject of this review.
The sound quality of this new audience recording is very good, slightly distant with the individual instruments clearly discernible in the mix. There is just a very minor amount of tape hiss as one would expect from a recording of this age. The recording is also incomplete, the taper recorded all of Led Zeppelin’s set but at some point accidentally erased some, the missing songs are most certainly How Many More Times and the encore of Communication Breakdown. He also paused the machine between songs so some commentary is missing. The Graf Zeppelin typically excellent mastering shines on this release, increasing the sound just a tad and slight sound adjustments that smooth out the original recording.
This is the first concert of the tour and the performance is in line with the others from the summer of 1969, Led Zeppelin fully in control of their music and live presentation. The intro of The Train Kept A Rollin’ comes fast and in contrast to the slow blues of I Can’t Quit You Baby. One would think that the blues would be calming but this is a festival and there are some distant conversations going on and cries of “Sit down” are heard. Robert is singing a lusty version of I Can’t Quit You, after listening to a lot of 1975 and 77 shows recently, hearing this primal music is a breath of fresh air. Jimmy’s playing is exquisitely fluent and not overplayed one bit as he easily maneuvers between the leads and simple riff.
Dazed And Confused clocks in at 11 and a half minutes, again Robert is feeling it and is turning in a fine vocal performance. His Blues meet scat vocals are effective and seem to be calling out to Jimmy’s guitar waiting for the response. Jimmy plays a variation of Over Under Sideways Down during the post solo fast section just before moving back into the main theme, compact yet wickedly good version. White Summer / Black Mountain Side gives the audience a bit of time to chat, not even when Page breaks into Black Mountain Side do they stop. You Shook Me is introduced as a thing by Muddy Waters and features Plant on Harmonica. Like I Can’t Quit You, the blues was the foundation of the 1969 sets and features some of the most enjoyable playing of the concert, relaxed but intense. Shouts of sit down sound menacing, the casual festival atmosphere certainly irritating those who came to listen in the pre cell phone age nonetheless. John Bonham is inspired and is laying down some tasty fills as Jimmy and Robert on harmonica riff back and forth, the whole thing ends with Robert almost whispering the lyrics much to the delight of the audience, the recording ends as the final note is played. My copy is a two disc set, the second disc is a CD-R of the recording sans the mastering, interesting to compare the two but after a couple listens I go back to the mastered version, it’s better.
The packaging is great, the inserts all pay tribute to the event. The front cover is taken from the event poster and the rest are actual pictures from the concert itself. Small stage on a hot day, a couple pictures show Robert without a shirt, something you don’t see a lot, Jimmy in hot dark pink pants with a light pink shirt, or is it salmon colored? Yes there is a numbered sticker and picture on the disc, the whole kit and caboodle housed in a slim lined jewel case. A great, new addition to the Live Zeppelin cannon, for the committed this recording is a must have.