Blue Flame (Bumble Bee BB-0702009-10)
Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA – April 27th, 1969
Disc 1: Train Kept A Rollin’, I Can’t Quit You Baby, As Long As I Have You, You Shook Me, How Many More Times, Communication Breakdown
Disc 2: Killing Floor, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Sitting And Thinking, Pat’s Delight, Dazed And Confused
Blue Flame joins an impressive list of releases covering Led Zeppelin’s April 27th, 1969 show at the Fillmore West. The soundboard source is among the earliest tapes to escape from Wolfgang’s Vault, over thirty years ago. Vinyl releases include Fillmore West 1969 (GLC) and Moby Dick (GLC) combining to present the whole tape in great quality. The Jester label reissued these LPs in the same great quality.
It’s Been A Long Time on Songs For Swinging Mothers is another excellent sounding release which comes with a wristwatch and is extremely rare. Metallic Opus on Rec and Flying High on White Night are less complete and in inferior quality to the other vinyl titles. The soundboard is among the very first Led Zeppelin release on compact disc with San Francisco 27/04/69 Vol. 1&2 (KMCD3&4) on Kaleidoscopic Records, 20 Years Train Kept A Rollin’ Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (LLRCD 025/ 026) on Living Legend, and Zeppelin Express (Condor 1968) and Zeppelin Ediface (Condor 1970) both on Toasted all being released in 1989.
Dazed And Confused on Discomagic (CD/ON 2216) was released about this time, claims this is from Los Angeles and contains the intro., “How Many More Times”, “Train Kept A Rollin”, “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”, and “Dazed And Confused”.
World Productions released Killing Floor (WPOCM 0589 D 024-2) with various tracks. Other releases of the incomplete soundboard include American Beauty (SFSB-1,2) on Tarantura released in 1996, Fillmore West (LSD-09/10/11) on Last Stand Disc coupled with the April 24th tape and Simplistic Atmosphere (JR-27/28) on the late, great Jelly Roll label.
Tracks from the soundboard tape have appeared on compilations like Complete Tapes Vol. 1 (Tintagel), More Than Something Else (Aulica), and the famous Cabala (Osoz) box set. The complete good sounding audience recording was released twice. First by Tarantura on Led Set and second by Image Quality on Graham’s Superb Vol. 2 (IQ-061/062). The trend of the last decade has been to use the audience recording to fix the holes in the soundboard tape and has been done very effectively. Immigrant attempted it first with Twinight (IM-002/3), but this version was very rough.
The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin label did an unbelievable editing job on 1999’s Collage (TDOLZ Vol. 91) in which the difference between the audience and soundboard, and the fades were so smooth, made this an incredible aural experience. This was followed by Avocado Club (EVSD- 270-275) on Empress Valley, which is a six-disc set with the April 26th, the audience recording of the April 27th and an edition of both audience and soundboard. Wendy is the most recent with the March 2007 release of Sleeping Beauty (wecd-78/79).
Many question why there is yet another release of this show following so closely on the heels of the Wendy release. It is a fair question to ask and except for some degeneration of the audience recording at the very beginning of the show, this is a pretty good release. It certainly isn’t offensive and Bumble Bee doesn’t try to “improve” the recording with heavy-handed tinkering with the tape.
In fact the label themselves claim this tape is “the low generation which recently is excavated” and that “polite mastering is administered.” The edits between the two sources are similar with the older editions. The audience recording is used for the first twenty seconds before fading into the soundboard tape in “Train Kept A-Rollin'”.
Thirty seconds is used between “As Long As I Have You” and “You Shook Me”, and about fifteen seconds between that and “How Many More Times”. In that track, the audience source is used between 19:38 to 23:00 containing the final verse of the song, and “Communication Breakdown” comes entirely from the soundboard. The first seven seconds of disc two is the audience before the soundboard comes in, and between 1:38 to 3:04 in “Killing Floor”.
The audience source is used again for thirty seconds in “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” between 1:25 to 1:55. It is used for the entire nine minute “White Summer/Black Mountain Side” and comes in again for “Sittin’ And Thinkin'”. It makes another appearance for approximately thirty seconds before “Pat’s Delight” and runs to the end. The fades are much smoother than Collage. The concert itself deserves its legendary status and is an essential tape to own. The show is great except for the final half of the second set where “Sittin’ And Thinkin'” (which sounds like “I Can’t Quit You Babe” without the bite), “Pat’s Delight” and “Dazed And Confused” sound like they simply run out of energy.
This is the only known time “Dazed” is played as a set closer and is a poor choice. On the positive side this tape contains one of the greatest versions of “As Long As I Have You” and a fantastic twenty-three minute version of “How Many More Times” which includes “Smokestack Lightening”, Bonham banging the gong, Page playing the theremin at the end, and a very self conscious Robert Plant. Bumble Bee use the famous photograph of Zeppelin onstage at the Fillmore East in New York.
Blue Flame is a good release that certainly isn’t too offensive and is recommended to those who have not picked up this show before.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)