Chatenay-Malabry 1969 (no label)
L’Ecole Centrale, Chatenay-Malabry, Paris, France – December 6th, 1969
Disc 1: (52:48) Remaster – Good Times Bad Times, Communication Breakdown, I Can’t Quit You Baby, Heartbreaker, Dazed And Confused, White Summer/Black Mountain Side
Disc 2: (51:37) Remaster – You Shook Me, Moby Dick, How Many More Times
Disc 3: (52:48) Original Master – Good Times Bad Times, Communication Breakdown, I Can’t Quit You Baby, Heartbreaker, Dazed And Confused, White Summer/Black Mountain Side
Disc 4: (51:37) Original Master – You Shook Me, Moby Dick, How Many More Times
For the final live appearance of 1969, Led Zeppelin played a special one-off show in Paris for students of the engineering school Centrale that was not announced to the press. The event also included The Pretty Things and French bands Variations and Triangle on the bill.
An eyewitness commented on the LedZeppelin.com website: “The funniest thing is that there were 2 categories of people in the place. The first category was made of all the officials, and student parents all wearing tuxedo, suits, long dresses and fancy clothes, the other part was a bunch of young hippies/beatnick dressed people. It was a surprising combination. I’m not sure the organisation was expecting this gap but it worked fine even if we could feel some tension here and there.”
The “recently discovered” tape comes from a good to very good audience source. The drums are unfortunately pushed to the back of the mix while the vocals, guitars and bass are equally up front. There is some distortion present but it remains a very listenable and exciting document to hear. This is one of those wild out of control early Zeppelin shows that makes collecting fun. They are adding more songs from LZII now and their development as a band over the past year is really starting to show.
The intro of “Good Times, Bad Times” is used as a lead in to “Communication Breakdown”. They are definitely fired up as evident in Robert Plant’s wails and Page’s searing solos prove. A smooth transition into “I Can’t Quit You” gets into some slow but heavy blues. Jimmy is playing with a high level of intensity tonight and gets a big ovation when Plant introduces him after his amazing solo. Plant is apologizing for the delay (something we hear on a lot of tapes) and introduces “Heartbreaker”. Jimmy’s solo in the middle section is very wild even throwing his guitar out of tune for the remainder of the track. He includes a bit of Bach’s “Bouree” in the solo.
John Paul Jones gets right into “Dazed And Confused” forcing Robert to introduce the song over the bass intro. A near train wreck is averted when Jimmy misses a cue going into the middle section catching everyone off guard but entices some brilliantly quick thinking. At just a little over a year old the track is already reaching epic lengths at twenty minutes tonight and is great to hear these early versions like this.
Robert introduces “Jimmy Page on guitar” and asks for a chair before “White Summer/Black Mountain Side”. Jimmy’s finger picking is immaculate and he plays a beautiful version.
Robert says “This is written by Willie Dixon and many people have performed it, this is a thing called “You Shook Me”. Led Zeppelin performs a strange version of the track tonight. John Paul Jones starts the track on bass and switches over to organ about four minutes in. It’s is unclear whether or not he may have been having some trouble with his rig but he is back on bass at the 8:30 mark so it is possible he just decided to switch to organ for the solo in the middle. An interesting version to say the least with Plant and Page adding great solos on harmonica and guitar respectively.
John Bonham displays his extraordinary drum chops in the recently added “Moby Dick”. John’s solo sounds a bit disjointed in a few spots so perhaps he was still working out his live arrangement but he has, however, already incorporated his hand solo into the fold. The recorder has an easier job picking up the drums without all the surrounding instruments and captures an exceptional version.
Shouts of disapproval interrupt Robert telling the audience ‘”We’re gonna conclude with a thing …” and he reassures them “this goes on for some time”. “How Many More Times” is the star of the show with a lot of loose improv between Robert and Jimmy. The song will stretch to over 20 minutes with a long medley including Steal Away, The Hunter, Whole Lotta Love, and Boogie Chillun’. “Whole Lotta Love” has Page attempting to emulate the slides and after the second chorus they get into a bit of “Good Times Bad Times” again and eventually into a few more blues classics with some great bottleneck from Jimmy. This is one of the more exciting versions of the song from this era. Robert says goodnight as the tape cuts out and we are left not knowing what or if the audience was treated to an encore.
Chatenay-Malabry 1969 is a 4CD set that features a remaster of the tape on the first two discs and the original master on discs three and four. In comparison, the remaster is louder with more top end while the original master is a bit duller sounding but doesn’t accent the tape distortions as much as the remaster does. I honestly enjoyed listening to both but I would lean more toward the original master as my favorite.
According to the Bootledz site, both Centralian on Wendy and Les Rendezvous De Paris on Empress Valley have hints of the metallic sound in the background which I did not detect on this “no label” release. With Graf Zeppelin, Tarantura, Akashic, Boleskine House Records, all coming out with their versions, there will no doubt be a dozen different versions of this soon enough to choose from. With that being said, Chatenay-Malabry 1969 is packaged in a quad fatboy jewel case with actual photos from the show and despite having two versions of the tape in one package is a worthwhile version to own.