Dusseldorf 1970 Raw Master (Wardour-013)
Rheinhalle, Dusseldorf, Germany – March 12, 1970
Disc 1: Communication Breakdown/I Can’t Quit You Babe, Dazed & Confused, Heartbreaker, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Since I’ve Been Loving You
Disc 2: organ solo / Thank You, Moby Dick, How Many More Times (includes The Hunter, Eyesight To The Blind, Boogie Chillun’, Moving Down The Line, The Lemon Song), Whole Lotta Love
The March 12th show in Dusseldorf is the final on their first full European tour. Plant tells the audience they will return to England on the following night and exhorts them to have a great time and to move, clap, and enjoy themselves. Zeppelin wanted to keep their performance loose and improvisational and this mentality produced legendary nights, but other times made them teeter on the brink of disaster. This show has a little bit of both: there are very interesting high points in the midst of some very big blunders. “We’re Gonna Groove” was the usual opener in the first half of 1970, but “Communication Breakdown” is played as opener on this evening. It sounds as if Page wanted to loosen his fingers and he somehow wandered into the “Communication Breakdown” and the band simply followed along.
Bonzo still sounds confused after the first verse, trying to start “We’re Gonna Groove” but the band continues on. It’s a very ragged performance. Page also has some problems with his guitar at the beginning of the solo in “Dazed & Confused” that has Plant trying to keep up. Also “What Is And What Should Never Be” is unfortunately not played this evening. There are many highlights in the set too. Page is able to achieve an unsettling effect in the violin bow section of “Dazed” that is very effective. “White Summer/Black Mountain Side” is stunning. “Since I’ve Been Loving You” is one of the best early “lyrical” versions of the piece. This was Zeppelin’s absolute favorite song to play live and every performance has a lot in it. “How Many More Times” includes a lot of humorous commentary by Plant on the lyrics he’s singing, letting us all in on the joke and has the audience in stitches.
Fragments have been circulating since the vinyl and protection gap cd eras. Five years ago another tape source containing an hour of music surfaced from a taper who was only seventeen years old at the time and released on the fan produced cdr Ein Traum wird wahr (A Dream Comes True). This tape was released as Loreley on the Moonraker label last year. Dusseldorf 1970 Raw Master comes from a third tape source that first surfaced last year and released on Wardour’s sister label Reel Masters as Dusseldorf 1970 (RM-001). The concern with that release, expressed by some famous Zeppelin commentators, is the mastering on the tape producing the “common metallic sound”. Wardour have gone back and applied some really nice mastering. This is another exemplary release by these people, limited to 300 copies, and is highly recommended.
This Wardour tape source sounds a bit distant but remarkably clean all things considered. The low end is good and defined. The fidelity fluctuates intermittently and there are any number of cuts throughout. The “White Summer/Black Mountain Side” performance is classic. The rendition of “Thank You” is majestic and powerful. “Whole Lotta Love” clocks in under 7 minutes; “brief” by traditional Zeppelin standards but played with swagger.
I wouldn’t categorize this release as sounding muddy which some other reviewers have stated. There is minimal distortion present and the reported “muddy” sound would be better referred to as a muffled sound. Through it all I was still able to hear the cymbals with quite decent clarity. This release represents a fine recommended listen.