Led Zeppelin – Going To California (TMQ 0501001 1, 2 / 0501002 1, 2)


Going To California (TMQ 0501001 1, 2 / 0501002 1, 2)

Going To California was released by Tarantura in two forms.  The more common contains two discs covering the September 14th show, while the four disc set covers “2 DAZE” with the September 13th and September 14th.  The four disc set, being reviewed here, comes in the “TMQ” packaging which is a thick cardboard sleeve with the old vinyl covers being replicated on the front and back.  The back cover with the famous William Stout illustration is an insert just like in the old days. 

There are both pros and cons to this approach by the labels.  One the one hand it does recall the fun of buying the vinyl titles back in the 70’s and 80’s and the whole aura that brings.  The cartoon elephant has been associated with this show for over thirty years and I’m sure invokes a powerful emotional response.  On the other hand some claim that, given the asking price for this set, Tarantura could develop something better and sturdier.  Perhaps use some pictures from the actual shows?  Or maybe we shouldn’t even be speaking too much about the packaging since it’s the music that matters, right? 

Community Theater, Berkeley, CA – September 13th, 1971
Disc 1 (77:42):  Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Black Dog, Dazed & Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Celebration Day, That’s The Way, Going To California
Disc 2 (58:26):  What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love (incl. Boogie Chillun’, Hello Mary Lou, Mess O’ Blues, You Shook Me), Communication Breakdown (incl. Gallows Pole)

The September 13th show has been released before as Back On the West Coast (Mad Dogs), Going To California II (Tarantura), and most recently as California Stampede (Magnificent Disc).  These releases were, in one way or another, problematic with speed problems, scarcity and over zealous mastering.  This new release on Tarantura runs at the correct speed and has no issues whatsoever and is probably as good as this tape will ever sound.  It is a very distant, thin sounding yet very listenable sounding mono audience recording.  It ranks a six out of ten. 

The concerts themselves prove that, with these final two dates after a month long tour, they lost no energy whatsoever.  After they are introduced they walk on stage and deliver an exellent performance.  “Since I’ve Been Loving You” is briefly delayed due to Jimmy’s guitar.  “Dazed And Confused” is about twenty minutes and includes Bach’s bouree in the violin bow segment. 

Page plays a lyrical, pastoral passage right before the call and response section which he abandons in later tours.  “We’ve been working for three years and you ain’t sweating.  Sweat!!”  before “Communication Breakdown”, where Plant throws in some extensive lines from “Gallows Pole” during the guitar solo.  It’s not clear if they also played the rest of their usual “encore set” for this period, which would also include “Rock And Roll” and “organ solo / Thank You”.

Community Theater, Berkeley, CA – September 14th, 1971
Disc 3 (48:28):  Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Black Dog, Dazed & Confused
Disc 4 (48:08):  Stairway To Heaven, That’s The Way, Going To California, Whole Lotta Love (incl. Just A Little Bit, Boogie Chillun’, Hello Mary Lou, My Baby Left Me, Mess O’ Blues, You Shook Me, Lemon Song)

The September 14th show is one of the most famous Zeppelin bootlegs, right up there with Blueberry Hill and Mudslide.  Previous releases on cd include Going To California on Electric Junk and Going To California on Shout To The Top (STTP) along with several cdr releases.  The cd versions are sourced from vinyl as is this new release on Tarantura although their mastering is absolutely phenomenal.  The STTP release was very good but had the occasional pop and click, whereas this one is flawless.  Listening to it you will have to remind yourself of its origins.  Tarantura released this tape on the four disc version and seperately on two discs. 

The story is that the one behind the Phoenix and other labels was paranoid to begin with, but became even more so after the FBI began to bust some major players in February, 1980.  He lived in California close to Ronald Regan’s ranch and saw the secret service milling around the neighborhood (probably more activity since it was an election year). 

Clinton Heylin says in his book Bootleg:  The Secret History Of The Other Recording Industry says that he threw all the stampers used to produce the vinyl copies into the Pacific.  Master tapes aren’t mentioned which leads me to hope that maybe the tape does exists.  Louis Rey also mentions rumours that the master tape still exists with “Hey Hey What Can I Do” as an encore.  However I’m sure if it does still exist it would have surfaced by now and any other alternate tape sources for this date.  (Then again…)

Tarantura have produced and excellent title definitely worth having.  Despite the issues with the packaging this is an essential title to own.  It is a shame that is it limited and costly because it is priced out of the reach of most collectors.  For both shows this is a definitive version and will only be topped if better and more complete tapes surface for these dates. 

The labels are on a Led Zeppelin 1971 kick of late (Tarantura have also released the Rochester show, plus all the hoopla surrounding the Montreux tape) which is a good thing since this was a very important year for the band.  About a year after the four disc Going To California was released Tarantura released another version of the September 14th tape in a cardboard sleeve replica of an old vinyl release.  This is limited to only fifty copies and is another opportunity to own perhaps the best version of this essential show.

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