Led Zeppelin – Good Times Bad Times (Scorpio LZ-08015)

Good Times Bad Times (Scorpio LZ-08015)

In the first year since Led Zeppelin’s formation, they not only toured the US and UK several times, but also saw the release of their initial studio efforts on Led Zeppelin.  While touring they would work on their second album whenever they had the chance in Canada, America and in England. 

By October Led Zeppelin II was ready for release.  “Whole Lotta Love,” “What Is And What Should Never Be” and “The Lemon Song” (a Howlin’ Wolf cover under its original title “Killing Floor”) were already played live, but weeks before its October 22nd release date, the band played several shows to promote the album and introduce more songs such as “Heartbreaker” and “Moby Dick.”

After several gigs in Holland, including one at the famous Concertgebouw in The Hague, they played promotional gigs in Paris and London.  Good Times, Bad Times on Scorpio presents these two gigs together in one collection.  

L’Olympia, Paris, France – October 10th, 1969

Disc 1 (76:58):  Good Times Bad Times / Communication Breakdown, I Can’t Quit You, Heartbreaker, Dazed And Confused, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, You Shook Me, How Many More Times

The existence of the October 1969 Paris radio broadcast has been the object of speculation until it was finally rebroadcast in October 2007 as a celebration of the O2 reunion.  It presented most of the show (“Moby Dick” is rumored to have been omitted) and was marred by DJ comments in French spoken over the music in some places. 

Nevertheless silver pressed releases surfaced about a week after the original broadcast.  Scorpio use the broadcast tape with the French DJs comments edited out with loss of some music, the same tape found on such releases as L’Olympia (Godfather G.R.248) and N’est Aucun Imbecile (Black Dog Records BDR-003).

(Two releases, One Night Stand In Paris (TCOLZ 029/030) and In The Act Of Invoking The Spirit (Tarantura TCD-94) came out subsequent to the release of Scorpio with the perfect pre-FM tape).

It isn’t known if this is all that was taped or if the rest of the show, which some say includes “Moby Dick” was also taped and are still sitting in the vault.  It is said they played for an hour and a half leaving a half hour still unaccounted.  

More likely than not they also played ”What Is And What Should Never Be” since that was a regular inclusion in the set.  The set list as it appears in the radio broadcast also differs from the list reported in the latest edition of The Concert File, which places “You Shook Me” before “White Summer” followed by “Dazed And Confused.”

The set begins with the devastating opening bars of “Good Times, Bad Times” serving as a prelude to “Communication Breakdown.”  Only at these shows was this arrangement used as they were trying to achieve the most overwhelming sound they could muster.  This tape includes the earliest reference to “Heartbreaker” introduced by Robert Plant, saying, “We’d like to carry on with something on the new Led Zeppelin II album, which is eventually coming out in England and America.  It’s called ‘Heartbreaker.’” 

This version sounds close to the studio arrangement and Page uses heavy distortion during the guitar solo.  Page’s ”White Summer” was still played at this time and is introduced by Plant saying, “right now we’d like to feature…” Page can be heard behind him saying, “wanking dog.”  Plant continues, “wanking dog…Jimmy Page on guitar.  This is a combination of several things.  It goes under the collective title, as Percy Thrower would say, ‘White Summer,’ Jimmy Page.”  What follows is a virtuoso epic crammed into ten minutes.

“You Shook Me” must count among the heaviest versions on record with Bonham  keeping time with a sledgehammer on his drums.  This sound would remain in the set list, in one form or another, for the next couple of years before being abandoned.  But the best is the long improvisation during “How Many More Times.”  By this time it had already been expanded into a long, distinct medley of oldies, but they really don’t follow any rules in this concert.

The long improvisation starts off very dark and includes references to Holst’s “Mars, The Bringer Of War” and a very slow version of The Yardbirds’ “Over Under Sideways Down.”  Some people shout to Plant while he’s in the middle of “The Hunter” and causes him to say, “shut up!” 

There is a long “Boogie Chillun’” part with a reference to Ainsley Dunbar and “Needle Blues” where Plant sings, “I got my needle in you babe, and you seem to think it’s alright.  Why don’t you roll over baby, see what it’s like on the other side.  I think that was Brownie McGhee.”

Plant is trying hard to shake up the audience with suggestive lyrics and obscure inside jokes.  Maybe Plant is seeking revenge for the tepid reaction they received in the summer.  It is said that Zeppelin were not as well received in France as in other countries.  Maybe this is the reason why it took Zeppelin more than three years before they returned to the capital?

Lyceum Ballroom, London, England – October 12th, 1969

Disc 2 (60:37):  Good Times Bad Times / Communication Breakdown, I Can’t Quit You, Heartbreaker, You Shook Me, What Is And What Should Never Be, Dazed And Confused, How Many More Times

Two days later Zeppelin were home again for this London gig.  The intention of this show was to showcase the entire new album, but the band opted to play only two new songs in the same set they they’ve used for the past year.  The show is captured in a good to very good audience tape.  It has some distance from the stage and is a bit distorted, but captures the atmosphere of the event very well.

This is one of the more popular bootlegs despite the limited sound quality.  The tape first appeared on the vinyl Live At The Lyceum (Grant Musik LZ LLL 1-4 ) and copied on London Live (Right Records SX503).  Early compact disc editions were copies of the vinyl such as Ballroom Blitz (World Production of Compact Music WPOCM 0989 D 034-2), Pape Satan (WBR CD 9013) and Complete Tapes Vol. 1 (Tintagel) which includes “Good Times Bad Times” and “Heartbreaker.”  

Other releases include Lyceum (Cobra Standard Series 016), Lyceum Preview (Immigrant IM-009), UK 10-12-69 (Totanka CDPRO-023) and Triumphant UK Return (Empress Valley EVSD 229).

Scorpio came out with Good Times Bad Times in the summer of 2008.  They utilize the same tape copy used by Cobra for Lyceum, which is the best sounding.  It isn’t edited and not remastered too much, so it has a natural and enjoyable sound and is the best version for this show.  The tape quality dips to fair to good after a cut before “How Many More Times.”  It has a few cuts between songs and a tape pause 5:21 in “You Shook Me,” but otherwise contains the complete show. 

The New Musical Express, in reviewing the gig, stated that “over 2,000 people at £1 a head packed the famous ballroom to see Led Zeppelin” but called the performance “less than inspiring.”  (Among the crowd was a young Freddie Mercury who, just a month before, sang “Communication Breakdown” with his band Ibex in a gig in Liverpool).  While there are a few rough edges, it is ultimately a very good gig for the time.  

The mc announces the band before the come on stage and play the opening bars of “Good Times, Bad Times” and, instead of playing the song, segue right into “Communication Breakdown” instead.  It’s played much like the studio recording except for a short instrumental interlude before it segues right into “I Can’t Quit You.”

The Willie Dixon cover served as the second number of the set since their first show in Copenhagen (and would survive until the spring tour of the US), and it sounds like a sledgehammer attacking the stage.

Plant then says, “I don’t know what to say. It was a long drive down from Birmingham.  We’d like to continue with something off the new, the Led Zeppelin II thing that’s been running into a lot of difficulties just lately.”  The new song probably had its live premier the previous week in Holland and, much like the Paris performance, closely follows the studio recording (including the solo).

“You Shook Me” is introduced as a song from an old EP called Muddy Waters Twist.  The Led Zeppelin track was still one of the main vehicles in the set to showcase Page’s improvisational talent in conjuring the heaviest riffs imaginable.  It is one of the songs that really whips the audience into a frenzy. 

The second new song is “What Is And What Should Never Be.”  Plant’s introduction rambles on a bit, saying that “we fiddled about with in a bar in Vancouver.  If you’ve ever been to Vancouver, it’s something like … let’s see, if you ever get lucky, don’t go to Vancouver.  I can’t tell you about without a tent whistle.  Anyway, this is a thing that John Peel said people were having a lot of trouble getting into, and Liverpool wound up beating the [Wolverhampton] Wolves…”

The set closes with “How Many More Times” which, Plant complains, “they won’t let us do it on the radio.”  Like the Paris performance, there is a reference to Holst’s Mars and The Yardbirds’ “Over Under Sideways Down,” among others. 

Good Times, Bad Times is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with inserts with various photographs from the gigs.  It is a good collection but had the misfortune of being released before the pre-FM Paris tape surfaced on TCOLZ.  But, for having the definitive version of the Lyceum gig, this is worth having. 

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