Good Times Jimmy’s Got The Blues (Tarantura TCD-226,227)
O’Keefe Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada – November 2, 1969
Disc 1 (38:59) Introduction, Good Times Bad Times Intro / Communication Breakdown, I Can’t Quit You Baby, Heartbreaker, Dazed And Confused
Disc 2 (46:08) Introduction, White Summer / Black Mountain Side, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, Moby Dick, C’Mon Everybody, Something Else
Memorial Hall, Kansas City, KS, USA – November 5, 1969
Disc 3 (39:51) Good Times Bad Times Intro / Communication Breakdown, I Can’t Quit You Baby, Heartbreaker, Dazed And Confused, How Many More Times
Good Times Jimmy’s Got The Blues is the Tarantura label’s release documenting the recently upgraded recording from the Toronto November 2, 1969 concert. The upgraded and longer version of the recording appeared in late 2021 as part of The Dogs of Doom Liberation Series Volume 19. The recording from the O’Keefe Centre has been circulating in the collectors market for years, Beast Of Toronto (Immigrant IM-043), Listen To My Bluebird (Image Quality IQ-077), and Draw Like Heavy Magnet (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-1101EX) feature the short version of the recording. The newer version liberated by The Dogs Of Doom has been released as Back In Toronto Longer & Upgraded (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-1102A/B), O’Keefe Centre 1969 Late Show (No Label), Love Letter From Canada (Wendy WECD-416/417), and Tront Cowgirls (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD-Alais-027/028).
I have been buying a lot of the Tarantura releases since they have employed Enigma to do their sound mastering, the Graf Zeppelin Back In Toronto is the title I’ll be using to draw my comparison. First off Tarantura has elected to only use the Zeppelin portion of the recording, the original version of the Upgraded Toronto tape featured five minutes of the opening act Edward Bear which is missing hear. Tarantura has reduced the bass frequencies and increased the upper frequencies which has provided more clarity to the recording. They have also increased the volume very slightly, yet the sound remastering is not over done and the recording sounds very natural. If there is one by product of their mastering it is John Paul Jones’ bass is less pronounced in the Tarantura, Jimmy’s guitar is louder in the mix. They have also handled the slight change in quality of the recording after the bow solo in Dazed, the sound now very closely resembles the previous part of the tape, this is a very nice sounding version of the tape.
Ritchie York once again introduces the band “OK…The time has come, the third time in 1969 we’re very please to present John Paul Jones, John Bonham, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page. Led Zeppelin!” to a nice round of applause. Robert’s talk of Bonzo’s diarrhea gets a laugh from the audience and tells them it’s nice to be back in Toronto, the intro of Good Times Bad Times is like a punch in the face and the frenzied introduction to Communication Breakdown begins the concert proper. The funky middle section finds Robert referencing Bluebird from The Buffalo Springfield, the song soon gives way to I Can’t Quit You Baby. Robert the master of tension does a mumbling blues intro that’s quite effective, the audience is transfixed.
Robert jokes with the audience about playing half of Led Zeppelin IV before Heartbreaker, super powerful version of the song, when Jones kicks in, it gets very heavy in the best way. Dazed And Confused clocks in at 19:28 and is now complete where the older versions have a tape cut near the 12:03 mark, the middle section features an interesting interlude that almost sounds like a Western theme. In his excellent book The Led Zeppelin Tape Documentary, Luis Rey refers to this as Some Tears certainly based upon Robert’s rambling references. Killer version of Dazed, sadly the quality of the recording following the bow solo is a notch down, a bit more muffled. The second disc starts off with nearly a minute not found on the older titles, a bit more to Jimmy’s tuning and Robert’s introduction to his showpiece White Summer.
Babe I’m Gonna Leave You is played by special request, the song was certainly on their mind as it was played just days later during their three night run at the Winterland. Robert superbly weaves lyrics from Neil Young’s Down By The River and Ramble On as if they were part of the song. The song is a perfect blend on light and shade, pure drama, sadly they would only revisit the song two more times after this version, Winterland November 7, 1969 and the second show on September 6, 1970 in Hawaii. With the appearance of these new tapes it does bring hope for what could be out there lurking in closets. Moby Dick features over seven minutes of new tape and now clocks in at 19 minutes, nearly as long as Dazed.
The tape cuts after the drum solo and How Many More Times was either not recorded or that portion is lost to the ages, but the encores are present and are incredible. One of the early classic Zeppelin titles from Tarantura was their version of the November 6, 1969 entitled Punk! most certainly as it contained the Eddie Cochran songs C’Mon Everybody and Something Else, the same title could have been used for this title. The encores for this show feature the same duo, the tape starts just as the band are starting C’Mon Everybody, Rock And Roll in it’s purist form. The response from the audience is massive as the group heads right into Something Else, again classic version of the song gets the crowd amped. At about 1:10 the audience start cheering and we are soon to find out why, there has been a stage invasion! The band carry on with the song but as soon as they finish they are gone and the place erupts, Punk Rock attitude indeed. Another glorious performance from 1969, a year in which they were playing the blueprint for the coming decade.
Tarantura added the 40 minute fragment of the early show from Kansas City on the third disc. This recording has seen a few previous releases, Birth Of The Gods (BP-0001), Tales From 69 (Tarantura NO. 69-3-1-3), Centralien (Wendy WECD-212/213), Image Club 1969 (Wendy WECD-263/264), and Soars On Buffalo (Graf Zeppelin LZSC1030A/B). When Tarantura first released this new title, Heartbreaker was out of place, a corrected disc was quickly produced and sent out. The Graf Zeppelin title Soars On Buffalo is what I am using for comparison. This is an excellent version of this recording, Enigma has raised the sound level slightly over Graf and flushed out the sound slightly, the frequencies are fuller and the clarity is better. This is the best sounding version of this concert in my collection.
This concert is unique for a couple reasons, first off Bonzo was supposed to be really drunk during one of the Kansas City performances, it would be hard to tell if this is the one, the recording only provides glimpses into his playing. The band was also using rented gear as their instruments were shipped directly to San Francisco following their concert in what I would assume Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. That being said it is a testament, they sound really well. The Balboa title states this concert was recorded from the fifth row on a Nagra reel to reel deck, while the sound does move around a bit it does pick up the atmosphere of the event quite well. There are cuts between songs as well.
The band played two shows that night and it is not known what one this is from, based upon information found on the Led Zeppelin Data Base web site, there lists four opening acts so one wonders how long Led Zeppelin actually played for. We get a real meat and potatoes version of the performance, another great opening of Good Times Bad Times intro into Communication Breakdown into I Can’t Quit You followed by a bombastic Heartbreaker. Bonzo is not heard at the beginning of Dazed And Confused until he crashes in following Robert’s first set of lyrics, this makes for an interesting albeit unique start. The bow solo is very lackluster and sounds like Page did not have his arsenal of effects to utilize, it comes to an unceremonious close and a rather pregnant pause before Jones starts the fast section himself. The band play a short abridged 12 minute version of the song as they can’t seem to get it together properly. You can hear Bonzo a lot during How Many More Times although it gives the impression he is falling behind a bit and seems to take it out on his cymbals, perhaps the story of his intoxication are correct or perhaps it is the frustration of being on rented gear. We do get the entire abbreviated medley on this tape, The Hunter, Boogie Chillun’ and Move On Down The Line, and the whole song clocks in at just over 12 minutes.
Good Times Jimmy’s Got The Blues was released with two different covers, a live shot and a painting of a blimp loading station, I usually go for the live shot covers but changed it up for this release. The interior of the gatefold features live pictures from both the Toronto and Kansas City shows, an excellent addition to this set. Nothing is spared as an OBI is included. The corrected third disc comes in a plain sleeve with an identification sticker on the front. Both covers were limited to 69 numbers copies, mine is 42. This is an excellent release that is now out of print, for those who have not been buying the Tarantura titles may want to consider getting them when they are announced, the mastering is top notch and the packaging is its consistent high mark.