Graham’s Superb Vol. 1 (Image Quality IQ-059/060)
Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco, CA – April 26th, 1969
Disc One: 1st Set: Communication Breakdown, I Can’t Quit You, Dazed & Confused, You Shook Me, How Many More Times (including Smokestack Lightning, Roll Over Beethoven, The Hunter, Girl Of The North Country and others I’m not familiar with) Total Running Time for Disc 1 is 58:30
Disc Two: 2nd Set White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Killing Floor (including Lemon Song and That’s Alright Mama), Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, Pat’s Delight, As Long As I Have You and the encore of for the 1st time ever played Whole Lotta Love. Total Running Time for Disc 2 is 62:31
This has become one of my favorite shows over the years cause it breaks so many grounds. Firstly it’s the first use of Jimmy using his THEREMIN!!! Wow, what a job he did with “Dazed & Confused” as well as “How Many More Times”. Secondly for an ENCORE it is the first time that “WHOLE LOTTA LOVE” is ever played LIVE!! Much different then later versions when he uses the THEREMIN. The sound quality is overall VERY GOOD THROUGHOUT for the standards of the day in audience recordings and is well balanced. You can hear the instruments clearly as well as Plant’s voice. They really put out all the moves during this show. Disc 1 starts with the soundcheck for the 1st set with Jimmy playing part of Bouree, then the M.C. Bill Graham himself announcing Led….Zeppelin. They start a roaring version of “Communication Breakdown” clocking in at 5 min 46 sec, which surges straight into “I Can’t Quit You” a very bluesy piece lasting 6min 57 sec.
Plant is so pleased to be playing a bigger venue bringing many more people to see them than the previous night and thanks them and continues to put on a show that will be the beginning of making California their home away from home. Then comes “Dazed and Confused” with the 1st time ever use of the THERMIN and WOW is all I can say. What banter between Jimmy and Robert how exciting a duel it is, totally awesome. If I only were there. It lasted for a total of 15min 42 sec. They finish off the 1st set with rousing versions of “You Shook Me” and (Plant then introduces the band and its members) before going into another dramatic version of of “How Many More Times” clocking in at 10 min 51 sec and 10 min 6 sec respectively. The crowd goes WILD wanting more. What an end to an AMAZING first set. But it’s not over they come out to a more laid back 2nd set. With a few BIG SURPRISES on hand!!
Disc 2 the 2nd set starts off with a more laid back bluesy affair with a nice long version of “White Summer/Black Mountain Side” which is well appreciated by the audience since its probably the first time the crowd has ever heard it. It then moves on to “Killing Floor” another great version (with the Lemon Song and That’s All Right Mama included in the melody, then Plant introduces the next song as being “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” another great bluesy song lasting 7min 22 sec. Robert then introduces John Bonham on drums for his solo of “Pat’s Delight,” a song written about John Bonham’s wife a short but sweet drum solo lasting only 6 min 23 seconds. Page states that they have enjoyed their stay here but must go before playing “As Long As I Have You“. The audience shouts MORE MORE MORE til the band come out and play for the 1st time ever “Whole Lotta Love“!! Very interesting since the 1st album hasn’t been out long and the 2nd album which has Whole Lotta Love is on it won’t be out until almost the end of the year. There is no THEREMIN in this version of the song as in future. That is the show folks. In my opinion the show that broke them wide open in California and also for the rest of the world, regardless what Rolling Stone magazine had to say about them.
There are a few other titles out there with this show such as The Avocado Club on Empress Valley, Led Set/Psychedelic Ballroomon Tarantura, Psychedelic Explosionon TDOLZ and Smokestack Lightningon Black Swan. The 2 best versions are the Tarantura set and Image Quality which I am describing here in full. This version comes in a FAT BOY Jewel Case with B&W photos on front and back cover with back cover having song lists but nothing special inside. They are both very similar but the difference in sound quality is very minimal. You can’t really tell the difference, so if you can still get a hold of either one good luck since they have been long out of print for many years. The Image quality is less expensive. Good Luck
Best of the ’69 shows by a country mile and that includes the Texas Int’l Festival!
just wanted to add that this is also the most PSYCHEDELIC SOUNDING PERFORMANCE Led Zeppelin did.