I Got To Find My Baby (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-903A/B)
San Diego International Sports Arena, San Diego, CA, USA – September 3, 1970
Disc 1 (75:04) Introduction, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Dazed And Confused, Bring It On Home, That’s The Way, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Organ Solo, Thank You
Disc 2 (67:57) What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown. Bonus Trax: Oakland Stadium, Oakland, CA, USA – September 2, 1970 “Mono Source”: Communication Breakdown, The Train Kept A Rollin’, Blueberry Hill, Long Tall Sally
The West Coast dates of Led Zeppelin’s sixth US tour are all outstanding affairs, with the LA Forum September 4, 1970 AKA Blueberry Hill, being the most famous, so famous that it overshadows the other dates that precede it. The lesser known or circulated is the San Diego show the night before, every bit the equal of its famed follower, its sound quality is the major factor of why it is overlooked. Since it was recorded nearly 50 years ago there have only been a scant three titles featuring the sole recording, DXI – X (Mad Dogs DX I/II), Missing Sailor (Immigrant IM-031/032), and Take My Breath Away (Wendy WECD 216/217). I must admit I love the fall 1970 tour, it’s near and dear to me but although I have had the Immigrant title Missing Sailor for at least 15 years, I think I listened to it only once. When I saw this new title announced, I was of course intrigued as I am a huge fan of the Graf Zeppelin label as they seem to release the most consistent Led Zeppelin product out there.
The single audience recording for the San Diego show is a near complete audience source that sounds like it was recorded as far away as one could be, it is a very distant and slightly muddy tape. There is a bit of tape hiss as one would expect and you can hear occasional conversations as well. That being said, it is clear enough to make out what is being played and once one adjusts to the sound, is actually an enjoyable and well played performance. The band is harassed by a rowdy audience who seem to take pleasure in irritating the band with shouting and lots of firecrackers. I find that a recording like this is best listened to at night where the sounds of the day are considerably less, it then comes alive. I am using the aforementioned Missing Sailor for comparison, I was quite pleasantly surprised when I threw it on, it actually holds up very well. First off Missing Sailor sounds thin compared to this new Graf title. Thinner with more emphasis on the upper frequencies, Graf has better overall frequency range with a much better bottom with both being equal in clarity with Graf being just a bit louder, certainly not through amplification but just better generation of tape. The Graf Zeppelin title is longer as well, longer introduction being most notable although it should be noted the first part of the intro is very quiet and difficult to hear what the announcer is saying.
The set list is consistent with the rest of the tour, the opening Salvo of Immigrant Song into Heartbreaker is stunning and is actually clear enough to hear guitar, bass, and barely the drums. Heartbreaker is greeted with a loud ovation when Jimmy breaks into the main riff after a pregnant pause after Immigrant Song, his solo is “accentuated” by firecrackers. The audience is loud, Plant asks them to quiet down during Heartbreaker and Dazed and admonishes them even more during Jimmy’s bow solo that upon closer listen it sounds as if the folks close are shouting and lighting firecrackers prompting Robert to shout “SHUT UP”. Jimmy seems unfazed by this and delivers some intense playing with the post bow solo being really fast and very hot.
The band have no issue getting the audience involved with a rapturous Bring It On Home, so much they cannot settle down for the acoustic section. They get through That’s The Way barely, Robert constantly asking for the audience to quiet down and they get through a nice version of the song. The tuning for Bron-Y-Aur is too long, the audience is too loud and the band give up, moving into the loud electric blues of Since I’ve Been Loving You. You can hear the audience shouting, chanting, and just being unruly, “Anyway this is another thing from Led Zeppelin three…”. Robert’s vocals sound very mournful in the distance, like a funeral dirge, thankfully Jimmy’s guitar is clear in the mix as his solo is incredible, so fluent and passionate. John Paul Jones’ organ solo is rather boring in this recording, he gets into a pretty weird area for a minute, playing something more akin to a psychedelic freak-out before reeling it back in. My empathy comes more from the recording than his talent and the recording device picks up more of the whining sounds. Thank You is another heavy song that reaches some nice intensity coupled with musical dynamics in the best way.
I have to admit I got up, grabbed a bathroom break and coffee during Moby Dick, no disrespect to Bonzo but the drumming and echo make it a little difficult to concentrate. Like the best concerts from this tour, the Whole Lotta Love medley is a master class of musical history on the Blues. Look at the list of song snippets found on this version, Boogie Chillun (of course), Two and One Make Three, Crosscut Saw, I’ve Got To Find My Baby, Honey Bee, Lemon Song, Think You Need A Shot, and Lawdy Miss Clawdy with the majority of these references only known versions being during this concert. Robert’s extensive Blues and musical history knowledge is on full display as he weaves a unique tale, sad that the recording is so poor. The encore is Communication Breakdown, Robert’s vocals are very high and clear, he was in near perfect voice during this tour, very powerful. There is a brief bass solo while the punters clap along and the recording finishes at the 6:41 mark.
There is some bonus material from the prior evening’s performance in the Bay Area at the famous Oakland Coliseum, referred to as Stadium on the rear cover. The songs are the encores of that show and come from Recorder 2, the source released on titles like Another Night On Blueberry Hill (Electric Magic EMC-019 A/B), Live On Blueberry Hill II (Tarantura OAK-1,2), Two Days Before (Silver Rarities SIRA 129/130), Live On Blueberry Hill II (Wendy WECD 84/85), and Return To Blueberry Hill (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-03A/B). Communication Breakdown is expanded with a nice chunk of Good Times Bad Times, something Zeppelin had done a bit on this tour. From here on out things get really cool beginning with a stand alone version of The Train Kept A Rollin’ with some killer playing by Page via his Crybaby Wah Wah pedal, the first known live version of Blueberry Hill, just a couple days prior to the famous 9/4/70 version and a breakdown version of Lawdy Miss Clawdy. Listening to this set of encores confirms my feeling of this tour being one of the greatest in Zeppelin history.
The packaging is typical Graf Zeppelin, inserts with black and white shots from Led Zeppelin circa 1970 plus pictures on the CDs. This is a completist only tape and will have no appeal to a new or general collector, yet for those looking to fill a hole or upgrade an older title, this one is for you. If you want this show, this title is superior to the overly processed Wendy title.