Jazz But Rock (Tarantura TCD-79)
Newport Jazz Festival, Newport, RI – July 6th, 1969
(62:12) Intro., Train Kept A-Rollin’, I Can’t Quit You, Dazed And Confused, You Shook Me, How Many More Times, Communication Breakdown, Long Tall Sally
The Newport Jazz Festival, began in 1954 by George Wien, produced several legendary performances including Miles Davis performing “Round Midnight” in 1955 and the Duke Ellington Orchestra’s rendition of “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue” in 1956. The development of rock from disposable pop into a viable artform was reflected in both the Jazz Festival and Wein’s other yearly event, the Newport Folk Festival.
Bob Dylan set the precedent by plugging in for three songs in 1965 at Folk, and by 1969 two of the four days at the Jazz Festival were devoted to rock and roll acts. On the second day, during Sly & The Family Stone’s set, the crowds grew beyond the capacity for security to control them and the situation came to a head during the Jeff Beck Group’s set. The situation caused Wein to announce that Led Zeppelin, who were supposed to close the event on the fourth day, were not going to appear.
Zeppelin, just over from England for their third tour of the year, ignored that announcement and appeared anyway. The band’s strategy was to play in as many festivals as they could to increase their exposure which was a shrewd move, except for their decision to not appear at Woodstock. (One can only imagine how that would have effected their career!)
Although many people left believing Zeppelin wouldn’t appear, at least three people remained and had the foresight to record the event for posterity. Following Buddy Rich, who tried hard to blow Zeppelin off the stage, they played a tight and exciting set.
The first tape source is very loud and clear but is incomplete, missing the opening tune ups, has a cut after “You Shook Me,” and is missing the second encore “Long Tall Sally.” In this recording the instruments are clear and powerful but Robert Plant’s vocals are pushed to the back of the mix and are completely inaudible during “Communication Breakdown.”
This tape was used for the vinyl release Live At The Newport Jazz Festival (Led), the early CD New Port ’69 (Black Swan BS-02).
The second tape is more complete, having both the tune ups and “Long Tall Sally.” This tape can be found on Jazz (NPJF 1001), Tales From ’69 (Tarantura NO-69-1~3) a three disc set with Kansas City and Wallingford 1969, Long Tall Sally (Tarantura T2CD-3) has “Communication Breakdown” and “Long Tall Sally” in addition to material from Toronto and Buffalo 1969, and on Live At The Newport Jazz Festival (Empress Valley EVSD290).
A third tape source, a twenty minute fragment of the beginning of the show, surfaced several years ago and was issued on Newport Jazz Festival (Masterport-219).
Jazz But Rock is an edit between the two tape sources. The first source is used for the beginning, the cut after “You Shook Me” and for “Long Tall Sally.” The second tape, which is much richer sounding, is used for the majority of the show. The editing job between the two sources is very smooth and nicely handled. The remastering done on the good sounding tape is very light, improving the clarity and power of an already good tape pushing this towards definitive status.
Zeppelin play their “festival” set, which compared to the prior two tours is scaled back to about an hour with the long improvisation “As Long As I Have You” and the drum solo “Pat’s Delight” dropped. The show begins with a minute of tunes ups and Plant testing the PA by lowing the harmonica before “Train Kept A-Rollin'” explodes on stage. During “I Can’ Quit You” Plant’s vocals are hard to hear and there are shouts for the PA to be turned up.
Plant mentions the controversy after the song, saying, “There was nothing wrong with us at all and we all intended on coming. That’s what we come to America for. So we hope that you will enjoy everything we do, and that we were coming in the first place, so don’t get any hassles about what we were gonna do and what we weren’t.” “Dazed And Confused” is a compact twelve minutes long still close to the first album’s arrangement.
Plant asks the engineers to adjust the PA before “You Shook Me” and it takes them two minutes into the song before any results are audible. “That’s better” Plant says through the harmonica, but the change is more audible on the first tape and not so much on the one used on this release.
The set closer “How Many More Times” is fifteen minutes long and lacks the violin bow interlude. Rather very hot, sexually suggestive guitar solos and orgiastic moans by Plant make up the song’s climax. “I come to Newport / gonna have a ball!” Plant sings during “The Hunter” part. “Communication Breakdown” is segued directly with a long and chaotic version of Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally.”
There are only five recorded versions of Zeppelin playing the classic and this the first. Jazz But Rock is packaged in a cardboard sleeve with photos from the summer and compared to the previous releases of this show is superior.