Latter Day Saint (Tarantura TCD-62-1, 2)
Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, CA – June 22nd, 1972
Disc 1: Swing drone, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Stairway To Heaven, Going To California, That’s The Way, Tangerine, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp
Disc 2: Dazed And Confused, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll
Latter Day Saint is a Tarantura release that surprised many. There was neither prior announcement nor any anticipation but it appeared suddenly. This covers the well-documented San Bernardino tape from June 22nd, 1972. This is the same tape source used for the original vinyl release Berdu (Screaming Oiseau MX 7500).
It was also used for all of the subsequent CD releases Route 66 (Tarantura T4CD-3) and its European clone Born To Be Wild (Whole Lotta Live WLL018/019). Berdu (Cobra Standard Series 010), like all Cobra releases, replicated the original vinyl packaging and was followed by Born To Be Wild (Magnificent Disc MD-7201 A/B), released in 2002 and is a poor release degraded by over zealous remastering.
The last release was on Swinging In San Bernardino (Empress Valley EVSD 303/304). Empress Valley claimed on the front cover their version came from the original reel-to-reel tape and it is the best sounding version of the San Bernardino tape. It is a dynamic listening experience with powerful lower frequencies and one of the overall best sounding tapes from Zeppelin’s summer tour.
The tape begins with the electronic drone that the band introduced at the second New York appearance and began every show for the rest of the tour. This is one of the most bizarre openings for any set and was probably instigated by Jimmy Page, who loved the sound and use of drones. Until the nineteenth century, composers would utilize the drone in music to emphasize a pastoral effect and mimic the sound of the troubadours.
Both Beethoven (Symphony No. 9, 1st Movement) and Richard Wagner (Das Rhiengold) use the drone at the beginning of their pieces to emphasize creation placing their works outside of discernable time. Page liked the exotic quality of the sustained note and used in on several occasions like in “Friends,” “In The Light,” and Lucifer Rising. Plant introduces “Black Dog” as a song “about an old dog who like to boogie a lot.” Page flirts which some chromatic scales in the solo and also plays Bouree and “Feeling Groovy.” “Since I’ve Been Loving You” contains phenomenal soloing by Page before the newer track “Stairway To Heaven.”
The recording is good at picking up the vibrations on the other neck during the solo. The acoustic set was four songs long on this tour and was the longest they played at this point in their career. “Tangerine” was introduced to the set list in Japan the previous September and is really out of place. The studio version is partly acoustic but needs the electric slide guitar for its effectiveness and this pure acoustic version played on stage is never really convincing. The arrangement used at Earl’s Court three years later is much better and it makes me wonder why they didn’t include “Friends” by this time. John Bonham does his best Johnny Cash imitation during “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp” and is a fun song.
The audience are audibly impatient with the acoustic material however. “Dazed And Confused” is the first long epic of the evening. At twenty-seven minutes, this version is a masterpiece. Right before the violin bow interlude, between 5:30 and 6:00, Page plays a interesting slow and majestic piece. The improvisation includes both “The Crunge” and “Walter’s Walk” as Page goes riff crazy.
A firecracker goes off before “What Is And What Should Never Be.” This is one of the final live performances of the Led Zeppelin II track. It would be dropped from the live repertoire after this tour, never to return. “Moby Dick” is kept short tonight, reaching just over ten minutes. “Whole Lotta Love” includes the normal inclusions in the medley with “Boogie Chillun’,” “Let’s Have A Party,” the Ricky Nelson classic “Hello Mary Lou,” and ending with Howlin’ Wolf’s “Going Down Slow.” The last song is a strange choice for Zeppelin to play and particularly for Plant to sing. With Howlin’ Wolf’s voice, the lyrics come across with a strange mixture of anger and regret, weathered by the years of a wasted life.
With Plant’s voice, it comes across as shallow fan worship, a youngster standing in shoes ten times too big. Page’s solo rattles the rafters of the Auditorium however and is an excellent way to end the medley. “Rock And Roll” is the only encore played in this concert and it is a shame they didn’t include the new songs from Houses Of The Holy that had already been introduced to the stage. Latter Day Saint is limited to one hundred numbered copies and comes in a cardboard gatefold sleeve reminiscent of the old TDOLZ label.