Musicarnival (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-769EX)
Musicarnival, Warrensville Heights, OH, USA – July 20, 1969
(59:47) The Train Kept A Rollin’, I Can’t Quit You Baby, Dazed And Confused, White Summer, Black Mountain Side, You Shook Me, How Many More Times
Musicarnival is another title by the Graf Zeppelin label that is part of a series of releases that is being given away with the purchase of other titles from not only Graf Zeppelin but also the Speak-Ezy label. For Zeppelin fans Musicarnival means only one thing, the July 20, 1969 Cleveland concert in the summer of 1969 that was immortalized on such titles as Destroyer 1969 (Tarantura T1CD–002), Cleveland 1969 (The Diagrams of Led Zeppelin TDOLZ-12), and most recently Destroyer 1969 (Wendy WECD-175).
The recording from Cleveland is a fair to good audience source, certainly the acoustics inside the tent were not designed for music this powerful and there were issues with the PA system as Robert says “Once again, as last time in the State of Ohio, we find that the PA system is completely inaudible; but, nevertheless, we’d like to carry on … I think I’d better get out of the way … If we go up with a flash and a bang…” in his introductory speech. The recording is clear enough where all the instruments and vocals are clear in the mix with the bass being in the forefront sometimes leading to drowning out the drums and the vocals are slightly distant. When I compare this new title from Graf Zeppelin to the Wendy title I find that the Wendy version is the superior version. Wendy has amplified the sound just a little and their sound is brighter with just a little bit less hiss with better clarity making the bottom end clearer as well, this is one title that Wendy did a really great job on and would be hard to improve upon.
The Train Kept A Rollin’ is the opener and is fast and furious, with the bass being in the forefront one can really get a good listen to John Paul Jones’ bass runs, at times mimicking the riff, then accentuating on it. Plant’s harmonica playing is clear and Page plays a simple yet effective solo. As the band transitions into I Can’t Quit You, just before Plant is to sing, he extends it out creating anticipation, once he sings ‘I Can’t Quit You” the audience erupt with applause. It’s interesting to listen to the bass and drums mirror each other, both reactions coming at the exact same times without hesitation, allowing Page to freely solo over the top.
Dazed And Confused is well received, you can clearly here one fan say “Oh wow” very happily, the 14 minute plus version is visceral, like the others from this tour. When listening to this somewhat crude tape, the drama that is achieved during the first notes of the song as Page delivers his first notes via the Wah pedal while Jones plays the ominous ascending bass lines. Page received a nice ovation for his violin bow solo and then the real fun starts, the fast section that follows find the musical engine locked in and firing on all cylinders aggressively in its employment. Like Wendy, Graf Zeppelin has addressed the channel issues during White Summer making for a much better listening experience. You Shook Me is a lesson in sheer heaviness and at times seems on the verge of crushing the recorder under its sheer power, Page is again dominant in his playing and leads the others through the paces, almost out running them at times, then content to just hang back.
On paper How Many More Times looks fairly standard but listening one gets the impression of a wonderfully joyous version. The audience clap along to the beginning, cheering for each member as Plant does the introductions. Lots of guitar and vocal histrionics leading up to The Hunter and then things move into sexy time as Robert leads the band into the Lemon Song, the sexually charged performance elicits cheers from the audience. The You Make Me Feel So Young snippet has the audience eating from Robert’s hand as he puts them in the sights of his gun, the recording ends at the songs conclusion.
The packaging is typical for Graf Zeppelin, excellent. Like Wendy they employ several of the color photographs from the actual concert for the cover artwork but do not employ the Frazetta artwork. This is a title for completest only, no real need to seek it out as the Wendy title is most certainly still available. That being said, my copy is safe and warm on my shelf with the other summer of ’69 titles.