Led Zeppelin – New Haven 1970 (No Label)

New Haven 1970 (No Label)

Yale Bowl, New Haven, CT, USA – August 15, 1970

Disc 1 (43:52) Intro, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, MC, Dazed And Confused, Bring It On Home, Since I’ve Been Loving You

Disc 2 (39:57) What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love incl. Boogie Chillun/High Heeled Sneakers/Untitled Song/Shake, Baby, Shake/ Move On Down The Line/I’m Movin’ On/Honey Bee/The Lemon Song/Think You Need A Shot (The Needle), Communication Breakdown incl. Good Times Bad Times

One of the less circulated recordings from Led Zeppelin’s sixth tour of North America is the August 15th performance at The Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut. The Yale Bowl is a football stadium on the campus of Yale University, other than hosting sporting events, during the early 70’s it would also hold Rock concerts. There is a Yes soundboard recording that circulates taped the following year (July 24, 1971) to this Zeppelin gig, more famously The Grateful Dead released their July 31, 1971 recording as part of the Road Trips series in 2008. The concert series would end due to opposition from neighboring communities, certainly not wanting scruffy Rock fans and loud music disturbing their tranquility.

The main recording is an incomplete audience recording that clocks in at 85 minutes that falls into the good category, the balance is good but there is distortion present, the vocals, guitar and bass are clear in the mix, the drums less audible but are there and there is a bit of tape hiss as one would expect. The taper paused the recorder between songs and at other random times so it is littered with cuts throughout the recording. The folks near the taper, or the taper himself is noisy, especially at the beginning as Immigrant Song blares over their heads. There is a second audience recording, extremely fragmented clocking it at 24 minutes that is used to cover a small gap at the beginning of Dazed And Confused and the last half minute of Since I’ve Been Loving You, the sound quality is good but actually the better of the two recordings. It’s curious that the acoustic section is not represented in either recording, from the newspaper review of the concert, it was well praised. Both recordings are listenable once your bootleg ears have adjusted to the fidelity. There has been a singular release of this performance, Rare Short Party (Image Quality IQ-003/4) was released twenty plus years ago.

The sound between these two titles is similar, the IQ has been amplified so it’s a bit louder, this No Label title has slightly clearer and cleaner sound and is more natural, certainly due to a better generation or transfer, or both. The main selling point for this title by No Label is the inclusion of about a minute of tape from the second source, when one looks at the CD lengths, they easily could have fit the entire second source on this set and really made this a complete document. I’ve got a few IQ titles in my collection, they seem to have held up well sound quality wise, they usually were bought for a fare price versus the deluxe labels like Empress Valley and Tarantura, companies whose releases were out of my price range twenty years ago.

A person near the taper sees his mother down close, then the band hit the stage with the Immigrant Song / Heartbreaker opening, even in these rough recordings the power of Led Zeppelin comes through. Jimmy plays a funky riff just before his solo which is dynamic, all the while a conversation is being had by those close by. The crowd settles down for a superb Heartbreaker, the Bouree portion features a very quiet audience, somewhat of a miracle considering the size of the open air venue. The rather crude recording adds to the mysterious nature of Dazed And Confused, especially the bow solo interlude which sounds other worldly. Jones’ bass distorts the sound at the beginning of the fast section, great to hear his incredible bass run and what it brings to the music, Bonzo’s drums are completely inaudible.

Robert’s vocals at the beginning of Bring It On Home are great, he starts doing a mumbling thing that shows his love of early Deep South Blues. The song is certainly a crowd pleaser as the audience clap along and seem to be very much enjoying the number. Nice to hear Bonzo clearly after the harmonica guitar jam as he has an all too brief jam with Page. Plant’s vocals on Since I’ve Been Loving You are incredible, at times he invokes a high pitched cry not unlike Janis Joplin, quiet one minute, wailing the next making for a wonderfully dramatic version. The beginning of What Is And What Should Never Be is cut and Moby Dick has some very slight phasing going on, it does not sound like wind as you do not hear rustling on the microphone, it could be the taper in constant movement. The audience gives Bonzo a massive ovation for his 15 minute solo spot, while much of his contribution is inaudible, what we can hear is him playing up to his usual standard of incredible.

The beginning of Whole Lotta Love is completely missing picking up during Boogie Chillun, the sound of the tape during the medley is really good, while Bonzo is still mostly buried John Paul’s bass is not distorted as much making for a nice level of clarity, thankfully as the band is smokin’. The crowd is very much enjoying the loose improvisation of the medley, they are clapping a lot to Move On Down The Line and erupt into a rapturous applause for the Lemon Song lyrics. Based upon the reaction the band receive at Whole Lotta Love’s conclusion, the audience has been whipped into a frenzy, the chants of “more…more…more…” are overwhelming. The band return to the stage with the frenzied beginning of Communication Breakdown, Jonsey gets a nice bass solo that leads into Good Times, Bad Times, Bonzo’s cymbal work comes through clearly through the distortion…”Faaaantastic!”. As many have said, the best performances doesn’t mean the best recordings, a blistering concert that certainly drew some ire to the neighboring community.

The inserts are quite nice as they feature photographs from the actual event, a very nice touch and interesting to see the backdrop looking like a circus tent, funny that the pictures on the CD’s are of the band during the acoustic section as it doesn’t exist in either recording. A good but not great release, a nice upgrade to the old Rare Short Party, the addition of the complete second source would have made this much better, picture CDs and a numbered sticker may not be enough to be a big seller, the average sound quality makes for the more committed collector.

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