Led Zeppelin – Olympia 1969 (no label)

Olympia 1969 (no label)

L’Olympia Theater, Paris, France – October 10th, 1969

Good Times Bad Times / Communication Breakdown, I Can’t Quit You, Heartbreaker, Dazed And Confused, White Summer / Black Mountainside, You Shook Me, How Many More Times

Olympia 1969 is another silver release of the recently broadcast October 10th concert.  Like the Wendy Paris Olympia 1969, this was taped off of the radio when it was broadcast on Europe 2 in early December.  The sound quality is excellent, and this version includes the commentator speaking at various points throughout the show with no attempt by the label to remove it.  It sounds very close to Wendy, but the remastering is very gentle on this one and the high end is not so harsh on the ears.  This release is an extremely enjoyable listen and a pleasant surprise.  This tape was also a surprise when it was announced for broadcast since its existence was known, but the tape was thought lost until it was re-discovered in the middle of 2007.  It also isn’t known if this is all that was taped or if the rest of the show, which some say includes “Moby Dick” was also taped and are still sitting in the vault.  It is said they played for an hour and a half leaving a half hour still unaccounted.  More likely than not they also played “What Is And What Should Never Be” since that was a regular inclusion in the set.  The set list as it appears in the radio broadcast also differs from the list reported in the latest edition of The Concert File, which places “You Shook Me” before “White Summer” followed by “Dazed And Confused.”

The period between  Zeppelin’s appearance at the Texas Pop Festival over Labor Day weekend and their Royal Albert Hall show in January, 1970 has truly come into sharper focus in the past decade.  We can now be sure that they played three shows in Holland on October 3rd, 4th, and 5th with the last being at the famous Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the music all with the best acoustics.  These were played before Paris and the Lyceum show in London on October 12th.  This is their second of three appearances in the French capital in 1969, with the first on June 19th for “Tout En Scene” and the final a private show at L’Ecole Centrale Chatenay-Malabry on December 6th, their final live appearance of the year.  It would be great if all those shows surfaced, but at least we now know about them.  And with the Olympia tape, there is the most clear record of what the band sounded like in the latter part of the year.  And that can be characterized as being very loose on stage.  Even though “Heartbreaker” is the only new song, it is played tight and with a heavy echo on the guitar during the middle solo part of the number. 

“You Shook Me” must count among the heaviest versions on record with Bonham  keeping time with a sledgehammer on his drums.  This sound would remain in the set list, in one form or another, for the next couple of years before being abandoned.  But the best is the long improvisation during “How Many More Times.”  By this time it had already been expanded into a long, distinct medley of oldies, but they really don’t follow any rules in this concert.  Page makes some vague references to Holst and The Yardbirds, and Plant is trying hard to shake up the audience with suggestive lyrics and obscure inside jokes.  Maybe Plant is seeking revenge for the tepid reaction they received in the summer, but it is said that Zeppelin were not as well received in France as in other countries.  Maybe this is the reason why it took Zeppelin more than three years before they returned to the capital?  Nevertheless this is a phenomenal show in great sound quality despite the announcer speaking throughout the performance.  Olympia 1969is packaged in a single jewel case with several photos from the period on glossy paper inserts.  It isn’t receiving as much circulation as the Wendy, EV and Tarantura versions of the show which may make this very hard to find in the future.  (GS)   

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