Out Of The Bristol Tale (TCOLZ 047/048)
Colston Hall, Bristol, England – January 8th, 1970
Disc 1 (61:31): We’re Gonna Groove, I Can’t Quit You, Dazed And Confused, Heartbreaker, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Since I’ve Been Loving You, organ solo, Thank You, Moby Dick
Disc 2 (31:26): How Many More Times, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown
At the beginning of the new decade Led Zeppelin scheduled a seven date tour of the UK beginning on January 7th in Birmingham. The pinnacle of the tour rested on the January 9th show at the Royal Albert Hall in London which was professionally filmed and recorded and has since seen official release. The only other show that exists on tape is the previous evening in Bristol on January 8th. It was pressed on silver previously on Bristol Stomp utilizing a very high generation copy that ran too fast. Recently TCOLZ issued Out Of The Bristol Tale with a tape much closer to the master. It runs at the correct speed and, even tough the sound quality is still poor to fair, is much more clear than Bristol Stomp and is actually enjoyable on some levels. It preserves most of the show except for the drum solo “Moby Dick” which exists only as a two minute long fragment.
Led Zeppelin played three times in Bristol during their career. The first was very early on October 26th, 1968 at the Boxing Club followed by an appearance the following summer at the Colston Hall. January 8th is their final show in the city and began an hour late. The tape begins with their brand new opening number, an energetic cover of Ben E. King’s “We’re Gonna Groove.” It would serve as the opening number for the first couple months before being replaced by “Immigrant Song.” “We’re Gonna Groove” segues effortlessly into “I Can’t Quit You.”
“We have to apologize for the hour delay, and also we played last, and we’d like to apologize. And we’d like to do something we did last time off the first album” Plant says before “Dazed And Confused.” Someone shouts out a song request and Plant replies, “hang about.” They play a sixteen minute version straight with no lyrical insertions as they would the following night. Afterwards, as Page tunes Plant tries to tell a joke about the Lone Ranger and Tonto but forgets how it goes and promises to remember it “sometime when we tune up again.” “Heartbreaker was one of the first songs from Led Zeppelin II introduced to the stage and at this point still heavily resembles the studio recording. By the spring time the introduction and solo would be expanded.
After the “White Summer / Black Mountain Side” interlude they get play the brand new song “Since I’ve Been Loving You.” It is assumed it was premiered the previous evening in Birmingham but Bristol is the first hint of what would be a staple for almost every Led Zeppelin show for the rest of the decade. It would be officially recorded several months after this. The musical arrangement is pretty close to what would appear on Led Zeppelin III. The vocal melody is slightly different and the lyrics contains several differences beginning with the opening line: “Working from seven to eleven every day / you make my life a drag / things happen that way.” The guitar solo doesn’t contain the high pitched histrionics as later versions however.
They follow with “Thank You” which is, according to Plant, “also the second time we’ve tried it.” John Paul Jones plays a very short organ introduction that would be greatly expanded both in length and weirdness as the year moves on.
After “Moby Dick” Plant finally remembers the joke he’s been trying to tell. “There was the Lone Ranger and Tonto. And Tonto turned into a door and the Lone Ranger shot his knob off!” The show is concluded with a seventeen minute version of “How Many More Times” which includes a long medley including “The Hunter,” “Boogie Chillun’,” “Move On Down The Line” and “Hideaway” among others. The encores are “Whole Lotta Love” and a riotous version of “Communication Breakdown” (with a quick reference to “Good Times / Bad Times”) which simply brings down the house (judging by the audience’s reaction). TCOLZ use their expected very tasteful packaging and art layout and Out Of Bristol Tale is a great release of a show that is now easier to enjoy.