Led Zeppelin – Pure Blues (Boogie Mama)

Pure Blues (Boogie Mama)

Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, BC, Canada – March 21st, 1970

(70:02):  We’re Gonna Groove, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Thank You, What Is And What Should Never Be, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown.  Audience:  Introduction, We’re Gonna Groove, I Can’t Quit You, Dazed And Confused, Heartbreaker

Perhaps the earliest Led Zeppelin bootleg to be produced was the forty minute soundboard fragment from the first show of their fifth tour of north America.  The soundboard recording for the March 21st, 1970 show in Vancouver is clear and powerful with the vocals and drums up front and the guitar pushed deeper into the mix. 

The taper captured only several songs from the show. What makes the tape strange is that the songs do not represent a sizable, consecutive sequence of the concert but are rather scattered throughout the set.  

It starts with the opening song, and then drops two songs before “Heartbreaker,” “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” “Thank You” and “What Is And What Should Never Be” are present in sequence but with Plant’s introductions cut out.  “Moby Dick” and “How Many More Times” which follow are missing but the encores, “Whole Lotta Love” (with the middle section edited out) and “Communication Breakdown” are present.  The nature of the tape strongly suggests it was edited for the initial vinyl release to fit onto one disc and raises the question about the rest of the soundboard.  Since it has been almost forty years the rest is probably lost.

The virtue of this release is the inclusion of the thirty minute long audience recording that surfaced earlier in the year.  It is fair to good with the tape being significantly more muffled during “We’re Gonna Groove.”  For the Zeppelin collector it is clear enough to be enjoyed on some level and is valuable since it contains the first for songs in sequence including two, “I Can’t Quit You” and “Dazed And Confused,” which are not on the soundboard recording. 

All that is still missing from the show is “White Summer,” “Moby Dick,” “How Many More Times” and the middle section of “Whole Lotta Love.”  Boogie Mama package Pure Blues in a cardboard digipack with relevant photos on the cover and inside.  They track the introduction on the audience tape separately but don’t mention it in the track listing and “I Can’t Quit You” is mistakenly listed as “Since I’ve Been Loving You.”  Otherwise this is an excellent production overall. 

The label also reproduces a concert review from the March 24th, 1970 issue of Express which states: 

“Robert Plant, lead singer of the high-flying Led Zeppelin, said recently in London the group wanted to tour America again because audiences here are so ‘ultra responsive’.  His observation was correct, but even the Led Zeppelin was obviously not prepared for the reaction they caused Saturday at the Pacific Coliseum as nearly 19,000 rock fans jammed the building for the group’s first concert in a 19-city tour.  Although it started half-an-hour late, the concert was already blessed by the fact that there were none of the often tedious and time-consuming supporting acts. 

“Led Zeppelin walked onstage at 8:30pm, took control and didn’t stop through two-and-a-half hours of glorious, ear-splitting rock.  They are essentially the same group they were here last year, with as many new faults as there were noticeable improvements.  Except for a few minor mechanical problems during the opening of Dazed and Confused, Led Zeppelin succeeded in their heavy brand of rock that everyone came to hear.  The only new material offered was the song Since I’ve Been Loving You, to be released soon on Led Zeppelin III. It’s raw, physical qualities make the album one worth looking forward to.  And no one really minded that they played songs from their first two albums. From the raw, gutsy sounds of How Many More Times, to the frenzy improvisation that is Heartbreaker. 

“Robert Plant, the physical and vocal gymnast of the group, turned the crowd on at will with his shaggy blond mane and his searing three-octave voice.  The lead guitar of Jimmy Page was a constant delight to the senses, particularly in his much-improved White Summer solo.  Drummer John Bonham demonstrated his talent in a 15-minute stick-twirling and barehanded exhibition that exhausted both himself and listener, while bass guitarist John Paul Jones more than kept the beat alive. 

“As the concert drew to a close during the fever pitch of Whole Lotta Love, the massive crowd surged forward and about 50 senseless fans spoiled it for the group and the audience by vaulting up onto the 15-foot high stage.  ‘Never before in the history of Led Zeppelin has this happened,’ Plant shouted mock-serious into the microphone, not knowing whether to be offended or flattered.  When the stage was finally cleared, Led Zeppelin came back for two encores and a standing ovation that was a fitting tribute to one of the most talented rock groups in the business today.”

Opinions are split regarding the actual performance.  Some claim this is a demonic display of Led Zeppelin’s talent while others claim this isn’t the best show.  It is apparent they are basking in the success of Led Zeppelin II and everything is given the same sense of urgency inherent on that material. 

It is a shame that the “How Many More Times” finale is missing because it would have been fascinating to hear how they approached the medley in Vancouver.  “I Can’t Quit You” does sound slightly sluggish, but “Dazed And Confused” is a riot and the audience start to crush forward to the stage prompting Plant to go into crowd control during the violin bow episode. 

“Heartbreaker” has a unique introduction which sounds like “C’Mon Everybody” audible only in the audience recording and the band are loose enough to quote Neil Young’s “Cowgirl In The Sand” and their own “Ramble On” in a very long “Communication Breakdown.” 

Boogie Mama produced a solid release on all fronts and this is a great silver pressed edition of these two tapes. 

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  1. This release looks great but the music content could have been treated so much better. The label didn’t bother to pitch correct either source, the sbd runs too fast and the audience is obviously under pitch. They obviously did not use an original vinyl pressing of Pb, sounds like they used Flying Disc’s Mudslide or TDOLZ. The original Pb LP runs at correct speed and has clearer, more dynamic sound than the subsequent re-pressings of Mudslide. I’m not sure if any other labels (Tarantura) used a copy of Pb for their releases. I read that Genuine Master’s used a vinyl rip of Pb. I ripped my vinyl and cleaned up the surface noise and it blows away all other versions I’ve heard of this show. Someone should do this show right!

  2. Axeman, you own the release that is reviewed here. It is not a knock-off. That label listed as “Boogie Mam” is just a typo. It should be “Sugar Mama”.

  3. the one that i recently got, which seems to be easily available from at least a few different popular Internet sources, is a digi-pack called PURE BLUES, Vancouver 1970 that has exactly the same front cover, but it’s on a label called Sugar Mama that was released in 2008, as it says Sugar Mama 2008 on it. so it appears that mine is some sort of knock-off, but would it still be considered to be a relatively legit boot on a legit label, such as the ones on the Eelgrass label that does Empress Valley knock-offs, if you know what i mean? or is mine the kind of knock-off that’s considered to be just about a complete fake or rip-off that’s mostly worthless? my disc itself sounds great and the digi-pack artwork looks rather impressively nice, so it’ll be appreciated if anybody could tell me anything helpful about my Sugar Mama 2008 knock-off…thanks

  4. This release stayed in my player for several days and i’m surprised it’s been a few years since the soundboard fragment was last pressed to silver. Personally I like this show and have always enjoyed Zep’s version of We’re Gonna Groove. I also wanted to mention that I found the recently surfaced AUD source quite enjoyable and it’s great to finally hear Dazed from this show. Thanks Boogie Mama for pressing both of these sources to silver. Thanks also to the taper for sharing their source.


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