Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, USA – September 19, 1970
When I first started to collect bootlegs I would get most of my music from either record conventions or a hip local music store that would carry such items. Being as man of little means in those days being able to afford one record was hard enough so I would gravitate to buying cassette tapes, one of the earliest I bought was Live On Blueberry Hill. By then I had an idea on what to look for and had one of the early Robert Goodwin books featuring titles I could only dream about, but that early crappy tape would start my love affair with Led Zeppelin’s fall tour of 1970, and a few years later as CD’s took over the market and more concerts came into the collectors realm, the first tour I really tried to collect was that tour. The more I would read about the tour, it began to explain the intense performances. The band was really gelling personally and by the time they embarked on the tour most of Led Zeppelin III was finished and they had integrated the music into their live set. While America embraced them instantly, back home was more difficult and the band had just scored their first major victory at the legendary Bath Festival. By the time they hit the American shores in August of 1970, they were ready. With three records of material to choose from, the set list would be made up entirely of their music, save for their rock and roll medleys, and for the first time would feature an acoustic section. For years the West Coast dates seemed to get all the praise until 2003 when an unknown recording of the last concert on the tour was released via torrent sites, and the storm started. While the afternoon show had circulated for years, the evening show would feature a set list that had fans salivating at the mere site and the performance to back it up. Needless to say the West Coast recordings had some firm competition.
Afternoon Show (2 PM)
Disc 1 (55:36) Introduction, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Dazed And Confused, Bring It On Home, That’s The Way, Bron-Yr-Aur, Since I’ve Been Loving You
Disc 2 (56:18) Organ Solo, Thank You, A Word About Jimi Hendrix, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, MC, Communication Breakdown
There are two known recordings for the early show, the first and best source was released as Mauie Wowie (Missing Link ML 006-7) and is sadly incomplete, the second source is a step down in quality yet is much more complete, yet has never been released on its own, all other releases had been mixes of the first and second source, titles like American Woman (The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin TDOLZ 18/19), Have You Ever Experienced? (Tarantura TCD-17), and Praying Silently For Jimi (Empress Valley EVSD 310/311). The first source is the best of the two, yet is not as long and has many sporadic cuts throughout, yet it has better clarity, brighter and more close to the stage, sadly Whole Lotta Love and the encore is missing. The second source is much more complete, yet is more muffled and does not have the clarity of the first, both do have some tape hiss present and are more than listenable. This new release from the Eat A Peach folks has them continuing the tradition of blending both tapes together to present the complete concert. The first source is used for the majority of the concert with the second source used for Robert’s introduction and the majority of Immigrant Song, the splice into the song comes at the 2:28 mark and for the many cuts between songs and for the ending of Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love and Communication Breakdown, the seams are very smooth and since the recordings do not differ greatly they tend to compliment each other. When compared to TDOLZ’s American Woman this new title’s sound is similar with the TDOLZ being a bit clearer, the EAT title has a more full sound with better bottom end and a small amount of tape hiss. Like many newer releases, it seems to be a focus on less mastering and let the tapes stand for themselves versus the old boost the sound then kill this hiss mastering that made for a more brittle sound.
Like GS points out in his review, the tapers are forced to leave their spot during Heartbreaker but find a position that is as good as the previous one, you can hear some guy say “you wanna sit by me? 50 cents each”, that’s a New York crowd for ya. Things settle down nicely for Dazed, except for a barker selling binoculars, the song is a typical 1970 blistering version with Robert’s add lib of “I don’t care what people say, rock and roll is here to stay”. The New York audience is quiet and respectful during the acoustic set, considering that the material had never been out on record yet, Jimmy receives rapturous applause after his solo piece Bron-Yr-Aur.
While often overlooked by collectors, the early show is a well played enjoyable concert, Since I’ve Been Loving You is a laid back version, Robert mentions the death of Jimi Hendrix the previous day in a tasteful manner and Whole Lotta Love is excellent, the band have built an incredible vibe throughout the previous numbers and the song is a culmination of that energy. The classics just flow from Let That Boy Boogie, For What It’s Worth, and a crowd pleasing Lemon Song bring the show to a fever pitch. The audience wants more so the band quickly returns with a typically fast paced Communication Breakdown. The band have been known to do a bit of improvising during the song, here we get Robert singing a bit of the the Guess Who’s American Woman but the band do not really get into it. A well executed compact concert, to think that in another four hours they would do it all over again.
Evening Show (8 PM)
Disc 3 (70:13) Introduction, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Dazed And Confused, Bring It On Home, A Word About Jimi Hendrix, That’s The Way, Bron-Yr-Aur, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Organ Solo, Thank You
Disc 4 (74:07) What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, MC, Out On The Tiles, Communication Breakdown, MC, Rock ‘N’ Roll Medley, How Many More Times
The evening show is perhaps the best performance of the fall 1970 American tour, it appeared on the web in 2003 and thankfully was able to get distributed to the masses versus just a select few. As the story goes the taper knew that an MSG 1970 recording was in circulation and thought his recording was from the same performance. Needless to say the recording quickly made the round in the bootleg market with most major labels throwing into the fray. Final Daze (No Label ZEP-MSG 1/2), Have You Ever Experienced? (Tarantura TCD-17), One More For The Road (Boogie Mama), Requiem (Empress Valley EVSD-288B/289B), and Shout That Loud (Electric Magic EMC 024 A/B) all feature the concert in similar quality. The guy who taped the show transferred his recording onto an open reel tape, and when he did it he tried to simulate the panning of the instruments like it sounds on record and live, this issue has been addressed by the Eat A Peach label.
I used my go to title for this concert, One More For The Road on the Boogie Mama label to compare. This new title is a bit louder and brighter than Boogie Mama yet there is a tad bit more tape hiss and both run at similar speeds, I could not tell a difference. The Eat A Peach title also addresses the low end distortion, they have minimized it making for a much easier listening experience but in doing this the bottom end is not as deep as it used to be, they have overall adjusted the levels more equally so now the level volumes are similar. Lastly the work on the panning effects is excellent, just one listen to Heartbreaker and one can tell the difference they have made, the overall mastering of this recording is excellent and extremely well done making this already very good sounding recording even better. The performances of the afternoon and evening shows are two completely different affairs. The early set is played to a laid back crowd and the band’s performance reflects that, it should be noted that the early show was about three quarters full. The evening gig finds the band playing their last date of the tour and the year and play like it’s their last ever. The audience is a sold out crowd and are the typical crazy bunch we have heard on recordings from other tours, quite unruly at times, and Plant has to constantly ask for them to chill out, his lyrically improvisation asking for people to sit down during Dazed is great.
The highlight of this recording is most certainly the latter part, from Whole Lotta Love to the last encore, the music is giving to the people who are giving back the positive energy to the band, the results are pure musical joy! The medley features a great Lawdy Miss Clawdy into a bit of Neil Young’s Cinnamon Girl into Some Other Guy into Train Kept A Rollin is just a few of the highlights. After they finish the song the response is deafening and the band come back to the stage and we get the second known version of Out On The Tiles, more powerful and confident sounding than the one from the LA Forum earlier in the month, this one is smokin hot, Page leads the song right into an equally intense Communication Breakdown. During the frenzied middle Plant starts singing Gallows Pole and the band follow in making for a most unique version of the song. The Girl Cant Help it medley is superb and the band finish, incredibly, with How Many More Times including a great rendition of Blueberry Hill, the audience response is rapturous to say the least. As a veteran of hundreds of concerts it amazes me to here this recording, the environment is electric. These days when an act comes back for an encore it seems like a given. Led Zeppelin did four encores and left the audience wanting more.
The packaging is typical for what we have come to expect from the Eat A Peach label, mini LP cover that houses for LP style sleeves. The cover and sleeve all share a common theme of live shots imposed over the New York skyline. Each of the four CD’s sleeves features a band member on the front, track listing on the back and there is an 8 page booklet included with reminisces of both shows. Each CD has a different picture on them and the whole package is very well thought out and presented. There have been a couple releases that combined these performances together before but have been from the high end market which eliminates many collectors. What Eat A Peach has done with this release is to offer excellent packaging, the most complete overview of the performances as possible with sound quality that meets or exceeds the best versions out there…for an affordable price. Bottom line is this is a must have.