Led Zeppelin – Tampa 1970 (No Label)

ZEP T70-FTampa 1970 (No Label)

Curtis Hixon Hall, Tampa, FL, USA – April 9, 1970

Disc 1 (59:14) Bring it On Home, White Summer / Black Mountain Side, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Organ Solo, Thank You, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick

Disc 2 (31:23) How Many More Times, Whole Lotta Love

Led Zeppelin’s first tour of the United States in spring 1970 would begin in late March and went until mid April, the shows would further integrate music from Led Zeppelin II into the set as well as newer material that was in its formative stage that would appear on their upcoming third LP. There was civil unrest with the youth of America, disenchanted with the Government and the war in Vietnam, they would find solace in Rock music. With the group playing to larger crowds, this also meant that security at many of their shows would be beefed up and there was tension in the air, this tension would carry over into the band’s tour later on in the year. Internally Led Zeppelin was really starting to gel on a personal level, the barriers that may have existed from established musicians, Page and Jones, to the relatively unknown, Plant and Bonham were completely erased and all were functioning as a very tight collective. Robert had established himself quickly as a strong lyricist and song writer and true peer of the Page, and their collaborations were moving to much more diverse areas. Onstage the group gelled instantly and in their first year were a force to be reckoned with, by their second year they were expanding the live set rapidly to meet their own need to express their art….the results would be staggering.

The 5th US tour would spawn many audience recordings, while many are just merely average in quality, there are a few really nice recordings. Most certainly the one from Tampa is from the latter, although early vinyl releases would not do the recording justice. Titles such as Makundju (Screaming Olseau 7501 A-D), Tampa Florida 1970 (Private Collection PC 019 / 020 A-B), and The Final Option (Various) were described as being “pretty bad” to “quite good” depending on what pressing you had. The concert would find its way to compact disc as Bring It On Home (POT POT008-009), Makundju (Cobra 021), Who’s Birthday (Tarantura /t2CD-15-1,2), and the title I have had in my collection for years, First Choice (Sugarcane Records SC 52001/2), all these titles have been out of print for many, many years so this new release was a welcome site.

The audience recording is sadly incomplete, a tad distant but with very good sound, all instruments are clear and well defined. There is some audience chatter from time to time and there is minor tape hiss that is not uncommon in a tape of this age yet it does not interfere with ones listening experience. When I compared it to my older First Choice title I was pleasantly surprised, not knowing what to expect I found it has a much wider frequency range, is louder and brighter sounding that made me instantly grab my remote and turn it up. Bring It On Home is incomplete, all that remains is the last two and a half minutes, too bad it’s so fragmentary as what is left sounds great. While Page is tuning the Danelectro Plant makes some announcements and sounds slightly uneasy about doing so but his natural charm puts him at ease. White Summer / Black Mountain Side is excellent, Page’s fingers are quite nimble and when Bonham enters his playing gets even more intense. The audience applaud when he finally goes into Black Mountain Side but the driving force of the music is certainly the White Summer pieces that lead into some very gentle improvisation where he plays bits of what would be used in Swan Song and finally Midnight Moonlight at the 10:16 mark. There is a tape pause after the song but we get Robert’s introduction about the next song being from “Led Zeppelin III” before being treated to an early version of Since I’ve Been Loving You. While certainly not intense as what would be found on the record or later version you can certainly hear the band progressing on this song from versions found earlier on in the tour, Jimmy lays down a great solo on this night as they try and increase the dramatic tension that makes this song really work.

Thank You is a typically nice 1970 version, the taper is fumbling about with the mike, one would guess he is trying to improve the position during the organ solo. The adjustments made during the solo make for a dynamic sounding version of Thank You, when Bonham breaks into the song it is very powerful and you can even hear a bit of John Paul Jones adding some backup vocals. Another big tape cut eliminates most of What Is And What Should Never Be, only the last two minutes remain, and a monstrous 20 minute Moby Dick rounds (or should I say pounds) out the first disc, “take a bow” John!

The highlight of the show, as usual is an incredible How Many More Times, Robert tells the audience to get loose as “humanly possible”, he introduces the band prior to them launching into the song properly, Page adds a little Theremin to his intro and after a long lead in the band go full force into the song. The rock and roll medley is interesting, Page sounds like he plays a snippet of Killing Floor and Robert asks the restless audience to cool it, there is a tape pause at 12:17 but little is lost and Robert puts the crowd to work, clapping their hands and leads them into an great Boogie Chillun’. An early version of Elvis’ Mess O Blues has Page sounding a bit stumped so they move into My Baby and finally into The Lemon Song proper. There is what sounds like tape wrinkle at 17:50 to 18:04 and briefly 19:22 to 19:33. Plant’s interaction with the audience is superb, he has them sing the “In the sights…” line, the ending of the song has everybody clapping.”Feel Alright?” Hell yeah we do, we want more! Whole Lotta Love is our reward.  The audience is relentlessly clapping along, Jimmy attacks them with the Theremin again while Jones uses his organ making for an insane middle section of the song that has to be heard. An excellent end to a great, yet fragmentary recording.

The packaging is nice, full color inserts adorned with live shots taken at the actually show, Jimmy’s pants are quite the site! There is a pic of two different ticket stubs on the inside and the CD’s have pictures on them as well, oh yeah we get the obligatory sticker. The No Label folks have put out a massive amount of titles as of late, while some may seem redundant, some like this release are most relevant and much welcomed as it’s nice to get an upgrade to a concert that does not see wide spread distribution.

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