The Boy Next Door (no label)
Bath Festival Of Blues & Progressive Music ’70, Bath & West Showground, Shepton Mallet, Somerset, England – June 28th, 1970
Disc 1 (65:50): Intro, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Dazed And Confused, Bring It On Home, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Organ Solo, Thank You, The Boy Next Door (That’s The Way), What Is And What Should Never Be
Disc 2 (65:34): Moby Dick, How Many More Times (incl. Mr. Soul/Down By The River/The Hunter/Think You Need A Shot (The Needle) /Boogie Chillun’/Long Distance Call/Honey Bee/Sweet Home Chicago/The Lemon Song /I Need Your Love Tonight/That’s Alright Mama), Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown, Rock Medley (incl. Long Tall Sally/Say Mama/Johnny B. Goode/That’s Alright Mama/Bye Bye Johnny)
Participating in rock festivals in 1969 was instrumental in Led Zeppelin’s rapid success. But with Led Zeppelin II hitting number one on the charts by year’s end, they stopped booking festivals and instead made their own appearances an event. The lone exception was the Bath festival in June. Zeppelin participated in the first Bath festival the previous year and used their appearance at the second as a way to promote themselves in the UK without an extensive tour.
Bath would be Led Zeppelin’s final appearance in England in 1970 and would be one their last rock festivals. The August 29th Man-Pop Festival in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada is probably the last one. (Knebworth in 1979, although a festival in the strictest sense, isn’t in the same spirit as the festivals in the late sixties and early seventies).
The first unofficial release with material from this show is the vinyl boot Bath Festival 1970 (Krishna Records) which has two songs, “Heartbreaker” and “That’s The Way” in very good quality along with tracks from Johnny Winter, Donovan, Fairport Convention and Jefferson Airplane. These two songs were transferred onto silver disc on Missing Links (The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin TDOLZ Vol. 081), a collection of rarities.
The entire set was pressed onto silver disc many times but utilized a poor sounding audience tape. But recently the very good audience tape used for the vinyl has surfaced and has been pressed onto The Boy Next Door. This is a very good but think sounding recording with fair hints of distortion in some passages. The emphasis is upon the high end with the bass pushed towards the back of the mix. While it isn’t perfect, it is infinitely superior to the common tape and overall very good at picking up the intensity of the performance.
The poor tape is used a couple times to fill in some gaps. It is used for the first fourteen seconds of the introduction, about ninety seconds after “Since I’ve Been Loving You” to include Plant’s speaking (and some rather loud birds chirping), between 23:29 to 23:42 in “How Many More Times” and for a few seconds before the encore. The editing is very well handled.
Bath was their second show (after Reykjavik) after a two month break for writing and recording the third album. “Immigrant Song” opens the show, replacing “We’re Gonna Groove” used the first half of the year. Led Zeppelin legend relays that Robert Plant wrote the lyrics to the song inspired by the trip to Iceland. The tune was rehearsed before that, but the words were added that week and are very similar to the final version of the song except they don’t really fit the melody at parts. It would be smoothed over later.
“Dazed And Confused” clocks in at fourteen minutes, a bit shorter than other versions during this time. Before “Since I’ve Been Loving You” Plant tells the audience that “eventually will go into a studio and we’ve got nearly to the end of Led Zeppelin III.”
After “Thank You” Zeppelin perform “That’s The Way,” which Plant says is “something a little different, if I can remember the words. You’re gonna have to hold off on the trumpet for half a minute mate, just for half a minute,” he tells someone in the crowd. “This is really a medley of all the famous Lonnie Donegan tunes, all the really good ones. Especially for John Bonham” Plant jokes.
This the first time Zeppelin played an acoustic ballad live before (it’s unknown if the song premiered in Iceland the previous week). Anytime one takes a risk in presenting something new there is tentativeness, but they do deliver a tight version and it is received well. “Well, I don’t know what to say” Plant responds to the ovation.
The set ends with a very long and lively version of “How Many More Times.” It is comparable to the Royal Albert Hall performance the previous January with all of the obscure references and intensity of the playing. The throw in a version of “Sweet Home Chicago” and during the “Lemon Song” reference Plant stops to acknowledge Robert Johnson, the author of those tunes. Bath would mark the end of this show showstopper with “Whole Lotta Love” taking its place when they resume touring in Germany in July.
The second encore is a short and violent version of “Communication Breakdown” in which Plant sings what sounds like a line from “Deep Elem Blues” during the funk section. Before “Long Tall Sally” Plant gives a long speech to the massive crowd, saying: “We, we’ve been playing a lot in America recently and we really thought that coming back here we might have a bit of a dodgy time, but we’re starting to get a bit. There’s a lot of things going wrong in America at the moment, that are getting a bit sticky, and what not, and it’s really nice to come to an open air festival where there’s no really bad thing happening, and everything has carried on decently. On the news last night, on the television news. They said Shepton Mallet would never be the same, but I think it’s just added to everything that’s here already. So we’d like to do something that we probably owe to people who came a long time before. I think that every group on the scene’s got that a little bit every now and then.”
A ten minute jam on the Little Richard classic closes one of the most intense and exhilarating Led Zeppelin performances on disc. So far this is the most impressive and important release to come out this year and is essential for the collection. The Boy Next Door has very good artwork and is the most accessible to collectors.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)