Vienna 1970 (MMachine MM-00-01/02)
Wien Kounselthous, Vienna, Austria – March 9th, 1970
Disc 1 (51:02): We’re Gonna Groove, I Can’t Quit You, Dazed and Confused, Heartbreaker, White Summer / Black Mountain Side
Disc 2 (56:02): Since I’ve Been Loving You, organ solo, Thank You, Moby Dick, How Many More Times
It is remarkable that Led Zeppelin’s short tour of Europe in March 1970 is so well documented. One of the all time best audience recordings originate from the March 7th show in Montreux, and all but one (March 8th in Munich) of the shows in Germany and Austria were recorded.
Two tapes circulate for this show. The first tape to surface came in fragments on Stepmothers (Zeppelin Live Archives ZLA-9314/15), released in 1993, which has has “I Can’t Quit You,” “White Summer / Black Mountain Side” and “How Many More Times” as bonus tracks to what is said to be Birmingham 1971 but is really Newcastle 1972.
Vienna 1970 (Ocean Sound Studio VIENNA 1970-1-2) is the second release of the first tape source and has only “I Can’t Quit You,” “Dazed And Confused,” “Heartbreaker,” “Moby Dick” and “How Many More Times,” and most of the first disc is repeated on the second. The sound is very poor and in general is a horrible production.
In 2002 High Flyin’ Zep(Electric Magic EMC-017A/B) was released and is missing “We’re Gonna Groove,” the organ solo and “Thank You.” That label also tweaked the tape to the point where a metallic whine interfere with the music (a common occurrence with many labels around that time).
MMachine released Vienna 1970 in the summer of 2000 using a new, more complete second source. It was taped a fair distance from the stage, is more muddy than the first tape but is reasonably clear. It also runs at the correct pitch. The virtue though is that it captures the entire set including the missing “We’re Gonna Groove,” organ solo and “Thank You” but is missing the encore “Communication Breakdown.” The label does use some of the first source to fill in some gaps and suffice to say this is the most complete version available on silver of this show.
The common opinion of this show is negative, saying that it is a slow, sloppy and uninspired. While it isn’t close to the intensity of Montreux, it does have it’s charm and share of highlights. The tape starts with Plant greeting the Viennese, saying “you feel alright?” The opening double of “We’re Gonna Groove” and “I Can’t Quit You” would serve as their opener until the first week of the US tour when the second sound would be dropped.
Plant gets into a long discussion about “Dazed & Confused,” saying: “we’d like to continue with a thing from our first LP. It’s called Led Zeppelin One, but it didn’t have the one which really means that we couldn’t find a title for the second one.” It is notable for the malfunction during the violin bow episode in the middle. The echoplex didn’t work and after Page plays around with it for a bit trying to get it to work stops and apologizes to the audience and blames the road manager. The rest of the song continues without a hitch however.
“Heartbreaker” is “something from our second record Led Zeppelin Two.” Like the other shows this has the heavy “Rice Pudding” introduction before the familiar heavy riff. The solo in the middle contains a reference to bouree. “White Summer” is lasts for twelve minutes, and the “Bron-Y-Aur” interlude in the middle sounds vague and dreamy in this recording. “Since I’ve Been Loving You” is first thing that we’ve got together, or the first thing that we got together, to sound better, from Led Zeppelin Three. This is a thing called Since I’ve Been Loving You. Here we go.” The early versions before it was committed to tape for the album sound much lighter, melodic and lyrical compared to the blues bombast of later performances.
The organ solo is a short ninety second prelude to “Thank You,” but would be expanded later on in the year. The sound deteriorates a bit in “Thank You” making it sound much heavier that it probably was already. “What Is And What Should Never Be” normally follows in the set but is dropped this night, as it would be for the second Hamburg show and the last night of the tour in Düsseldorf. The set ends with a twenty-minute version of “How Many More Times.” Page’s guitar improvisation before the heavy Bolero section sounds unusually light, and the medley has the common references to “Boogie Chillun” and “Cumberland Gap.”
The encore has never surfaced on any version of this show. MMachine package this in a double slimline jewel case with period photos. It is definitely a budget release with very little effort gone into packaging, but it is remains the stanard and definitive version of the Vienna show in 1970. Given the sound quality and performance, this is a title recommended for the commited Led Zeppelin collector, one who is willing to wade thorough the mediocre sound to enjoy the concert.
This release has above average sound quality for most of the 1970 recordings to surface so far however these sources used for this title sound over EQed to my ears and if the master or even a 1st gen ever surfaces I would like to see and hear another label take a shot. I also do not find this show to be “weak” and especially enjoy HMMT.
Thanks for this interesting review, but that’s one of the ugliest front covers that I’ve seen of the last few years or so – even if all of the pet dogs & cats of Nancy McKeon & Erin Gray were to disagree 100%.