Led Zeppelin – Winter In Winterland 1969 / 2021 New Appeared Master (Wisteria Records WISCD 2021-005)

Winter In Winterland 1969 / 2021 New Appeared Master (Wisteria Records WISCD 2021-005)

Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco, CA – November 07, 1969

Disc 1 (55:26) Tune Up, Good Times Bad Times, Communication Breakdown, I Can’t Quit You Baby, Heartbreaker, Dazed And Confused, White Summer / Black Mountain Side

Disc 2 (63:42) Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, How Many More Times, Bring It On Home

In March 2021 The Dogs Of Doom released an alternate recording for Led Zeppelin’s November 7, 1969 performance at San Francisco’s 5,400 seat Winterland Ballroom, the venue operated by the famous promoter Bill Graham. The first recording has circulated for years and has seen a number of releases, Winter Of Our Content (Missing Link ML-008/9), Room 2/3 (Image Quality IQ-019/20/21), Good Old Led Zeppelin (Tarantura TCD-89-92), and Final Winterland (The Chronicles Of Led Zeppelin TCOLZ 064-069). The first source is an incomplete recording that suffers from distortion and speed fluctuations yet easily falls in the good range.

The new source is a nearly complete very good sounding recording that is slightly distant yet very clear and detailed with excellent balance, all instruments and vocals clear in the mix. The concert was recorded by Gerry Olsen using a Sony TC-124 cassette deck and a Sony F-99S Stereo mic, Gerry is also responsible for the transfer. This recording was quickly released as Final Winterland 1969 2nd Night (No Label), Rare Magic (Empress Valley Supreme Disc EVSD-1445/1446), Return To San Francisco (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-1107A/B/C/D), and this title from Wisteria. Tarantura has released their version of the recording along with the November 6, 1969 concert in a box set called Stand Up, Sit Down Up There Settle Down (Tarantura TCD-214-1/2 ~ 215-1/2).

This new title from Wisteria uses the newly discovered source 2 as a foundation and fills a gap in Moby Dick with source 1. Like the two other Wisteria titles I’ve reviewed, this new Winterland title also has small cuts in the recording, 10 seconds of the intro, and an additional 20 seconds from between songs. I also detect digital debris at a few track changes, while not a deal killer, they are there regardless. The sound on this title is nicely done, there are no signs where heavy handed mastering can be heard. The large cut from 1:30 to 12:16 during Moby Dick is filled with source 1 and is well done, so the mastering is good save the removal of tape.

This is the last known recording from North America in what was an important and highly successful year for Led Zeppelin, to play their last gigs in the city that embraced them earlier in the year was fitting. Many other reviewers tell of the importance of the bombastic beginning of the late 1969 concerts that began with Good Times, Bad Times for good reason, it’s so powerful and you get a feel for that in this recording. Just before the band begin there are shouts of “Sit down” then the band begin and a huge cheer comes up from the crowd. Communication Breakdown weaves in like a bullet and the Zeppelin is off in full flight, Jimmy’s solo is perfect and the band is on. A wonderful relaxed I Can’t Quit You Baby follows, Page’s leads flow from his finger tips, at times Plant seems just a half step behind. The audience responds with cheers during the quiet sections, relaxed intensity. Heartbreaker is muscular, there are a few cheers and claps, there are certainly a few people who picked up the recently released second album in attendance, love Robert’s deep voice on this version.

A disturbance can be heard in the distance at the beginning of Dazed And Confused, so much for the laid back West Coast Bay Area vibe, it is a prelude to a mysterious Dazed And Confused. During the bow solo Jimmy starts a riff and the band follows then goes back into the bow solo with Bonzo highlighting with a few smashes from his gong, this only mildly interests the crowd near the taper as some chatting is heard, the band soon quiets them with sheer power. There is a little damage at the 13:53 mark that is short, like the tape got eaten, thankfully it’s short, this is followed by Jimmy going into the stratosphere. White Summer clocks in at nearly 15 minutes but never gets boring, in fact Jimmy seems to be trying different rhythmic combinations with Bonham that are quit effective.

This is the last recorded version of Babe I’m Going To Leave, the only other documented recording after this is from the second show in Hawaii on September 6, 1970, while there is no audio there is a very short video snippet. The band begin What Is And What Should Never Be to no applause, curious as Led Zeppelin II had been released a few weeks prior. The benefit of this new recording is we finally get the complete How Many More Times with Robert introducing the band during the Jazzy prelude. The instrumental passage that lead up to Rosie is excellent, Page solos effortlessly and Plant interjects lyrics known, like Neil Young’s Down By The River “Be on my side I’ll be on your side…” to obscure moans seemingly to just get off before getting into the medley properly. Boogie Chillun’ goes into Move On Down The Line, Plant is interjecting lyrics at will leading into a very powerful Bottle Up And Go that evolves into the Squeeze My Lemon lyrics, from the sound it receives a rather lackluster response. The audience is digging the show though as Robert has no issues getting them to shout along to “I got you in….” that leads into the How Many More Times reprise, Page does some interesting tuning with his guitar that sounds like Jimi Hendrix joined them onstage.

The biggest revelation on this recording is not the excellent How Many More Times medley, it’s the encore of Bring It On Home making its only known appearance in 1969. Clocking in at just over nine minutes the song is everything we expect it to be and one has to wonder if they had played it previously. The beginning riff harmonica jam is great and gets the audience clapping along. There is no hesitation, just pure beautiful playing that sounds confident and Rocks hard, John Bonham’s drumming is excellent playing rapid fire during portions punctuating the riffs. He gets into a drum guitar battle in the middle that equals the Robert Jimmy guitar vs. harmonica that follows. What a great surprise to have this early version and this recording helps better define what an excellent concert this was, Zep was flying high!

The front cover shot of Page is not from 1969, nor the one on the interior cover, the rear tray shots are from 1969, the gig poster is on the back also, always liked it with massive Zeppelin in the holding bay. This release also comes with a CD-R of the recently surfaced third audience source from the Texas Pop 8/31/1969 recording, like their other releases, the label has cropped off nearly a minute from the recording. I didn’t put any times listening to this as it’s a CD-R but found the sound to be consistent with the original torrent. These Wisteria titles could be very nice, they are doing a great job with the sound but the needless cuts will keep their titles from being considered definitive.

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