Led Zeppelin – Wreckage In Boston (Tarantura TCD-25~27)

Wreckage In Boston (Tarantura TCD-25~27)

Boston was one of the most rapid in their following of the band and some of their early shows, dating even back to their first tour of the US in January 1969, are some of their all time legendary performances.  The famous four hour Boston Tea Party show occurred there in January 1969, and also their first arena show in the States occurred at the Boston Gardens in October 1969. 

After these initial appearances, their subsequent visits to the city in 1970, 1971, and 1973 were marked by some sort of tension and chaos.  Their relationship ended permanently in 1975 when their fans rioted in the Boston Garden while waiting to buy tickets to a scheduled show which was then moved to the Nassau Coliseum in New York. 

Wreckage In Boston documents three of their four final concerts in the city and as the title conveys all of the shows have very interesting stories behind them.  The first edition was packaged in a brown box, pictured above and to the left.  The second, and more common version, comes in a cardboard box with a black motif.  The individal concerts are packaged in single pocket cardboard sleeves with relevant artwork on the front and rear. 

Tarantura used this boxset for the opportunity to present underutilized tape sources for these shows.  For all three in this box, they use newer tapes that have not been pressed many times before.  This is a good idea for two of them, but using only the new tape for the 1971 diminishes what is otherwiese a solid effort.  However, for the 1970 and 1973 concerts, this proves to be the best available version of these shows in circulation and are worth having for them. 

Worse Than G.M. (TCD-25-1/2)
Boston Gardens, Boston, MA – September 9th, 1970

Disc 1 (40:04):  MC, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Dazed & Confused, Bring It On Home

Disc 2 (78:01):  That’s The Way, Bron-Y-Aur, Since I’ve Been Loving You, organ solo, Thank You, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love (includes Boogie Chillun’, Mess Around, Ramble On, For What It’s Worth, Some Other Guy, Honey Bee), Communication Breakdown

Worse Than G.M. a two disc set documenting the September 9th, 1970 show at the Boston Garden. This concert had been released previously as No License No Festival on Silver Rarities, Come Back To Boston on Holy, and “Whole Lotta Love” and “Communication Breakdown” appears as filler on 207.19 on Cobra, along with the March 21st, 1975 Seattle show. No License No Festival comes from the first tape source and Come Back To Boston is a mix of the two.

Worse Than G.M. on Tarantura is the first release of the complete second source. It is a fair to good, perfectly listenable almost complete audience tape. There is a cut in “Moby Dick” losing several minutes of tape and there is some distortion, most noticeably during “That’s The Way” and “What Is And What Should Never Be.”

Led Zeppelin were originally supposed to play on August 14 at the Eagle Rock Festival with such acts as Lighthouse, MC-5 and The Allman Brothers.  This was intended to be a fundraiser for Boston College to finance a domed stadium, but residents of nearby Chestnut Hill complained and Mayor White refused to grant a license for the festival.  Two shows at the Garden were a way to make up the cancelled appearence.  But occuring over Labor Day weekend caused its own set of problems regarding equipment and Zeppelin threatening to no play until being paid in advance.   

The title comes from a comment made by the promoter Robert A. “Skip” Chernov to the press when the band wanted to cancel the show when it wasn’t a complete sell out.

Zeppelin wouldn’t appear until they were guaranteed a certain amount and created some tension. Plant also complains about their hectic schedule since they were in Hawaii just before this and were supposed to play Boston at the beginning of the tour.

The tape begins with an announcer speaking about the canceled festival and the desire to book Paul McCartney soon before introducing JJ Jackson to come out and introduce the band.  And before they play a note, Robert Plant complains:  “We’re gonna be a couple of seconds while we change guitars. Yeah can,… the police say can you move back out of the aisles for a few minutes? Just to be cool and everything, cause we want to make this a really good feeling. So let’s just clear the aisles for a while. Please, then everything’s alright.”

They follow with two bombastic numbers, “Dazed And Confused” and “Bring It On Home” making one of its final live appearances in the setlist.  While they’re getting ready for the two song acoustic set someone close to the stage requests “Whole Lotta Love” and Plant replies, “hang on a minute. There’s no use shouting for ‘Whole Lotta Love’ cause that always comes. This is a thing called ‘That’s the Way,’ featuring John Paul Jones on mandolin. You know what? Let’s hear it for John Paul Jones. I mean like seriously, really. Alright, no cat calls or whistling, or football match things, and we’ll try to do this quiet nice thing.”

There is a pause in the while Page is getting ready for “Bron-Yr-Aur,” his solo instrumental piece.  Plant reviews the situation which brought them there in the first place:  “we’ve had a lot of trouble you see because we were gonna come to Boston ah, at the beginning of the tour, which was about four weeks ago. And all of a sudden some old man decided that no drug crazed hippies were gonna lie on his lawn. Quote… quote … I didn’t say that.  So we couldn’t come, and we really like to come.

“Anyway, we’ve been to Hawaii. We were in Hawaii, which is over there, and that was about two days ago. So we rushed back, and the equipment arrived about an hour before we started, so we made it. We got here. We got to tell you that JJ Jackson keeps us well informed. He keeps us well informed of what to do.

“And so we come to the next thing which is an instrumental featuring Jimmy on guitar. This is a thing, this is a thing called Bron-Yr-Aur. Bron-Yr-Aur, as I’ve said every night of the tour, is the Welsh name for Golden Breast. Bron-Yr-Aur was a cottage that we visited in the Welsh mountains of  Snowdonia, which ah helped doing some of the things on the album. And ah, so every night we like to pay tribute to it, and let everybody in America get an idea of it through music, and what it’s all about. Really, he’s only tuning up. I’m giving you all of this old crap, you see? Right, ladies and gentlemen, Jimmy Page…”

Like all the performances, it sounds very strange compared to all the other material in the set and the audience don’t know how to take it.  Page’s guitar also goes out of tune in the middle and he has trouble finishing it.  “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” the final new song, follows but again Page’s guitar goes out of tune in the middle.  When Plant introduces Jones for his organ solo, he continues the running jokes by calling them “drug crazed hippies.”

Before the finale Plant tried to cool down the audience:  “Well we’re gonna ask, we’re gonna ask just one thing, that listen, listen, shut up a minute, listen, listen to me for god’s sake. What are you doing? Listen, there’s a lot of policeman who’ve moved out of the way and been really cool, so the least you could do, if it’s all about getting on with you brother, and everything, then just, if you don’t climb on the stage then they’re not going to get uptight, alright? So we, what we really want to do is remember Boston as the best night of the tour, right? And you’re, and even the people up there. They’re all as important as each other. So be, so try and be cool, and we won’t have any aggravations, right?”

“Whole Lotta Love” is stretched to almost twenty minutes. This tour is characterized by the loose nature of the medley which included a staggering amount of unique songs.  After “Boogie Chillun” they get into a bit of Fleetwood Mac’s “Stop Messin’ Around,” a close to complete version of “Ramble On” and Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” where Plant sings two verses.   A cover of The Beatles’ “Some Other Guy” follows, a tune included in the “Whole Lotta Love” medley during the final week of this tour.

The only encore in this show is “Communication Breakdown” with a long, nasty bass solo in the middle of the piece. 

Calm Down! (TCD-26)
Boston Gardens, Boston, MA – September 7th, 1971

Disc 3 (55:30):  Introduction, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Black Dog, Dazed & Confused (cut), Celebration Day (fragment), That’s The Way (fragment), Going To California, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick

Calm Down!, the second title in the box set documenting the September 7th, 1971 show is weak.  Taranura use a previously unreleased second tape source that contains some songs that aren’t present on the earlier releases. But the sound quality is poor at best and is very fragmented. “Dazed & Confused” is cut after thirteen minutes, “Celebration Day” and “That’s The Way” are forty second fragments, and “Moby Dick” is cut after four and a half seconds.  “Whole Lotta Love” and the encores are missing.

Since Tarantura are presenting unedited, alternate tape sources for these concerts it stands to reason why they didn’t edit the first tape source to complete the show.  A nice edit of the two can be found on Listen! Listen! Listen To Me! (Empress Valley EVSD-467 ~ 468). 

The concert begins with the second tape source for the opening introduction by the mc who says, “This Saturday night Laurence Welk will be here.  Give a Boston welcome to Led Zeppelin!”  What follows in an intense, crazy performance by the group.  But the inclusion of this tape alone is merely academic.   

Wrecks Havoc (TCD-27-1/2)
Boston Gardens, Boston, MA – July 20th, 1973

Disc 4 (49:50):  Rock And Roll, Celebration Day, Black Dog, Over The Hills And Far Away, No Quarter, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song

Disc 5 (68:22):  Dazed & Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love

Boston circulated on a poor to fair audience source which was pressed on Zep Vs Boston (Image Quality IQ-078/079).  Several years afterwards a new source, taped by Joe Maloney, surfaced.  This recording, while still a bit distant, is much more clear than the older tape and much more enjoyable.  Wrecks Havoc is the third release, after Wild And Relatively Mellow (Badgeholders BH – 009 – 1/2) and Boston Cream Pie (Empress Valley EVSD 353/354) on Empress Valley, of the new Joe Maloney audience source for the July 20th, 1973 Boston show.

Badgeholders runs a bit too fast and is biased towards the high end and sounds screecy.  Empress Valley favors the lower end.  Tarantura sounds less mastered than the others and has a nice live sound to it.  There is a cut in “The Rain Song” at 4:05. The ending of the tape sounds longer than the others with much crowd noise after the announcement that Zeppelin are gone and the final bombs being thrown in the venue.

Boston occurs in the final week of the tour and is one of the strangest Led Zeppelin shows captured on tape.  On a tour noted for the wildness of the audiences and throwing of firecrackers, this show ranks as the absolute worst.   

The trouble begins after “Over The Hills And Far Away” when Plant says:  “Easy. You don’t want to break those things down. So please stop pushing forward. If you don’t stop pushing forward we’re gonna have to stop until everybody can move back a bit. Is that understood please? I’m sure people sometimes get a little bit deaf.” 

After a pause he continues with crowd control, “Now we’ll try to keep you as cool as you can. Can you push back because everytime we come to Boston we have such a good time with so many good people, right? Eighteen and a half thousand people, but one thing, listen. There are people at the front who are gonna get hurt. So please some how distribute yourselves about otherwise the concert’s no good if you can’t do that, you know?”

They drop “Misty Mountain Hop” and “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and “try and play something a little soft while you try to scurry around. This is for the benefit of those people who like to hear a little subtlety in amongst the melee. No Quarter.”  They deliver a laid back version of the piece where Jimmy Page plays a David Gilmour sounding guitar solo during the middle improvisation.

Plant continues the crowd control afterwards saying:  “Really, I’ll tell you we’ve done so, we’ve done a lot of concerts. We’ve played to thousands of people. A lot of people are cool in as much as they understand that they’re people who really want to enjoy the concert behind them. Why don’t you just cool it a bit, eh? Everytime we come here, cool it. I know how it feels, but you still got to cool it.”  The audience don’t appreciate the soft “The Rain Song” and grow a bit impatient until the hard rock section of the piece kicks in. 

“Dazed And Confused” is very intense and rile up the audience.  So much so that afterwards Plant says sarcastically:  “I don’t know what local football team is called, but it’s just been playing for an hour and a half in front of our feet”.  They drop “Moby Dick” and play out the rest of the set and leave.  “Thank you and good night, Led Zeppelin are gone,” the mc announces with the audience milling around like they don’t believe it.

The decision is a correct once since many very loud M80s are set off.  Their affect is truly unsettling, having the Garden sound like a war-zone.  It is a shame because the band were on a definite peak in this period and were playing outstandingly.  And, as events would dictate, this would be Led Zeppelin’s final performance in a city that embraced them so warmly at the beginning of their career.

Overall this is a nice effort by Tarantura. Despite the poor tape used for Calm Down!, this is a set worth having since the 1970 and 1973 shows sound really good. The three shows are packaged in a single cardboard sleeve utilizing period photos, and these three are housed in the thick cardboard box. The first edition is limited to 100 copies and the second edition is also limited to 100 copies.   

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