L’Olympia, Paris, France – October 10th, 1969

Introduction, Good Times Bad Times, Communication Breakdown, I Can’t Quit You, Heartbreaker, Dazed And Confused, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, You Shook Me, How Many More Times

The existence of the October 1969 Paris radio broadcast has been the object of spectulation until it was finally rebroadcast  in October 2007 as a celebration of the O2 reunion. It presented most of the show (Moby Dick is rumored to have been omitted)  and was marred by DJ comments in French spoken over the music in some places.Nevertheless silver pressed releases  surfaced  about a week after the original broadcast.

Many of them such as Paris Olympia 1969 (Wendy wecd- 104), Olympia 1969 (no label), Ain’t No Fool (Black Dog Records BDR-02) and Paris Par Excellence (Empress Valley EVSD-510) presented the unedited broadcast  with DJ comments.Other labels like L’Olympia (Godfather G.R.248), Good Times Bad Times(Scorpio LZ-08015) and N’est Aucun Imbecile (Black Dog Records BDR-003) carefully edited out the commenets and lost some music.

It was almost by accident that The Chronicles Of Led Zeppelin came upon a true pre-FM master tape of the broadcast that  did not have the DJ comments and was not missing any music (except for the still AWOL “Moby Dick.”)  They released this find on One Night Stand In Paris (TCOLZ 029/030) along with a second disc with the actual broadcast.  In The Act Of Invoking The Spirit is the same source as used on disc one of the TCOLZ but is slightly more loud,clear and lively.

It isn’t known if this is all that was taped or if the rest of the show, which some say includes “Moby Dick” was also taped  and are still sitting in the vault.  It is said they played for an hour and a half leaving a half hour still unaccounted.  More likely than not they also played ”What Is And What Should Never Be” since that was a regular inclusion in the set.  The set list as it appears in the radio broadcast also differs from the list reported in the latest edition of  The Concert File, which places “You Shook Me” before “White Summer” followed by “Dazed And Confused.”

The set begins with the devastating opening bars of “Good Times, Bad Times” serving as a prelude to  “Communication Breakdown.”  Only at these shows was this arrangement used as they were trying to achieve the most  overwhelming sound they could muster. This tape includes the earliest reference to “Heartbreaker” introduced by Robert Plant,  saying, “We’d like to carry on with something on the new Led Zeppelin II album, which is eventually coming out in England and America.  It’s called ‘Heartbreaker.’”

This version sounds close to the studio arrangement and Page uses heavy distortion during the guitar solo.  Page’s ”White Summer” was still played at this time and is introduced by Plant saying, “right now we’d like to feature…” Page can be heard behind him saying, “wanking dog.”  Plant continues, “wanking dog…Jimmy Page on guitar.

This is a combination of several things.It goes under the collective title, as Percy Thrower would say,‘White Summer, ’ Jimmy Page.”  What follows is a virtuoso epic crammed into ten minutes.

“You Shook Me” must count among the heaviest versions on record with Bonham  keeping time with a sledgehammer on his drums.  This sound would remain in the set list, in one form or another, for the next couple of years before being abandoned.  But the best is the long improvisation during “How Many More Times.”  By this time it had already been expanded into a long, distinct medley of oldies, but they really don’t follow any rules in this concert.

The long improvisation starts off very dark and includes references to Holst’s “Mars, The Bringer Of War” and a very  slow version of The Yardbirds’ “Over Under Sideways Down.”  Some people shout to Plant while he’s in the middle of “The Hunter” and causes him to say, “shut up!”  There is a long “Boogie Chillun’” part with a reference to Ainsley Dunbar and “Needle Blues” where Plant sings, “I got my needle in you babe, and you seem to think it’s alright.  Why don’t you roll over baby, see what it’s like on the other side.  I think that was Brownie McGhee.”

Plant is trying hard to shake up the audience with suggestive lyrics and obscure inside jokes.  Maybe Plant is seeking revenge for the tepid reaction they received in the summer. It is said that Zeppelin were not as well  received in France as in other countries.  Maybe this is the reason why it took Zeppelin more than three years before they returned to the capital?

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