Led Zeppelin DVD

A Garden Tapes special feature
by Eddie Edwards

The Garden Tapes » Led Zeppelin DVD » Royal Albert Hall 1970

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Royal Albert Hall 1970

Of the four main features on DVD, Royal Albert Hall 1970 is the only one to be sourced from just one concert. Three nights at Madison Square Garden, five at Earls Court (not all contributing to DVD), two at Knebworth but just one glorious night in South Kensington.

First let's consider the probable full set list with which Jimmy Page's 26th birthday was celebrated:

We're Gonna Groove
I Can't Quit You Baby
Dazed and Confused
White Summer
Since I've Been Loving You
Thank You
What Is and What Should Never Be
Moby Dick
How Many More Times
Whole Lotta Love
Communication Breakdown
C'mon Everybody
Somethin' Else
Bring It On Home
Long Tall Sally

Parts of the first two numbers were available officially for more than twenty years before the arrival of DVD. We're Gonna Groove was edited and had its original guitar part replaced with overdubs from a very different era and I Can't Quit You Baby was incomplete, but the claim in the original Coda sleeve notes that these songs had been recorded at Morgan Studios and "during sound rehearsal at the Royal Albert Hall" respectively didn't fool many people for very long. It's curious to note that a couple of minor guitar mistakes in I Can't Quit You that were allowed to remain undoctored on Coda have been corrected for DVD. Near the end of the first twelve bars of the guitar solo, Jimmy hits the power A chord half a beat late (02:51 on Coda) then, a few seconds later (02:56) when it's time to hit it again, he overcompensates and plays it half a beat early. No such problems on the DVD soundtrack, although at 0:07:35 the visuals betray the latter error!

If the opening two numbers were not totally new, the next one certainly was. This version of Dazed and Confused has never even appeared on any of the Albert Hall bootleg recordings. This means that, although it appears to be free of any cuts and edits, this can't be confirmed with absolute certainty. The same applies to What Is and What Should Never Be and Moby Dick.

Heartbreaker is not included in the Albert Hall feature owing to the unavailability of the accompanying visuals but we do get to hear a fragment of it on the Clips Menu on DVD One and a longer, more satisfactory extract on the Credits Menu on both DVDs.

White Summer is complete but Since I've Been Loving You is altogether absent. With the recording sessions for the third album still some months in the future, this song had been played live for the very first time just 24 hours previously at the Colston Hall in Bristol. It's an understatement to say that it would have been fascinating to hear a perfect quality recording of such an early version, but perhaps it was considered a little too primitive.

The next song and the only other number in the set on which Jonesy played the Hammond Organ, Thank You, is also missing. A tantalising glimpse of Jonesy's solo introduction to this number is included on the Royal Albert Hall II Menu and the beginning of the song itself can be heard over on disc two on the Interviews and Promos Menu (see "Menus and extras" for further comment on this).

After the end of What Is and What Should Never Be, Pagey can be seen and heard tuning his bottom E string down to D in preparation for Moby Dick, but that particular treat is deferred on DVD until after How Many More Times. This is no doubt because, with a few numbers from the original set missing, it's a little early in the evening for a drum solo.

There are five cuts in How Many More Times. At NTSC 0:43:49, PAL 0:43:52 the band introductions have been removed, resulting in the loss of just over a minute. The next cut is a little strange and unsatisfactory, coming during the Boogie at NTSC 0:56:14, PAL 0:56:18 where two iterations of the twelve bar sequence have been removed, a total of 30 seconds. The problem is, it's actually only 22 bars, not 24, that have been removed, and the two remaining bars disrupt the natural chord progression. Soon forgotten, though. Cut number three is at NTSC 1:01:08, PAL 1:01:13 and this time it's a high speed, disorganised 90 seconds' worth of That's All Right (Mama) that's lost. Almost immediately afterwards there are two further cuts as Robert toys with the audience, first hissing "s-s-s..." at them (10 seconds removed) and then encouraging them to sing along with "loving" (20 seconds).

After the displaced Moby Dick it's time for the encores. Whole Lotta Love is complete but at NTSC 1:26:47, PAL 1:26:53 in Communication Breakdown 28 seconds of guitar solo have been cut, reducing an extended 44 bar workout to a much less adventurous 20 bars. C'mon Everybody, Somethin' Else and Bring It On Home are all complete but the final Long Tall Sally medley has been held back for future release (there's no harm in hoping).

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