Live 1969 Recording “Unearthed”

There was a rather interesting developemnt in the live recording department recently. Robert Dwyer, whom I’ve worked with a lot on tour date history, posted a very intersting story to his site. I’m not going to bother commenting on it for now, I’ll just let you read his words..
How does a Sabbath fan like myself even begin to encapsulate the joy of finding an unheard gem from 1969 – the era which we’ve only been able to imagine. Until now that is! A few weeks ago, I received a letter from Alex W. of Dumfries, Scotland who informed me that I was missing a gig date on my Shows list for the BLACK SABBATH era.
Alex W.: “Hi, I’ve just become aware of this site. My name is Alex W. and I see that I can add a date missing to your timeline section. On 16th November 1969 Sabbath played at Rugman’s Youth Club, Whitesands, Dumfries, Scotland, backed by local band Amplified Heat. I was at the show (2 shillings and 6 pence admission!) and also recorded most of the set that evening. They played a mixture of songs from the first upcoming LP, and fast “jazz-blues” type songs, much in the vein of Alvin Lee & 10 Years After. I still have the tape and can give you a breakdown of the recording and equipment the band used if you wish…”
I get a lot of very interesting e-mail’s from people, but this short missive immediately reduced me to into a slack-jawed primate. For a few moments, my vocabulary was limited to short dazed grunts and guttural noises. But as I gradually came back to normal consciousness, my eyes gravitated over the words I have underlined in Alex’s e-mail. A 1969 live recording??!!
Allow me a moment to put this into perspective for us. The earliest known live recording circulating at the moment would be the Koln, Germany tape from April 3rd, 1970 (if that date is even correct). Unfortunately, that one only has two songs and the quality is “good” at best. Next up would be their BBC Radio performance for John Peel’s Sunday Show (a.k.a. Ozzy’s Basement Tapes) from 4/26/70, but this again is not a complete show – only 4 songs. One of the most famous early live recordings of Black Sabbath would have to be the Berlin 6/26/70 tape, which first surfaced about a decade ago. The quality of the Berlin tape was at least VG quality and is as close to a complete show as we’ve heard from that point in time. One bootleg even tried to claim it was recorded in ’69 (RETURN TO 1969), but this was more a wish than a reality.
The common thread between all three of these tapes is that they present the band during the time that they were working on PARANOID. What’s truly been missing is a snapshot of the band while they were BECOMING Black Sabbath. Fans have long begged to hear complete versions of “The Rebel”, “Song For Jim” and most recently “When I Came Down”, but none of those songs would seem to accurately represent their live act during 1969. The demos were done mainly to appease Jim Simpson and hopefully garner some interest from the record labels.
Alex’s reel to reel recording from 11/16/69 captured the 2nd set of their show in Dumfries. During that evening, they performed several songs from their newly recorded and yet unreleased debut album, including one rarely heard live rendition! In addition, Black Sabbath (3 months after the name change) also played several blues covers, as well as an introductory drum & flute solo section! This is all I have time to share for tonight, but I will continue with part II of Alex’s great story as soon as I am able. Before I end for the evening, I have one last thing to share with you…
Here is a blues cover that may be titled “Early Morning School”. (Alex thought it might be “Early Warning School” too. I’m still looking into this one for us. More details and a complete set list soon. For now, just have a listen! Extra special thanks to Alex for coming forth after 30+ years with this vintage recording! If we had a pub here on the Internet, I think we’d be carrying you out tonight, mate!
You can download a sample of this song by clicking here – the sample comes from Rob’s excellent site. Check it out, if you haven’t.