Classic Rock Review

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Led Zeppelin I (1969)

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Led Zeppelin I (1969.), Led Zeppelin’s first studio album

Over the years there are bands which have completely revolutionised rock n’ roll. One of the most important of these bands is the mighty Led Zeppelin. The quartet of Robert Plant (vocals), Jimmy Page (lead guitar), John-Paul Jones (bass) and John Bonham (drums) have gone on to become one of the biggest selling album bands of all time; second only to the Beatles. This is even more phenomenal when you consider the band did this with just nine studio albums and a few extra releases. Led Zeppelin originally formed in early 1968 and released this album in amazingly quick time. The public’s response to this new band was ecstatic and this album was quickly hailed as a masterpiece, and still is for that matter. So is this a deserved tag to be given to Led Zeppelin’s mammoth debut?

Led Zeppelin’s debut is a capture of the band at their most rawest and blues based. However, this is part of why this album is so revolutionary (and the Led Zeppelin II follow up for that matter) because the sheer power and strong riffing to a bluesy sound was something pretty new at the time. Other bands such as Cream and the Who had developed a somewhat hard rocking sound but Led Zeppelin literally took the concept into unchartered territory with this album. Jimmy Page’s guitar playing is inspired throughout, Bonham’s drumming is thunderous, John Paul Jones’ bass play is assured and pronounced and Robert Plant’s powerful wails resonate with brilliance. Indeed Plant’s style has become a blueprint for many vocalists to follow him over the years. However, what makes the band playing even more awesome, from this album onwards, is how all four player’s miraculous ability all comes together to make mind a basis for some of the songs on their early albums but at the same time what is more important the actual sound which Led Zeppelin had; it was revolutionary … no dispute. You cannot deny the band’s importance. What makes Led Zeppelin I an even more phenomenal debut is in the fact that the band recorded the album in just 30 hours of studio play; over 9 days. For an album of such quality, it speaks volumes for the band’s ability as musicians and as a unit.

Led Zeppelin’s debut kicks off with the crunching, strong chords of ‘Good Times, Bad Times’. This song is a great opportunity for all the band members to shine and we see racing guitar solos from Page, catchy bass hooks, inspired drumming and striking vocals from Plant. The injection of heaviness in the first song gives the album the jump start it needs to belt out more Zeppelin style guitar based rock. However, there is a slight change of pace with ‘Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You’. This 6 minute song is a blend of passionate acoustic melodies with heavy crunchin verse. Plant’s vocals are at their most emotional on this song and he gives a chilling performance. ‘You Shook Me’ follows, another classic slow blues staple. Plant’s wails of ‘Babe!’ echoed by Page’s guitar are classic, as is the mouth organ sequence mid-way. Then for me, comes the best track of the album and a big fan favourite in ‘Dazed And Confused’. This is a Jimmy Page written piece which starts with a brooding riff from John Paul Jones’ bass then moves up a gear for the solo, in which Page takes his trademark violin bow to the guitar for the first time in a quite experimental sequence. The hard rocking sequence late on in the track is ear-crunching and Bonham’s pounding drumming is legendary.

Opening up the second half of the album is the clinical organ sequence played by John Paul Jones in ‘Your Time Is Gonna Come’. The song, after a minute develops into a ballad styled rocker which is a great listen. For acoustic mastery, we have ‘Black Mountainside’. Some of the sequences Page plays are awesome and it goes to how really how good a guitarist Page is. The background tabla drums give the song good effect. ‘Communcation Breakdown’ is next. If you really think Led Zeppelin couldn’t do heavy riffed songs, think again after listening to this gem. The fast paced and aggressive riffs of this short length track are amazing. This song rocks hard. Then we have more classic hard rock-blues with ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby’. Classic slow riffs, coupled with an emotional vocal performance from Plant see this track home. Finally, we have the closing epic in the 8 minute ‘How Many More Times’. This is a lengthy, high energy exit and a classic finish. The spontaneous melody contains more violin bow solos from Page and more timeless riffs.

Led Zeppelin’s debut is a timeless classic. This album is revolutionary to say the least and was the launch pad for plenty of later and again influential classics from the great band that are Led Zeppelin. This debut for me is the band’s heaviest album and their rawest but its part of the work’s charm and gives it a great edge. Many would even go as far to call it the band’s best effort (I wouldn’t personally) but you can see why with the albums foreboding, passionate and inspired bluesy tunes. If you don’t own this album, you simply haven’t got a proper rock collection; it’s a must buy.

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May 3, 2013 - Posted by | Led Zeppelin I |

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