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Led Zeppelin, the beginning
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-01-12 07:26:27
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And what a beginning! On January 12, 1969 a Zeppelin shown us “the only way to fly” as it was advertised despite the fact that the cover of the record features a black-and-white image of the burning Hindenburg airship.

led01_400The flight begins with Jimmy Page’s metal sound on the guitar and the characteristic sound of John Bonham’s drums. John Paul Jones bass follows and then Robert Plant’s apocalyptic voice; ladies and gentlemen, the Led Zeppelin just started. “Good times, bad times” just introduced the band, their first record and the Lad Zeppelin sound that will change Rock & Roll!

The bad times are not still over for the four men but the good times are definitely in front of them. In an interview much later, Robert Plant admitted that it took them only 36 hours to record the whole album and they invested £1,782. The sound of the first song “Good Times Bad Times” is definitely heavy and psychedelic for the audience of the time even though even the Beatles had started changing. Jimmy Page’s guitar goes around and around showing the speed good times succeed bad times. Apparently, a few months before, when Page and Plant had visited some record companies with a cassette demo with the very same song they faced rejection with the excuse that they were too difficult for a young audience.

The steel-string acoustic guitar takes the place of the hard electric, Plant’s voice softens in the beginning and “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” becomes a hymn with references to R & B and the roots of Rock. The song is a traditional folk song written by Anne Bredon and first recorded by Joan Baez and released on her 1962 album “Joan Baez in Concert, Part 1”. There is a small anecdote about this song saying that this is the first song Page played for Plant when they first met and they started talking about the new group and the style of music they were going to perform.

£You Shook Me” is R&B and it is Willie Dixon and J.B. Lenoir. Willie Dixon is a big chapter in R&B music; he is “Little Red Rooster”, “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “I Ain’t Superstitious”. Jimmy Page is turning to slide guitar on the old R&B pathways and for the first time he tries the echo another element that will become characteristic of the Led Zeppelin sound. Plant’s voice follows the guitar and adds to the harmonica while the drums and the bass, Bonham and Jones, take their rightful protagonist role in a Rock Band.

Dazed and confused is the sound of the Page’s guitar and Plant’s voice in the next song “Dazed and Confused” and there is pain coming from Plant’s voice. “Dazed and Confused” is the masterpiece of the album, the songs that marks Led Zeppelin’s first record. Heavy drums from Bonham and guitar solos from Page while Jones with his flat bass keeps everything tied. The bowed guitar in the middle of the song rockets the whole part into the psychedelia and Led Zeppelin into new dimensions. The bad is going to play often an extended version of the song in their live performances emphasizing this middle part. And this the end of the first side – for us the lovers of the vinyl – leaving you thirsty for more and moved.

led02“Your Time Is Gonna Come”, the story of an unfaithful girl unveils while Page played with an out-of-tune Fender 10-string steel guitar and Paul Jones plays the organ, using the pedal to imitate the bass sound. "One of these days and it won't be long - You'll look for me but baby I'll be gone" is the essence of the song and everything is fine, relaxing till the end. The next song starts in a similar rhythmic way “Your Time Is Gonna Come” and is an instrumental show of Page’s guitar talent based on a traditional Irish song and the first exhibit of Led Zeppelin’s love to Tolkien and his hobbit lands. And when you think that everything is going to go smoothly there is a communication breakdown and Plant’s voice reminds you that this is Rock & Roll! “Communication Breakdown” is the pounding guitar riff and it is Bonham’s drums. Jones and Plant vanish somewhere in the background for the first time. It is loud, it is powerful, it is definitely a breakdown.

“I Can’t Quit You Babe” is the second Willie Dixon song of the album. The guitar solo in the middle of the song is unbelievable, a real blues piece and they included the same song later in their BBC sessions. And last is coming “How Many More Times” with the Led Zeppelin in full glory. In the record cover the song is listed by Page as a 3 minutes part even though it is eight and a half minutes trying to trick the radio stations to play it. The song is a combination of different smaller songs and solos united by the drums and the bass. The song is a carousel of Led Zeppelin sound and personal influences and experimentations. In one point Robert Plant sings "I got another child on the way" referring to his unborn child, Carmen, who was born a month or two after Led Zeppelin recorded this album.

The “Led Zeppelin” album with the Led Zeppelin has a very salient place in my record collection and it should be one of the must-have records in every serious Rock collection. For the Led Zeppelin it was a beginning that gradually led the group in the Rock & Roll hall of fame for Rock & Roll it was the beginning of a new era that made Rock & Roll the sound we know today.

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Jack2010-01-13 02:58:15

Based upon immitation being the sincerist form of flattery, I think Zep is now established as a Rock icon and musical legend. There are so many bands that still use this genre today & like Beethoven, I think a hundred years from now, this bands many classics will live on into infinity. This assembly of talent is like a hall of fame in themselves.

I grew up listening to these guys, and next to the Beetles, they left a long, lasting impact that still ripples today and many bands have copied their style and in many cases used their songs for present day releases. From me, this band will always have..."A Whole Lotta Lovin'".

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