Thursday, June 5, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Led Zeppelin's Debut

Album cover of Led Zeppelin, by Led Zeppelin.

Picture this:

The year is 1969. You're in your room with your AM radio on listening to all the newest music but trying to keep it down and not get caught by your parents because they called lights out nearly an hour ago. Tonight you have heard new stuff from bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Animals. Everything sounds pretty groovy and catchy, but all of a sudden something new comes on. BAH-DAH! Tss... tss... tss... BAH-DAH! This intro filled with crashing drums and blasting guitar and bass continues a little further till a steady groove kicks in and a powerful high ranged singer the likes of which you have never heard before starts singing of being wronged by an ex-lover. No band you have heard has EVER sounded so loud, heavy, and bold like this before. Little do you realize it now, but the course of music history is being changed forever right before your very eyes and ears...

Who was this audacious raucous causing band? Britain's very own Led Zeppelin. The band started out as a new project that then famous session and Yardbirds guitarist Jimmy Page was looking to put together. For this venture, Page recruited drummer John Bonham, singer Robert Plant, and bassist John Paul Jones. Originally they were billed as The New Yardbirds. They toured playing old Yardbirds material and also coming up with some new songs as well. When they returned to England however, Page changed the band name to Led Zeppelin after a comment The Who drummer Keith Moon had made about the band "going down like a lead zeppelin". The album cover of the album is a picture of the Hindenburg disaster, which was used due to inspiration from the comment.

In September of 1968, Page brought the band into Olympic Studios in London to record its first album. Page produced the album himself, though it was engineered by Glyn Johns. The recording process took the band only 36 hours over the space of only a few weeks. During these sessions Led Zeppelin recorded seven original songs and two blues covers by Willie Dixon (You Shook Me and I Can't Quit You Baby), although some sections of certain songs were taken from other works that Page had been a part of and other famous blue artists. After presenting the tapes to and being signed by Atlantic Records, the self-titled debut album Led Zeppelin was released January 26, 1969.

Good Times Bad Times was one of the main singles for the album along side Communication Breakdown. The song starts the album and does so quite literally with a bang. With its thundering mid-tempo rhythms, heavy guitar riff, blistering solos, and wailing vocals it is a very bold statement of what Led Zeppelin was about. The lyrics are very blues based; talking about a lover who has left only after having just met not that long ago.

To show just how creative they could be, the band took an old blues tune by Willie Dixon called You Shook Me and put their own spin on it. That unique spin blasted the song into outer space. Page's unique guitar playing and recording techniques take a classic blues song and make it sound thick and reverberated in an utterly fascinating way. Jones also gets to show off his versatility by playing a Hammond organ solo part way through the song that still keeps with the out of this world kind of feeling the rest of the band is giving during the performance. Both Plant and Bonham also get to showcase their blues based backgrounds quite well also.

Though at first Led Zeppelin faced some harsh criticism from the press, the sales of the album were very high. Initially investing only £1,782, Led Zeppelin went on to gross £3.5 million from their debut record. This album launched a musical revolution that would inspire so many people to pick up a guitar and many rock n' rollers to make their sound heavier and louder for years to come; thus being a key part in the birth of the heavy metal genre. No other band before or since has made the blues or rock n' roll this high flying or exciting.

Led Zeppelin, by Led Zeppelin receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Good Times, Bad Times
2. Babe I'm Gonna Leave You
3. You Shook Me
4. Dazed and Confused
5. Your Time is Gonna Come
6. Black Mountain Side
7. Communication Breakdown
8. I Can't Quit You Baby
9. How Many More Times

Buy the album on Amazon:

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