- Led Zeppelin (album)
Infobox Album |
Name = Led Zeppelin
Released = 12 January 1969
Recorded = October 1968 at
Olympic Studiosin London
Length = 44:50
Label = Atlantic
Allmusicrating|5|5 [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:blv8b5f4tsqk link]
*"Blender" rating|4|5 [http://www.blender.com/guide/reviews.aspx?id=2234 link]
Entertainment Weekly" (A-) [http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,458337,00.html link]
*"Q" rating|3|5 [October 2000]
Rolling Stone" (unfavourable) [http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/ledzeppelin/albums/album/103294/led_zeppelin_i 15 March 1969]
*"Rolling Stone" (very favourable) [http://www.rollingstone.com/reviews/album/104932/led_zeppelin 1990]
Last album = —
This album = "Led Zeppelin"
Next album = "
Led Zeppelin II"
"Led Zeppelin" is the debut album by English rock band,
Led Zeppelin. It was recorded in October 1968 at Olympic Studiosin Londonand released on Atlantic Recordson 12 January 1969. The album featured integral contributions from each of the group's four musicians and established Led Zeppelin's fusion of bluesand rock. "Led Zeppelin" also created a large and devoted following for the band, with their unique heavy metal sound endearing them to a section of the countercultureon both sides of the Atlantic.
Although the album initially received negative reviews, it was commercially a success and has now come to be regarded in a much more positive light by critics. RS500|29
In August 1968, the English rock group
The Yardbirdshad completely disbanded. Guitarist Jimmy Page, The Yardbirds' sole remaining member, was left with rights to the group’s name and contractual obligations for a series of concerts in Scandinavia.cite web |url= http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/ledzeppelin/biography|title= Led Zeppelin Biography |accessdate=2008-01-01 |work=|publisher=" Rolling Stone"] For his new band, Page recruited bassist John Paul Jones, vocalist Robert Plantand drummer John Bonham. During September 1968, the group toured Scandinavia as The New Yardbirds, performing some old Yardbirds material as well as new songs such as " Communication Breakdown", " I Can't Quit You Baby", " You Shook Me", " Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" and " How Many More Times". [cite web |url=http://ledzeppelin.com/show/september-7-1968 |title=Concert on 7 September 1968 at Teen-Clubs, Denmark |accessdate=2008-01-01 |publisher=Led Zeppelin official website] The month after they returned to England, October 1968, Page changed the band's name to Led Zeppelin, and the group entered the studio to record their debut album.cite web |url= http://wm06.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:wifexqe5ldde~T1|title= Led Zeppelin Biography| accessdate=2008-01-01 |last= Erlewine|first= Stephen Thomas|date= |work= |publisher= Allmusic]
Recording and production
In a 1990 interview, Page said that the album took only about 36 hours of studio time (over a span of a few weeks) to create (including mixing), adding that he knows this because of the amount charged on the studio bill. ["Led Zeppelin Profiled" radio promo CD, 1990] One of the primary reasons for the short recording time was that the material selected for the album had been well rehearsed and pre-arranged by the band on Led Zeppelin's tour of Scandinavia in September 1968.Dave Schulps, [http://www.iem.ac.ru/zeppelin/docs/interviews/page_77.trp Interview with Jimmy Page] , "
Trouser Press", October 1977.] Page explained that " [the band] had begun developing the arrangements on the Scandinavian tour and I knew what sound I was looking for. It just came together incredibly quickly." [Lewis, Dave and Pallett, Simon (1997) "Led Zeppelin: The Concert File", London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-5307-4, p. 13.]
In addition, since the band had not yet signed their deal with
Atlantic Records, Page and Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant paid for the sessions entirely themselves, meaning there was no record company money to waste on excessive studio time.Dave Lewis (1994), "The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin", Omnibus Press, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9] In another interview, Page revealed that the self-funding was to ensure artistic freedom, "I wanted artistic control in a vise grip, because I knew exactly what I wanted to do with these fellows. In fact, I financed and completely recorded the first album before going to Atlantic. ... It wasn't your typical story where you get an advance to make an album—we arrived at Atlantic with tapes in hand ... Atlantic's reaction was very positive—I mean they signed us, didn't they?" [http://www.iem.ac.ru/zeppelin/docs/interviews/page_93.gw Interview with Jimmy Page] , " Guitar World" magazine, 1993]
The group recorded their songs at a reputed cost of just £1,782. Led Zeppelin expert Dave Lewis noted that " [w] ith the possible exception of the 12 hours that
the Beatlestook to record their first album at Abbey Road, rarely has studio time been used so economically. Led Zeppelin's debut album went on to gross more than £3.5 million, just short of 20,000 times more than they invested!"
For the recordings, Page played a
psychedelically painted Fender Telecaster, a gift from Jeff Beckafter Page recommended his boyhood friend to the Yardbirdsin 1965 as potential replacement for Eric Claptonon lead guitar.Steven Rosen, [http://www.modernguitars.com/archives/003340.html 1977 Jimmy Page Interview] , "Modern Guitars", 25 May 2007 (originally published in the July 1977, issue of " Guitar Player" magazine).] This was a different guitar from those he favoured for later albums (most notably a Gibson Les Paul). Page played the Telecaster through a Supro amplifier.Steven Rosen, [http://www.modernguitars.com/archives/003340.html 1977 Jimmy Page Interview] , "Modern Guitars", 25 May 2007 (originally published in the July 1977, issue of " Guitar Player" magazine).] He also used a Gibson J-200, borrowed from Big Jim Sullivan, for the album's acoustic tracks.Steven Rosen, [http://www.modernguitars.com/archives/003340.html 1977 Jimmy Page Interview] , "Modern Guitars", 25 May 2007 (originally published in the July 1977, issue of " Guitar Player" magazine).]
"Led Zeppelin" was produced by Jimmy Page and engineered by
Glyn Johns, who had previously worked with The Beatles, The Rolling Stonesand The Who. The album was recorded on an analog 4-track machine, which helped to give the record its warm sound. Page reportedly used natural room ambience to enhance the reverb and recording texture on the record, demonstrating the innovations in sound recording he had learned during his session days. Up until the late 1960s, most music producers placed microphones directly in front of the amplifiers and drums. For "Led Zeppelin" Page developed the idea of placing an additional microphone some distance from the amplifier (as far as twenty feet) and then recording the balance between the two. By adopting this "distance equals depth" technique, Page became one of the first producers to record a band's "ambient sound"—the distance of a note's time-lag from one end of the room to the other.Tolinski, Brad; Di Bendetto, Greg (January 1998). "Light and Shade". "Guitar World".] Gilmore, Mikal (10 August 2001). " [http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/11027261/the_long_shadow_of_led_zeppelin/print The Long Shadow of Led Zeppelin] ". "Rolling Stone". Retrieved on 26 June 2008.]
Another notable feature of the album was the "leakage" on the recordings of Robert Plant's vocals. In an 1998 "Guitar World" interview, Page stated that "Robert's voice was extremely powerful and, as a result, would get on some of the other tracks. But oddly, the leakage sounds intentional." On the track "
You Shook Me", Page used the " backward echo" technique. It involves hearing the echo before the main sound (instead of after it), and is achieved by turning the tape over and employing the echo on a spare track, then turning the tape back over again to get the echo preceding the signal. The album was one of the first albums to be released in stereo-only form; at the time the practice of releasing both mono and stereo versions was the norm.
"Led Zeppelin"'s front cover, which was chosen by Page, features a black-and-white image of the burning "Hindenburg" airship. The image refers to the origin of the band's name itself: when Page,
Jeff Beckand The Who's Keith Moonand John Entwistlewere discussing the idea of forming a group, Moon joked, "It would probably go over like a lead balloon". To which Entwistle allegedly replied, "...a Lead Zeppelin!" The album's back cover features a photograph of the band taken by former-Yardbird Chris Dreja. The entire design of the album's sleeve was coordinated by George Hardie, with whom the band would continue to collaborate for future sleeves.
Hardie recalled that he originally offered the band a design based on an old club sign in San Francisco—a multi-sequential image of a phallic zeppelin airship up in the clouds. Page declined but it was retained as the logo for the back cover of Led Zeppelin's first two albums and a number of early press advertisements. During the first few weeks of release in the UK, the sleeve featured the band's name and the Atlantic logo in turquoise. When this was switched to the now-common orange print later in the year, the turquoise-printed sleeve became a collector's item.
"Led Zeppelin's" album cover received widespread attention when, at a 28 February 1970 gig in
Copenhagen, the band were billed as " The Nobs" as the result of a threat of legal action from aristocrat Eva von Zeppelin (a relative of the creator of the Zeppelinaircraft). von Zeppelin, upon seeing the logo of the "Hindenburg" crashing in flames, threatened to have the show pulled off the air. [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/bookshelf/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001958757 Keith Shadwick "Led Zeppelin 1968-1980: The Story Of A Band And Their Music" (excerpt posted on Billboard.com)] ]
The conceptual originality of the album was displayed on tracks such as "
Good Times Bad Times" and " Communication Breakdown", which had a unique and distinctively heavy sound new to the ears of young music-buyers in the late-1960s. "Communication Breakdown" would become monumental in its influence. For example, in the documentary "Ramones - The True Story", Page's sped up, downstroke guitar riff is cited as being guitarist Johnny Ramone's inspiration for - and basis of - his punk-defining, strictly downstroke guitar strumming. "Led Zeppelin" also featured delicate steel-string acoustic guitarby Page on " Black Mountain Side", and a combination of acoustic and electric approaches on their adaptation of " Babe I'm Gonna Leave You".
"Dazed and Confused" is arguably the album's centerpiece: a foreboding arrangement featuring a descending bass line from Jones, heavy drumming from Bonham and some powerful guitar riffs and soloing from Page. It also showcased Page playing guitar with a cello bow (an idea suggested by
David McCallum Sr., whom Page had met while doing studio session work). [Welch, Chris (ed.) "Led Zeppelin: Dazed and Confused, the Stories Behind Every Song". (Page 23) Thunder's Mouth Press, 1998 ISBN 1-56025-188-3] The bowed guitar in the middle section of the song brought psychedelic rock to experimental new heights, especially in extended stage versions, building on Page's earlier renderings of the song during the latter days of The Yardbirds. "Dazed and Confused" would become Led Zeppelin's signature performance piece for years to come. The bowed guitar technique is also used on " How Many More Times", a song which features a "Bolero" riff and a broken-down noise section in which Robert Plant howls Albert King's "The Hunter" (a blues song popularised by singer Koko Taylor).
Many of Led Zeppelin's earliest songs were based on blues standards, and the album also included three songs composed by others: "
You Shook Me" and " I Can't Quit You Baby", both by bluesartist Willie Dixon; and " Babe I'm Gonna Leave You". Regarding the last of these, at the time guitarist Jimmy Pagemistakenly believed he was adapting a traditional folk songhe had heard on a Joan Baez record, but this was corrected on subsequent rereleases after it was revealed that the song was composed by Anne Bredonin the 1950s. Dixon, on the other hand, received proper credit as the composer of his two songs on this album (although "You Shook Me" would later be additionally credited to J. B. Lenoir) but would go on to settle out of court with Led Zeppelin over partial use of other material of his on Plant's lyrics to " Whole Lotta Love". On "You Shook Me", Plant vocally mimics Page's guitar effects - a metallicised version of the "call and response" blues technique. Jeff Beckhad previously recorded "You Shook Me" for his album, "Truth", and accused Page of stealing his idea. With John Paul Jones and drummer Keith Moonof The Who, Page had played on (and says he arranged) "Beck's Bolero", an instrumental on "Truth" that would be grooved into the mix of the "Led Zeppelin" jam "How Many More Times". These cross-pollinations led to a rift between Beck and Page, who had played in the Yardbirds together and been friends since childhood. cite book | title=Hammer of the Gods (LPC) | year=1995 | author=Stephen Davis | pages= 44, 57 64, 190, 225, 277 ISBN 0-330-43859-X] In fact, it was Page who first suggested Beck for the Yardbirds' guitarist position when he was contacted by the band after Eric Clapton's departure.
In an interview he gave in 1975, Page offered his own perspective on the album's music:
Interestingly, Plant was credited on the album with "occasional bass". In an interview he gave to "
Rolling Stone" magazine in 2005, Plant made reference to this:
The album was advertised in selected music papers under the slogan "Led Zeppelin - the only way to fly". It initially received poor reviews. In a stinging assessment, "
Rolling Stone" magazine asserted that the band offered "little that its twin, the Jeff Beck Group, didn't say as well or better three months ago". It also called Plant "as foppish as Rod Stewart, but nowhere near so exciting". [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/6989929.stm BBC News 12 September 2007] ] As was noted by rock journalist Cameron Croweyears later:
Nevertheless, the album was very commercially successful. The album was initially released in America on 17 January 1969 to capitalise on the band's first U.S. concert tour. Before that, Atlantic Records had distributed a few hundred advance white label copies to key radio stations and reviewers. A positive reaction to its contents, coupled with a good reaction to the band's opening concerts, resulted in the album generating 50,000 advance orders. It stayed on the Billboard chart for 73 weeks and held a 79-week run on the British chart. By 1975 it had grossed $7,000,000. [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/discography/index.jsp?pid=5047&aid=10331 Billboard discography] ]
The success and influence of the album is today widely acknowledged, even amongst those critics who were initially skeptical. In 2006, for example, "Rolling Stone" stated that
According to Lewis
In 2003 the
TV network VH1named "Led Zeppelin" the 44th greatest album of all time. RS500|29 It is widely regarded as marking a significant turning point in the evolution of hard rockand heavy metal. [ [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:w9ftxql5ld0e Review by Allmusic] ]
*MusicBrainz release|id=7214f50e-e7d6-4948-806a-024a00a1eda7|name=Led Zeppelin
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