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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Album Review: Led Zeppelin I

In the days of my youth, I was told what it means to be a man,
Now I've reached that age, I've tried to do all those things the best I can.
No matter how I try, I find my way into the same old jam.

I remember back in the day when I went to the store and bought three cds: Vertical Horizon’s Everything You Want, some soundtrack, and Led Zeppelin I. I listened to VH and it was okay, I listened to that soundtrack and…meh, I then listened to LZ I and it completely blew all the other crap I was listening to out of the sky. I have never heard an album that has the perfect mix of soul, rock, blues, and rhythm as Led Zeppelin I has.

With that being, here’s my track-by-track critique.

Good Times, Bad Times
So imagine it’s 1969 and the Beach Boys, Mamas and the Papas, and Creedence is dominating the air waves. Led Zeppelin, being the latest version of The Yardbirds, come out with I and you sit down to give it a listen on the headphones. Good Times, Bad Times starts out bursting with a loud, slow beat on the drums with Jimmy Pages guitar backing it up. For the 60’s it had to be the ultimate album intro.
Throw in the electrifying Page solo and the addicting chorus and this immediately grabs you by the ears.

Babe I’m Gonna Leave You
I think this is one of the most underrated songs of all time. With the gentile acoustic guitar intro, the unbelievable soulful voice by Robert Plant, and the emotion in the lyrics this was supposed to be how power ballads were supposed to be made.

The crashing chorus of drums, guitar, and bass make for a heart pumping chapters within the song. What I really like in this song is the interlacing of acoustic guitar and Plant’s voice inbetween choruses. It’s probably one of the few songs where I actually believe in the singer and what he/she is singing

You Shook Me
The Blues, you have to love the blues. This could be one of the first times blues was seamlessly fused into hard rock. This song also has the most god awful editing mistake I have ever heard. Somewhere during the solo you can hear Plant trailing off with his vocals when suddenly his voice goes from really low to screaming loud. It’s as if a blind engineer did a terrible splicing job on the reel-to-reel.

A lot of people criticize Led Zeppelin for the way they “use” lyrics from previous blues musicians, the thing is, that’s the blues. The blues is simple and focuses on the impromptu element in performance. Saying someone ripped off a blues musician is like blaming someone for speeding.

Dazed and Confused
This could be the greatest rock song ever. I never cared for the movie but I dare any one of you to put this on the headphones before you fall asleep and “feel” this song. The soothing blues verse and the thunderous climax of each verse makes you just want to be in that studio when they figured this song out. It had to be magical!
The emotion grows and grows as each verse is sung. You can hear it in Plant’s voice.

What people never give credence to in this song is the amazing instrumental. This is arguably the four most talented musicians at the peak of anything they’ve ever done.
John Paul Jones with the subtle and interesting base line
John Bonham with the explosion on the drums
Jimmy Page with the right mix of tempo and sound.
Robert Plant with the emotion and knowing when (and when not to) sing

Forget Stairway to Heaven, listen to this song and try to feel the passion and emotion in this song. For those that don’t “get” hard rock, listen to this song because it could be the only thing that will sway their opinion.

Your Time is Gonna Come
I never noticed how they have two songs with the word “gonna” in the title. I suppose it sound better than “You’re time is going to come”…whatever
This actually somewhat fits in with the hippy ways of the late 60’s with the chorus that everyone can chant. I guess I think of a bonfire on the beach and flower children everywhere singing this.

Black Mountain Side
As many changes as this album takes this maybe the most ‘out of left field’ change in whole piece. Basically it’s Jimmy Page playing around on the acoustic guitar with John Bonham bangin on the bongos.

Communication Breakdown
The name Led Zeppelin came about when The Who’s drummer, Keith Moon described this new rendition of The Yardbirds as ‘…going over like a lead zeppelin’ meaning that they were going to suck. With Communication Breakdown and comparing it to The Who at the time, it’s really no contest because while The Who were stuck in the british pop of things, Led Zeppelin with Communication Breakdown was revolutionizing music.

Take that Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck!

I Can’t Quit You Baby
I prefer the live version of this song but this is another damn good blues song. I would shell out big money just to hear this song live because it has all the elements of blues and it could be extended for hours if you wanted it to. If I played music, I would love to dabble with this song and see how far/long I could make it go.

How Many More Times
This is one hell of an ending. Basically it starts out with a simple beat and then expands to…many different things. I don’t know what else to say other than this is a nice ending to a great album.

So, go out and buy Led Zeppelin I and prepare to be dazzled.


Aliecat said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Led! It's the only band that truly gets me in the mood!

Barry Metropolis said...

Mood for what?

C'mon Boof, "Dazed and Confused" (film) is great. Okay, maybe not great...

First CDs I bought with my own money, circa 1992: Zeppelin Houses of the Holy and II