Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin I

Rising from the ashes of the "New Yardbirds", Led Zeppelin sounds nothing like a brand new band on this
debut record. Of course, Page had played in and out of the studio for at least a decade by this time, as had bassist John Paul Jones, but Plant and Bonham were relative newcomers. Maybe that made them feel that they had to prove themselves - and that they do here!

Opening with staccato, pounding, power chords, the cats blast into the hard-rockin' opener, "Good Times, Bad Times", with Page letting loose like he has been caged up until now - flurries of notes fly all over this tune! They waste no time is showing their softer side with the mostly acoustic "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You", a pretty ballad written by Anne Bredon and taken from Joan Baez's version, but given the Zep treatment with lots of dynamic work, some studio effects and a heavy middle break. 

Their reputation as blues thieves originated with their uncredited use of  Willie Dixon's "You Shook Me", obviously taken from Muddy Waters' original, though given an update with heavy metal guitars and a cool keyboard solo from Jones, as well as harp work from Plant. Page's slide work here became the template for hard rockers using bottleneck ever after. "Dazed and Confused" was also uncredited, taken from Jake Holmes, who Page heard play it in a club in NYC (as I recall) and started using it in the Yardbirds before recording it here. Of course, this is quite different arrangement, though none-the-less the same song. This was the piece where Jimmy would let loose with his violin bow (an idea taken from the Creation's guitarist, Eddie Phillips) and Echoplex, creating wild sounds, before rockin' out with a more traditional, heavy solo.

Jones' keys add a nice touch to "Your Time is Gonna Come", a comparatively poppier number, with a big chorus and neat slide work. "Black Mountain Side" is a brief acoustic interlude with Page demonstrating his use of open tunings before the boys blast into one of their hardest numbers, "Communication Breakdown". 3 chords and tons of power! Another uncredited blues song was Willie Dixon's "I Can't Quit You Baby", originally done by Otis Rush, whose version was obviously used as the basis here, though, again, they add their own touches  and dynamics to create their style of heavy metal blues. Howlin' Wolfs' "How Many More Times" is again missing the proper writing credits but is nonetheless a powerful piece of hard-rockin' blues with an original middle break-down included. Once again, Jimmy pulls out the violin bow for some crazed sounds and effects - certainly this part was a far cry from the original blues! But, not content to rip off one artist, Plant includes a snippet from Booker T. & the MG's "The Hunter", as well! 

Lots of thievery, but lots of great riifs, hooks, and power here. Not something I listen to as often as I would when I was a teen in those pre-punk days, but still good stuff.