For those of you who do not know much about the beginnings of Led Zeppelin, the story goes that they were formed out of the remnants of The Yardbirds, or at least ideally so. The Yardbirds were the classic British 1960s rhythm and blues band who had the three guitar greats at different times: Eric Clapton; Jeff Beck and most importantly for Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page. Jimmy Page was responsible for recruiting the personnel and out of The Yardbirds came Led Zeppelin.
This is their first album release, and it still sounds amazing and inspired today. Contrary to most opinions out there, Jimmy Page did not record this album with a Gibson Les Paul guitar. Instead, he relied upon a Fender Telecaster. Like you noticed, this is still a great album to listen to today. Let’s see why.
We kick off with Good Times Bad Times which is a two minute or so song which sounds super loud from the word go. The whole piece sounds awesome and precisely done. It’s a great introduction to a great album, complete with fantastic playing on each instrument and Robert Plant’s unique vocal. A great way to kick off this superb album. It sounds glorious.
Next is the melancholy jam Babe I’m Gonna Leave You. It’s a disturbingly personal tune to hear lyrically with acoustic guitars galore. It goes in a sort of stop/start process alternating between quiet/loud sections, itself an original concept at the time. The suspense itself is amazing. Unlike 21st century recordings, there are not a billion seperate tracks to keep you busy. It just is suspenseful and although there are multiple tracks recorded here, it fits uniquely as a piece. A brilliant early effort from Led Zeppelin. The crashing choruses are really precisely done. Fantastic.
You Shook Me comes next. It’s some well EQd distorted slide guitar for our ears, along with some brilliant matched music, particularly from vocalist Robert Plant. It’s so excellent and yet again, suspenseful. Some interesting lyrics nabbed from blues great Robert Johnson are here before it could be considered stealing. There is very much a shuffle groove here too, along with precise organ sounds. Harmonica then kicks in, sending us into another territory, likely from southern USA. Guitar and drum parts played to 100% accuracy then will melt your mind. The lyrical part of the song returns with sexual romp, before going into a crashing experience towards the end.
Dazed And Confused comes next, with super loud and powerful basslines to begin the song. It then enters a wailing blues influenced jam that sounds loud, heavy and very awesome. A great and extended effort by Led Zeppelin with intelligently delivered drum parts and a call-and-response section, it’ll blow you away. It then bursts into a super fast paced section that is interesting and exciting. This song, and album, is a great mixture of melody, rhythm and brilliance. Rock never was the same again. Fantastic all the way through.
Next is Your Time Is Gonna Come which kicks off with multitracked organs, before going into a good song reminiscent of the music of the late 1960s. The matching melodies here are funtastic, and tells the story of brokenhearted blues. It’s not overly depressing though, and has a great singalong chorus. The mixture of sounds is really great, especially the acoustic guitar playing. A refreshing listen.
Next is Black Mountain Side which is an Indian sounding hippie style instrumental. To some, it may sound rather dated. But it is a short and listenable musical interlude. Good to hear that Led Zeppelin were inspired and influenced by a wide musical palette out there. Nice to hear this one. Very short compared to the other tracks on this album.
Communication Breakdown is an uptempo rock song that is loud, crashing and powerful. It’s more radio friendly than other songs on this album, giving it a commercial edge. Despite that, it is a great and awesome listen. Some blistering guitar solos are here, putting a more exciting feeling out there than most music of the time. Great stuff.
I Can’t Quit You Baby is an epic and interesting listen. It follows blues ideals lyrically, and the playing by each band member is really fantastic. The music here is suprisingly refreshing and intelligent, compared to the music of today. The lead guitar work here is really excellent, in particular. It’ll blow away every negative cynical opinion that you may have about Led Zeppelin before listening. It ends dramatically.
Last, we have How Many More Times which has a variable intro, before launching into a very sexual sounding song. This music exchanges the traditional peace and love lyricism of The Beatles for sexual desire. An awesome way to conclude this classic album. Thundering drum rolls and melodic changes capture your attention, and guitarist Jimmy Page captures a pre-Eddie Van Halen sort of playing style. The changes in the song are brilliant. There is also the introduction of the electric guitar being played with a violin bow, courtesy of Jimmy Page. The lyrics are about sexual exploits that are actually very humourous. It then goes into a breakbeat like groove with melodies to match, years before that EDM genre was such a thing. Mingblowing and fantastic.
This is a great and solid sounding debut album. It cemented Led Zeppelin into the history of rock and roll and showed that there was something exciting happening at the time from them. Even then, this is not their finest effort, which shows the consistency of the group. It is a great album though, and a must hear today.