This is the album that killed the 60s.
9 songs and 48 minutes and we could finally let go of sodding lace cravats.
Led Zeppelin began as a musical mission sent by God (Jimmy Page). Growing up around Clapton, Beck and 100s of blues records, Page went on to be one of the most prolific session musicians on the 60s scene. This experience and exposure to many music styles, artist’s mindsets and improvisation ability crafted one of Britain’s greatest axeman….now he only needed some handy mates to realise it.
Following his exit from the Yardbirds, Page founded Led Zeppelin with fellow band members Robert Plant (Vocals), Jon Bonham (Drums) and John Paul Jones (Everything else).
The first album was entirely self-funded by Page and ex-wrestler and now manager Peter Grant. This allowed complete creative control and production with the band. First thing, what an amazing level of confidence and belief in their project – As a band they knew exactly what they wanted to achieve and the step forward music needed to take.
The sixties gave birth to so many ideas and genres, however few of these had really fused outside its own musical silo. Folk was for hippies, Rock was for bikers, singer/songwriters were in some Californian woodhouse somewhere and Soul was owned in full by Motown. The Beatles, Zappa and Hendrix had started to fuse these elements but only superficially. Along came a band called Zep.
Led Zeppelin 1 features old time rock n’ roll, classic blues, and Norse/Celtic folk. Each of these genres has the pure sound of itself, yet fused in amongst each other and delivered through a WALL OF SOUND that were the 4 best musicians at what they did. Clapton? He was busy doing 12-minute random blue scales practice. Moon? He was busy cleaning his Rolls in outdoor pools. Hendrix? Yeeeeeeah you got a point, but he had checked out of England at this point…America for some reason now like him. Hendrix may have been the greatest flamboyant guitarist of all time but he none of the breadth that Page had.
Every track, be it rock, folk or blues sounds like the best version of that genre – The folk of Black mountain side beats Pentangle, Communication Breakdown trumps anything from the Who and even the oldest skool blues man in a rocking chair on a veranda who just woke up that morning to see his wife leave, and it started raining heard Dazed and Confused and thought ‘Damn, boy!’
There is such a signature sound, which is unmistakable Led Zep: Earth-moving riffs, kick-ass solos, spectral harmonies, and the Herculean vocals of Robert Plant, yelling out across a crowd of 10,000s. All this, yet nothing sounds excessive; every riff, every chord, every vocal scream is well-chosen and well-timed. It manages to sound like an academic music case study…yet it also just f*king rocks!
Funnily enough like any typical music journalists, they didn’t like it. Rolling Stone panned it with criticism of the production, writing skills and compared them to the lesser versions of the Jeff Beck Group and Rod Stewart. Thankfully, normal people such as the public violently disagreed and bought the album and made them into a highly successful live act.
Led Zep began their shaping of their discography with only releasing one token single to appease a record company, preferring the album to be listened to as a whole – another landmark album in not just a set of singles and filler, but as a journey of peaks and valleys.
Led Zeppelin’s legacy and influence
- Helped paved the way for most stadium rock groups
- Opened the door for heavy metal
- Gave the album entity serious credence and a new battleground in shifting vinyl
- Gilded the lead guitarist in a band with a new status of a struttin’, wieldin’, foot-on-monitor god
- Made the Alpha-male front man into the mullet-banshee powerhouse we all love
- Gave ‘the other one’ mystical status with keyboards and school percussion box
- Somebody actually noticed the drummer
Quite simply, Led Zeppelin 1 is the finest 1st album from any rock band. No other band had the vision, the musicianship, the scale, the delivery or the courage of their own conviction.
- Song of the album: Dazed & Confused
- Score: 5/5
Want to hear what else we said about it? Of course you do. Listen to the full episode here.