I heard this record when I was like 7 or 8. At the time, the only other band I gave two ***s about was The Beatles and the Beach Boys, and no, this was not the late 1960s, it was the early 2000s or late 1990s. I can't remember when; I guess it was whenever I was 7 or 8. I don't know, I was never good at math. But from an early age, I was good at one thing: Rocking. And one of the albums that taught me the ancient power was Led Zeppelin's first album.
I put this in my CD player, which I had had for over 10 years until it broke about a week ago. Anyway, I put this *** into the player, and from the get-go, I'm hearing crazy ***. "Good Times, Bad Times" starts jamming - I'm getting my first true dosage of hard rock 'n roll. I was used to the orchestra *** of The Beatles. The heaviest song I'd heard was probably "Helter Skelter". But Zeppelin showed me the way. It was the first time I listened to something and thought, "Hey, that guy's a damn good guitarist" or "Hey, that guy is a great drummer,". I had never heard such hard jamming. It changed my life. Plant sang with such passion, such sexiness, and at the time, I didn't even know how to have sex. Not even the basics. But I knew, even then, listening to Led Zeppelin made me crave a good lay.
Before listening to this record, I had expected some crazy heavy metal crap. At age 7, I had heard of Zeppelin my whole life, but I had wrote them off as some screaming death metal band, considering all I knew of them was hearing on VH1 specials about how demonic and evil they were and how they behaved very badly. Plus, apparently they were classified as "heavy metal", and at age 7, I didn't want any part of that ***. My dad listened to Kyuss, White Zombie, Queens of the Stone Age; and at age 7, that was scary stuff. That was what he called metal, and at that young age, I could not stand any of it. But Zeppelin was so much different. I hear them, and I start thinking about how this is really the first music I'd ever heard that was truly heavy, yet it still had melody, passion and beauty. Those latter aspects were what I loved about The Beatles. Zeppelin had those traits too. And it was around that time that I started thinking, "Hmm, maybe this metal stuff ain't bad".
But even then, I knew that Zeppelin wasn't just some metal band. While the album's opener was pure rock 'n roll with twangy riffs and the most jungle-esque drums I had ever heard at that point, the band surprised me with "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You", a folky and emotional masterpiece, although at the time I just remember thinking that that *** was mellow. And not mellow like The Beatles. It was still undisputably hard rock, but it was different; you could actually bob your head to it in a "rocking" manner (which I would later find out was headbanging). Up next came "You Shook Me", and it was my first blues tune. To my young ears, it actually sounded like black men jamming about heartache, and this was new to me. It drudged on and on, and it was seemingly never-ending, and considering most Beatles tunes were around two to three minutes in length, I was not used to something sounding so goddamn sludgy
. What the hell was going on? My jaw was dropped the entire time. And then came "Dazed and Confused". I already knew there was a movie with the same title. It was also a movie that my parents did not want me to watch. I knew that this would be a good tune. I was right. "Dazed..." plods on for six long, heavy, soul-crushing minutes. I had never heard a band show off so much in one song. I later found out that this was called "wankery" or "being pretentious" (two things I'd grow quite fond of) but then, I just thought, "Wow, these guys are so good, they are just gonna show us how good they are for a few minutes,". Plant's wails, Page's wahwahwahwoowoowoo guitar, Jonesy's bass prowess (I WAS NOTICING THE BASS GUITAR!!!) and this Bonham guy (I pronounced it "Bon Ham" at the time, my parents laughed at me) was beating his drums like he was really angry, but I knew that if you sounded that damn good then you had no reason to be angry.
The last half of the album continued to surprise me and make my jaw drop. "Your Time is Gonna Come" reminded me of The Beatles because of how laid-back and beautiful it sounded; "Black Mountain Side" was just drums and guitar and it actually sounded good (MUSIC HAS WORDS, RIGHT???) and "Communication Breakdown" was the first truly bombastic song I'd ever heard, and it left me craving more. "I Can't Quit You Babe" sounded exactly like "You Shook Me", but I loved it all the same, and "How Many More Times" was so long that I had to pause my CD player for a ***ing break, just to recover from the bluesy madness I was hearing. I knew then that I had found a band that would rival The Beatles, and completely make me forget about the Beach Boys (even though they rule too).
So if you have not heard this, please, go buy it. While I listen now and hear a lot of moments of wankery and there are some tunes that drag on a bit too long; overall, this is good ***. Don't let people tell you it's a "blues covers album" or a "Cream rip-off" or even that it's "dated". Put it on, roll up a joint (or not, you could just get some cashews and soda instead) and feel the ***ing blimp crush you.