Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin


5.0
classic

Review

by doctorjimmy USER (60 Reviews)
August 21st, 2015 | 34 replies


Release Date: 1969 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An explosive, pioneering debut, showcasing the band's unparalleled chemistry and instrumental prowess impeccably.

Led Zeppelin's debut stands as one of the most important debuts of the past 50 years. Released at the end of the 60's, it took the heavy leanings of bands like Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and the Who and molded a terrifying, unique blend of blues, folk and heaviness that defined how hard rock is perceived today. After all, Cream's vocals were always a bit too pop oriented and Jimi Hendrix's ventures were always filled with psychedelic embellishments. There was nothing like Led Zeppelin back in 1969, resulting in the band becoming the fathers of the hard rock/heavy metal genres of the 70's.

Enough with the history lesson, now. This record is not just an artifact of the past that can only please music historians. First of all, it features the band in full flight; a lot of people claim that Led Zeppelin is just a good debut and nothing more, with no brilliant songs and innovations that would be improved on later releases. Not even close to the truth. The production on this album is jaw dropping; the guitars sound heavy, thick and downright threatening, thanks in large part to Jimmy, who performs every lick, riff and solo with astute precision, dynamics and energy. John Bonham’s instinctive, groovy playing is given the right treatment as his drums throughout the album sound devastatingly rich and full. Jones’ bass playing is booming and fills the whole soundscape whether he plays a fast riff or a simple line and Plant is captured at his finest here; his voice is already mature, clear and more powerful than the mid-70’s releases of the band.

Frankly, you can’t miss on these obvious merits on a song like Dazed And Confused. Being a cover/steal of James Holmes’ I’m Confused, it is without a doubt the most dangerous and sinister track of the band’s career. Yes, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog or Immigrant Song may be original, aggressive compositions executed to perfection, but this cover here transcends all of them in terms of pure darkness and mystique; The brilliant idea of playing the riff in two octaves above Jones’ and Bonham’s chilling rhythm section enriches the tune with its unparalleled menace. And the rapid, hot soloing in the middle of the song? Explosive, as the best of Jimmy’s solos.

The album also manages to give one of the best ballads in the Zeppelin repertoire, namely Babe I’m Gonna Leave You. The folk influence was right there from the start and this tune, despite being a cover, is probably the best performance of Robert in this genre. He is absolutely disarming; his delivery rages from the quiet, plaintive singing in the beginning to the desperate, pleading screams in the climax with absolute ease. Page is equally astonishing, as he melds gentle acoustic fingerpicking and strumming with haunting electric lines and gruff, distorted rhythm that result in a sonically rich experience. All in all, this song is one of the most sincere Zeppelin ever released, far more intriguing than ballads like Thank You or even the solid, but not exceptional Tangerine.

Until now, we’ve had the rock, we’ve had the folk but where’s the blues? Here; You Shook Me is the finest blues song on the record, a terrific showcase of instrumental prowess, passion and heaviness all rolled in one. Jimmy here alternates between fuzzy, low-pitched riffing and high-pitched slide screeching in a snap of a finger and his soloing midways through the song is as murderous as Jimmy can be. Plant delivers not only his pitch-perfect vocals but also his tremendous harmonica skills that tear through the speakers intensely. Jones lays down a steady bass line, sure, but his finest moment is definitely the organ solo, bringing a very ‘authentic’ blues flavor that contrasts beautifully with the band’s heavier approach. Also, don’t miss out on the excellent battle between Page and Plant on the outro that has been a staple of their concerts ever since. Out of all the blues shuffles on Zep’s catalogue, only When The Leeve Breaks can match its intensity, sincerity and inventiveness in which the blues are treated.

Black Mountain Side returns to the folk of Babe but this time with a more eastern flavor in it; a cover, again (say, couldn’t these guys write their own tunes?), it demonstrates Jimmy’s exceptional abilities and diversity to a tee. It might not be a strong highlight like the aforementioned tunes, but it is solid nonetheless. Right before that tune, though, you have finally an original in the form of Your Time Is Gonna Come; this a strong, respectable mixture of folk, gospel, pop and country with a great, sing-along chorus that hints at the group’s later experiments with other genres.

It isn’t the only original here, thankfully. Communication Breakdown is famous for its excellent rapid, punkish riff and the contrasting ‘pop’ chorus that catches Robert singing with all the force and power he is known for. Irrelevant fact, Jonny Ramone is known for claiming to practice the riff of the tune for hours to perfect his rhythm playing for his band; Good Times, Bad Times is a great introduction to the record and, even if slightly weaker than Breakdown, it manages to raise enough tension and drive that to call it less than a solid, energetic rocker is simply absurd.

The record closes with another couple of covers, this time I Can’t Quit You Baby and How Many More Times. The former is more or less a faithful rendition of Otis Rush’s take, but amped up and brought to Led Zeppelin’s standards with a professional rhythm section and expert, drugged up soloing from Page. The latter is Dazed And Confused No.2 and like its prototype, reached its full potential in concert, but it isn’t as perfect as the studio Dazed is. It’s an enjoyable song from start to finish, brimming with the energy that the band showcases throughout the album and the main riff is excellent, but it doesn’t reach the catharsis that the studio Dazed does.

Overall, this is probably the group’s finest release, tied only with IV. But even that album suffered from bores like Misty Mountain Hop and The Battle Of Evermore, despite featuring classics like Stairway, California, Leeve etc. Their debut on the other hand doesn’t feature a single weak track and is hampered only by the minimal original output; on the other hand, Led Zeppelin always relied more on the chemistry between the members than on songwriting. Either way, you should purchase this debut to capture the group at its most fresh and exciting!



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Comments:Add a Comment 
e210013
August 21st 2015


4059 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review. Pos.



“Led Zeppelin” is an excellent and a very powerful debut album. It’s a very strong and well balanced album, without masterpieces but also without weak points. However, “Your Time Is Gonna Come” represents probably its Achilles’ heel.



“Led Zeppelin” has a very interesting powerful collection of songs, full of originality and invention. Even the blues versions of the two Willie Dixon’s songs are great, even for me, because I’m not a great blues' fan.



However, my favourite album from them is undoubtedly "Led Zeppelin IV".

Digging: The Doors - In Concert

PappyMason
August 21st 2015


5702 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yep, great review. I love this album. It's pretty catchy too.





ILoveRadiohead
August 21st 2015


46 Comments


they stole music negd

PappyMason
August 21st 2015


5702 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeh, I know. But in hip-hop, when people sample other artist's music for beats. Do you have a serious problem with that?

ILoveRadiohead
August 21st 2015


46 Comments


they give credit negd x2

PappyMason
August 21st 2015


5702 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

They do now, they didn't back in the day...

ILoveRadiohead
August 21st 2015


46 Comments


things done changed on this side
remember they used to thump but now they blast, right


facupm
August 21st 2015


11759 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album rules

miketunneyiscool123
August 21st 2015


5523 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Rules but is outclassed.

e210013
August 21st 2015


4059 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

A classic album is never outclassed.

miketunneyiscool123
August 21st 2015


5523 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Outclassed by its better sequels.

Asdfp277
August 21st 2015


23788 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

they stole music negd [2]

they give credit negd [2]

e210013
August 21st 2015


4059 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It remains an original classic. And an original is always better than a sequel.

ILoveRadiohead
August 21st 2015


46 Comments


"It remains an original classic. And an original is always better than a sequel."

what about world war 1 and 2?

miketunneyiscool123
August 21st 2015


5523 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Damn that's heavy,

doctorjimmy
August 21st 2015


386 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

There is no bloody way Zep II is better than the debut. It featured a weak, truly weak ballad in Thank You, a bore in Moby Dick (bonham's essence is in rhythm, not soloing), and a weaker ending than How Many More Times. Trust me, I know my zeppelin, they've been my favorite band for about 5 years. I may not listen to them anymore, but I've been all over their albums extensively through the years ;)

ILoveRadiohead
August 21st 2015


46 Comments


"weak, truly weak ballad in Thank You"

negd x3

"a bore in Moby Dick"

negd x4

"weaker ending than How Many More Times"

negd x5

";)"

negd x6

e210013
August 21st 2015


4059 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

What is that supposed to mean?



You want to compare war with music? You want to compare destruction with creation, whether or not stolen music?



Anyway, WWI and WWII are both original and genuine.

ILoveRadiohead
August 21st 2015


46 Comments


but you said the original is better than the sequel

Ocean of Noise
August 21st 2015


10935 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

love this album



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