Led Zeppelin I Review
Led Zeppelin’s debut album, we’ll call it Led Zeppelin I heralded the the beginning of a new era in rock music and the beginning of what was to become probably the best hard rock band ever. In my mind, there are three great British hard rock bands from this era; Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. For me, Led Zeppelin topped the lot and this is where it all began.
From the opening power chords of Good Times Bad Times it’s clear straight away that this is a tight, rock n’ roll outfit. Alright, the lyrics are a bit weak and clichéd at this point but the music is something else. Listen carefully and there are small flourishes and hooks that elevate Led Zeppelin above the ordinary, even on this debut album.
It’s interesting to note that Robert Plant didn’t receive any writing credits on the debut at first. Apparently he did contribute to the song writing but didn’t receive any credit due to a contractual dispute with another record label. Jimmy Page recounts that Plant didn’t contribute lyrics until Led Zeppelin II. Although on current the current release of Led Zeppelin I, Plant does receive a credit for the masterful cover of Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.
The amplified blues of You Shook Me shows off Plant’s bluesman’s howl and Jimmy Page’s guitar chops before we get to the centrepiece, Dazed and Confused. Another song that attracted controversy over who was the original composer. It was originally a song by American singer songwriter, Jake Holmes and came to the attention of Jimmy Page when Holmes played the song during a support slot for the Yardbirds. Page recorded Dazed and Confused with the Yardbirds in an altered form and changed the melody and lyrics again for the Led Zeppelin I version. It is an early statement of Jimmy Page’s ability as a musician, John Paul Jones’ descending bass provides the basis for Page to deliver a stunning guitar instrumental section. If playing the guitar with a violin bow seems a little like something from Spinal Tap, Jimmy Page pulls it off with aplomb. The song is currently credited to Jimmy Page, inspired by Jake Homes.
Your Time is Gonna Come juxtaposes dark lyrics with an upbeat melody to create a superficially poppy song before Black Mountain Side provides an instrumental break. The latter song was rare in that it was one of the few Led Zeppelin songs to credit a musician from outside the band. In this case, Viram Jasani.
Punk and Led Zeppelin I don’t really belong in the same sentence but that’s what springs to mind when Communication Breakdown kicks in. A short sharp, aggressive hard rocker that is reminiscent of punk in it’s directness and simplicity. Incidentally, there is an even better version on the BBC Sessions compilation which also includes a towering version of I Can’t Quit You Baby.
Led Zeppelin I concludes with How Many More Times. John Paul Jones’ bass riff builds to a driving guitar led odyssey incorporating sections from Rose and The Hunter by Albert King. A fitting way to end a majestic debut.
The band would go on to record much better material but Led Zeppelin I still stands its ground as a powerful debut.
Rated Sound gives Led Zeppelin I a rating of 8/10.
Led Zeppelin I (1969) Track Listing
1. Good Times Bad Times
2. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You
3. You Shook Me
4. Dazed And Confused
5. Your Time Is Gonna Come
6. Black Mountain Side
7. Communication Breakdown
8. I Can’t Quit You Baby
9. How Many More Times