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This relatively unknown band formed out of the Yardbirds‘ ashes and recorded an eponymous debut album. Spearheaded by guitarist Jimmy Page, the band was predicted to “go down like a lead zeppelin” by Keith Moon, drummer for The Who. The album was recorded in September and October 1968 at Olympic Studios, London, shortly after the band’s formation. It contains a mix of original material worked out in the first rehearsals, and remakes and rearrangements of contemporary blues and folk songs. The sessions took place before the group had secured a recording contract and were paid for directly, and took 36 hours and less than £2,000 to complete.

Released on the 12th January 1969, Led Zeppelin’s self-titled debut arrived out of the ashes of guitarist Jimmy Page’s former group, the Yardbirds. With singer Robert Plant, bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham, the record built upon the heavy blues sound created by Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Page’s one-time bandmate Jeff Beck by adding elements of American and British folk and Indian music into the mix. Along with Black Sabbath and the Who, as well as less popular but influential acts such as Blue Cheer, they would also help pave the way for heavy rock in the ’70s.

Now, 50 years later, Led Zeppelin I stands up to the test of time. From the opening chords of “Good Times Bad Times” to the closing notes of the blues saga “How Many More Times,” there isn’t a single dull moment on the whole album. Songs genres bounce from hard rock to deep blues to folky, three styles that the band would embrace throughout their career. Transitions like “Black Mountain Side” a steel-string acoustic guitar ballad, into “Communication Breakdown” a fast-paced rocker, immediately showcased this band’s extraordinary talent. For the recordings, Page played a psychedelically painted Fender Telecaster, a gift from friend Jeff Beck after Page recommended him to join the Yardbirds in 1965, replacing Eric Clapton.

But for all the originality found in the virtuoso musicianship and Page’s production, Led Zeppelin has a checkered history with regards to songwriting credits. Although Willie Dixon was listed as the writer of “You Shook Me” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby,” four of the seven other tracks have roots in songs composed by other artists.

Led Zeppelin was recorded with almost no overdubs in London’s Olympic Studios by musicians still looking for a shared language. “Nobody really knew each other,” said Plant, who had never been in a high-caliber studio before. “I’d go back to the playback room and listen. It had so much weight, so much power — it was devastating. I had a long way to go with my voice then, but the enthusiasm and sparking of working with Jimmy’s guitar … it was so raunchy.” That raunch was rendered overwhelming and spectral by Page, who placed mics all over the studio to get a vérité sound that might recall the raw, big-room ambience of old Chess and Sun records. Uncredited engineer Glyn Johns added to the effect by putting Bonham’s drum kit on a riser to enhance his “phenomenal” sound. Much has been made of Bonham’s power (the beat on “Communication Breakdown” is nearly punk-speed), but Jones was just as impressed by his restraint: “John kept a really straight beat on slow numbers like ‘You Shook Me” he recalled.

“Good Times Bad Times”

As the opening track on Led Zeppelin’s first album and their debut single, it was the first music from them that many people heard. And yet, according to reports, the band rarely played “Good Times Bad Times” in concert. Bits of the song were occasionally included in their early days as part of a full performance of its b-side, “Communication Breakdown,” but it’s believed that the only time they played it in its entirety was their 2007 reunion concert, when it opened the show. Perhaps John Paul Jones explained why they never played the whole song until then when he spoke with Rolling Stone after the show. “That’s the hardest riff I ever wrote, the hardest to play,” he said. “But it was a good starter, because everybody had to focus.”

“Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”

Jimmy Page heard “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” on Joan Baez’s In Concert, Part 1 record. Baez didn’t know that the song was written by Anne Johannsen (later Bredon) — she’d learned it from another folksinger, Janet Smith — so she credited it, as was often the case with folk songs, as traditional, with Baez providing the arrangement. Zeppelin followed suit, with Page credited as the arranger. In the ’80s, Smith heard Led Zeppelin’s version and contacted Bredon about the lack of credit. Bredon worked out a deal with Zeppelin’s publishing company, Superhype, and, since the early ’90s, has received 50 percent of the songwriter’s royalties.

“You Shook Me”

As with “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” “You Shook Me” was another example of what Pete Seeger called the “folk process,” whereby music evolves by building upon existing works. In 1962, Muddy Waters took an instrumental recorded a year earlier by one of his Chicago blues contemporaries, Earl Hooker, added lyrics by Willie Dixon, which he sung in tandem with Hooker’s guitar, and released it as “You Shook Me.”  Jones, Plant and Page took a solo on Hammond organ, harmonica and guitar respectively. Page put backwards echo on the track, which was then a novel production device.

Six years later, Waters‘ track was reinterpreted twice within a few months of each other. Jeff Beck recorded a blistering take for the album Truth, but Led Zeppelin’s version redefined the song even further. In addition to more-than doubling the original’s length (Muddy’s was under three minutes while Zeppelin’s lasted nearly six-and-a-half minutes), with Plant wailing away on the harmonica and Jones, who also played on Beck’s rendition, taking a keyboard solo. Plant also changed the lyrics to have the woman in question leaving the singer instead of being involved in an extramarital affair.

“Dazed and Confused”

“Dazed and Confused” With its slow, descending bass-line, the song lingers in the mysterious before punching its way into hard rock legend. Add in a guitar solo played with a violin bow, and you have yourself an instant classic.

Originally written by Jake Holmes, who didn’t receive credit until he sued the band in 2011, “Dazed and Confused” was first heard by Page after Holmes opened up for the Yardbirds in 1967. The Yardbirds had covered the song regularly in concert during 1968, and performed it for several radio and television sessions. But as with the other covers, it underwent a few changes by the time Led Zeppelin recorded it, including the famous solo where he played guitar with a violin bow. Although Page didn’t invent the technique — it was used by Eddie Phillips of the Creation on “Making Time” — he learned about it through David McCallum Sr., with whom Page was chatting during a session. The song was an important part of Led Zeppelin’s live show throughout their early career, and became a vehicle for group improvisation, eventually stretching in length to over 30 minutes. The improvisation would sometimes include parts of another song, including the group’s “The Crunge” and “Walter’s Walk” (released later on Houses Of The Holy and Coda, respectively), Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” and Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)”. It was briefly dropped from the live set in 1975 after Page injured a finger, but was re-instated for the remainder of the tour. The last full live performance during Led Zeppelin’s main career was at Earl’s Court, London later that year, after which the violin bow section of the song’s guitar solo was played as a standalone piece.

As Page recalled, “[O]ne of the violinists came to me one day and he said, ‘Have you ever considered playing a guitar with a bow?’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t think it’ll work.’ Because the strings are uniformed wheres a violin is arched. And he said ‘Well here’s my bow. Would you like to try?’ And I said ‘Absolutely.’ So I tried it and i could see there was massive potential. After that I went and bought my own bow.”

“Your Time Is Gonna Come”

Page pulled out another weapon from his bag on “Your Time Is Gonna Come,” the track that opens the second side, with a pedal steel guitar entering the mix during the first chorus. As with “Good Times Bad Times,” the song didn’t feature into their live set, with its only known performance coming at a 1971 show in Tokyo during the “Whole Lotta Love” medley. However, Page brought it out during his 1999-2000 tour with the Black Crowes, as heard on their Live at the Greek: Excess All Areas live album.

“Black Mountain Side”

The instrumental “Black Mountain Side” is another instance on the record where the folk process calls into question the authorship of the work. Bert Jansch, a fixture on the British folk scene, recorded his own version of the traditional Irish folk song “Down by Blackwaterside” in 1966. Page adapted Jansch’s arrangement, added a tabla for percussion, gave it a new name and claimed it as an original.

By the time of Led Zeppelin’s release, Jansch had already formed Pentangle and released a pair of albums. A year later, Basket of Light reached No. 5 on the British album chart. They split in 1973, with Jansch eventually returning to his solo career, although several reunions followed until his death in 2011.

As Colin Harper noted in Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch and the British Folk and Blues Revival, Jansch never sued Page because he was never in a position to afford the legal costs involved. But it remained a sore point with him throughout his life, particularly when his path crossed with Page’s.

“The thing I’ve noticed about Jimmy whenever we meet is that he can’t look me in the eye,” Jansch said in 2007, later adding, “Well, he ripped me off, didn’t he? Or let’s just say he learned from me. I wouldn’t want to sound impolite.”

“Communication Breakdown”

While much has been made about Led Zeppelin’s influence on the development of ’70s hard rock and metal, and punk’s overall disdain for those styles, “Communication Breakdown” turned out to be influential on Johnny Ramone. As Mickey Leigh of the Rattlers wrote in I Slept with Joey Ramone: A Family Memoir, he performed the riff note-for-note for the future Ramones guitarist, and he dug how Page created the riff’s power using only downstrokes.

“Most people don’t realize that,” Leigh recalled Ramone as saying. “That’s how rock & roll should be played. All of it! Everything should be a down stroke.” Drummer Marky Ramone confirmed the influence, saying that Johnny “loves Jimmy Page and he also likes ‘Communication Breakdown.’ Even though he’s not the lead guitar player, those are rhythm songs. That’s why he likes that stuff.”

“I Can’t Quit You Baby”

Another Willie Dixon composition, “I Can’t Quit You Baby” was made famous by Otis Rush in 1956. But for all of the inspired call-and-response interplay between Plant’s vocals and Page’s guitar, the take released on Led Zeppelin has never been a favorite of the guitarist.

“There are mistakes in it, but it doesn’t make any difference,” he told Guitar Player in 1977. “I’ll always leave the mistakes in. I can’t help it. The timing bits on the A and Bb parts [the power chords] are right, though it might sound wrong. The timing just sounds off. But there are some wrong notes. You’ve got to be reasonably honest about it.”

“How Many More Times”

While many of the tracks on Led Zeppelin have their antecedents in one specific song, the eight-and-a-half minute album-closing “How Many More Times” drew its influence from several sources. Zeppelin honed their virtuosity into compositions; even the eight-minute “How Many More Times” was designed for maximum impact. “There was very little free-form anything,” said Johns. “They were very hard-working. The Stones took nine months to make a record; these guys took nine days including mixing.”

“That has the kitchen sink on it, doesn’t it?” Page told Brad Tolinski. “It was made up of little pieces I developed when I was with the Yardbirds, as were other numbers such as ‘Dazed and Confused.’ It was played live in the studio with cues and nods.

As Aaron Krerowicz noted, the bass line that kicks it off has its roots in the Yardbirds‘ live cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightning,” and its title and opening verse were rewritten from another Wolf track, “How Many More Years,” while other verses borrow from Albert King’s “The Hunter” and Jimmie Rodgers’ “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine.” The rhythm from another cut off Jeff Beck’s Truth, the Page-composed “Beck’s Bolero,” shows up around the three-minute mark.

Page brought back the bow for the solo. “I think I did some good things with the bow on that track,” he told Tolinski, “but I really got much better with it later on. For example, I think there is some really serious bow playing on the live album [The Song Remains the Same]. I think some of the melodic lines are pretty incredible. I remember being really surprised with it when I heard it played back. I thought, Boy, that really was an innovation that meant something.”

ENGLAND - 1969: Rock band 'Led Zeppelin' poses for a publicity portrait in 1969 in England. (L-R) John Bonham, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Led Zeppelin was produced by Page and engineered by Glyn Johns, both of whom had known each other since teenagers in the suburb of Epsom. According to Page, most of the album was recorded live, Two other songs from the Olympic sessions, “Baby Come On Home” and “Sugar Mama”, were left off the album. They were released on the 2015 reissue of the retrospective album Coda.

thanks to Ultimate Classic Rock

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Led Zeppelin‘s soundtrack to their concert film The Song Remains The Samehas been remastered and will be reissued across multiple formats in September.

The band’s performances in July 1973, at New York’s Madison Square Garden, were recorded for the concert film, The Song Remains The Same. The soundtrack to the film, produced by Jimmy Page, was originally released in 1976. Recorded live at the conclusion of a North American tour in support of the band’s Houses of the Holy album

The release is scheduled for Sept. 7, which will mark the 50th anniversary of the first show Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Bonham and John Paul Jones ever played together. In addition to the Super Deluxe Boxed Set edition,

This reissue is similar to the recent reissue of their live album How The West Was Won, since the formats on offer include an expansive super deluxe edition box set that includes the remastered audio on two CDs and four vinyl LPs and a two-DVD set of The Song Remains The Samefeaturing the full theatrical version of the film plus bonus content including four performance outtakes that were not part of the original film:  Celebration Day, Over The Hills And Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, and The Ocean. The box also includes a DVD of the entire album in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and PCM Stereo, a download card of all stereo audio content at 96kHz/24 bit, a 28-page book (with photos and an essay by Cameron Crowe), a replica of the Japanese program from 1977, and a print of the original album cover (as usual, the first 30,000 will be individually numbered).

9-disc super deluxe edition • Blu-ray audio • Full album 5.1 mix

As well as the big box, there’s a 4LP vinyl set, a blu-ray audio with the 5.1 mix (96kHz/24 bit) and surround mixes and a humble remastered two-CD package.

It’s worth noting that for the 4-LP set, Page made a change to the track sequence, allowing the 29-minute version of Dazed And Confused to be featured in its entirety on one side of vinyl for the first time.

The Song Remains The Same will be reissued on 7 September 2018.

Led Zeppelin 1

Whether you mark the genesis as the death of  The Yardbirds, the Scandinavian tour by The New Yardbirds or the band’s first show under the new name, Led Zeppelin’s birth, however gradual, takes place in 1968, on way to its crowning moment, the release of the band’s self-titled debut not two weeks into the new year, January 12th of 1969.

The story arguably begins back in 1966, when Jimmy Page joined The Yardbirds, first on bass as replacement for Paul Samwell-Smith, but then switching to guitar, where he shares those duties with Jeff BeckBeck was soon to depart, in October that year, Jimmy’s thoughts wandered off to bigger things, a supergroup of sorts, while he bides his time for nearly two more years with an act proving to be somewhat directionless. The Yardbirds would play their final show, a Bedfordshire gig, in July of 1968. At this point Jimmy is already in possession of most of the riffs and song ideas he would need in his next incarnation.

“We were a vehicle for what Jimmy wanted to do when he came in,” explains Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty. “He had a pretty free rein, as all the guitar players did and he pushed The Yardbirds sound into more of a heavy metal context. He really was the master of the riff.”

Everyone was paying attention to the band’s star axeman. Recalls Steve Lyman, of legendary Michigan rockers SRC, who caught the band just before their demise, “The first British group that I actually saw perform live was The Yardbirds, at a small club in Ann Arbor, Michigan called The Fifth Dimension. I already had two albums by The Yardbirds at that time, so it was a real thrill for me to see this British group performing live. Jimmy Page was the guitar player at the time, because The Yardbirds went through various incarnations. Eric Clapton was their first guitar player, Jeff Beck and then Jimmy Page. I was mesmerized by that Yardbirds show. I was the lead guitar player in a band The Fugitives, which became the SRC, so seeing Jimmy Page play became a real thrill for me because I had been listening to these Yardbirds records on my record player and trying to figure out what they were playing.”

But in the summer of ’68, The Yardbirds, now splitting up, but nonetheless still committed to a Scandinavian tour. A new lineup to fulfill these dates was called for. After Chris Dreja bows out to begin a career as a photographer, session stalwart John Paul Jones is recruited. In the all important vocal slot, Jimmy had wanted on the team Terry Reid, but Reid demurs, suggesting a young Birmingham singer named Robert Plant. Robert is the one who brings along local drummer and hard-hitter John Bonham. Before the new foursome would hit the road, they perform a session for the P.J. Proby album Three Week Hero. A track there called “Jim’s Blues” would live on as the band’s first session together, on the technicality that Robert is present blowing some harmonica.

Original Judas Priest vocalist Al Atkins happened to be there to watch the formation of what would be called The New Yardbirds, the makeshift name the band used to fulfil those Scandinavian dates.

“I used to know Robert,” says Atkins. “We used to go for a beer together, and sometimes he’d borrow my microphone because he couldn’t afford one, if I wasn’t playing. We had one mic between the two of us. I had the best one. And a buddy of mine, ‘Are you playing tonight?’ ‘No, oh go on.’ It was great times. Robert’s roots have always been blues. He’s a very intelligent guy when you’re talking to him about the blues stuff. He knows everything about that. You can’t argue with him about anything on that subject. But I saw him before Zeppelin, when he was playing at Henry’s Blues House and Alexis Korner was playing on his own, a solo gig he got there, like a one-man band thing or something, and Robert got up and played harmonica and sang along with him.

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“And then with Jimmy Page, they joined The Yardbirds, went over to Europe, came back, and next thing they were called Led Zeppelin. I went to see them play at Mother’s in Erdington. They were supporting Blodwyn Pig, and I think they got 75 quid or something. But when I saw him with Jimmy onstage that night I was totally blown away. And Bonham was absolutely out of his head. He was drunk, I think. And they did a set, and it was very mixed, including a lot of stuff that was going to be coming on the new album. They were loud, but they were brilliant. Robert’s voice had just changed overnight. I couldn’t believe the difference in his voice. Fantastic vocalist. And yeah, John Bonham, he couldn’t come back onstage. They did the encore and the drummer from Blodwyn Pig came on and played this blues thing with them and they just jammed the encore. The good ol’ days.”

Jimmy had made his mind up that they were going to blow everyone off the stage,” adds (now deceased) engineer Andy Johns, soon to be working closely with the band. “That’s what my brother told me. This is when Jimmy still had The Yardbirds thing going. Glyn said, ‘I was with Jimmy the other day, and Jimmy said, I’ve got this new lineup now, and we’re going to blow everyone offstage.’ So that was an intentional thing, to be as dramatic and as riff-conscious as possible. And Jimmy was a fabulous writer, and had a lot of great ideas in the studio, and was just wonderful to work with.”

But in August of 1968, even before the band’s dates in Scandinavia, Jimmy’s Yardbirds mate Jeff Beck would release his album Truth, which many a rock historian debate as the blueprint for what Led Zeppelin would become.

“Well, it was right around the same time,” explains Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. “I was on that Jeff Beck album and Jimmy was with The Yardbirds at the time, so my influence on the Jeff Beck album would probably be similar to my influence on the Led Zeppelin album, just like Jimmy. I don’t know, I suppose. You can come to the same conclusion with any number of blues-based rock bands. But it soon took off from there. Most of the songs we had done on the first album had been done by Jimmy and The Yardbirds as well. It was only things like “Good Times Bad Times,” which was a riff I brought in, that I wrote in the studio. That’s got John’s famous drum part, of course. John never used double bass. He did in fact bring in a double bass drum for rehearsal, and we played a couple of songs with it, but then we hid it when he went for lunch. When he came back it was gone.”

“We loved Zeppelin,” says Nazareth guitarist Manny Charlton, also there to watch the band being born. “They were just an extension to what was going on with the guitar bands like The Who, on from The Beatles. It went from The Beatles to The Who and then into that blues boom thing, with the Jeff Beck Group. The Yardbirds and Cream, really, initially, we were doing the electric blues thing. The Yardbirds moved from that blues thing to another area, where they kept the same sound but they started writing what you would call riffs, and in some cases, like pop songs. A pop song but played with that power-trio lineup. Because initially when Cream started, they were doing ‘I Feel Free’ and stuff like that, basically writing pop songs to get away from the blues, to get away from ‘You Shook Me.’ But the Jeff Beck Group took it to another level, and then Led Zeppelin obviously did as well. But their first album was basically electric blues songs.”

Into the fall, The New Yardbirds would play their first date, September 7th, 1968, at the Gladsaxe Teen Club in Gladsaxe, Denmark, following up with another 10 days around Scandinavia. Significantly, the band have in their set  “Communication Breakdown,” which is recorded as soon as the band get back, in October of that year. It’s a small thing, but one might also call the recording of this bedrock Zeppelin track as the birth of the band. Indeed the song is a step up in intensity, away from other songs in the set at this time such as “Hush,” “The Hunter,” “Somethin’ Else” and “Train Kept A-Rollin’.”

In any event, 1968, as it pertains to the birth of the band, is next marked by the first show on British soil, October 4th at the Mayfair Ballroom, Newcastle upon Tyne. Conducting a brief British tour, the next benchmark is the band’s first show under the new name — Chris Dreja had issued a cease and desist order on the use of The Yardbirds moniker — on October 25th, at the University of Surrey in Battersea. And for the record, as the story goes, the band chose for its new title Led Zeppelin, because John Entwistle had suggested to Jimmy that his new “supergroup” would go down like a lead balloon. Into November, rough and tough manager of the band Peter Grant negotiates a $143,000 advance for his boys from Atlantic Records and the hype machine lurches into operation, never to wane across a full decade of dominance.

“We didn’t move into a style; I think we kind of created it,” muses John Paul Jones, on what the band brought into being over the nine-day burst of creativity in late 1968 that would result in the band’s debut album. “And if you would have asked me in 1969, as people did, what sort of band I was in, I would have said a progressive rock band. But then that became to mean something else. There you go banging up against categories again. That came to mean something else entirely. And then it was just sort of like blues rock, because the band was quite blues-orientated. And it was just the style, the way the members of the band played together. But in terms of actual riffs, well, anything with notes, lots of notes, like ‘Black Dog,’ ‘Good Times Bad Times’… those were my riffs. And anything that was kind of lurchy and chordy were Page’s riffs. That’s how you tell them apart.”

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The impact of the band’s first album would be felt far and wide. “Led Zeppelin had just come out,” remembers Blue Cheer’s Randy Holden. “They were doing something entirely different. I went to see them at their gig at the Whisky, which was their first gig in California as far as I know. I liked their album; I thought they got a really heavy sound on the album, but then live they used these Rickenbackers and they’re the most god-awful sounding amps I ever heard, which really surprised me. But the record really came off great.”

Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover, “Led Zeppelin influenced me a lot because I was in a pop group called Episode Six and we were trying to get heavier and weren’t making it because we were just playing the same music but louder. When the album first came out, you could tell it wasn’t the loudness so much as a feeling, what you felt about the music rather than how they played it. Episode Six, as we were, weren’t the right combination of people to be heavy, and I gradually gained the impression that heavy music wasn’t for me because I didn’t like what we were playing — loud pop music. And I decided for a time to go into folk music. I’ve never been so struck by an album as I was by Led Zeppelin. It really left me open-mouthed. What they were playing was very simple stuff, loud and exciting, and it moved me. I suddenly wanted to be in a club playing that music — loud, straightforward, with simple guts. And by pure coincidence, just about that time I was offered a job with Deep Purple! But for Zeppelin, I might never have been in Deep Purple.

“I remember Jimmy played me the first Led Zeppelin album,” chuckles Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty. “There was ‘Dazed and Confused’ and there was a Howlin’ Wolf-type thing, ‘How Many More Times” which is very similar to the stuff we’d been playing; it was similar to ‘Smokestack Lightnin’,’ I thought. And then there was another one which was similar. It was very well done, the first Zeppelin album; I thought it was very good. You can see the links, how easy it was to go from us to them.”

And like so many others that were there to bear witness to the birth of this great band, Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones had also found himself impressed with what Jimmy had put together. “At the time, I was cutting my teeth in France,” explains Jones. “Don’t ask me how, but I’d become sort of the musical director and producer of Johnny Hallyday, who you’ve probably heard of. He was sort of the French Elvis, as it were. And so we would go over to England to record, and we ended up with an engineer named Glyn Johns, who at that time, he worked with Steve Miller Band and later the Eagles. I think he had been working with the Eagles even before their record came out. But he had worked a lot with John Paul and Jimmy when they were session musicians.”

“And they happened to be session musicians on the stuff that I was doing for Johnny Hallyday. And so I was fully aware of who they were. And every time I was playing with Jimmy Page, he blew me away every time we went into the studio. I had so much respect for him as a guitar player. So that’s where our friendship developed. He would even come over to Paris with Glyn Johns and cut tracks over there. In fact, some of the music that we were doing with Johnny Hallyday provided the opportunity for Jimmy to work closely with Glyn Johns in preparing the first Zeppelin album. And I remember the day that Glyn took me into the studio, the back of Olympic Studios in London, and he said, ‘I’m going to play you a couple things on Jimmy’s project.’ And he sat down and played me ‘Communication Breakdown’ and it just blew me away. Just blew my mind. I couldn’t believe it. I had never heard anything as mean and powerful in my life. It just left me staggered.”

Millions across the planet were soon to feel equally staggered, but again, the groundwork and indeed so much more, was set in 1968, and really, much of it packed into the back half of the year. The breakdown in communication that caused the demise of The Yardbirds to the recording of “Communication Breakdown” takes no more than an astonishing four months, and by the end of the year, is a record that will forever change rock ‘n’ roll. Fully 50 years later, the impact of Led Zeppelin is still reverberating.

Words By Martin Popoff

Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin - 1st [B] - Uncorrected - G vinyl LP album (LP record) UK ZEPLPLE672541

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Dazed and Confused” is a song written by American singer-songwriter Jake Holmes in 1967, It was described as “a stark, spooky folk-rock track with stinging reverbed lead guitar, Holmes‘ own pained vocals, and furiously strummed rhythm guitar that winds itself into an anguished climax. Holmes recorded the song for his debut album “The Above Ground Sound” of Jake Holmes and he performed it in the late 1960s and early 1970s on the New York City folk scene and the college coffee house circuit. The lyrics refer to the effects of a girl’s indecision on ending a relationship.  This version from Live Supershow 1969 .

In August 1967, Holmes opened for the Yardbirds at a Greenwich Village gig in New York According to Holmes, “That was the infamous moment of my life when ‘Dazed and Confused’ fell into the loving arms and hands of Jimmy Page.” When the track appeared on Led Zeppelin’s eponymous debut album in 1969, Holmes was aware of it at the time, but didn’t follow up on it: “In the early 1980s, I did write them a letter and I said basically: ‘I understand it’s a collaborative effort, but I think you should give me credit at least and some remuneration.’ But they never contacted me.

After hearing Holmes perform the song in 1967, English rock group the Yardbirds reworked it with a new arrangement. It became a centerpiece of the group’s tours in 1968, several recordings of which have been released. “Dazed and Confused” was further adapted later that year by Yardbirds guitarist Jimmy Page’s “New Yardbirds” group (soon to be rechristened Led Zeppelin) for their debut album, Led Zeppelin“Dazed and Confused” became a concert staple with solos that sometimes stretched the performances to 45 minutes.

When the Yardbirds disbanded in 1968, Page planned to record the song in the studio with the successor group he had assembled that summer. According to Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, the first time he heard the song was at the band’s first rehearsal session at Gerrard Street in London, in 1968: “Jimmy played us the riffs at the first rehearsal and said, ‘This is a number I want us to do’.” The future Led Zeppelin recorded their version in October 1968 at Olympic Studios, London, and the song was included on their debut album Led Zeppelin (1969). “Dazed and Confused” was the second song recorded at the Olympic sessions.

Page recorded the song in one take with a Telecaster and violin bow as he had performed it with the Yardbirds.  Singer Robert Plant wrote a new set of bluesier lyrics, according to Page though Plant is not credited on the album. Other sources say Page wrote the new lyrics himself. Whichever the case may be, Plant’s vocal is raw and powerful, delivered with “unrelenting passion.”Other than the lyrics and vocal, the song remained very similar to that performed by the Yardbirds earlier that year.

This bolt of lightning likewise illuminates the already thick and portentous soundscape further setting a tone for the impending sonic onslaught. John Bonham (drums) sneaks in with a rock solid downbeat beneath Plant’s opening line. During the bridge [Bonham] explodes front and centre with his trademark blend of keen rhythmic gymnastics and straight-ahead swinging percussive support. The band collectively combust throughout the remainder of the cut as they alternate between scintillating and scorching.”

Led Zep RSD 2018 cover

Limited Edition 7-Inch Single, Produced By Jimmy Page, To Be Released On Record Store Day Featuring Unreleased Versions Of “Rock And Roll” And “Friends”

Led Zeppelin are releasing something special for Record Store Day. Before the legendary band kicks off its 50th anniversary celebration this September, a special 7-inch vinyl single will arrive at independent record stores everywhere on April 21st from Atlantic Records and Rhino.  The single, pressed on yellow vinyl, will premiere two previously unreleased studio mixes: the Sunset Sound Mix of “Rock and Roll” b/w the Olympic Studios Mix of “Friends.”  Both of these tracks have been selected for this release by producer Jimmy Page.

“Rock and Roll” is only the third track released from the fabled Sunset Sound Mixes of Led Zeppelin IV.  The studio mix of “When the Levee Breaks” actually made the original album, while the mix of “Stairway to Heaven” was included on the 2014 Deluxe Edition.  The Olympic Studios Mix of “Friends” is described by the label as a “stripped-down version without the orchestration of the final mix, offering a true fly-on-the-wall feel from the band’s recording sessions for Led Zeppelin III at Headley Grange.”

This limited edition single will follow the release of the remastered How the West Was Won in multiple formats on March 23rd including the first ever vinyl and Blu-ray Audio editions (with the Blu-ray containing hi-res 5.1 surround sound). The live album features performances from Led Zeppelin’s landmark California concerts at the Los Angeles Forum and Long Beach Arena on June 25th and 27th, 1972, as sequenced to replicate one entire concert.

Day on the Green

Led Zeppelin’s eleventh—and final—American jaunt was in support of their seventh studio album, Presence ..

The 1977 tour was plagued by unfortunate incidents, with the most notorious occurrences taking place backstage at one of the last shows and a most tragic event bringing an end to the outing.

The vibes were bad before they even played a single gig. Large, menacing manager Peter Grant had recently gone through a nasty divorce, while guitarist Jimmy Page was incredibly thin, reportedly in the throes of heroin addiction. Throughout the tour, police had to be brought in to quell audience violence, culminating in a riot in Tampa; nineteen were arrested, 50 were injured. At multiple stops, a new crop of younger, wilder fans threw lit firecrackers on the stage, which would explode inches from the band members. During a Cincinnati show, a fan died after falling from the third level of the coliseum—the first tragic event of the tour. The trek was to run for three legs of dates from April through August. For the final leg, eleven stadium shows were scheduled. The band only played four of them.

On July 23rd and 24th, Zeppelin performed in front of sell-out crowds at Oakland Coliseum. Rick Derringer and Judas Priest opened. The shows were part of the recurring “Day on the Green” concerts organized by Bill Graham. The stage set was constructed to resemble the Stonehenge monument, and was likely the main inspiration for one of the funniest moments in the brilliant mockumentary, This Is Spinal Tap    (and before you say, “But what about…,” we debunked the theory that Black Sabbath’s Stonehenge stage influenced the film).

Led Zeppelin

Two nasty backstage episodes took place on the 23rd. The first happened when Peter Grant was asked by a member of Graham’s crew if he needed help getting down some stairs, which Grant perceived as a slight on his weight. John Bindon, a London gangster brought on by Zep as their chief enforcer for the tour, stepped in and knocked out the stagehand, who banged his head on the concrete floor. Later, Grant’s teenage son was about to remove a temporary sign to keep as a souvenir, but was sternly rebuffed by a member of Graham’s security team. This prompted drummer John Bonham to kick the guy in the balls, and then Grant and Bindon beat the man so badly that a shocked Graham had him rushed to the hospital. Graham also claimed that his production manager was hit on the head with a lead pipe.

 On the 24th, Graham’s security were looking for revenge, yet the show concluded without further incident. The following day at the band’s hotel, the SWAT team showed up and arrested Bonham, Grant, Bindon and tour manager, Richard Cole, who were charged with assault. After they were bailed out, the Zep entourage flew to New Orleans for the next show. Once they were settled in, Plant received a call from his wife and learned that his young son, Karac, had died suddenly on the 24th. Plant immediately flew home to England. Led Zeppelin would never play stateside again.

Footage from the July 23rd gig is available online. This first video appears to be professionally filmed, and was perhaps meant as B-roll for a TV news piece. The first note of the Zeppelin show is heard at the 5:55 mark. At 6:10, the camera zooms in for a closer look at the band and the Stonehenge stage set.

thanks dangerousminds.net

Atlantic

On November. 8th, 1971, Led Zeppelin released their fourth album. There was no title printed on the album, so it is usually referred to as Led Zeppelin IV, following the naming sequence used by the band’s first three studio albums. The album has alternatively been referred to as , Four Symbols, The Fourth Album (those two titles each having been used in the Atlantic catalogue), Untitled, Runes, The Hermit, and ZoSo, the latter of which is derived from the symbol used by Jimmy Page for the album sleeve. Page often had the ZoSo symbol embroidered on his clothes.

The album contains many of the band’s most famous songs, including “Black Dog”, “Rock and Roll”, “Going to California” and the band’s signature song, “Stairway to Heaven”, Led Zeppelin IV was a commercial and critical success. The album is one of the best-selling albums worldwide

To celebrate its 46th birthday of Led Zeppelin‘s masterful fourth album, which of its songs are the best and worst,
there’s hardly a wasted track on the fourth album release. Is it the best rock ‘n’ roll record ever made and, at the same time, not even the best Zeppelin album, Its amazing, emblematic of the band, but not their best work.
Maybe the ultimate testament to Led Zeppelin’s greatness is that an album as colossal and widely worshiped as IV actually has three or four legitimate challengers for “Best Album” within their amazing catalog. But if IV is not their best for groundbreaking reasons, Its influential, mould-setting reasons then whichever of Led Zeppelin’s first seven albums is playing on your stereo right now is the best record that’s ever been made. But I’d give IV the silver medal and save the gold for Physical Graffiti, which has even more range, weight and sophistication.

The best song on the album?
It changes all the time. The opening rush of “Black Dog” is one hell of a way to kick off an album, and “Stairway to Heaven” is such an expertly structured song. But “When the Levee Breaks” is the one that most often has me turning up the volume. Those drums!
“Stairway to Heaven.” has become synonymous with Led Zeppelin you’ll find it’s astounding. Also, like the album itself, it’s emblematic of the band. It shows off what they do best:: creepy, Celtic folk, cryptic lyrics paired with haunting vocals, a bombastic crescendo with evil blues guitar and drum fills that define perfection. That said, the first 10 seconds of “Four Sticks” is probably the best thing they’ve ever done. that said, the first minute of “When the Levee Breaks” is probably the best thing they’ve ever done. which closes the LP with so much power and atmosphere, and maybe the heaviest drum sound ever captured, from the bottom of that stairwell at Headley Grange. I suppose, too, because it’s fundamentally a blues, it can represent Led Zeppelin’s musical bedrock in its most epic form , “Black Dog.” So powerful, so sexy, so smart. We’ve all read about the hard work and creative genius that went into making the song work, but it’s impossible to think of it as anything but purely instinctual when it’s playing.

“Four Sticks” is the only song that consistently feels sub-par when I listen to IV. The fact its named that way because Bonham played it with a pair of drumsticks in each hand doesn’t say much about the lyrics, which I’ve heard described by Jimmy Page as being abstract, and to me that sounds like another way of saying, “This was filler and we couldn’t even be bothered to tidy up the lyrics, so yeah, it’s so abstract, man.”

Led Zeppelin

The hipster record clerk at my favorite record store insisted on calling it Zoso. Atlantic Records had it listed as Four Symbols or Led Zeppelin IV. If they wanted to break the pattern established by the numerical naming of their first three albums, they should have given it an actual title. it’s perfectly acceptable to occasionally and judiciously refer to it as “Zep IV.”

'Led Zeppelin'

48 years ago today, on January. 12th, 1969, music changed for many people. It was on this day that Led Zeppelin released their debut LP . Of course, critics panned the record, but to the record buying public, well they never listened to critics anyway. It only takes the first two seconds of the first song on their first record for Led Zeppelin to make crystal clear exactly what they intend to do – and exactly what they intend to do to you. In the opening to “Good Times Bad Times,” the band drops a two-note attack that falls like a cartoon safe, clearing the air for John Bonham’s syncopated groove, Jimmy Page’s swift-sword guitar and Robert Plant’s high-end howling about sex so loud it gets the neighbors talking. “It really wasn’t a pretty thing,” Plant later said. “It wasn’t supposed to be a pretty thing. It was just an unleashing of energy.”

just a few weeks before their album’s release — opening for Vanilla Fudge and Spirit. Although booking agent Ron Terry had to beg promoter Barry Fey to add Led Zeppelin to the already-sold out show, the band did not disappoint. “You didn’t have to be a genius to know that Zeppelin was going to be a smash,” he later said. “Oh, my God. People were going crazy!” Rock station KLZ was so jammed with calls the next day that Fey had to run a copy of the unreleased self titled album to them, where it played for an entire day.

We could go on for days on the impact that this record had at the time and still has to this day, but you all know that. Just 3 of the songs “Your Time is Gonna Come”, “Good Times Bad Times” and “Communication Breakdown” were Led Zeppelin originals. When Led Zeppelin debut album was released in January 1969, it went to the Top 10 in the U.S. and the U.K. charts, despite lukewarm reviews. The enormity of Zeppelin’s innovation wasn’t entirely easy to recognize. In an era of spiritual transcendence and tales of brave Ulysses, they’d flipped teenage rock & roll’s sex-zonked mania into something huge and seething and mythic- bestial. Eastern mysticism and Mordor and prom-ruling radio gold would all come later.

Page’s vision for the album was so clear that they recorded the entire thing in just 30 hours. “I financed and completely recorded the first album before going to Atlantic,” he later said . “It wasn’t your typical story where you get an advance to make an album: We arrived at Atlantic with tapes in hand.” The result was a new, uncompromising sound and unabashed rock star lifestyle, paving the way for everything from prog-rock to heavy metal.

Led Zeppelin was born from the ashes of the Yardbirds. They had disintegrated in the summer of 1968, leaving guitarist Jimmy Page with the rights to the name — and a series of shows in Scandinavia he was contractually obligated to complete .So he recruited Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham, and the four toured as the New Yardbirds. But by the time they entered Olympic Studios in London in late september 1968 , they had moved their sound away from English folk-rock, into the blues-influenced band Page had always wanted, and soon had a new name, Led Zeppelin, as well.

As with so many great records, when it first came out the critics didn’t care for it. Therefore many people knew it would be good.

On January. 12th, 1969, Led Zeppelin released their self-titled debut LP “Led Zeppelin” in the US. It wouldn’t be released in the UK until March 31st. The LP combined Blues and Rock and was very well received by music fans. A number of the songs were ‘borrowed’ from older Blues musicians who at first were not given any credit.

It was an incredible record that changed the way many looked at Rock music.

Robert Plant (vocals/production); Jimmy Page (guitar); John Paul Jones (bass); John Bonham (drums)

The Album Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham Recorded Before 'Led Zeppelin'

all four members of Led ZeppelinJimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham were recording together before there even was a Led Zeppelin. While still in  mode, the four pre-Zeps took part in the August 1968 recording sessions for P.J. Proby’s 1969 album, “Three Week Hero”.

Page and Jones were successful session musicians at this point, and when Jones got the Proby gig, he invited his fellow New Yardbirds along. Jones recollects “I was committed to doing all the arrangements for the album. As we were talking about rehearsing at the time, I thought it would be a handy source of income. I had to book a band anyway, so I thought I’d book everybody I knew.” The sessions started August 25th, 1968, and led to an album that didn’t cause much of a stir when it was released the following April.

“The boys told me they were going over to play in San Francisco and all that, and I said, ‘Look, from what I’ve heard and the way you boys played tonight, not only are you not going to be my backing band, I’m going to say goodbye right now, because I don’t think I’m ever going to see you again’,” Proby has said .

“‘That’s how successful you’re going to be. You’re exactly what they want, you play all that psychedelic stuff and everything.’ I said, ‘You’re going to go over there and go down so great I don’t think you’re ever going to come home.’ They didn’t ever come back until they changed their name to Led Zeppelin and stayed over there and came back huge huge stars. … I said goodbye that day when I cut that album, and I haven’t seen one of them since.”

Is there any doubt this is Led Zeppelin? This is part of the eight-minute medley that closed the album.

Here’s track two “The Day That Lorraine Came Down” from the PJ Proby album, which was released on CD in 1994. It’s easy to imagine Robert Plant on vocals—not that there’s anything wrong with Proby’s voice.

 

Image result for jimmy page and robert plant

Jimmy Page dug up several unheard gems for the recent batch Led Zeppelin reissues. But there’s one song that still remains unreleased “Swan Song”.

The fertile sessions for Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti album produced a number of landmark songs, including In My Time Of Dying and Kashmir. And among them was another track that had the potential to be a Led Zeppelin classic. An ambitious, virtuoso instrumental titled Swan Song, it was sketched out and partially recorded during the album sessions but, frustratingly, never completed – even though, like many of his ideas, Jimmy Page would not quite let it rest.

The seeds of Swan Song were sown in early 1974 when Zeppelin reconvened to begin work on Physical Graffiti at Headley Grange, the 18th-century workhouse in Hampshire where they’d recorded their fourth album.

The band had endured a crisis the previous autumn when John Paul Jones announced that he was fed up with the relentless touring and was planning to quit the band. He even suggested, albeit with his tongue firmly in his cheek, that he was considering becoming choirmaster at Winchester Cathedral. It took all the efforts of manager Peter Grant to talk him out of it.

But by the time the four band members got back together they were once again firing on all cylinders. Reunited, they began pooling ideas. “Some of the tracks we assembled in our old-fashioned way of running through a track and realising before we knew it that we had stumbled on something completely different,” recalled Robert Plant.

By contrast, Page had grand plans for a lengthy new track he was calling Swan Song. The guitarist had already plotted out the instrumental piece at his home studio in Plumpton Place, East Sussex. Even at that early stage, his vision was clear. According to Page, it featured “a number of sections and orchestrated overdubs”.

The track was broken up into sections, two of which were recorded in late February 1974 (and which can be heard on various Zeppelin bootlegs and on YouTube). The first part opens with Page’s drifting acoustic guitar, before the John Paul Jones/John Bonham rhythm section kicks in with the sure-footed syncopation that characterised their greatest work. The second segment commences with Page again leading off, his descending riff hinting at the song’s majestic potential. Tantalisingly, he would later reveal that this epic-in-waiting would not necessarily have remained a purely instrumental track – there were plans to add other sections and even lyrics.

So why did they leave the piece unfinished? The simple truth is that Zeppelin’s creativity was at an all-time high during the Physical Graffiti sessions. At the same time, they had also been working on Ten Years Gone, another lengthy track that incorporated similar guitar orchestration. Faced with an abundance of quality material, they could afford to leave Swan Song for another time. Consequently, it was Ten Years Gone that ended up on Physical Graffiti.

But the Swan Song story didn’t end there. Zeppelin were planning to launch their own label and rumours abounded that it would be called Shag or Slut Records – a lewd reference to their notorious on-the-road antics. Instead, at a press reception in New York on May 7, 1974, it was announced that the new label would be called Swan Song, after their unfinished song. “I’d been recording this long instrumental and somebody shouted: ‘What’s the title?’” revealed Page. “I shouted back: ‘Swan Song’. And everybody stopped and said what a good name that would be for the album. From there it got carried over to being the name for our label.”

Never one to let go of a good idea, Page talked about returning to the incomplete song to finish it off. “I’ve spoken before about a long piece I’d written,” he said in 1976. “I wanted to orchestrate the guitar and put it through various treatments. The original idea was to have four sections coming back to the same theme each time. There would be four separate melody lines dealing with the seasons. Robert will do the lyrics. I know I can work the whole thing out from the trial runs I’ve laid down. It’s a really exciting prospect.”

Page continued to incorporate elements of Swan Song into his live improvisational piece White Summer/Black Mountain Side during Zeppelin’s 1977 tour. It would reappear again during the band’s Knebworth shows in 1979, and even as late as their final European tour, in 1980. Had Led Zeppelin not disbanded following the death of John Bonham on September 25,1980, there’s every chance that Page would have gone back to work on the song in the studio.

But even that wasn’t the end of his great lost opus. Page’s first major live appearance following the dissolution of Zeppelin was as part of an all-star nine-date US tour in 1983 in aid of the ARMS charity to help multiple sclerosis-stricken ex-Small Faces bassist Ronnie Lane. With Paul Rodgers on vocals, Page performed a lengthy song called Bird On A Wing, which featured some chord structures that clearly dated back to Swan Song.

By the time Page and Rodgers formed their blues-rock supergroup The Firm, it had been revisited once again. “It was reworked with Paul Rodgers, who supplied some inspired lyrics, and it became Midnight Moonlight,” said Page, referring to the song which closed The Firm’s self-titled album in 85.

Today, Swan Song has passed into Zep legend as one of the band’s great lost masterpieces – albeit one that has, tantalisingly, filtered into the ether in various incarnations. As with other unfinished Zep treasures such as Sugar Mama and Fire, it’s difficult not to wonder how significant Swan Song would have become had they actually finished it.


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