Led Zeppelin – [Record 2]
Led Zeppelin: is the debut album by English rock band Led Zeppelin. It was recorded in October 1968 at Olympic Studios in London and released on Atlantic Records on 12 January 1969 in the US and 31 March in the UK. Featuring integral contributions from each of the group’s four musicians, the album established their fusion of blues and rock. It also attracted a large and devoted following to the band; Zeppelin’s take on the emerging heavy metal sound endeared them to parts of the counterculture on both sides of the Atlantic.
Although the album first received negative reviews, it was commercially very successful, and critics have come to view it in a much more positive light. In 2003, the album was ranked #29 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time (it kept its rank when Rolling Stone updated the list in 2012). In 2004, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
1, Good Time, bad times.
2, Baba i’m gonna leave you.
3, You Shock me.
4, Dazed and COnfused.
1, Your time is gonna come.
2, Black mountain side.
3, Communication Breakdown.
4, I can’t quit you baby.
5, How many more times.
Background: In August 1968, the English rock band The Yardbirds had completely disbanded. Guitarist Jimmy Page, The Yardbirds’ sole remaining member, was left with rights to the group’s name and contractual obligations for a series of concerts in Scandinavia. For his new band, Page recruited bassist John Paul Jones, vocalist Robert Plant and drummer John Bonham. During September 1968, the group toured Scandinavia as The New Yardbirds, performing some old Yardbirds material as well as new songs such as “Communication Breakdown”, “I Can’t Quit You Baby”, “You Shook Me”, “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”, and “How Many More Times”. The month after they returned to England, October 1968, Page changed the band’s name to Led Zeppelin, and the group entered Olympic Studios in London to record their debut album.
In a 1990 interview, Page said that the album took only about 36 hours of studio time (over a span of a few weeks) to create (including mixing), adding that he knew this because of the amount charged on the studio bill. One of the primary reasons for the short recording time was that the material selected for the album had been well-rehearsed and pre-arranged by the band on Led Zeppelin’s tour of Scandinavia in September 1968. As Page explained, “[the band] had begun developing the arrangements on the Scandinavian tour and I knew what sound I was looking for. It just came together incredibly quickly.”
In addition, since the band had not yet signed their deal with Atlantic Records, Page and Zeppelin’s manager Peter Grant paid for the sessions entirely themselves, meaning there was no record company money to waste on excessive studio time. In another interview, Page revealed that the self-funding was to ensure artistic freedom, “I wanted artistic control in a vice grip, because I knew exactly what I wanted to do with these fellows. In fact, I financed and completely recorded the first album before going to Atlantic… It wasn’t your typical story where you get an advance to make an album—we arrived at Atlantic with tapes in hand… Atlantic’s reaction was very positive – I mean they signed us, didn’t they?”
The group recorded their songs reportedly for £1,782. Led Zeppelin expert Dave Lewis noted that “[w]ith the possible exception of the 12 hours that the Beatles took to record their first album at Abbey Road, rarely has studio time been used so economically. Led Zeppelin’s debut album went on to gross more than £3.5 million, just short of 2,000 times more than they invested!”
For the recordings, Page played a psychedelically painted Fender Telecaster guitar, a gift from Jeff Beck after Page recommended his boyhood friend to the Yardbirds in 1965 as potential replacement for Eric Clapton on lead guitar. This was a different guitar from those he favoured for later albums (most notably a Gibson Les Paul). Page played the Telecaster through a Supro amplifier. He also used a Gibson J-200, borrowed from Big Jim Sullivan, for the album’s acoustic tracks. For “Your Time Is Gonna Come” he used an out-of-tune Fender 10-string steel guitar.
Led Zeppelin was produced by Jimmy Page and engineered by Glyn Johns, who had previously worked with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who. According to Page, “The first album is a live album, it really is, and it’s done intentionally in that way. It’s got overdubs on it, but the original tracks are live.”
Page reportedly used natural room ambience to enhance the reverb and recording texture on the record, demonstrating the innovations in sound recording he had learned during his session days. Up until the late 1960s, most music producers placed microphones directly in front of the amplifiers and drums. For Led Zeppelin, Page developed the idea of placing an additional microphone some distance from the amplifier (as far as twenty feet) and then recording the balance between the two. By adopting this “distance equals depth” technique, Page became one of the first producers to record a band’s “ambient sound”: the distance of a note’s time-lag from one end of the room to the other.
Another notable feature of the album was the “leakage” on the recordings of Plant’s vocals. In a 1998 Guitar World interview, Page stated that “Robert’s voice was extremely powerful and, as a result, would get on some of the other tracks. But oddly, the leakage sounds intentional.” On “You Shook Me”, Page used the “backward echo” technique. It involves hearing the echo before the main sound (instead of after it), and is achieved by turning the tape over and recording the echo on a spare track, then turning the tape back over again to get the echo preceding the signal.
The album was one of the first albums to be released in stereo-only form; at the time, the practice of releasing both mono and stereo versions was the norm.