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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin CD (album) cover

LED ZEPPELIN

Led Zeppelin

 

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3.98 | 656 ratings

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The Whistler
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Now, before we begin, I have to say something right up front...is it just me, or are these guys totally copying the Who? I mean, look at their friggin' picture! Robert Plant is trying to look JUST like Roger Daltrey. He's even given himself a similar first name! I bet his REAL first name is Phil or Chuck or Shirley or something...

Okay, now that that's out of the way, songs. "Good Times Bad Times" comes blasting out at you like it's gonna be hard, and it is. But at heart it's a catchy blues rocker. Nice chorus, cool soloing from Page. But "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" is...stunningly good. It starts out as a heartfelt ballad with gorgeous acoustic plucking, but then takes a turn for the heavy. But it's all bass and drums, we never leave the acoustic. Hence, there is no "power" in this "ballad." God bless the sixties.

"You Shook Me" is, in my humbled opinion, what Led Zep is (or should) be all about. Making real heavy blooz. Boom. It's great. And we get all kinds of solos! Harmonica, guitar, church organ (may not be in that order). And then there's a vocal/guitar duel! The first? You tell me.

From there we slide beautifully into the creepy intro of "Dazed and Confused." As much as I love everything on the first side, this is the song that takes the cake. It's one of my favorite Led Zep songs ever (how original of me, right?). It's easily the heaviest thing on this record, with biting lyrics that bleed into a nightmarish descending riff. And then, lo and behold, in the middle of the song it all speeds up and turns into an evil shuffle, then flawlessly morphs back. Awesome.

Now, the second side never quite lives up the likes of "Dazed" and "Babe," but of course, how could it? "Your Time is Gonna Come" has a neat, atmospheric organ based intro, although perhaps it's a little out of place in what becomes a catchy folk rocker.

"Black Mountain Side" is a cool, but essentially throwaway, solo offering from Page on the acoustic. And he didn't trust Bonham to bang those ethnic drums. Guess he thought John might break 'em... "Communications Breakdown" is a hilarious little...I don't know really. In a few more years, I'd call it pop metal. But it's quite nice, very headbangin'. Which, as you know, is a litmus test of quality with me.

"I Can't Quit You Babe" is another heavy blooz number. It's good, but I think we already had a good one of these on the first side of the record. In fact, "I Can't Quit You" is structured very similarly to "You Shook Me," just with extensive guitar soloing instead of multiple instrument spots. And I don't mean it's just another twelve bar blues; I'm not that stupid. I mean that break in the middle sounds just like the end of the "Shook Me," just without Plant.

"How Many More Times" starts to sound a little like "Good Times Bad Times" and "Dazed and Confused" at points, but we're saved by Page's fuzzy, watery, almost psychedelic at points, guitar. And did they throw in "Bolero?" Yes they did! Actually, they throw in quite a lot. It wears its eight minutes on its sleeve, but you'll hardly notice.

Now, I really do like this record quite a lot. Not always catchy necessarily, but certainly enjoyable within and throughout. And the flow from song to song (even side to side) is fantastic; it's true "album rock!" Whatever that means...

And I guess the band members have yet to be, uh, "tainted" by commercial success, because they really play their hearts out here. Page and Plant are a lot looser and less uniform, and J. P. Jones can really play the organ! Why'd they stick him to the bass and synths so much? Oh well, the bass is cool too. Bonham is...well, he was always real good at smashing the kit, no complaint from me.

Now, I will admit that it's not a fantastically diverse record, but the lads possess a surprising amount of wiggle room in between the heavy blues numbers and the hard folk ones. Uh, not counting "Black Mountain Side" of course. God knows why you'd want to do that. I kid, of course. My only real complaint is that, by the second side, we've run out of a little steam.

And just look at the titles, they were really running out of ideas there: "Good Times Bad Times," "How Many More Times," "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You," "I Can't Quit You Babe." And then there's "Your Time Is Gonna Come." Didn't anyone learn these dudes gooder grammer?

Oh well. Stylistically narrow for sure, but it's a hell of a style. Just ignore me and listen to this thing. One of the greatest early heavy metal albums ever recorded. Screw Black Sabbath; THESE dudes invented the metal! Probably. Although, by now, I think that's the six hundredth band I have down for "invention of the metal."

The Whistler | 4/5 |

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