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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin CD (album) cover


Led Zeppelin


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4.03 | 872 ratings

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5 stars More iconic songs would follow, but never a better full set

It was October of that year that this mammoth slab of vinyl finished recording, putting the world on notice that new rock Gods were on the rise. A band preceded by Hendrix and Cream yes, but a band that would take things to the next level and the next level after that. A band that would rule the 1970s in many ways. And a band that gave us a perfect debut with this road map of where they would take us. The Zeppelin debut is one of the most consistent sets they gave us and they would not equal it again until perhaps Physical Graffiti. Here on one album is the perfect mix of blues, rock, and crushing hangover relief. What is truly amazing is that this is not a band that had been working together in dance halls for years, not a band who knew each other musically or even personally. These are mates whom Page and Peter Grant (along with the soon departing Dreja) had cobbled together merely weeks earlier. They assembled in late August, played their first gig Sept 7, and logged their first recording session on Sept 27 1968. For a band that had less than 2 months of scrapping together, the results are jaw-dropping. Page and his three new mates sound as if they were always meant to play together. Zeppelin 1 is a timeless and consistent piece of work that stands out for its immediacy, passion, and bravado.

What I really love about Zep 1 is the aggression. You can hear the hunger in the playing, the sheer will to reach the top. I especially love hearing the young Bonham attack with such ferocity, breathing new life into old blues numbers and basically daring the other band members to up the ante. Many of the tracks run together, it sounds like the guys are so enthused that they are falling all over themselves to launch into the next song, no break, like they would at their live gigs. If you've played in a band yourself you know that feeling well. There are no weak tracks present here as there are on Zep 2 and Zep 3. There are some good heavy rock numbers with pop accessibility (GTBT and Your Time is Gonna Come) along with the more ferocious (Communication Breakdown.) There is the introspective (Babe I'm Gonna Leave You) with its gritty, thrashy chorus balanced out with the sublime acoustic workout (Black Mountain Side.) But most of all there is the early blues-rock blend that Zeppelin would redefine post-Cream, nice working-class stompers like "You Shook Me, I Can't Quit You, and How Many More Times". While not as well developed as later gems like "Since I've Been Loving You" or "Tea For One," these are nonetheless very good. And last there is the big Zep anthem (Dazed and Confused) that would become their "Dark Star" in concert, expanding in both length and purpose to what by 1973 would be a show-stopping centerpiece. As the Grateful Dead did with Dark Star, morphing a short studio cut into a 30 minute nightly excursion to the cosmos, Zeppelin would allow Dazed to become an experimental vessel for soloing with violin bows and vocal histrionics. If I have one complaint, it's that "We're Gonna Groove" is not on this album. It was probably in their arsenal around this time and it's the highlight of Coda.

A rare debut masterpiece for hitting the public like a right hook, for its pure vibrancy, and its great consistency (every track a winner). Along with Physical Graffiti and Presence, you have the 3 essential Led Zeppelin classics. (2/3/4 and Houses all have great moments but also inconsistencies.)

Finnforest | 5/5 |


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