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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin CD (album) cover

LED ZEPPELIN

Led Zeppelin

 

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3.99 | 674 ratings

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Jugband Blues
5 stars It's hard not to put this album in comparison with Jeff Beck Group's " Truth ",released just before it in 1968.Zeppelin's debut being essentialy Jimmy Page's creation (the band at this point being really just a vehicle for him),it does resemble Beck's work in many ways,the two musicians sharing quite the same background and influences ,much closer in style to each other than Eric Clapton to either of them.The choice for material and how to interpretate it in both albums is similar in many ways,from Willie Dixon's "You Shook Me" to Robert Plant's howling back at the guitar in much the same fashion as Rod Stewart.But unless Page deliberately stole Beck's concept of music making(which I find very hard to believe)that similarity goes to show how their ideas were very much in the same nature at that point,as to how to create something new and powerfull,which could still be regarded as blues after all.

Ultimately,it also makes an easy way for us to pick one of the two if we must.And that is probably the key point to early Led Zeppelin-their music wasn't as nearly as "original" or brand new as many would like to believe it to be,but on the interpretation field(which is basically on what this album is built upon),the band really took things to the next level.It relies on sheer power and volume,but also in subtlety and contrast.All this Beck also attempted,but despite of possesing something of an elegant balance that is seldom heard in Zep's debut,"Truth" lacks the majesty of Page's baby.Part of Zeppelin's charm was it's confidence,and it is present here from the word go,in a major way.Robert Plant was still to develop his own personal confidence and that is reflected in the album,but not in a bad way at all.His performance here is much better than he would like to believe,being perhaps more organic than later on.

The 60's were drawing to an end ,and the electric guitar had come and was already leaving the spotlights while Page was still pretty much unheard of outside London's music scene.Him being neither technically nor artistically inferior to Clapton or Hendrix (and self- consciously so),he must have realised that this was now or never in terms of commercial success.That explains why the album is so carefully crafted, and thanks to Page's experience in the studio,also amazingly recorded.Here is indeed a man who knew what he was doing.Recording drums was something of a serious issue in the 60's,very oftenly to frustrating results.John Bonham shakes the ground in loud thunder nonetheless,making his part likely to have been recorded yesterday instead of 44 years ago.The guitar layers in particular are just joyfull to be heard,for their profound,hypnotic sonority as much as for Jimmy's mastering of the instrument.Indeed it sounds like a living thing,singing and mourning in a very distinctive voice.Considering these numbers were chosen out of the blues lore for live renditions(being exactly the band's setlist of the time),the fact that they sound so right in the studio is something worthy of applause really.

Dazed and Confused stands out in Zep's catalog as the ultimate example of Page's ability to transform blues oldies in hypnotic stadium-filling monsters(except maybe for When the Levee Breaks).But there's something of a raw element here,very hard to put in words,which is where the album really triumphs.Just listen to I Can't Quit You Baby.It's blues all the way,but it's also unmistakably Zeppelin,summoning the best aspects of the band as straight-forwardly as possible.Baby-making music if ever they deserved such a tag.

This album was a major step in the conclusion of the 1960's and the start of something new,to the praise of many and the disliking of some who felt that it was maybe too much,unecessarily loud and lacking real substance.But times were changing and so were the musical tidings,psychedelia and the "song" shape (which the Beatles were majorly responsible for creating) increasingly loosing ground to something more sonically ambitious,expressed in both Page's and Beck's works to different results.Overall it's just an amazing,delicious album, somewhere between classic Chicago blues and the best rock n' roll there ever was.

Jugband Blues | 5/5 |

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