Led Zeppelin somehow became the perfect band for their time and place. And by 'time' I mean puberty and by 'place' I mean some pimply fat kid's pituitary gland. Something about these furry characters with their overloud drums, pseudomystical lyrics and warmed over blues cliches played at God-destroying volume really gets to the 14 year old dork lurking in all of us. Or at least, the 14 year old dork who reads fantasy novels and dreams of scoring with the cute chick next to them in Typing class but just hasn't yet discovered that in this world there are classes. That's right. Classes. Those who date cheerleaders and those who don't, there's two classes. And those who worship Led Zeppelin and those who don't. There's two more. I'm happy to admit that 10 years ago I was hard core in my Led Zeppelin phase, and I bought into them for all the reasons I just mentioned. Because they somehow spoke to the huge horn beast inside me who wanted both on-album male orgasms and sweet folky parables to the Wake Queen, whomever that might be.
But there must be a lot of people in this world who either fall into that category, or that of the 'Dude this stuff Kicks Ass to listen to while I lift!' sort of mouth-breathing muscle-head idiot (who digs Zep's 'intensity' and once date-raped a chick after a frat party to 'Stairway'...so, you know...he's sensitive and stuff....) because these albums keep selling by the millions. Is there really anyone alive who has never heard IV before in its entirety, if even just wafting out of the open windows of the Camaro beside you in traffic? They're the Biggest Band of the Last 30 Years! That's right! (Not like I have sales numbers, but c'mon...who's in contention? Pink Floyd? Please!) They crush all bands in their wake! If you ask the average idiot to name 3 bands from the 70's, chances are he's gonna name the Zep as one of them. They're Getting the Led Out each and every hour of each and every day on at least two 'heavy rock' or 'classic rock' or 'album rock' stations in each and every radio market in the United States, Canada, and probably most of Europe and Japan. So, you know, overexposure to these records is a real problem nowadays.
So how is a band like this ever able to counteract the tidal wave of backlash that is sure to follow this kind of over-adoration by all the wrong kinds of people in this world? How are they able to keep even a shred of respectability? A HUGE, meticulously assembled studio sound full of super loud drums and teeth-rattling riffs played faster than Sabbath, slower than Purple, and ripped off from every defenseless bluesman imaginable. Warmed over blues, blooze, psychedelia, metal, folk, funk, whatever you can name. A knack for dynamics, wherein almost no song stays just loud or soft for the entire duration, but more oftener than not mixing between the two, thus making for more 'drama' than two Buggles and an army of Brandoes. Lyrics (whether or not they're ripped from other sources) about either sex, woman who done me wrong, fantastic D&D worlds, or umm...a bunch of dumb crap really. Who cares about lyrics, anyway? Aren't they all shit, at the end of the day? Okay, okay, besides those guys like Dylan or Reed (or Reid)...if you're looking for really revelatory lyrics in a Led Zeppelin song, I hope that someday you're able to graduate junior high and proceed on to being sophomoric.
I'm sure being the Leper Messiah and the Radio Marketer's Best Friend wasn't Led Zeppelin's original mission, however. In case you don't know, Led Zeppelin was formed from the remnants of the former Brit-invasion guitar clinic the Yardbirds (of whom everybody has heard, yet still hardly anyone ever owns any of their records. Weird. Part of the reason is the records aren't too hot.) after guitarist Jimmy Page rode their post hit-parade corpse into the acid-addled mud sometime in late 1968. He teamed up with session bassist, keyboardist, horn arranger, and all-around boring non-drug-addicted pop-at-heart guy John Paul Jones (not his real name), who you may know from the Butthole Surfer's Independent Worm Saloon record. Or maybe not. They grabbed two young longhairs from the Band of Joy (is that a joke?), traumatised whiny woman-vocalist Robert 'Fruit' Plant, and 'The Drunkest Man to Ever Hit the Skins That Hard' John Bonham. They recorded a debut album in like 2 hours, toured the known universe throughout 1969, and proceeded to rule the world for the next, oh, 5-6 years. Then they became uncool but still sold shitloads to clueless uncool American midwesterners, got hooked on drugs and alcohol, killed off their enormous drummer John Bonham in 1980, broke up, and continued to reap huge back-catalogue royalties (and sounding like absolute SHIT at Live Aid...can you believe I unearthed an old VHS cassette about 2 years ago...it was AWFUL!) right up until about 1994 when Page and Plant reconvened and yadda yadda yadda.
So, I'm gonna play dumb and act like you've never heard these before. Or maybe you were one of those techy kids who bought Erasure CD's when you were 15 instead of this stuff and decided to get it on with the Page-man. Whichever, dig right in to the World Of Led Zeppelin. (If you misspell Zeppelin as Zepelin or, worse, as Zeplin, you're really no friend of mine. Idiot.)
Any Short Comments?: You are the idiot Performing live is what zeppelin was all about giving it all up onstage through the use of imagination improvisation and sheer raw talent. Plant primal screem and a wealth of lyrics,, Page only the best guitar player to come out of britan, can play any style of guitar and completely self taught John Paul jones incredible muti talented person and very heavy and funcky on bass and very cool on piano, John henry Bonham only the most fluently timed drummer on the planet noone can attack a 5 piece kit with the speed ferocity and sustain as he can . boston tea party january 26 69 listen to pats delight then tell me the man had no talent . led zeppelin their motto Tight but loose something you obviously dont understand. S go listen to britiny or cristina agulera or some other lipsincing cookiecutter production. trash
Any Short Comments?: Who do you think you are, and where did you get your lack of taste in good music? Led Zeppelin was a great band.Jimmy Page was the genius behind the band, Robert Plant the sex appeal. Who asked you for your wrong opinion anyway?!
(Capn's Response: You clicked the link, asshole.)
Any Short Comments?: HA,HA,HA I'm LMAO at these reviews. Great stuff. I personally am a die hard fully converted Led Zeppelin fan. I still have a sense of humor about the group, though. However, you won't catch me cutting into any of thier work. That said, this isn't going to be a review. Thanks for making me laugh. The III and IV reviews especially.
Hmm...a Powerful Debut. From the confident performance and four-piece-as-Electric Battleground production to the no-nonsense song selection and the erect penis (complete with neatly trimmed pubic hairs) on the cover, the band made a serious Statement here. They were Stepping Up to Bat, and swiping the Hard Rock crown clean from the head of Cream (which was breaking up and, regardless, had stopped making good music) and Jimi Hendrix (who was now in his screwing-around period).
The only thing that is truly missing from this record is the songwriting. I mean, not like Zep were ever the best of songwriters, but they write hardly anything on here! (If you begin quoting the Page/Plant/Jones/Bonham credits on the back, you're even stupider than you look.) Wilson and Allroy, not usually my favorite commentators, have put together a fine list of revised credits on their Led Zeppelin page that's really worth a look. All bands are 'influenced', most bands 'borrow', a lot of great artists have even 'stolen' or 'quoted', and are ready to admit it, but Led Zeppelin takes performing uncredited (or MIS-credited, as in 'Page/Plant') cover versions of obscure (and not so obscure) blues and folk songs to a new level of dishonesty. I'm sure a lot of it results from Jimmy Page's encyclopaedic knowledge of guitar riffs, but probably more of it results from Jimmy Page's unwillingness to share royalties with a bunch of uncouth old black men and their families. They were to lessen their sticky-finger tendencies in later years, so this rant really only applies to albums I-III. (Though they were never to completely rehabilitate...see 'In My Time of Dying' and 'Nobody's Fault But Mine' from the later years).
Anyway, so if you can get over that, and the fact that the blues songs are performed so over-the-top as to be almost parodic ('You Shook Me'), you'll find some really great, tuneful, catchy heavy rock like 'Good Times Bad Times', based around a complicated/simple riff, which has the first instance of Jimmy Page's chaotic soloing style. Pick a neato whacked-out guitar tone, play as quickly as possible in a sorta half-Jeff Beck half-Dave Davies hybrid manner, and grab all the chicks. But then 'Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You' (not their song, but I'll stop with that) shows the acoustic 'sensitive' side of the new Led Zeppelin, though really the band isn't any less heavy on this track at all. Here you also get the first instance of the 'light and shade' dynamics that made Zep a bit more interesting than your run-of-the-mill 70's rock band. What does this mean? It means Bonzo only bashes on selected parts of the song, really. The parts where there are 5 overdubbed Jimmy Pages playing that heavy strumming part instead of the 1 Jimmy Page playing the pretty arpeggio part. The effect, as you may imagine, is pretty fucking cool, and I'm duly impressed. And the macho, tough-guy lyrical approach is nice compared to the more cliche-laden wussy ballads they'd be writing on II. (The explanation? They didn't write this song, but they wrote the ballads on II Makes sense, huh?). And then you have the blooze 'You Shook Me', which has such a fuzzy guitar part and mocking vocal style that irritates the fuck outta me, probably because it doubles the lead guitar line. And the call and response? Truly awful. The upside is that the guitar, harmonica, and organ playing are simply neato and never get really boring (a little, but not really). And Robert's yell at the beginning of the guitar solo is worthy of a mention, too. Almost makes up for the fey screaming.
Hey, and in an album of firsts, why not the first Led Zeppelin psycho-epic? Here you have 'Dazed and Confused', blues based, but further out than that. And heavy. Brontosaurus heavy. That tripled (quadrupled?) descending riff sounds like alternate world-destroying and girl screaming and its scary. And dig some of those voodoo vocal outbursts mixed waaaaay down in the mix at the beginning of the bowed-guitar/Robert part? Scary! Those bubbly bass lines? Scary! And intelligent! The burst of feedback before the fast part? Brilliant! The guitar solo! I already described it above, but this one is even faster and more chaotic. Whee! Sure its far beyond over the top, and far beyond a simple word like 'bombastic', but that middle section is also spectacular fantastic marvelous, right up through the triumphant power chords that signal the return into the sorta dull singing part again. Listen to it on headphones in the dark, I dares ya.
Bummer the rest of the album sorta can't equal those moments except in small parts. The organ opening to 'Your Time is Gonna Come' is fantastic, but the song itself is lacking in memorability besides those organ parts, and the combined effects of Robert's laughable attempts at sincerity and Bonham's blockheadedly unsubtle drumming are really huge distractions on this track. Weird Indian-tuned acoustic guitar solo, you inquire? You betcha...'Black Mountain Side' is cool, but not as neat as the live 'White Summer/Black Mountain Side' on the box set. It does really show that Jimmy Page can play for sure, albeit in a more cerebral way than contemporaries like Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton, yet not in the sterile manner of a David Gilmour. Sorta closer to a heavy metal Steve Howe, really. 'Communication Breakdown' is 10 miles of stupid, but its fast and short, and rocks, so what are you gonna do? I still love ripping this song out on my guitar from time to time, and Robert's singing is just what this kind of silliness needs, really. Plus Jimmy's best ever super-sloppy Dave Davies (or is it himself? Didn't Jimmy play the famous one string solo on 'You Really Got Me'?) impression! How can you go wrong?
You could give me another wank-a-rama blues, that's one way. And wank-a-rama is what 'I Can't Quit You Babe' is all about, Mister. There's no annoying turn-down-the-volume parts like on 'You Shook Me', but garsh if this song simply doesn't work for me. Luckily, the blues riffed (and themed) 'How Many More Times' does....funny what some wah wah and reverb can do on some dunderheaded soloing and more of that bowed guitar (I mean did that really seem like a good idea in a non-scary noise context? Maybe if you tuned that thing a little differently, Jimmy.) And Robert's quacking about having 9 children of his own is simply hilarious. The guy was 19! And from some uber-pretentious part of Britain, natch! But I love it! 'Arrrrwwaaarrrrr Peeee tha hunteeaaarrr, that's my name!' Aha! Fun indeed! Bring me some more!
Capn's Final Word: More robbing and stealing than License to Ill, but good fun all around, even despite some embarrassing parts.
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G. J. Donnelly
Your Rating: A-
Any Short Comments?: Jimmy Page rescues riffs, songs and solos from the Yardbirds funeral pyre and hires a bunch of crack players to recycle them with an emphasis on the LOUD and Simmering. The biggest differences between Zep and the 'Birds are the quality of the production---compare Page's skillful sound craft with Mickie Most's pancake-thin mixes on LITTLE GAMES---and the artistic freedom they enjoyed at Atlantic. Can you imagine Ahmet Ertegan forcing them to cut "Ha, Ha Said the Clown"? 'Course, this band didn't so much write songs as manipulate them (and award themselves credit), but the results are still impressive. "Good Times Bad Times" has a killer hook, "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" is an effortless balance of heavy rock and folk and "Communication Breakdown" is beautifully crafted crunch. The acoustic doodling on "Black Mountain Side" is listenable, but not as engaging as "White Summer." Page's playing on "Dazed and Confused" packs an unsettling wallop, but its underc!ut by Plant's unintentionally hilarious orgasmic shrieking and ahhing. Mind you, it does fit the silly sexist update of Jake Holmes' original lyric. The Yardbirds did it better IMHO, because they concentrated on the song's innate paranoia (Relf's forte; he could communicate vulnerability unlike these aren't-we-larger-than-life jokers) and suspense. I also miss the sound of Relfy's harp coiling around the climax of Page's bowed guitar routine. The Yardbirds also originated the "How Many More Times?" jam (its on the LIVE RAVE UP IN LA bootleg), but here, Zep perfected it in dramatic, don't-fuck-with-us fashion. Sure it's tripe next to anything Hendrix conjured, but it annhilates Cream. Not only does it represent the end of the acid-addled 1960s and the dawn of the metal-heavy 1970s, it hasn't dated a second. Jimmy Page ain't Jeff Beck or Eric Clapton, let alone Hendrix, but he did drag heavy, raunchy blues rock from the underground and onto the radio. That's one monumental ach!ievement for a debut album, however flawed. (P.S. Why are some Zep fans---not all, but SOME---have knee jerk reactions to critiques of Page?
He's just a dude. A talented dude, but he ain't Robert Johnson, let alone Hendrix. Granted, I defend Keith Relf, but I'm not going to make cheap shots about someone's mother if they don't agree with my opinion. Lighten up folks.)
Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Definitely their best album by miles. All the songs are amazing, not a dud in the pack. There's none of the obnoxiousness or occasional cheesy moments that turn up on all the later Zeppelin albums. This is heavy blues rock with folk influences, played with more passion than the band would ever muster again. Half the album is uncredited blues rip offs, but the band do a good job of it. Favourite song on here is probably 'How Many More Times'...... the drums pound, the bass is rock solid, Plant's voice is fuller and better than it would ever be, and the guitar is fresh and magnificent. Can III or IV quite compare to the youthful exuberance and brilliance found on here? I think not. One of the greatest debuts ever, and probably the only Zeppelin album that isn't overrated.
Led Zeppelin II - Atlantic 1969
Boom! The Riff....the one that kicked them once and for all into the stratosphere of rock legendhood, hard enough to be still on the far side of heavy in 1969, bluesy enough to be accessible, and scary enough to small-statured black clad leftist guerillas to be blasted from American APC's during the darker days of the Vietnam conflict. Well, I'm certainly not one to argue with a riff, especially one as hip-shakin' and booty-quakin' as this one, and those 'Bombs Away' slide falls on the chorus are darn neato too (why couldn't they do those live? I can do those on MY guitar when murdering this song, and I suck! Worse than that guy who took over for Randy Rhoades in Quiet Riot!)...then, hmmm....if you don't know what happens next you're quite the unlearned rock fan, now aren't ya? Is this the first-ever (simulated - I hope) male orgasm captured on tape and released under a major label? Might just be, brothers and bitches! And don't be denied, let those bongo drums and feedback squalls pogo through your cranium a few times and you might be ready to sign up for the Robert Plant Skin Tight Jeans Fan Club as well. The best part about it? It's short! Not even enough time to toast a slice of bread and Robby's already splurging all over the speakers! 'Ten Seconds To Love' might be the only thing that tops this one...Then you have a neato guitar solo with those 'Bomp! Bomp!'s....then plenty of more time (2 minutes, or what? anyway this 'bringing the riff on home' part is way too long) to memorize that riff on your own guitar before Robert does his stupid backwards echoed 'God of the Mic' thing and the song bops along its way into fadeout land.
The next one is nearly as cool, though being an early Led Zep 'ballad', you'll find your ear apparatus bashed open by some usual Bonzo garbage-disposaling and J/P poppy/metal riffing (no, not hair metal...wrong decade)when you least expect it. But 'What is and What Should Never Be' also has that driving-but-humorous bass on the quiet part (really complements the strumming) which is certainly an interesting touch. Ahh, hell...I love this track and find it to be one of my favorite Led Zep's of all time, even with the sorta dum heavy parts. I even dig Robert's screech on the loud parts! What's happening to me brain? Don't even mention 'Ramble On', Zep's first real concrete entry into the Wonderful Wacky World of Middle Earth, populated by Gollum and all those pesky dwarves with their piles of gold and irritatingly insipid marching songs. But garsh if that chorus isn't one rousing piece of work, especially at the end with those duelling Roberts singing rings around each other...its cheesy as a Packers tailgate party, but it Works.
The second 'sorta hit' on the record is the double-A-sided Frankenstein's monster song-graft single 'Heartbreaker'/'Living Loving Maid'. The first song has a basic but effective climbing riff and more of that usual Zep hard-rockin' sound (a good thing), a super disgusting guitar solo played without the band (I mean listen to that thing...its fucking horrible. Fast, indeed, but maybe you ought to try keeping all of your flashy finger wiggling in key next time. The best part about it is the unintentional feedback at the end.) The badly edited tape splice heralds the entry into the next song. The 'Living Loving Maid' part is probably the first truly funky thing done by Zeppelin, a fine groove job by Bonham which saves an otherwise really dumb song with a really dumb catchy riff, another entry in the First Riffs Ryan Ever Learned on His $50 Harmony Guitar list. Oh and the singing by Rob is super prissy and nearly unbearable. But it's a groovy song anyway!
After those first two winners, the album really takes a turn for the inconsistent, though. I'm totally unimpressed by 'Thank You', f'rinstance (is there anyone in critic world that really likes this song? I've yet to meet him (her), but if I do, I'm going to act all sensitive and trembly voiced and maybe before too long that certain naive critic might just give me $100) which was (obviously) Robert Plant's first attempt at lyric writing, one of Jimmy Page's lamest attempts at writing a melody. The song's not totally worthless, mind (especially not worthless in the capable live hands of the Flaming Lips, who were probably just playing it for a joke anyway), but sure clanks on the 'true feeling' meter, for sure. I mean, this was written for Robert's wife, right? While Robert was in Led Zeppelin? In 1969, before they got too old and drugged up to debauche? Yeah, sure, that was some heartfelt shit I'm sure. And 'Bring It On Home' and the 'Lemon Song' both have some rousing parts, but isn't this just more of that blues-parody (for the first part of 'Bring It', if not the second, in this case) I nearly hated on the first record? Yup. Sure is. But it'sstill almost saved by some fine soloing. And some of Robert's worst-ever cock-rock excesses are committed here as well.
'Moby Dick'? A DRUM solo? You mean, the instrument with all the metal parts and big round things? You can DO that? Gosh, I guess I never knew I couldn't live without that kind of thing! Especially when its based around some sort of dingleberry riff obviously not good enough for its own song that would include actual words. Add the fact that, while John Bonham was fine at putting together those super loud (often too loud), super heavy (often too heavy), yet somehow danceable metal drum parts, his soloing is unimaginative and, well....falls victim to EVERY drum solo longer than 30 seconds ever recorded by modern man. It's boring! Drums have no melody! And when they stop playing rhythms they become a bunch of pounding idiocy, especially when played super fast! Sorry, John, you were a nice bloke and probably the member of Led I would have most liked to have had a pint with (one pint, that is...maybe two) and were spectacular at times, I could do without your soloing, dig. (Though the mixed up solos edited together on 'Bonzo's Montreaux/Moby Dick' on the first Box Set is pretty cool for a few listens.)
Listen, the first record had its lame parts, but this one in general seems to be less successful in what it tries to do, which is to leave behind heavy blues for heavy riff rock. You have some undeniable classics ('Whole Lotta Love', 'Heartbreaker', 'What Is'), some fine but imperfect stuff ('Living Loving Maid', 'Ramble On', 'Lemon Song', 'Bring it On Home'), and some trash ('Thank You' and the drum solo)...I always feel like I'm missing something with this record. Maybe its the drum solo taking up valuable song space better given over to something catchy like 'Travelling Riverside Blues'...or maybe its just that some of the riffage (and all the blues parts, let's be honest with ourselves) get a bit too tiresome.
Capn's Final Word: This may sound corny, but I still always use this record to test my stereo speakers whenever I first set it up in a new place. And I still always wish I'd put on I instead, at least after the first few songs. But its still great.
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Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: I'm sure every critic (and Zepp' fan) will fire bomb my house for what I have to say, and that is that for some reason, I actually like this album more *gasp* then then Zeppelin I. Why is that so? Well, their arn't many songs on this album that I don't like. The only song here that I ever skip is "The Lemon Song", which sounds like it belongs on "I" then this. As for Moby Dick well, granted that Bonham is a very good drummer, but like you said, he isn't very good at solo's, though I find this version nice, short, and listenable. And yes I DO like "Thank You", I don't know you but this song stick's to me. It may have a pathetic melody, the lyrics arn't anything special, and like "The Lemon Song" I don't think that it belongs on this album but I like it more.
Maybe I shouldn't give my mailing adress like this but meh, I guess by the time an angry mob get's to my house, some Zeppelin song would have come on the radio and they would have forgot the whole reason why they came in the first place.
Sam Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: Thank You is great! I don't see what's so wrong with it.
Moby Dick though is very poor, apart from the fantastic riff, which is completely wasted on the stupid and boring drum solo.
First Zeppelin album I bought. Played it the other day and realised how good it is. The riff in the middle of 'Bring it on Home'... aww man
This is an excellent album. Not as good as I, but a heck of a lot better than III, and a bit more consistent than IV.
Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: Moby Dick boring???? You obviously arent a drummer mate that song is sick.
(Capn's Response: I'm obviously not a drummer because I understand the proper use of punctuation marks, don't think my phlegm is 'Great on toast', and don't think the 'Bird Flu' means Polly escaped from the cage again.)
Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: It's a good album. It has a few really good songs, but is brought down by some bad stuff. "Whole Lotta Love" is awesome, one of Zep's best songs. Words cannot describe it's greatness. The riff, the orgasm part, the fact that it's about sex, awesome, awesome, awesome!!! "The Lemon Song" is also about sex. It's just a generic blues song though, with lyrics that are kinda silly. If I could describe "Thank You" in one word it would be: Pathetic!! Hurray, it's a love song. It's pretty, and sincere sounding but doesn't have covincing enough lyrics. The organ or what ever Jones is playing is terrible and anoying, and the acoustic guitar is boring. Robert Plant's voice is terrible on most of the 3 minuetes that he sings. Yeah, I know the song is 4:49 seconds long but the last minuete of the friggin song is that stupid organ, in fact it fades out and then IT COMES BACK!!! WTF!!! Then it ends on a note thats held out, ick. The drums are kinda cool on the song thou! gh. But the drums are cool on every track, with maybe the exception of "Moby Dick" which is a really stupid and totally pointless drum solo, another ick. "Heartbreaker" and "Living Loving Maid" are two really mean, powerful rockers that are awesome and played one after another are even better. "Bring It On Song" starts out really strange and then becomes another fast rocker. It sound like Robert's singing with the harmonica in his mouth at the beginning. Then there's "What Is And What Sould Never Be" which everyone I know calls Catch The Wind. Beautiful song, acoustic verses, loud chorus, beautiful arrangement, cool guitar. The there's that other song that sounds almost exactly like "What Is..." the ending sounds exactly the same except it's annoying, the whole song is annoying, the lyrics sound, guitar is stupid, bass is annoying, I hate it, "Ramble On" that is, "What Is.." is awesome.
Awesome Songs: Whole Lotta Love, What Is..., Heartbreaker, Living Loving Maid
Ok Songs: The Lemon Song, Bring It On HomeTerrible Songs: Thank You, Ramble On, Moby Dick
making such so many comments
Led Zeppelin III - Capitol 1970.
Quite honestly, probably the least entertaining Led Zeppelin record, for me, as a whole. I never bought the dang thing, always feeling satisfied to simply copy the things off my friends. Why is this? Many people number this among their favorite releases by the band, and credit it with being a breath of fresh air after the heaviness of II, introducing the lighter, more sensitive side of the band that heretofore was nowhere to be found. The band really was at or near its peak at this point, having not quite lost the youthful vigor of the first album yet widening their horizons to include lighter, less 'ass destroying' music, which then led the way onward to their best work in the future. It's not often a proto-heavy metal band as uncompromising as Led Zeppelin is able to expand itself the way this band was...Deep Purple couldn't, for example, and neither could Black Sabbath, just to drop two of the bigger names...So yeah, yeah, I'll give the record its due props rating-wise...
...even though half of this record sucks worse than Gramma after forgetting to take her upper plate out. I'll divide this record into two sections, Dumb and Dumber. The merely dumb songs are, at their best, as catchy as anything on II, but far less intelligently written...the riffs aren't merely simple, they're rudimentary. And there's nearly always something annoying in each song to make me feel queezy about liking it. The opening half of the record includes all of the electric business we've grown used to. 'The Immigrant Song' is a short, quick rocker based around a two note riff and Robert's banshee quack. Dumb, but fun. They'll be taking this Viking business in much more interesting places in a few years. The band finally gets its blues to sound good (and not unintentionally hilarious) on 'Since I've Been Loving You', a slow cooker with Jimmy's best-ever blues soloing, but Robert Plant's vocal stutters and fey delivery can only be described as dumb. Well, 3 out of 4 members not sucking is good enough, I'll wager. 'Out On the Tiles' is for sure dumb, and light as a feather rock-wise, but has a neato descending-lick introduction part and a respectable riff. But my oh my, that high-pitched chorus is bad bad bad. On the acoustic side, 'Gallows Pole' has a nice progression from gentle strummer to out-and-out stomper, and a cute story. Okay, this song is only slightly dumb, sort of that background level of dimness usually present when speaking of early Led Zeppelin. And 'Tangerine' and 'That's the Way', the two 'sensitive'ly written new-style folk tunes, are undoubtedly pretty and solidly melodic (especially the steel guitar on 'Tangerine'...tasty!) but Robert Plant sounds like just about the Worst Candidate on the Planet to sing these tunes and make them work. I simply can't buy, at this early date, the Robert cares much about anything but Tolkien and screwing chicks. Sung by, oh to pick a random example, Van Morrison, these songs would be pretty great. As they are, I like the music.
As for the dumber songs, which are really just dumb songs that fail in their chosen mission, you have such timeless shitstorms as 'Friends', all uglied up with poison violins and Robert's irritating voice (he is, by far, at his very vocal worst right here on III), 'Celebration Day', which somehow manages to fuck up as a dumb rock song and leave us with nothing at all, 'Bron Yr Aur Stomp', which must fail because I can't remember jack shite about it, and 'Hats Off (to Roy Harper)' is a blues in name, but a load of echoey noise in reality. Who is Roy Harper, anyway? He's the smarmy guy on Pink Floyd's 'Have a Cigar', that's all I know. Anyway, dedicating a song to him is dumb, and making it as awful and profanely unlistenable as this is dumber.
Be forewarned that none of these tracks ranks as a true LZ classic except for 'Since I've Been Loving You'. Though II and Office Block aren't flawless in any way, both contain such lofty peaks that you're bound to go 'wow' at least once. This record simply gomps along, consistently stupid and inconsistently good. I'd wait to buy this record until near the end of your LZ collection, because, if nothing else, it does fill in the stylistic gap between II and the next one.
Capn's Final Word: Led Zeppelin's transitional record is really fucking far from being close to their best. It shows that old dogs can learn new tricks, but also that they have fleas, stain the carpet, and smell like ass.
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Any Short Comments?: Just a year or two ago, I used to be a huge Led Zeppelin freak, one of those 14 year old Zepheads that everybody enjoys making fun of so much. Then, thanks to the wonders of internet filesharing, my CD collection began growing it an insanely rapid pace. Then, I decided to return to some of my old Zep albums and I'm like "hey...this isn't that good." For some reason I had never before noticed that Physical Graffiti was loaded with filler. However. this one I still manage to enjoy all the way through. They just get such a unique sound here. Immigrant Song and Since I Been Loving You are two of my favorite Led Zeppelin tracks, and That's The Way is really pretty. Gallows Pole is also great, along with Tangerine, Celebration Day, and that really kickass bassline from Out On the Tiles. Hats Off to Roy Harper is
one helluva shitty way to end the album, but I really get a kick out of everything else. High A, not quite an A+.
The band, at last, comes into their own on Peeling Wallpaper, graduating from their late 60's status as a sexually-obsessed hard rock band to their 70's status as a mystically-obsessed hard rock band. Jimmy Page, always having been that dark wizard type anyway, from this point onward sinks further and further down into a pit lined with Aleister Crowley books, Nazi stage outfits, embarrassing filmed dream sequences, and hypodermic needles. But at this point, he's at the absolute peak of his abilities, as is the rest of the band. Remember those sections of previous albums that seemed immature ('Lemon Song'), unwritten ('Thank You') or simply awkward ('Friends', 'Hats Off to Harper')? They're gone now, and the boys have finally gained the songwriting chops to back up the chutzpah they always had squirting from their pores in buckets, partially anyway. And, more than that, they've succeeded in combining the acoustic enchantments introduced on III with some of their best heavy rock, instead of having each exist separately in a vacuum of their own (as on that album). They've sold out the youthful exuberance they displayed so nicely on I, but that's been on the wane for a while now, hasn't it? What's the result? Probably their best record, albeit one that doesn't necessarily scream out 'EXCELLENT' with each note played.
Let's go song by song, okay? The album opens with 'Black Dog', a herky-jerky call and response between Robert's pseudo blues-rap impression and the band doing a strange beat-twisting riff. Now, the song refuses to absolutely rock until the bridge part, but once it gets there it tears...right up until Jimmy's all-over-the-menu guitar solo that may qualify as my favorite studio Zeppelin section. Maybe. The sterile production is a bit annoying here, considering how alive this song should sound they really didn't nail it as hard as they could have. But nice, very nice nonetheless. As is the followup, the fast retro-rocker 'Rock 'n' Roll' (just in case we were missing the point) is even better. I love the weird echo on the voice, the fact that you can't hear the solo very well when it starts up (hey! it's interesting!). Yeah, that's a time worn riff grabbed from everybody, but few people have ever played it as loud and head-out-the-window as the band does there. More greatness.
Next up you get a full dose of the new, fantasy-inclined acoustic Zeppelin, giving you a full treatment of the huge good/evil battle scene in the Lord of the Rings...sound dumb? It's far above similarly themed songs by retarded fellow travelers such as Uriah Heep, that's for sure. They treat the subject with enough care to construct an atmosphere of chiming strings (dulcimer? balalaika? Sheeeit, to my redneck ears it sounds like a damn mandolin...anyway, its a high pitched stringed instrument Jimmy is plucking there) and intertwined male/female dual lead vocals...it's pretty, and I'll be durned if I've heard a song that resembles this one...except maybe on some mid-period REM albums...maybe. Then 'Stairway to Heaven', a song that begins acoustically with a sequence Jimmy ripped off from Spirit, slowly grows louder and more electric over the course of 8 minutes, with the 'drums entering' part ripped off from 'A Day in the Life', only less tasteful, then progresses through a fine guitar solo and an ending headbang part with probably Robert Plant's most annoying and lyrically incoherent moment ever ('To be a rock and not to roll'? The fuck you say! That's the Meaning of Life, is it? I'll keep my personal philosophy as 'Leggo My Eggo', thank you very much.)
But the track is fantastic. You've really got to hear it for yourself. Oh you have? Good then, let's move on.
The second half of this album represents a fairly odious dropoff in quality, at least in comparison with the impressiveness (not to be confused with perfection) of the first side. 'Misty Mountain Hop' is Tolkien-related only in name, though a guy on the Internet claims it's all about the part in the Hobbit where they have a party before Bilbo goes off with the dwarves and blah blah blah. I hear a bunch of Brit hippie bullcrap and a dopey, bouncy, near funk riff. Oh, and a bunch of electric piano. Ehh...this isn't the best the band could do...it's silly, and does provide a much-needed moment of levity on a fairly dark record, so fine, let's leave it. Sure the hell ain't no 'Ramble On'. 'Going to California' is Robert's folky ego shot for the record, where he sings about more non-mystic hippie crapola (unless you count 'the gods got a punch on the nose and it started to flow' as mystic, in which case I would be justified in using your toothbrush to clean my anus) over some business-as-usual boring-ass sub-'Evermore' acoustic tunelessness. Sucks! 'Four Sticks' is almost never panned as much as it should be, and why is that? Because Bonham uses four dicks instead of just two to create a really annoying drum pattern? Whoopty doo! This is the sort of quasi-meaningful drug influenced bullshit that I wish to never hear again from Led Zeppelin, even though I'll admit the ascending riff is pretty hooky.
After three underwhelmers we end up with the darling of critics and rap samplers alike, the sludgy blues 'When the Levee Breaks', a song about flooding that, well, damn near sounds as close to a bunch of oppressive rain and mud as rock instruments can sound. The insistently brilliant heavy drum track (finally, Bonham earns his praise), the waily, goopy guitars, and that broken-hearted distorted harmonica all conspire together to make a blues that...at last...truly sounds like no other blues song before it. A new wrinkle in the shopworn genre, amazing! Just to think, they were throwing phony crap like 'You Shook Me' at us just 2 years before...And the way those verses about desperation and fear keep pouring all over us until the riff just buries itself under the muck in the final seconds is just second to 'Kashmir' in the 'Led Zeppelin Deserves All The Praise and Worship' proof competition. Oh yeah, this song wasn't written by Led Zeppelin, but I'm sure the ancient original recording sounds nothing like this.
So you have an album that is definitely NOT superb from start to finish, but what it does do is follow a formula that works not only in music, but movies, novels, standup comedy...hell, communication of all kinds. Start with a flurry of great, interesting stuff. Mix it up so the people won't get bored. Give us your 'big heavy statement' somewhere in the middle. If you're short on good material, stick the crap right after this part so the audience will still be so 'wowed' they won't notice. Then finish with a bang. It's simple. Too Cool For a Name follows this religiously, and like a good Spielberg film, somehow became immune to criticism until so long after the fact that no one cared anymore.
Capn's Final Word: You'll find some truly amazing stuff on here, but its a pretty large distance to perfection from my perspective.
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Jim Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: This stuff kicks ass!. And John Paul Jones played the mandolin.
Michael Bleicher Your Rating: A-
Any Short Comments?: Maybe it's just me, but 1971 seemed to be The Year for much acclaimed rock bands to release records that weren't as good as earlier or later efforts but get more praise nevertheless (Sticky Fingers, Who's Next, this one). Of the three, this has to be the weakest (but hey, Zep is the worst of those three bands). Anyway, this has "Sgt. Pepper" effect all over it, perhaps even more so than Sgt. Pepper itself (really long songs mean that the structure isn't identical). The opening two rockers are great, and "Stairway" is gruesomely overrated, but it's different and cool and well done and I can't help but like it. "Evermore" is some of this Tolkien-inspired fantasy crap I don't dig not being a nerdy 13 year old, but it is pretty and if I just don't listen to the lyrics it's OK. Side two, however, is really Not As Good. Apparently wishing to compensate for putting two good songs in a row at the beginning of the first side, they placed too stinkers one after another at the beginning of the second. "Misty Mountain Hop" not only has stupid lyrics, it has a stupid melody. The only, only thing I like about it is that the riff is played on a keyboard, so it sounds somewhat different, if not better. "Four Sticks" has a catchy riff and no melody...as filler it's okay, but an album that's supposedly this great shouldn't have this much filler. I think "Going to California" is nice, a pretty acoustic tune WITH a melody and WITHOUT more shitty Tolkien ripoff lyrics. And of course, "When the Levee Breaks" rules--possibly the best song on the album
Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: The album that finally forced me to admit that Zep weren't as bad as I'd been making them out to be. I was in my teenage years and trying to be 'cool' by slagging them off. However one listen to this made me think again-This record is a bit overrated, but fuck it a classic's a classic y'know? First side is excellent, but side two is a bit iffy. Last two tracks are great, but Four Sticks is a bit dull and Misty Mountain Hop is HORRIBLE. Awful song, dumb riff, annoying vocals. Why did they have to place it straight after the orgasmic peak of Stairway? Apart from that song, though, the album rules. You may never want to play it again after the first hundred listens but until then you'll think it's one of the best albums ever. Not Zep's best album, [NOTHING tops the debut] but probably their second or third best.
Houses of the Holy - Atlantic 1973
The boys take their new-found confidence and take it to the bank. It's obvious their trying to stretch out beyond their boundaries a bit on this one: giving it a name, for one, and trying some jokey excursions into other music styles (reggae, funk) that still somehow end up smelling like Led Zeppelin. They're confident bastards, probably too much so, but still end up giving us a high quality record that contains more than a few of my favorite moments by the band, though maybe none of my Top 5 Zep songs. Stretching boundaries, alright....they've already released an album without a title, now they give us one with a bunch of young naked girls on the cover? Boy, you're one wacky group of millionaire former rock 'n' roll musicians.
They start off with three of their 'big' songs, 'The Song Remains the Same', which has more guitar parts than I have fingers. Sounds as if Jimmy Page was really trying to show us the extent of his abilities on this record, distancing himself from 'Whole Lotta Love'-style heaviness and moving closer to a more progressive style. Whatever. The song is fabulous, if maybe a bit difficult to hold on to, and it's fast. Might be hard to discern the melody in all that flailing, but its there...just try again. 'The Rain Song' is very similar in tone (still sorta mystical, sorta hocus-pocus), though quite different in excecution. Here, instead of the 'slow crescendo' of 'Stairway' we have a true multi-part epic with all sorts of heavy parts, folky acoustic parts, bluegrass parts....okay, no acoustic parts, and some words about equating the cycle of the seasons with the cycle of life or some such crap the Grateful Dead did the same year, only fruitier. It's a winner, and that part about the winter is fantastic. 'Over The Hills and Far Away' is a ballad/rocker almost identical in style to 'Ramble On', but loaded with tasty musical bits and positively the last overt Tolkien reference we'll hear on a LZ record. The moodfest 'No Quarter', coming later in the record, but included in this paragraph because I'm a risk taker, is all heavy weather. A dark, dark song about Viking conquest, all dolled up with watery-sounding guitars and the best JPJ key work ever, this one is about the top of the mountain for the atmospherists out there, and Jimmy Page's understated guitar solo is a wonder of modern musicianship.
You may be thinking that this album is somewhat heavy going what with all of these epics and multi-parters and such, but you'd be wrong. About halfway through the record you get a few lightweight pop tunes like 'Dyer Maker' and 'Dancing Days'. As reggae, 'Dyer Maker' is about as natural as Ted Danson's hair (Jimmy Page is the anti-Peter Tosh), but as a poppy rocker it's catchy and stupid...'oh, oh oh, oh ohhhhh' just like I like my Wings songs. I didn't know this was supposed be reggae until years after I first heard it. 'Dancing Days' has an off-putting dark edge on the melody (Jimmy's playing some 'tension' notes, I'm sure), but still succeeds in making me visualize porch swings and cuddling with my sweetheart. Not often a Led Zeppelin song makes me do that. Usually I end up visualizing me having dirty sex with my sweetheart and her sister on the lawn in front of the porch. Is that wrong? Oh, and 'The Crunge' is another failed joke, this time a rip of James Brown. If Jimmy Page simply failed to capture reggae on 'Dyer Maker' he makes funk sound like a disgusting joke on this one. And the upper-class twit act on the end of the song is funny, but after that long of Robert Plant at his most hideous I'm just ready to turn the fucking record over and get on with it. We finish up proceedings with 'The Ocean', which always seems to get forgotten in reviews. The song rules! It's got a 'Black Dog'-derived tricky riff, a great doo wop middle part followed by a great rocking triplet-feel part and an unbeatable having-fun-in-the-studio feel. Of course, 'The Ocean' refers to us, the audience, and its nice to know Robert thinks of us as a huge, indistinct mass. Thanks, Robert, that feels great! I also heard that they never played it live because Jimmy, in his drug paranoia, thought some audience member would try to assassinate him during that song, and that it gave him 'bad vibes'.....'No Quarter' and 'Dazed and Confused' are fine, but somehow 'The Ocean' has bad vibes? What a card.
All in all, I get a greater amount of entertainment out of this record than anything but the first one. Yeah, they're on their way to being fat and old, but they put together a great feel on each of these songs (each of them but 'The Crunge', unless you count nausea). 'The Ocean' and 'Dancing Days' are lazy summer days, 'No Quarter' is a stormy winter's night. And 'The Rain Song' is, well, all the seasons. Led Zeppelin always had phenomenal production, ever since the 'walking around the soundstage' feel of 'How Many More Times' on I, and I want to say that this one is the best of all, atmosphere-wise.
But is that a telephone I hear towards the beginning of 'The Ocean'? Or am I just nuts?
Capn's Final Word: A great big tasty pie of good stuff, light and dark, heavy and lightweight. Skip 'The Crunge' and learn to love 'The Song Remains the Same'...one great 70's album.
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firstname.lastname@example.org Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: This is worth an 'A' because they were now so successful they didn't have to ram their music down anyone's throat, after what is the great, violent 'Whole Lotta Love' if not the aural version of shoving an penis down the throat? In other words, by 1974 Zep were comfortable with themselves and didn't have to prove anything to anybody. I like Zep III better, but III is a one helluva acquired taste.
Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Hate to be a nit-picker, but Zeppelin DID play The Ocean in concert. It was a common encore in 1972 and 1973. The Song Remains The Same is easy to love. The Crunge is the one you need to learn to love. It took a while, but I think that song is great now. The funny keyboard part is what used to bug me, not the guitar playing. Now I think it's 'groovey'.
(Capn's Response: I respect James Brown too much to like the 'Crunge'. Anyway, I guess I should clarify - Jimmy had some weird-ass experience one time and began to think 'The Ocean' was Satanic or something, which was why he stopped wanting to play it live. He decided to replace it with 38 more minutes of 'Since I've Been Loving You' instead of letting Percy extend his 'I heard Mama and Papa talkin'...' part of 'Whole Lotta Love' into an hour-plus experience.)
Michael Bleicher Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: Their best album, and if each artist had to have one A+ album, this would be my pick. Sure, it doesn't sound anything like classic Zep in most places, but that's what greatest hits collections are for. This is the only time they put together a solid album with a lot of good songs and not too much pompous overlong nonsense (The song remains the same is tongue in cheek, The rain song deserves its 7 minutes). It's not dark and satanic and overtly sexual, but the songs are pretty fucking good, and they all complement each other nicely on the album...which is what a good record is about, not having a couple of standout tracks that are unquestionably awesome and some shitty filler (which is what IV) was. And, being a huge Beatles fan, I don't mind the happy rockers or "D'yer Ma'ker"...one of the only truly catchy Zep songs and the only one I can name with traditional song structure.
But "The Crunge" really sucks ass though.
The Song Remains the Same - Atlantic 1976
Hoooey! For a double live record, this sure ain't got too many tunes on it. Led Zeppelin were just not about such things as 'brevity' and 'taste' in their live shows, and tended to be more self-indulgent than a college freshman with his first student loan check. Oh sure, it starts out fine, with a side full of Page-packed 'Rock 'n' Roll', 'Celebration Day', 'The Rain Song', and 'The Song Remains the Same', none of which sound much like the studio versions. But you know those English fingers just get all-a-itchin' to be playin, you know, long term, so you get yourself a 30 minute sonofabitch of a 'Dazed and Confused' that goes down to the corner bakery, fills in at work, takes the laundry to the dry cleaners, has a 3-day all expenses paid vacation for two to San Juan, comes back, and still has enough time to feed the dog and scrape the brown ring outta the bathroom tub before it's all done. Luckily, you get a bit of a breather after that with the mellow tones of 'No Quarter', which builds itself to a mighty efficient little peak and gives us more of that proof that John was a pretty fine key player. And then a 'Stairway to Heaven' which is fine except for the fact that Robert Plant can't sing a song without 'La la la'-ing and 'tweedly-dee'-ing all over it so much it makes me wish I were his microphone so I could slowly wrap my cord around his neck. Unfortunately you get another nearly side-long bonanza just when you don't really want one, but while you may be hoping for it to be an everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink jam on 'When the Levee Breaks', instead you'll be distraught to find it's like 2000 seconds worth of 'Moby Dick' in all it's kettle-drums and hand-slappin' the drumheads glory. And you'll feel every last second of it. Foo. And the 'Whole Lotta Love' that follows is allright until the band stops playing (again...jeez, these guys take more coke breaks during the course of a concert than Jerry Garcia. And he was old.) and Robert does one of his uncool 'raps' that probably made Jim Morrison ralph in his grave.
But, even though the logistics of the album scream out that all sensors are reading 'shit', the concert is saved 100% by Mr. Jimmy Page in all his ragged glory. From cranking out 'Rock and Roll' like he still remembers what the term means, to playing all 7 guitar parts on the intro to 'The Song Remains the Same' at the same time, he wrests control from Plant early and holds onto it for the duration, or at least until the drum solo. Watching the accompanying film, you can see Robert looking totally uncomfortable whilst trying to find something to do when Jimmy goes off on one of his many jam-tangents. And often times on the 'Dazed and Confused' solo, while shuffling through his deck of unused riffs and ideas, the rhythm section deftly keeping track of the changes, Jimmy pulls out some stuff that would have sounded better than a lot of the riffs he ended up using. That's a mark of a great performer...the songs just flow right out of the guy. Either that or he does the same things on the song night after night, which is possible as well. It was the end of the tour, you know.
All things being equal, and all respects to Jimmy Page for some (really) exciting work from time to time on this record, he's simply not in the league of, say, a contemporary Ritchie Blackmore (soloing like he's got a demon on his tail...and somehow dragging the rest of the band along with him). Maybe it's because the band was tired, but the boots I've heard confirm it....Zeppelin simply were too slow, drawn out, and ponderous on stage. Not to say you can't get a kick out of selected tunes from this, for sure, but be forewarned. If you like your music to be quick and to-the-point, you're going to be quite disappointed in this album. If you just want Zep to wrap themselves around you for a few hours, you'll be fine. Just skip the drum solo and the more irritating Robert Plant parts.
Capn's Final Word: For an album I never want to hear half of again, its got some high-temperature moments.
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email@example.com Your Rating: D
Any Short Comments?: Sign of a good album? How well it has aged. Play this now & cringe. Page`s guitar wanking,Plant`s posturing & the neanderthal "rythmn" section. Even better, get it on D.V.D. & SEE just how bad this was!
Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: I gotta give this album an A just because of the song, "Kashmir". Coolest rock song ever written. I also love, that right after "In My Time of Dying"...this heavy, ripping old blues song... someone coughed (guess it was Jimmy) and Robert Plant sings into the microhone: "Cooouuugh". After hearing that for the first time, my boyfriend and I would sing the word "cough" whenever either one of us coughed.
Strange memory to have of such a classic album, huh?
Physical Graffiti - Atlantic 1975.
A double album, something that every band felt they needed to put out at some time or another. Of course, the usual Rules of Double Studio Albums are followed here, meaning that:
1) They 'stretch out' and do some longer-than-ever tracks they otherwise wouldn't probably have put on an album (yet). Cynically, this could be seen as an attempt to fill up time. I'm not feeling cynical today, and deep down I like a lot of this album, much more than stuff like III, anyway. All this stretching out is a mixed blessing, though, since the long-ass 'Kashmir' is so entrancing and powerful, and really needs all of the time it takes up, but the longer-ass 'In My Time of Dying' was done better in under a minute and a half on Bob Dylan. I like this version fine in theory, don't get me wrong, and the 'live in the studio' feel beats the pants off the band's old overblown blues-style they used to portray on the '69 albums. But come on...there's way too much repetition here to justify this thing being over 5 or 6 minutes in length, tops. It seems all the live wanking was going to their heads.
ii) There's plenty of the kinds of songs the band probably wrote in their sleep. Fine songs, sure, and up to the usual Zep standards, but 'Custard Pie', 'The Rover', 'Ten Years Gone', 'Night Flight', 'Black Country Woman' (etc., etc., etc.) are not steps forward for Led Zeppelin in any way. And in 1975 they were far from original in rock. From being on the cutting edge in 1970-1, Zeppelin were now somewhere back-of-the-curve and writing songs that their contemporary derivatives could do even better (I'm looking at you, Aerosmith).
b) There are a few out of character experiments, showing the band still had a bit of spark (but not much). The swooshing, dramatic 'Kashmir', for example, is a winner...when was the last time you heard Moroccan influence in a song, anyway? But the doo-wop-y and dreadfully dull 'Down By the Seaside' is fit for the trash heap. Luckily, the other experiments are a tad more low key, like 'Boogie With Stu', for instance, being nothing more than the band strumming along acoustically to Ian Stewart's rollicking piano while Rbrt impersonates a woman. And 'Trampled Underfoot' is a fine funker, which is the direction the band was then heading if you don't know.
MCMLVIII) It's dreadfully dull when taken in all at once. Consider yourself warned.
|||||) Yes, if you cut out half of the songs and made a single record, it would be close to the best of the band's career. Keep 'Kashmir', 'Houses of the Holy', 'Black Country Woman', 'The Rover', 'Trampled Underfoot', ohhh...'Ten Years Gone' and 'Bron Yr Aur' maybe and you've got yourself a winner. There is a bunch of filler here, and though none of the songs are bad, towards the end of the record I feel I'm rehearing some of the songs a second or third time ('Sick Again' for sure...why end the album on such a bland, go-nowhere rocker?, and 'In The Light' is one pale fucking remake of 'No Quarter')
As it stands, some folks really dig this record, calling it the peak of Zeppelin-hood. I smell more than a hint of staleness and laurel-resting here, and judge it accordingly. It's just that as late as 1975, the boys could still put on a good face and hide the fact that the ideas were running out behind muscular playing and a handful of great songs. But the exuberance is just a distant memory which has left without a trace.
Capn's Final Word: Taken in doses and in the correct frame of mind, this album is a double cheeseburger with a side of onion rings. In the wrong state of mind (or taken in a single dose...Don't Do It!) and its a double cheeseburger with a side of onion rings that's been left under the warmer light for a few days.Click Here to Fill Out the Handy Dandy Reader Comment Form
firstname.lastname@example.org Your Rating: A-
Any Short Comments?: Without doubt Physical Graffiti should have been released as a single album set. The six tracks on disc one are strong enough for me to have been released as that single album. The tracks on disc two have always served as kind of bonus tracks for me. The stronger of these tracks would have been better saved for the poor follow up "Presense" and the weaker ones left in the vaults for a Jimmy Page cash in at a later date. "Presense" really would have benefited from the likes of "Ten Years Gone" and sadly Zeppelin would never reach these heights again.
John Your Rating: B+
Any Short Comments?: I just wanted to say that I think Down By The Seaside is a good song. Even if you don't like it, I don't think it should be called "trash". It is something different. I'm sure you know a lot
more about rock history than me, but I really like "The Rover" also , perhaps its style is older, but I think it's still a great song. I don't know... not saying you're wrong or anything, just letting you know my humble opinion. But I don't know how you can call Down By The Seaside trash.
(Capn's Response: Would you rather I call it a steaming pile of yak dung covered in McDonald's Special Sauce?)
Presence - Atlantic 1976
Yup...it's been confirmed, as of 1976, Zeppelin were officially Uncool. And besides the fact that they've been coasting since 1971 or so, add in that this album was made under a deep heroin haze (on the part of Jimmy) and wheelchaired with a shattered leg (on the part of Robert) and it doesn't take a smart guy to see that this album is going to be problematic. Though having made overtures to funk and such in the last few years, Zep really don't quite limit themselves to the same kind of tired sludge that was beginning to get old on Physical Graffiti. They invent a new brand of sludge worse than ever before and be sure to construct about 4 of the 8 songs based around tuneless, tiresome, blah, heavy, slow, boring faux-funk nonsense. After listening to the album fairly regularly for about 10 years now, I still can NOT tell you a damn thing about 'Candy Store Rock', 'Royal Orleans', and 'Hots On For Nowhere'...they're just shitty songs, maybe funkier than the usual style but god...who cares at this point anyway? And 'Tea For One' is, again, an improvement over their old style of doing blues, but only because it doesn't totally insult the black people who invented it. What does it do? It ends the album on a looooong, dulllllll, booorrrrinnng note, petering out until the needle mercifully reaches the out groove. This song must have a bpm hovering around 35, and Jimmy doesn't even let 'er rip like he did on the slow 'Since I've Been Loving You'. Jesus, and these guys were trying to keep afloat amidst punk rock? They sound like they all weigh 400 pounds and eat gold dubloons for breakfast. This is fairly fucking far from 'Communication Breakdown', isn't it?
Far beit from me to claim Led Zeppelin would leave us with a totally useless record, so there are some tracks on here that make the grade...and even one that I say 'hey!' to. The opener, 'Achilles Last Stand', is a long-ass mystical metalfest, all galloping basslines and as much bombast as Jimmy can possibly muster with his opiate-wasted matchstick fingers. And Robert, probably because he was hobbled, and also because he's somewhat buried in the mix, sounds less irritating than usual. No, no, no, it's not equal to Rainbow's contemporary epic 'Stargazer' (which was ripped from 'Kashmir', anyway...but still, a rip of 'Kashmir' beats 'Achilles' any day). None of it is anything we haven't heard before, but there's still some power left in the ol' boys.
'For Your Life', of which I can understand very few words, is a fair track, higher in quality than the four stinkers. Allegedly its about smack, but I'll leave that one to the people who read Led Zeppelin lyrics. Frankly, I haven't been discussing lyrics too much on this here Zeppelin page for a reason. It's pretty sad when I include a 'fair' track in a list of highlights, but, mmmm, this isn't a very good record, you see. This sorta funky one would have fit nicely on side 4 of PG when we were all growing a bit bored anyway.
Now, I'm a sucker for 'confessional' songs, I'll admit, and I buy 'Nobody's Fault But Mine' lock, stock, and barrel. Damn right there's nobody else but you to blame for being a ridiculous Santa-worshipping drug addict too wasted to fuck all those groupies, Jimmy Page. Oh, this hook line has been used more times than your sister and is once again stolen by the legal team of Page/Plant, but we all bought the first two records, didn't we? We can forgive one more stolen good, especially when its as good as this one. Now, that 'sting-y' guitar line Jimmy does and Robert imitates on the intro part (and later throughout) is pretty irritating, but, er...that's all the criticisms I have of this song. The riff is really really bootie-moving, the drumming is powerful, the bass fleet and booming, the guitar solo suitably sloppy, and when that harmonica solo starts up wailing that big ol' bent blues note, I'm 7 steps away from heaven. And when Robert stut-stut-stutters the final line of the song I'm standing at the gates. Well done, Robert Plant.
Capn's Final Word: It's really hard to watch a great band slowly bleed to death, but this is what we have here. And for the heavier minded fan out there, it's the last Zep purchase you should make. 'Nobody's Fault' is fucking fantastic. And the jacket photos are nice and unsettling.
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Zelmer Your Rating: A-
Any Short Comments?: One of my favs. Page is peaking in his guitar work. Orchestrated songs, melodic solos (not just blues cliches).
Your Rating: B+
Any Short Comments?: I think this Zeppelin's most underated album. "Achille's Last Stand" has some of the most interesting guitar work and drumming of any Zep song. I agree with you totally on "Nobody's Fault but Mine" and "For Your Life," but I disagree with you on "Tea for One." This truly is a good sad piece, and I enjoy its length the same way I enjoy "When the Levee Breaks" and "Kashmir," all three songs are pretty repetitious, but good. "Tea for One" is worse than either song, but its goods. The rest of the songs on this album are just crap. That makes 75% of this album good and 25% of it bad by my book, at least better than "Physical Grafiti" anyway.
In Through the Out
Door - Atlantic 1979
Jimmy Page is merely a ghost, a shadow in the background on this one. The path has been run...from Jimmy dominating the first record to becoming more-or-less four equal powers on Houses, you now see the band finally ruled by John Paul Jones. Can't you just see Mr. Bowl Cut inwardly laughing his ass off as he encourages Jimmy to read some more Crowely and have another hit?....He's finally pushed his old session-musician partner to the background. 10 years of underappreciation are About to Come to An End. Ahhhhhahahahahahaha! (evil laugh)
If you value Led Zeppelin's 'ass kicking' and praise them for their heavy riffs and hard rocking, you need to steer waaaay clear of this record. It will only make you sick, disgusted, and may throw you off Led Zeppelin forever, which is what it did to my friend Nick back in 7th grade. However, if you're one who can appreciate the fact that there's almost no rockers on this album (I should say, no Led Zeppelin rockers. An XTC fan would probably find this album unbearably heavy.) you may find a few things to half-heartedly enjoy. It seems like a bunch of joke songs! What's 'Hot Dog'? A country & western joke. (done badly!) What's 'South Bound Suarez'? Some sort of hayseed funk joke! And WHAT the FUCK, pray tell, is 'Carouselambra'? Did someone chop John Paul's nuts off or what? 10 minutes of aimless synth loops and badly done disco that would flop at the local Lion's Club Dance Nite, much less at Studio 54...and remedial synth programming probably contained in the chapters of the Moog users manual Pete Townshend skipped past back in 1970. Total Ass. Total. Ass. Music. And 'I'm Gonna Crawl' is 'Tea For One II' and somehow manages to be even less interesting. Led Zeppelin can't even play blues anymore, and that's verrrrry sad.
Sigh....there are some passable songs on here, and maybe one of them is something I'd call 'just fine'...that one is 'All Of My Love', a little synth-strings pop ditty with a fine little melody and less guitar than Montovani. Yup, someone's been listening to the radio lately and I'll give you one guess as to who it is. And no, Robert Plant can't play keyboards. 'In The Evening' absolutely blows when compared to anything on Physical Graffiti (yes, including 'Down By the Seaside'), but Jimmy half-heartedly gets out his bow on the dense opening sequence just like the ol' days, and the riff is at least recognizable as being a rock riff. But where's John Bonham? Oh yeah, he's out packing down fingers of tequila getting ready for his big moment, that's right. Or, at least, he's not drumming on this record. Not that my two ears can hear. It's some tinky, skinny little teatotaller session guy, gotta be. Washed up drummers of the late 70's...I wonder if there was a membership card or something.
If you're going to be lightweight, you may as well do it with a jumpy, wonky piano line repeated just short of a thousand times, put a completely out of place conga line section in the middle (complete with whistles...FUCKING WHISTLES!) and try to keep a straight face through the whole thing...but damn it, something tells me not to hate 'Fool in the Rain' so much...must be Robert's singing, which DID improve over 10 years of making records, believe it or not.
There is a perverse joy to be found in listening to these two late 70's Zeppelin records, I admit. They're so obviously either trying to keep the old flame from dying (Presence) or simply to keep themselves from dying (Out Door) that it can be credited that they never really did stop trying to do something. Their amount of new ideas simply dried up, their inherent faults became uncrossable gulfs, they got too fucked up to change, and were absolutely unable to make a decent record when the environment wasn't absolutely optimal. If there was a band that was ever destroyed by it's own weight, it was Zeppelin. Kudos to John Bonham for having the good taste to die and save us all from a really really awful 1981 Led Zeppelin album full of stuff like what made it onto Coda, yet also including Jimmy Page's new fascination with synths and poxy processed guitar noises.
Capn's Final Word: Arf. Not MY Led Zeppelin, thank you very much friends and benefactors. Cool album cover(s) though.
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Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: You obviously don't know much about music. You have completely missed the subtleties of In Through The Out Door. I didn't like it that much back when it came out - I was a freshmen in high school. But guess what? I took up playing the drums and I've also grown up. Now I can totally appreciate this album. Bonham's playing is amazing. Fool In The Rain is definitely one of his best performances. If you knew how to play the drums, you would appreciate how complex that drum beat is. As far as your comment about Bonham dying to save us from an album in 1981... FUCK YOU! You're a piece of shit for saying that.
Go listen to some simple-minded shit like Metallica. It's about all your lame-ass mind can handle.
(Capn's Response: *Cough* 'Carouselamba' *Cough*...*Cough* 'Hot Dog' *Cough*...)
Your Rating: B
Any Short Comments?: OK, why does everyone rag on this album so much? I mean, take into consideration, it was 1979, afterall. All music started really sucking around that year. But ITTOD is a decent album and "I'm Gonna Crawl" has got to be Robert at his wailingest, bluesiest, and sexiest vocals yet.
(Capn's Response: *Cough* 'South Bound Suarez' *Cough*...*Cough* See above... *Cough*...)
Coda - Atlantic 1982
Even Led Zeppelin, a band known for never throwing anything away (at least, according to Jimmy Page), had a cadre of outtakes collected over it's existence and of course, in time, the itch came to release them. Well I'm here to join the chorus of critical derision of this record, a mishmash of yucky latter-year riff rockers that are much worse than the lamer parts of Presence (and the notable 'Ozone Baby' mistakenly attempts to punk it up...boy, I never realized the loss of rocking ability had progressed quite that far). 'Poor Tom' is sub-III acoustic material, but is probably the best song on here. The best music? 'Bonzo's Montreaux', which is far and away superior to 'Moby Dick' in inventiveness and cool factor. 'I'm Gonna Groove' deserved not to be on any early record, but it's maybe alright. The rest? Buncha shit. They were left off the albums for a good reason. And the sound check of 'I Can't Quit You Babe' is much worse than the original, which I'm not wild about anyway. The pictures inside aren't even that attractive. And they even sat on 'Traveling Riverside Blues' and 'Hey Hey What Can I Do?', both spectacular early songs, until the box set. Either of those strong songs would have risen this albums rating at least to a C, but we're out of luck here.
Capn's Final Word: Don't trust 'em. Get the box set for the spliced 'Moby Dick/Bonzo's Montreax', or just download it.
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Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: Sorry, dude, but the song's called "We're Gonna Groove." Not only that, but IT is by far the best song on the album with the (not really a) soundcheck of "I Can't Quit You" being the second best. We found out last year that both of these are based on Zeppelin's live performance at the Royal Albert Hall in January of 1970. Wearing And Tearing is the punker. This is one song that CAN be danced to in an early 80's kind of way. It's about four times longer than a real punk song, though. That's Led Zeppelin.
Box Set 1 - Atlantic 1990
Box Set 2 - Atlantic 1993
In 1990, the original Led Zeppelin craze had long since died off, and even the 80's anti-classic rock backlash had begun to blow away, and a new generation became ripe again for the enticing sounds of Zep. They released a four-disc box set with absolutely fantastic packaging (lookit that cool album cover! Man! That's a cool idea!) and all of their favorites, plus two absolutely fabulous rarities, the snazzy live-in-the-studio blues cover of Robert Johnson's 'Traveling Riverside Blues' and the old 'Immigrant Song' B-side acoustic rocker 'Hey Hey What Can I Do?', which just about beats the crap out of anything on that record, hands down. The rest? You know. Nothing from Song Remains the Same, sure, but you knew that. What was left off the first box was crammed together for the second one, released 3 years later. Having used all the true favorites on the first box, of course the second one is a bit hairier of a listen (bunch of Presence, In the Out House, and lesser PG tunes, doncha know.) But gosh, if you don't care about cover art you and can buy these boxes cheap, you've got the entire recorded output. Nice.
Capn's Final Word: Together, they're the whole Led catalogue, warts and all. Apart, they make little sense.
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Live at the BBC - Atlantic 1998
One of the world's big misconceptions is that Led Zeppelin were a fantastic live band. They weren't, trading their polished studio efficiency for long bouts of indulgent wanking and godawful covers. And drum solos. Lots and lots of sticky, faintly fishy-smelling drum solos. But this collection has a lot of reasons to exist, not the least of which being that their other official live release was downright hated not only by the band abut also many of their fans, who responded by shelling out lots of money for bootlegs that, well, also blew. But the BBC and their amazing ear for quality comes through for us mortals yet again and gives us a fine snapshot of the early period (pre-Unpronouncable Doodles) band careening through all of their early songs, some twice or even three times. They are probably as good as they ever got here, and lemme tell you, it's breathtaking more than just a couple of times. The first disc is gathered from a bunch of different sessions while the second is from just one concert, performed early in 1971 just before our boys got too big for their britches. There's way too much on here for me to describe, but I'll make some general statements. One: The music on this album is so far better executed than on Song Remains that there's really no competition any more. The early band was simply better than the later one, at least live. There is enough bluesy wanking on here to make anyone averse to that sort of thing run for cover, and it even gets to be too much for me, even taken in disc-long doses. There are some real stinkers on here, but only a few, and the rest of it should be enough to satisfy anyone besides my dog, who keeps humping anything with a pulse until their jeans are ruined. Led Zeppelin really were that good.
That's a lie. It's me who keeps humping everyone. Does that impress you?
Capn's Final Word: A large slab of early Led Zeppelin in all their glory, worthy of both your money and study. Bask in it.
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Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: Like you said in your review-just bask in it. This awesome 2CD package concentrates on the band's early years from '69-'71, and as a result the performances on here are fresh, exuberant, indulgent and exciting. The first disc is based mainly around the first album, which is fine by me, though 3 versions of Communication Breakdown is a little much. The second disc, while having some dodgy moments [second-rate version of SIBLY and some lengthy wankfests] is a pretty good snapshot of Zeppelin at the time [it's a 1971 show] and contains my favourite version of Stairway to Heaven. Great live document.
the West Was Won - Atlantic 2003
After 27 years, Led Zeppelin finally wised up and realised that the catalog rarity-issue business can take you places that wrinkly old solo albums and fearsome encounters with airplane stewardesses cannot: live albums from one's glory years aren't only cheap and easy to make, people buy the fucking things up like Cabbage Patch Dolls (Tickle Me Elmo's? Pikachu dolls? What the fuck is wrong with kids' taste in toys, anyway?). Led Zeppelin always was the most confounding of all the classic rock dudes: their bootlegs are some of the top-selling 'imports' in the way back of your favorite record gouger, their only 'regular season' live album (The Song Remains The Same...And Remains, And Remains, And Remains) wasn't too hot, and their only previous entries into the double-live reissue CD was BBC, a good but repetitive set of live-in-the-studio tracks. West is what it is, and what it is is what Song should've always been: a full-length concert (or rather bits and nibbles from two 1972 LA concerts that most likely cut out all the charming dead space, tunings, and hacking fits by Jimmy Page, who probably ought to see a doctor soon) performed at the band's peak operating condition (fucked up on coke on the West Coast on the Intravenous tour with groupies stuck down their trousers) and without obvious overdubbing and all that bullshit that failed to make Song any better. And as it is, if either A) you're already a big fan of Song and thirst for an improvement on same, or B) have always felt that Song 'never quite captured the band', and thirst for an improvement on same, How the West Was Won is definitely your cup of pooplog.
And if you couldn't stand listening through Song before, stay the fuck away already. Go back and listen to your Yanni or your Petra and attempt to stop picking your nose. Get the new Booger Patch. I hear it helps.
West, essentially, contains much of what you already got to know from the last two live albums, except it's played better than Song and has a lot more satisfyingly full setlist than BBC. Jimmy Page is still the best cross between Dave Davies and Phil Spector who ever walked the earth in satin pants with dragons all over them, and alternately weaves guitar lines that are surprisingly more metal than we've heard before (frigging 'Immigrant Song' comes on almost like Black Sabbath, man!) and also a lot more playful than he was on the other live ones. He's not at all infallible, though, and the enormous (and I mean Jerry Garcia in full iris-pinwheel mode enormous) 'Dazed and Confused' proves it over and over (and over, and over) again...he really only had a limited number of ideas prepared prior to any particular concert, and once those had run out, it's all finger-twiddling. Notice how quite a few of the sections of 'Dazed' (supposedly, you know, a 'jam song', meaning it's supposed to include some improv) match up exactly with sections on the Same version, which was recorded the next year. It's no fluke, either...he was pulling out the same 'James Brown' and 'punk rock' and 'horribly disgusting violin-bow' sections throughout the Seventies. If you've never heard it before, it's neat, but getting more of the same makes me feel kinda like a chump (besides the fact that, despite the near-flatline energy level, I like the Same version of 'Dazed' more).
Luckily there's other stuff, which either majorly improves on the Song and BBC material ('Stairway' and the normal sections of 'Whole Lotta Love' both wipe clean dirty memories of the travesty versions on Song) or never was released before ('The Ocean', which hasn't quite matured into the Houses version yet, 'Dancing Days', 'Bron Yr Aur Stomp', all of which are great). They include the acoustic sequence of the concert, which is sorta underwhelming due to Robert's inability to sing without sounding like I want to kick his fucking fruity Brit arse back to the Band of Joy, and the usual 'Moby Dick', which is still just a bunch of drumming. Bonzo is inconsistently brilliant, sometimes perfectly adding an extra kick drum or shuffle to change what sounds heavy on a studio album into something nearing funk, sometimes bashing without much purpose, and John Paul Jones is excellent on bass, iffy on keys when he has to try to outplay Jimmy's crushing wall of amps. I can also do without the medley of covers which slams the brakes on 'Whole Lotta Love' (and 'Dazed and Confused', too...man I'm disappointed with that fucking song), but I still come out swinging my medulla oblongata more often than I'm waggling my finger, and this album does have times which near rock transcendence, which is in short supply in the area of the time-space continuum we now find ourselves in. God Bless The Zep. Bring on a '79 show, eh?
Capn's Final Word: Led Zeppelin were a band that couldn't help themselves...so they just flew on overboard. Hear the proof.
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Nathan Harper email@example.com Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Gotta give this one an A+. Just ignore those two extra discs, and you've basically got Led Zeppelin's greatest hits live. And, man, are they played well! I've heard quite a few version's of 'Immigrant Song' and this one is the ONLY version besides the studio one where Plant doesn't totally fuck it up. And Page's guitar is HEAVY! I'm kind of glad they decided to include the two extra discs though...I mean, you can't have the full Zep experience without a boring 20 minute drum solo, can you? Gotta agree with you on 'Dazed and Confused' though. I've always liked the slowed down live version a lot more than the original, but they always ruin it with those goddam boring "jams"! but at least they leave that for the second disc.
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