Speaking of bands emerging fully-formed on their first album, this is another quite impressive debut album (though of course guitarist Jimmy Page had been building to this with his time in The Yardbirds). Despite the strength of their entire catalog, the band would have a tendency on later albums to bend over backwards to show you their influences or versatlity or, of course, over-indulge in wankiness. Neither of those are completely absent here, but it is held much more in check and ends up being a pretty straight-forward document of what the young band wanted their sound to be.
About that sound. It’s become de rigeur for the last 20 years when discussing Led Zeppelin to note they ripped off a bunch of black, U.S. blues artists. Fair enough, but let’s not go overboard with saddling Zep with the systematic disempowering of an entire race of people across an ocean. And even if they did exploit a system tilted to their advantage, they still brought a significant amount of electrical thump to a genre to bring it to the masses.
Anyway, earlier this year the band re-released their first three albums because that seems to be the only thing the record industry knows how to do anymore. That’s the version I’ve got. I’m not incorporating the second disc, a 1969 concert from Paris recorded nine months after this album’s release and 12 days before the release of its follow-up, into the album’s rating because I just don’t want to. But I will say a little bit about it. It sucks. The sound is bad, and “over-indulgent” is a generous term for what includes a 15-minute version of “Dazed And Confused” and a nine(!) minute yawn-fest of “Black Mountain Side.” Just because the recording of it exists doesn’t mean you should be selling it. That said, they manage to keep things together fairly tightly for the first three tracks, including a nice version of “Heartbreaker” from II right before they blow everything with that awful everything-that-was-wrong-with-70’s-rock-in-1969 version of “Dazed And Confused.”
It’s hard enough to remember the good of Led Zeppelin nowadays. Please let me just keep the original version of their debut album in my memory as is and don’t spoil it. I know you like to ruin everything, music industry, but if you could just leave the good stuff alone every once in a while, I’d appreciate it.
Mix: “Good Times Bad Times,” “Communication Breakdown”
Love: “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”
Like: “You Shook Me,” “Dazed And Confused,” “Your Time Is Gonna Come,” “Black Mountain Side,” “How Many More Times,” “Heartbreaker (Live At The Olympia, Paris, 10/10/69)”
Meh: “I Can’t Quit You Baby,” “Good Times Bad Times/Communication Breakdown (Live At The Olympia, Paris, 10/10/69),” “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (Live At The Olympia, Paris, 10/10/69)”
Hate: “Dazed And Confused (Live At The Olympia, Paris, 10/10/69),” “Moby Dick (Live At The Olympia, Paris, 10/10/69),” “White Summer/Black Mountain (Live At The Olympia, Paris, 10/10/69),” “You Shook Me (Live At The Olympia, Paris, 10/10/69),” “How Many More Times (Live At The Olympia, Paris, 10/10/69)”
Filed Between: Laundry (Blacktongue) and Led Zeppelin’s III
Song Notes: After the jump
Disc 1 – Remastered original album
- Good Times Bad Times –
- Babe I’m Gonna Leave You –
- You Shook Me – who plays organ? jones. an old blues tune credited to dixon. willie?
- Dazed And Confused – Has some serious issues getting dragged out in the middle.
- Your Time Is Gonna Come – epic organ at beginning. Kinda like all organ is epic.
- Black Mountain Side –
- Communication Breakdown –
- I Can’t Quit You Baby –
- How Many More Times –
Disc 2 – Live At The Olympia, Paris, 10/10/1969
- Good Times Bad Times/Communication Breakdown – first 27 seconds feature a dead-cat off-key wail from Plant and Page and Bonham not even being close to in time with each other.
- I Can’t Quit You Baby –
- Heartbreaker – such a great riff
- Dazed And Confused – 15:01 for crying out loud. “This is something off the first LP” Why do singers feel the need to announce like that? God the wankiness. This starts nice, but definitely where the concert starts to fall apart. I like how Page references “the long improvised section of ‘Dazed and Confused'” as where a lot of the riffs from the next album came from.
- White Summer/Black Mountain Side – 9:19. Too much wankiness for a like rating. Good god this is boring.
- You Shook Me – 11:55. Terrible. So boring for 8.5 minutes, and then they make it even more boring.
- Moby Dick – 9:20.
- How Many More Times – 11:14.