Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin – Round 28 – Graham’s Choice

This had been my original choice for round 26 at Tom’s round when 1969 fell my way. I shied away on that occasion feeling that the deployment of such a monolith would be safer on home turf. A short debate on the issue of home and away albums ensued on the night and if I can find the right form, perhaps I could suggest a new rule that ‘away’ albums count double in the event of a equally split review?

Having featured only as a single track (unsurprisingly from me) I felt it was time Led Zeppelin got a proper entry in the DRC archive, even if it was my last act before expulsion. A band that polarize opinions and whose legacy has been unfairly tarnished by being held responsible for the genesis of heavy metal, surely deserve a more open-minded hearing?

Led Zeppelin, saved me as a spotty teenager. I had begun dabbling with heavy metal/rock and had even been to see Ronnie James Dio live. It could only be downhill from there and soon I would be making a pilgrimage to Donnington Park.

But then I started to explore Led Zeppelin, initially for the power and pomp I was looking for at the time. As I devoured the albums I found what I was looking for but surprised myself with the folky/bluesy/eastern sounds that were there as well.

That variety is all there on this debut album. Some of the blues tracks do drag on but there is plenty to relish here. Side 2 is probably my preferred side, though ‘Dazed and Confused’ from side 1 could still be my favourite track on the album.

‘Communication Breakdown’ still sounds to me as riotous as anything punk ever produced. ‘Your Time Is Gonna Come’ has a great introduction and follows on with interesting transitions throughout. Finally, ‘How Many More Times’ is simply a barnstormer of a closing track.

Tom Listened: To my mind Led Zeppelin came along twenty years too early. You see, if they had had the chance to be influenced by Robert Pollard, they may have sold some records (this is irony as Led Zeppelin did actually sell some records anyway). More to the point, they may have produced albums I wanted to listen to. I’ll explain…..

I was once given a tape of Led Zep IV. I enthusiastically played it. For a few times. But I tired of it very quickly and, now that Graham has played I at Record Club, I understand why. The musicianship is undeniably top-notch (especially the drumming), the songs have amazing riffs, they explode out of your speakers and demand your attention…..and then they go nowhere….for a long time. So whilst I invariably really enjoyed the first minute of pretty much every song (with the exception of the bluesy one), there seemed nothing to explore beyond. If someone can do a compilation of the intros, first verse and chorus of the non-bluesy Led Zep songs, I’d be up for it. Otherwise, I’ll go back to Alien Lanes and it’s 2,000 ideas crammed into one side of vinyl.

One final point…I thought the second track was wonderful, all the way through, so that’s an unexpected bonus!

Nick listened: Contrary to popular belief, I don’t actually hate Led Zep – and in fact I own five Zep albums – it’s Emma who enforces the ban on listening to them in our house. (It’s Pink Floyd that I agree with her on 100%.) I do, however, share Tom’s opinion that much of what they do is boring, long, and predictable; I’ve no time for elongated blues heavy workouts, for the most part. But when they crack out something monstrously riffing and fun like Babe I’m Gonna Leave You or Dazed and Confused or (especially) Communication Breakdown (which is as much proto-punk as Kick Out The Jams), they’re great fun. But ultimately they’re a band of “moments” to me rather than albums – on each of the five albums I own there are only 2-4 songs I’d keep, and I sometimes wonder if I wasn’t better served by the double-disc Remasters compilation (with the crop circle cover) that was my introduction to them as a teenager.

Rob listened: Led Zeppelin were one of the rock dinosaurs I rebelled against without ever having heard them. When I finally did go back to them, I wanted them to melt my face. If they had been able to maintain the intensity and sheer heavy groove of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and ‘Immigrant Song’ for an album then they may well have become one of my biggest reversals. Instead, on the evidence of I and III, which are the only albums I’ve listened to, they just noodle way too much. I guess I wanted a cross between Black Sabbath and AC/DC and what I got was a long-hair in spandex who smacked me around the head with a guitar and then, instead of finishing the job, did a pixie dance on the spot for 6 or 7 minutes.

Stop noodling. I know millions of people out there like noodles, but I don’t like noodles so please, please, stop noodling. No noodles. Please. Enough of the noodling already.

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