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Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin (1969)

October 12, 2019

[Album 676/1001]

“Led Zeppelin is the most beloved rock band of all time, even though most people (including myself) think the Beatles and the Rolling Stones are better.”
– Chuck Klosterman, Killing Yourself to Live

It doesn’t happen often, but I think Klosterman & I may not see eye-to-eye about Led Zeppelin.

Though the disagreement shouldn’t get too heated; I would only suggest that the beloved/better order above should be inverted.

Decades from now, if I’m trying to explain what an ideal ‘rock band’ looked/sounded like, Led Zeppelin will continue to be the best example.

The lead singer with a fabulous range & stage presence. The universally revered, often imitated/never quite duplicated lead guitarist. The relatively unheralded/underappreciated rhythm section, whose contributions could not be more integral to the group’s sound.

If Led Zeppelin is remembered as the ‘best band’ of all-time, I wouldn’t bat an eyelash.

In fact, I’d happily prepare a multi-volume tome of evidence supporting the motion!

However, I don’t think they’ll ever be my most beloved band.

To borrow a Forrest Gump quote, that seat’s taken.

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Advantages, Disadvantages

I miss vinyl prices from the year 2005!

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If someone were to argue that Led Zeppelin (I suppose it wasn’t referred to as ‘Zeppelin 1′ when it was released) is the best Led Zeppelin album, I’d happily concur.

There’s no shortage of corroborating evidence to support the claim.

Exhibit A: John Bonham’s building percussion, from hi-hat quarter notes to frantic full-set fills, in the opening track, Good Times Bad Times

Exhibit B: Robert Plant’s repeated “Baby” (pronounced babe-eh) just past the halfway mark of Babe I’m Gonna Leave You

Exhibit C: In addition to his essential bass-lines throughout the album, John Paul Jones’ side 2-opening organ intro on Your Time is Gonna ComeLed_Zeppelin_-_Led_Zeppelin_(1969)_front_cover

Exhibit D: Jimmy Page’s intricate acoustic work on Black Mountain Side…

…and see appendices A through Z for further supporting proof of LZ’s musical excellence demonstrated on their debut album.

They were indeed, as my friend Rich would say, Great out of the gate.

However, while I’d happily advocate for their eponymous album as their best album, I don’t think it will ever be my most beloved LZ LP.

That seat’s taken too (though the ‘most beloved’ seat occupant sometimes rotates among III, Physical Graffiti, and II).

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Verbalize the Positive

Although we disagreed somewhat on the legacy of Led Zeppelin, I’d say Mr. Klosterman is both the best & my favourite author!

From → 1960s

22 Comments
  1. When I was in Vancouver I needed to get a book to read on the flight back to Tbay as between connecting flights and time changes it was going to be a 13 hour day! My pal out west Metal Todd(who I went to see Maiden with) took me to a used book store and I picked up Klostermans ‘Sex Drugs and Cocao Puffs’ a great read and passed time as well!

    I’m with you on Physical Grafatti as well. I think in the big pciture​ that one is my fav. I do have a soft spot for Coda as well as that was the first Zep I bought wih​​t my allownac​​e back in 1982! Your 4 exhibits define this album and Zep to a T!

    Awesome stuff Geoff!

    • Sex Drugs & Cocoa puffs is a keeper!
      I don’t have Coda (yet), I’ll have to explore – but from the sounds of it, sounds like that was a weekly allowance well spent, Deke!

      • It sure was Geoff! I’m working on a review for it.

  2. I dunno. I think they got great and this is an important album but I find it kinda boring and derivative.

  3. I like Houses of the Holy best. I like diversity more than straight blues.

    • Houses has some of my favourite LZ moments – though I still struggle with The Crunge!

      • I like it now – took me a while to get that it was a James Brown pastiche/tribute. I like it when Plant starts talking about the bridge.

      • The highlight of the song for me too, that confounded bridge!

  4. I’ve never felt much for this one, though I can appreciate why people are daft about it. That said, I’m also not the biggest Zep fan.

    IV is my favourite… III my second. I probably prefer to lift bits and pieces from the others.

    • And on any given day, IV might have my favourite LZ track – when the levee breaks!

      • … and that’s hands down my favourite track of theirs. I used to open every mixtape I made from 1998 onwards with that followed by Pearl Jam’s No Way.

      • That’s a formidable 1-2 punch to start a tape!
        And speaking about on any given day, Yield might be my favourite PJ, Brain of J, what an opener!

      • Big fan of Yield. Easily in my rotating top 4 Pearl Jam albums (Vs., Vitalogy, & No Code being the others).

        (and I also love Brain of J. Best opener they have, if you ask me!)

      • Vitalogy would be the other one typically in the #1 spot for me – and I’m pleased you approve of your namesake song too!

  5. Agree about the lead singer, must have been amazing to see them live which we still can on film. The plagiarism debates do take the originality down a notch, but still one of the best debuts, and in their defense every musician is inspired by something.

    • That’s definitely been a big take-away lesson from the 1001 list for me – everything sounds like something else!

  6. Stellar write-up on a great album and band, Geoff. I think I might also be a fan 😀 . In addition to all the musical reasons you pointed out, this album also gets extra credit for that iconic cover image. There’s also the fact that Plant and Bonham were 20(!) when the album was recorded but perform as though they had decades of experience.

    • Cheers Rich!
      I’m amazed what some of these musicians produced at such an early age – I think Stevie Wonder was up to his 15th album by age 22 or so!

  7. Geez, kind of surprised how down some are on this album. I think it is great. Not their best, but still very solid. Keith Moon told them they’d go down like a Led Zeppelin and they used that to fire them up!

    • That sounds like what they call ‘bulletin board material’ in hockey – quotes to get pumped up!

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