.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/5774ef8a3119a76f386f4755622b23416eecfc4b.jpg Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 5 0
August 20, 2001

Talk about telegraphing your punch: The cover of Led Zeppelin, the British quartet's seismic 1969 debut, shows the Hindenburg airship, in all its phallic glory, going down in flames. The image did a pretty good job of encapsulating the music inside: sex, catastrophe and things blowing up. The swagger is there from the get-go, on "Good Times Bad Times": Jimmy Page's guitar pounces from the speakers, fat with menace; John Bonham's kick drum swings with anvil force; Robert Plant rambles on about the perils of manhood. Hard rock would never be the same.

There may be better, more refined Zep albums than Led Zeppelin—a.k.a. Led Zeppelin I — but none sounds quite as gratifyingly raw or is as comprehensive in defining the band's intentions. Though acclaimed as a heavy-metal progenitor, Zep also danced with Chicago blues, British folk and Eastern ragas. They're all represented on this debut, produced by Page and immaculately engineered by Glyn Johns in a thirty-hour recording session that caught the band fresh off its first tour and bursting with ambition. Their self-confidence becomes a bluster so obscene that Willie Dixon might have barely recognized his "You Shook Me," on which Page and Plant make like brawling alley cats in a call-and-response that brings the blues classic to a shrieking conclusion. The album's triumph lies in Page's command of dynamics, from the ebb-and-flow sequencing of the nine songs to arrangements that dramatize the wide spread of sonic colors. The guitarist's delicate acoustic finger-picking over tabla drumming on "Black Mountain Side" gives way to the proto-punk "Communication Breakdown," and the bawdy "You Shook Me" melts into John Paul Jones' foreboding bass intro announcing "Dazed and Confused." Subtlety would play a much larger part on later Zeppelin works; for now, the mission was to create a music of extremes, one that appealed to hard-core album buyers rather than the Top Forty marketplace. That was never more true than on "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You," a moody folk song until the dam bursts, Bonham cuts loose and the shape of things to come — most famously, a ditty named "Stairway to Heaven" — is glimpsed.

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “You Oughta Know”

    Alanis Morissette | 1995

    This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com