LED-ZEPPELIN This was the last of their releases I picked up. Although, it had less texture and sophistication of their later releases, I found it to be a well rounded album. Primitive yet fresh in its presentation, nevertheless it sounded “big” coming out at you. Page really imprinted his vision of the band as a starting point on how he recorded each. Besides himself, the other members were standouts in their own right that he had to make sure their talents were properly represented. It is not ALL heavy handed herein but there are delicate touches to and fro. He wanted their music to mirror their name. For the most part, it succeeded. Their debut album released which was released in January and March of 1969 U.S. and U.K. respectively. Ideas for the tracks were honed during a short Scandinavian Tour to fulfill contractual obligations as the New Yardbirds. This really was most of their early concert repertoire put down on tape. On to the tunes: Good Times Bad Times – A short, unassuming, compact rocker introducing the boys to the masses. A cautionary tale of growing up and being shafted, it is fairly non-descript but it does incorporate a cool little bass run by Jones. Page rips a stinging solo in the coda as Plant wails away in the fade. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You – I always dug the echoed acoustic guitars that opened this song. Quite dark and moody in tone with Plant singing along soulfully. This track has a flamenco type of feel to it. Hendrix pointed to this song where he described Bonham’s bass drum work was like a pair of castanets. The first of Page’s many “shadow and light” compositions. You Shook Me – Often compared to the Jeff Beck version, this is an obviously heavier offering. From the moaning notes of Page’s Tele, then the bottom drops down with the Jones and Bonham rhythm section packing a wallop. Great middle section comprised of Jones’ Hammond organ, Plant’s harmonica, and a howling Page solo. The climax has the vocal-guitar call and response which they will be known for onstage. If you listen closely, Page can be heard laughing in the mix. Dazed And Confused – Somewhere Jake Holmes must wince when he hears this song. As a number it has varying changes in tempo and intensity. Opening with those doom laden bass notes, this song will always be one of the band’s piece de resistance with sections to improvise within onstage. It is also what fans associate with Page’s sorcerer image when he slides the violin bow across the strings to elicit otherworldly notes from his guitar. Bonham’s drumming shines here as he lays down the solid foundation for the band to play on. Your Time Is Gonna Come – It took me awhile to really appreciate this tune. Jones intros with a swirling, church like solo on the organ while Page mixes acoustic and country sounding electric bits throughout the track giving it plenty of texture. It is the pop-ish tune on the record. Young Rascals sounding blue eyed soul if you like. Black Mountain Side – Page’s homage to Bert Jansch or an extension of the latter’s interpretation of a traditional folk song. It has an Eastern melody with the guitar made to sound like a sitar. Indian musician Viram Jasani was brought in on tabla for effect. A fine contrast to the bombast of the numbers before and after, it gives the listener a respite. Communication Breakdown – Fast and frenetic. The band plays with speed and precision. Two minutes thirty seconds that rocks. In concert, they would often slow down the tempo so Plant and Page can ad lib snatches of other songs like “Season Of The Witch”, “It’s Your Thing”, “Just A Little Bit” etc. Given its length it would have made an appropriate single but it is a marketing ploy the band never cared for. I Can’t Quit You Baby – The other blues cover in the set. It is more sedate even downtrodden in delivery. Page solo is subdued while Plant trawls in the lower registers. The group never really cuts loose here taking a more reserved approach. It is a song with them in cruise control but enough so to maintain that edge. How Many More Times – A friend told me that this song reminds him of old black and white detective movies. Trenchcoat, fedora, cigar smoke... It is nothing more than a full fledged jam with Page riffing along and Plant spouting blues clichés all over it. I have to say it swings...it is manic. Page uses the violin bow again in the middle section with Plant wafts on about schoolgirls and having ten children of his own. With it the band brings the album to a roaring close with Bonham’s fills panning left to right, right to left. Bang! It’s over. American critics reviled this album but reactions at home were on the positive side. It started their adversarial relationship with the press. The cover? Odd, choosing the Hindenburg going down in flames but the band had a weird sense of humor even early on. The back cover sports a Chris Dreja fuzzy photograph of the band. I don’t think I’m the only one who caught the time error for How Many More Times. Overall, this album was built on a combination of factors...Page’s backlog of musical ideas from his days with the Yardies, Jones’ professionalism and arranging skills, Plant’s unfettered wildness and Bonham’s spontaneous, uncluttered drumming. It has dynamics and does not drone along repetitively. It is not a feeble or slavish copies of the blues but a loudly amplified, blow out the cobwebs excursions. It is ambitious but not pretentious, clunky in some parts but not forced. It does not pound you on the head but it floats around, peppers the listener with jabs before delivering the knockout blow.