Led Zeppelin One is forty six years old this month….
Released in the United States in January 1969, the eponymous first album from Led Zeppelin which went eight times platinum in the US alone was a definitive moment in British rock history. Originally panned by the critics, particularly Rolling Stone magazine who, years later would list it at no.29 on their list of the 500 best albums of all time.
The reviews did little to damage the band who had already established a fierce following as a live act, as they toured the States fewer bands were prepared to follow them on stage and they soon became a headline act in their own right. Much of their early success has to be attributed to their legendary manager Peter Grant whose larger than life persona saw record executives and concert promoters cave in to his demands wherever he took the band.
Like Hendrix before them, their debut album was like no other which had gone before it. They were more bluesy than the Stones and louder and heavier than the MC5, John Bonham drove the music from his drum kit to ear-shattering effect and by 1970 they were on top of the world.
The album was recorded very quickly and cheaply for that matter. The band played all of the songs during their previous tour of Scandinavia and Page put up the money himself, said to be under £2,000. Self-funding guaranteed Page full artistic licence and Grant a free run without interfering record executives and whilst there are overdubs the original material was played live. By 1975 the initial £2,000 investment had grossed $7,000,000, staying on the American Billboard charts for seventy-three weeks and seventy-nine weeks on the British charts with its 2014 reissue charting higher than the original at number six in America.
This album set the scene for Led Zeppelin Two but the third saw a radical departure from its predecessors, by then Page was writing much more acoustic material and the songs moved away from the raw blues-rock feel of the first two albums into more orchestrated, ‘bigger’ productions. But Led Zeppelin One was where it all started, the album artwork is as iconic as rock albums get and tracks such as ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ featured on Robert Plant’s 2014 solo tour. ‘Dazed and Confused’ was a permanent feature on future set lists and became Page’s showpiece live performance.
The first two albums were produced in rapid succession and whilst this track is not from the first album it captures the raw intensity of those early live performances. Happy Birthday Led Zep One.
Categories: The Music Lounge