Digital Graffiti I
I am a late comer to Led Zeppelin I felt excluded by the fact that they play rock music. Therefore, I concluded that this music was masculine, aggressive, aimed at long haired men with tight jeans. I'm not sure whether
fans of Led Zeppelin liked it that way as it gave them a level of kudos and an impenetrable barrier to their music knowledge. Perhaps I know more about Luther Vandross than they do. However, my knowledge has not been improved by listening to the band on the radio as the young, hip, DJ's who would have you believe that they are in-tune with modern culture; going to the latest gigs in London and festivals in Glastonbury, appear to restrict themselves to 'Rock and Roll' (Led Zeppelin IV, 1971). There is so much more to know and discover and in this blog, I try to scrape the surface.
I am in the fortunate position to be able to listen to a lot of music and have access to a large library of vinyl classics, so I listened, learned and this is what I discovered:
Led Zeppelin II (1969)
'A Whole Lot Of Love' is probably best remembered for it's association with the theme tune to the BBC's Top Of The Pops show (5 November 1970 to 14 July 1977). The track on the album is not as tame as the TV show's version. The bass is meatier and forces you into some serious head nodding. In fact many of the songs on this album do. 'What Is And What Never Should Be', 'Heart Breaker' and 'Ramble On' give you everything that you expect from a classic rock album 'The Lemon Song' and 'Living, Loving maid (She's Just A Woman)' are glorious loud anthems.
They go a bit bluesy with John Paul Jones having a bass solo on the 'Lemon Song' but they will move you - guaranteed! My favourite for guitar riffs on this album is 'Ramble On'. I could listen to it all day. John Bonham is let loose with his drum set on Moby Dick and I'm sure I spot a cowbell or maybe even steel drums in there.
Led Zeppelin III (1970)
The slide guitar makes a welcome appearance on 'Hat's Off To Roy Harper' this song belongs in a western movie for sure. But I love Jimmy Page's acoustic guitar on 'That's the Way'. I think this is beautifully done and shows that there is more to this group than rock (if you wanted more). The 'Immigrant Song' has been re-awakened in the Marvel film Thor, Ragnarok. I prefer the driving bass that underpins this tune to Robert's powerful indigenous cry. His sound seems to come from a distant mountain as a fictitious tribe gather to charge over the ridge and into battle. This is a near perfect song in my opinion. Although it could just be a bit longer. 'Out On The Tiles' gives us what we ask for and what we expect from this band. I could get lost inside this song and consumed by the guitars but it finishes too soon :(
Houses Of The Holy (1973)
Guitar riffs and folk music galore on 'Over The Hill And Far Away'. I would gladly listen to more of Jimmy's acoustic guitar and it's magical powers. I think 'The Crunge' is a fore runner to 80's guitar music and synthesizers. I also think that they were heavily influenced by Ray Charles and James Brown in the making of this song. 'D'yer Mak'er' is apparently a play on the word Jamaica and this certainly has a reggae feel to it. It's a pleasant little ditty and sits like an oasis (plus palm trees) in the middle of a lot of rock.
However, this may be their album for giving a nod to their influences including soul, funk and folk music. 'The Ocean' puts us squarely back in head nodding territory with Robert in his element with his trademark rock singing voice.
Physical Graffiti (1975)
Led Zeppelin don't do a lot of verse, chorus, verse songs. 'The Wanton song' has a very catchy riff pushing it forwards. Call me wrong but, I suggest that 'The Wanton Song' dabbles in a little soul guitar in places but, what do I know? My favourite song on this album and possibly by the band is 'Boogie With Stu'. Ian 'Stu' Stewart is on keyboards and it has a light and easy boogie woogie rhythm carrying it. I love what sound to me like slide guitar on 'Sick Again'. I think this is a proper rock song to be played loud and to get lost inside. There is a certain sense of a 70's rock musical to 'In The Light' (side 3). Lots of synthesized keyboards and operatic in places. I think this was considered the brainchild of John Paul Jones. My favourite on this side is 'Bron-Yr-Aur' it's like an little interlude between all of the rock. Jimmy Page's beautiful acoustic guitar has the power to transport me to a country cottage or retreat somewhere in the sticks.
Thank you for reading this blog. I have only managed to report on three and a half of the Led Zeppelin albums and I have much more to say. How about exploring them for yourself, you'll have to trust me when I say it sound better on vinyl. Your closer to the action and you have something of value in the palm of your hands. Learn how to pick up the needle and place it on the right space in the grooves. Check out the art work and find out who came up with the ideas for album covers. Dedicate a Led Zeppelin song on the radio to your nearest and dearest but try and put some original thought into it.
🎸 😁 🎤