Led Zeppelin (Deluxe Edition) – Led Zeppelin
Well I am sure everybody who was into this band would of had their albums just like myself many moons ago on vinyl. Over the years I even got their back catalogue on CD and I have been well impressed by the DVD they released in 2003 which contained restored live concert footage from as far back as 1969 – 1979.
To be perfectly honest the restoration on the 2003 Double DVD that got released, I would say is the best I have ever seen of any artist or band from many moons ago. It was breathtaking and they made it look like it was actually filmed with today’s technology. Even the 5.1 mix was superb. and it’s up there with the best DVD’s and Blu Ray’s I have ever brought for pristine high quality.
For anybody who read my last blog on books. You would of noticed that I am currently reading one written by Chris Welch on the band. I did notice a couple of years back that Jimmy Page had remastered all of the Led Zeppelin Studio Discography. I even watched a lot of footage of him speaking about the band and the new remasters on YouTube.
The only thing that put me off buying these new remastered Deluxe Editions. Was very much down to the fact that he had not done no 5.1 mixes of them. It’s only really 5.1 mixes that entice me more than anything to update my own music collection. But being has I was reading the book, it did prompt me to further investigate them.
A Brief Bit Of History Of How The Band Came About…
I am sure many will know the background history of the band Led Zeppelin. So I am not going to be going into great detail here for this review. But basically the band was formed from the left over members of the Yardbirds back in 1968 to which Jimmy Page was left on his own from the breakup of the band, and he was left with the band name and even a series of concerts that the band were booked for to play in Scandinavia.
Page tried to put the band back together being has he did not want to let those concerts pass by. His first idea was to get a singer so he could write some new material with. His first choice to fill that spot was a guy who Page had come across during his session playing days and was a guy by the name of Terry Reid.
Reid was a session vocalist and guitarist and at the time Page approached him he was already committed to go on a couple of tours supporting The Rolling Stones and Cream. Reid had supported the Stones a couple of years earlier too when he was with his band called the Jaywalkers and because of this commitment he turned Page down.
However it was Reid who did suggest a singer by the name of Robert Plant who was creating quite a stir around my own town of Birmingham even though he was born in black country in West Bromwich. He also told him to check out the drummer John Bonham who could also be found playing around the town of Birmingham even though he was born in Redditch. Both towns are quite close to my own town.
The Londoner Page travelled to Birmingham to seek out Plant and found him singing in a band named the Obs-Tweedle in a college Reid had told him he would find him. Page was immediately impressed by the singer and knew he had found the right man for the job.
Having found the singer for the job Page told Plant of his ideas and invited him to his house in London where they worked on many of the songs that was going to be featured on the band’s debut album. Plant also suggested John Bonham to him has he had played with the drummer in both the Crawling King Snakes and later they both went on to form the New Band Of Joy to which Plant was in the previous incarnation of the band beforehand and before it originally had split up.
Though Bonham took a lot more persuading to join has he was already doing well and was receiving better offers from Joe Cocker and Chris Farlowe to which he was already playing drums for them from time to time.
Both Page and his manger Peter Grant went to see Bonham play for Tim Rose at the Marquee club in London and were convinced he was the right man for the job. It’s also rumoured that Plant had sent 8 telegrams to Bonham and Grant had sent 40 to finally win him over.
Although when Page eventually got Bonham it was not really working out between the two of them simply because Bonham was too loud and quite unruly in the way that everything Page had told him to do, he simply ignored him and carried on doing his own thing.
This even resulted in Page phoning up his manager Grant to tell him it was not working out between him and the drummer and he was gonna have to let him go and bring in somebody else.
Peter Grant was quite a beast and a very powerful guy who did not let anybody get in his way. He had managed many famous artists way before becoming the last manager of the Yardbirds and knew how to handle himself and the music business. Many people feared him. He spent most of his time handling his business in America.
It’s rumoured that upon hearing the trouble Page was having with Bonham over that phone conversation. That he came over and told Bonham straight. He basically told him if you want to play drums for this band, then you had better buck up your ideas and listen to what Page was telling him to do. Otherwise fuck off now.
Most people thought that the session player John Paul Jones was the first person Page had recruited. But in reality he was the last member to join the band.
It was down to the fact the he had heard Page was putting a band together, that he got in touch with Page and asked if he could be their bass player. It was also alleged that it was his wife was the one to make him to make the phone call in the first place.
Page and Jones had bumped into one another on many occasions during their session days and Page knew he was the right man for the job. Has a matter of a fact Page and Jones were the more professional musicians and more wider known than both Plant and Bonham. Both of the latter two were only really known in Birmingham at the time and not really beyond it.
Most musicians back in those days from Birmingham only became more known by travelling to London to play at the clubs there. It was the place to be if you really wanted to make a name for yourself. It was also the place were most people in the music business could spot potential and talent a mile off. so the chances of making it meant that you had to travel to London.
The band Black Sabbath were perhaps one of the exceptions and actually became famous for playing in their own town of Birmingham. Not many did what they did to get noticed. But even both Plant and Bonham and many others in Birmingham felt they was a laughing stock at the time and would never make it.
Though the band first aired their new material live under the name of the New Yardbirds in 1968. The name of Led Zepplein they already had and intended to change it to, when they finished the set of concerts they still had to play which was originally contracted to the Yardbirds.
The actual name came from a chat Page remembered a few years earlier when he Jeff Beck. Keith Moon and John Entwistle were thinking of putting band together. Moon joked that it would probably go down like a “Lead Balloon” and Entwistle followed up with or a “Lead Zeppelin”.
Page at first chose the name “Lead Zeppelin” and it was his manager Grant who suggested dropping out the “A” from the word “Lead” so it read Led Zeppelin. The rest is history and they certainly made their mark.
The Deluxe Edition Releases…
The Deluxe and Super Deluxe Edition of Led Zeppelin’s 1969 debut album was all newly remastered and released in 2014. They come in the form of 3 different packages to suit your choice. They are as follows:
A Super Deluxe Edition Box Set containing 2 CD’s & 3 Vinyl LP’s. A 72 page album sized book. A replica of the original Atlantic press kit and a Download Card so that you can download the album in high quality audio formats of 96/24 & 48/24. It’s currently priced up on Amazon for £84.99.
A Triple Album Deluxe Edition that contains 3 Vinyl LP’s is currently priced on Amazon at £29.79 for all you vinyl lovers.
A Deluxe Edition that contains 2 CD’s. A 16 page booklet is priced on Amazon at £9.95. This was my personal choice, especially has I have no intention of dragging my Turntable back out of the loft and paying more for the vinyl album.
Incidentally the best way to find these releases on Amazon is via Led Zeppelin’s website. Otherwise you could end up paying something stupid for them or be put off by some of the ridiculous prices private sellers have on there.
The band’s website features all 9 studio albums across the top of the page and by clicking on them you will be able to see the newly remastered Deluxe Editions and by clicking on the link to buy them, it will take you to the right place on Amazon with the best price.
The website is here: http://www.ledzeppelin.com/
So let’s now take a look at the packaging.
The Packaging & Artwork…
The packaging is constructed out of thin cardboard but very slim and neat in the way it is packaged up. It’s a lot slimmer than the packaging that was used for the Definitive Editions that the Yes albums came in, I reviewed last year.
But amazingly works better simply because there are no issues when closing it all up. Because of it’s sleek slender slim design it also takes up less space storing as well, and will take up perhaps half the space of those Yes albums.
The 2 CD’s are housed on both sides of the sleeve and can be retrieved from the top as in the picture above. The pockets they are housed in have a matt coated finish on the inside. For better protection a gloss coating or even a paper sleeve with polyurethane inside would of worked better. But at this price one cannot really complain.
The 16 page booklet is a bit disappointing unless your into pictures of the band. 14 of its pages are only pictures I am afraid and it gives you no information about the time the album was made at all, and the last 2 pages merely gives you the disc information and credits.
The booklet also is stored in a side pocket in the centre of the packaging which does make it a little harder to retrieve unlike the discs. But for what little information you do get here, I can hardly imagine anybody wanting to take it out of its pocket that often :))))).
I thought I should also mention that on the back of the packaging after unwrapping and removing the cellophane it came wrapped in. That there is a square plastic coated sticker on the back has seen in the picture below.
Mine had a crease in it has you can see in the picture here, and it runs across the middle in a diagonal direction in between the track information of the both discs. Whoever stuck it on never did their job right in the first place.
Upon first inspection I thought it was just another piece of cellophane you have to peel off. But when I started to peel it from one of the corners I soon noticed that the white printed words had been printed on the cellophane itself, and not on the back of the cover. So I just stuck it back down to prevent any further damage.
I could of been a bit of a nitpicker and sent it back to Amazon for a replacement. But this is far too minor in reality and I am not like that. Though if the actual cover was ripped. I certainly would of sent it back and wanted a replacement.
To be honest I could of most likely peeled this back and got out the crease. But I was a bit too scared and did not really want to risk damaging it any more.
I felt I should mention it just in case somebody else thinks it’s just a piece of cellophane and makes the mistake of removing it.
LZ 129 Hindenburg
The artwork was chosen by Jimmy Page and was an original photograph taken by Sam Sheer who captured the airships disaster has it burst into flames has it tried to land in New Jersey on the 6th may 1937.
The design of the album sleeve was coordinated by George Hardie who went on to do more work for the bands cover designs. To get the effect that is seen on the albums cover he rendered the original black & white photograph using a Rapidograph technical pen and used a Mezzotint technique.
The photographs of the band that was also featured on the cover was taken by Chris Dreja a former member of the Yardbirds.
Led Zeppelin (2 CD Deluxe Edition) Review…
The 2 CD Deluxe Edition of Led Zeppelin’s debut album was released on the 2nd June 2014. Both Led Zeppelin II & III were released on the same day. Has with all bonus material that comes with most Deluxe Editions that is featured on the 2nd disc. It mainly consists of early and alternative takes, live material and some previously unreleased material and sorts of that kind so to speak.
The 1st disc contains the original 1969 material to which has now been newly remastered by Jimmy Page. I have to say that these recordings on CD are quite remarkable and a hell of a lot better than the CD I brought back in the 80’s.
I would even go as far as to say that it’s that good, I can live and am extremely happy with it. There is also no need to drag my turntable and the original vinyl album out of the loft to make comparisons either.
The 2nd disc contains a live concert from the 10th of October 1969 which they performed at the Olympia in Paris France. It does state that this concert is previously unreleased but I am pretty sure some of it did appear in some of the previous box sets they released, though not in it’s entirety like we have here.
I also dare say there would of been a countless amount of bootlegs of this concert that surfaced over the years too. But those will never match this recording I can assure you. It’s quality and I only wish they would of had the film footage on a DVD to accompany it as well. But that might be wishing too hard.
The concert is some 71 minutes long and is purely awesome. Having checked out all the bonus material that comes with the bands other 8 studio albums in these new Deluxe Editions. This is the only one of them that features a whole live concert and for me personally it makes this Deluxe Edition a genuine must to have for fans alike.
Musicians & Credits…
Recorded between September – October 1968 at the Olympic Studios London. Produced by Jimmy Page. Executive producer Peter Grant. Engineered by Glyn Johns. Cover Design by George Hardie. Back cover photography by Chris Dreja. 2014 Reissue mastering by Jimmy Page.
Jimmy Page: Acoustic & Electric Guitars/Pedal Steel Guitars.
Robert Plant: Lead Vocals/Harmonica.
John Paul Jones: Bass Guitar/Hammond Organ/Backing Vocals.
John Bonham: Drums/Timpani/Backing Vocals.
The Original Album Tracks Review…
The original self titled album Led Zeppelin was released on the 12th January 1969 on Atlantic Records. The album contained 9 tracks and had a total playing time of 44 minutes and 52 seconds. Even though the band had no intention of being commercial by refusing to put out singles and only wanted to make albums. The band were launched into a massive commercial success in America upon the release of their debut album.
Though it was heavily criticised by a lot of the press and not so well received in their own country at the time. The album did peak at number 6 in the UK Album Charts 4 places higher than its peak of number 10 in the US Album Charts.
But no doubt the band had already broke America and the albums release coincided with the bands first North American tour. By July of the same year the album had already reached Gold Status.
Even this 2014 release put them back in the album charts and it peaked at number 7. Today the album has sold more than 8 million copies in the America alone and holds a status of 8 X Platinum there, and this is by far not their biggest selling album.
Having not long read about Marc Bolan and how much he used to brag about his record sales I have to laugh. Because in reality he sold peanuts in comparison to this band. Though I should not knock him cause he was another prolific artist who I liked a lot.
In all fairness even today Jimmy Page can still be quite big headed, and he still thinks Led Zeppelin were the greatest band ever. Even though both Page and Bolan’s egos were high, you certainly cannot deny the success they had and the music they filled so many people’s hearts of joy with.
So without further adieu let’s get down to the album tracks.
Track 1. Good Times Bad Times.
Though the bands manager Peter Grant did not want the band to release singles because it would harm their success and reduce the amount of album sales. America did insist on them releasing the odd single here and there, even though they were never released in their own country back here in the UK.
“Good Times Bad Times” was the only single release off the album in the US and “Communication Breakdown” was the B-Side. To be honest it never really dented the singles charts in America and only reached around the number 80 mark. It was released on the 10th March 1969.
Other singles have materialised of it over the years in many other countries. Some with different B-Sides and even in the form of a 3 track EP. But they came much later and may not of been official releases. But to be perfectly honest I have no idea and just like Led Zeppelin. I am very much an albums man myself.
In many interviews I have seen of Jimmy Page over the years he often says that the sound of Led Zeppelin was something new. Like it had never been done before and they invented it. In my own opinion I honestly do not see his observations of being nothing new or of the sort.
For example take this opening track on the album “Good Times Bad Times” and just listen to what we have here. For starters the album has that typical 60’s sound with the reverb applied to the drums.
Has for the song itself it’s no different to listening to what Deep Purple was doing the year before when they released “Hush” and many other bands like Cream and Jeff Beck was doing for that matter. It’s a combination of the blues and rock n’ roll for Christ’s sake and nearly everybody was at it :)))))).
At this point in the bands career they was certainly more blues based than the harder edge they had on their follow up album that was to come. No doubt the band were very good musicians though, and had one hell of a singer with a rock voice. In my opinion the very best rock singer.
“Good Times Bad Times” is a great song but not one I would consider a contender for the top spot on the album.
Track 2. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.
Now we come to one of the stand out tracks on the album and here we can certainly see the quality this band really had, and yes they do stand out from the crowd here I have to say. The song has great progression and the combination of acoustic and electric guitars adds to the melancholy and more raunchier rock side of the band to which they was superb at doing. Plant’s voice on this track is to die for.
Led Zeppelin no doubt back in these days were well known for ripping off other peoples songs, and Plant never contributed any lyrics to this debut album at all. Some of the songs on this album were originally credited to them as the sole writers and those credits have been changed over the years since they got found out.
“Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” was not quite one of those songs and Page had originally heard it performed by Joan Baez and got the inspiration to do his own version from her. Though Baez did not claim she wrote the original lyrics and even thought they were traditional lyrics from an unknown writer.
Later on it was discovered that the original song was written by Anne Bredon in the 50’s was an American folk singer back then. Originally the music was credited to Page and the words traditional. Since back then it’s now credited to Bredon & Page.
“Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” is my personal favourite track on the album and merits my top album spot award.
Track 3. You Shook Me.
A very long version of a cover song the band done in typical blues style. Though the song was originally written by Willie Dixon and J. B. Lenoir who were musicians themselves and more popular in Chicago in the US. It was also covered by many other blues artists such as Muddy Waters. Howlin Wolf and all those. Even Jeff Beck covered it come to think of it.
I quite like Jones Hammond playing on this one, and Plant’s job on the harmonica too. Though I would not say that their version was really any better than the many others who did it on that score. It’s certainly more raunchier and rocked up I suppose, but I can also be a stickler for authentic blues too.
It’s very hard to do a cover better than the original artist in the first place. But the band do OK with this one.
Track 4. Dazed and Confused.
The rocker of the album this one and one that Page originally wrote whilst he was still with the Yardbirds. That band even rehearsed it in the studio though it was not as well developed as this version with this line up, and they never played it live with the Yardbirds. It was one that Page held back for his future plans.
For many this may well be seen as the best track on the album and it’s has to be a very high contender for the top spot as well being the rocker I am myself. It’s also a song that Page uses a violin bow on his guitar strings, and this is something he also did whilst playing with the Yardbirds.
It was not just something new he introduced in the band that was to become Led Zeppelin. Though no doubt he had further developed the technique of using the bow with them. He got the original idea from the actor David McCallum’s father who was a session player violinist and gave him the bow and told him to try it out.
Page used his Fender Telecastor and his violin bow and recorded the song in one take just has he had played it with the Yardbirds when he first wrote it. It’s even said that Plant had changed some of Page’s original lyrics for the song, but this has never been proven to be the case and is a controversy.
Although on the original album the song had been credited solely to Page he was in fact inspired from another American songwriter and folk singer who went by the name of Jack Holmes and heard him play his acoustic song he had entitled “I’m Confused” whilst in New York.
These days it is rightly credited to Page and bears the words “inspired” by Jack Holmes. The song became a showcase for the bands live shows.
Track 5. Your Time Is Gonna Come.
“Your Time Is Gonna Come” is another quality well written song on the album. The pipe organ intro played by Jones is quite skilful and very reminiscent of Rick Wakeman’s playing with Yes. It was at this stage that Page had brought a Fender Pedal Steel guitar and learned to play it. It’s also used to very good effect on this song.
The song was only ever performed live at those early Scandinavian gigs under the name of the New Yardbirds they was contracted to play and finish. A snippet of the song was also performed live later on, and was used in the medley sometimes on “Whole Lotta Love“. Page also go to perform it live with the Black Crowes in 1999.
It’s a really great song that both Page and Jones penned, and is another contender for the top spot on the album.
Track 6. Black Mountain Side.
A most beautiful acoustic instrumental piece written by Page that he played on a borrowed Gibson J-200 acoustic guitar he had tuned to D♭ – A♭ – D♭ – G♭ – A♭ – D♭ to simulate the sound of a sitar. The piece is accompanied by some superbly well executed tabla drums played by Viram Jasani a very well respected Indian musician.
The piece was influenced by “White Summer” to which he had played and recorded earlier with the Yardbirds. It was also said to be inspired by a traditional Irish folk song entitled “Down To The Black Waterside” the guitar arrangement closely follows Bert Jansch’s version of that song. It was Al Stewart who taught Page how to play that song back in 1967 when Page played as a session player on Stewart’s debut album Bedsitter Images.
It’s perhaps hard to even think how an acoustic track such as this could of ended up on the bands album when they had such a great singer. But this little ditty is a pure Gem and could even be another contender for the top spot on the album. It really is gorgeous.
Track 7. Communication Breakdown.
Another one of the bands great rockers that they played live a lot and was first played whilst they was still under the name of the New Yardbirds. It was often used as an anthem in this early stage and was rivalled by “Whole Lotta Love” which followed on their next album.
The song came from a hammering guitar riff Page delivered in the spirit of Eddie Cochran and was penned by Page, Jones and Bonham and not by Page and Plant as many believed. The song is quite short on the album, but with many of their songs they could stretch them out way longer when performed live on stage.
Page’s downstroke rapid guitar riff was also an inspiration later on for the Ramone’s guitarist Johnny Ramone. It’s a great song to belt out and good fun.
Track 8. I Can’t Quit You Baby.
Another blues cover penned by Willie Dixon who Plant was very much a fan of. Plant’s voice works a treat on this classic and Page goes to town on his Les Paul. Bonham’s bass pedal works like a jack hammer. The whole band do the business on the song and certainly made it their own to some extent.
Track 9. How Many More Times.
The final track on the album is the longest weighing in at hefty 8 and half minutes. It’s credited to Page, Jones and Bonham. Though back then Plant was later credited too ASCAP credits but has Plant never contributed any lyrics to this album he has once again been removed from the writing credits.
Even though it was written by the above they did do a bit of stealing and just as Plant sings “Steal away” they certainly did and added “The Hunter” which was penned by Carl Wells and some of the members of Brooker T & The MG’s whilst they writing songs for Stax Records. The song was made popular in 1967 by Albert King. Though they only used a quotation from that song.
Page originally started work on the song whilst he was with the Yardbirds has he did with quite a few of the songs, and had some bits and pieces of it he had pieced together. There maybe even some influences from Jeff Becks “Bolero” which was originally inspirered by Ravel’s “Bolero” to which Page mainly wrote whilst he was with Jeff Beck. John Paul Jones. Keith Moon and Nicky Hopkins making the record back in 1966.
The song was played live in the earlier years of Led Zepplin’s carer and later dropped from their live performances. It’s another great song and rounds off the album very well.
To sum up this 2014 remastered Deluxe Edition of Led Zeppelin’s self titled debut album. I can honestly say it’s an excellent purchase in many ways. Firstly the recordings are really superb and freshen up your desire to listen to this great band again. Secondly the bonus disc presents you with a superb live concert which you never had before, and makes it even more worth buying it. For it’s price point of £10 for a double CD it’s an absolute steal and a genuine bargain.
Has debut albums go Led Zeppelin got off to a flying start especially in America which was down to their manager Peter Grant who was mainly based over there. It’s rumoured that Grant could not even get the band signed up to a record company here in England. Which is why they wound up being signed to Atlantic Records in the first place.
Peter Grant may have looked and acted like a gangster at times. But he was genuinely an honest business man who only wanted what was deemed as right for the artists he had under his belt. He would even take on the Mafia and risk his own life in the process in doing so. He was without doubt one of the best guys in the music business. He was often referred to as being the bands 5th member and quite rightly too.
Jimmy Page was also a man with the right head on his shoulders with everything he had picked up and learned about the music business during his days has a session player. He too knew the business like the back of his hand, and he knew what was best for the band.
I would not say that Led Zeppelin broke the mould when they made this particular album, but it was the start of something that was to become much bigger and no doubt in their heyday they did become one of the biggest and most successful bands in the world.
There is no doubt the success of the band went to Jimmy Page’s head and his ego is still as large as life today. In a more recent interview of him from last year I watched on YouTube. He stated that this album was where it all started and writing 8 tracks of our own for their debut album out of the 9 and only having one cover on it was a major achievement.
Well that statement is of course false and his ego is either too large or he is going senile in his old age. because only 6 of the 9 tracks on this album was genuinely written by him and the band. But of course the band have been had several times for plagiarism over the years, but there is no doubt that when the band do make a song, they more or less make it their own regardless.
To conclude my review of the bands self titled debut album. I would say that it’s near enough a solid album, and there is nothing here that I do not like on it. It’s an album that still holds up well today and can give you complete satisfaction and even more with this Deluxe Edition release.
Has for the band they was perhaps more blues based at this stage of their career. They showed some hard edge on some of the tracks and the highlights of the album for me personally are as follows: “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You“. “Dazed and Confused“. “Your Time Is Gonna Come” and “Black Mountain Side“.
Is there such a thing as the greatest band in the world. Personally I do not think so. The only way there could possibly be such a thing is if an individual person only collected the music of one band only. Then that maybe the best band in the world. But it would only be to that one person I am afraid.
My own music collection consists of many bands and artists and just like Led Zeppelin they too can make terrific albums. For me Led Zeppelin maybe the greatest one week and the next week it would be somebody else like Yes or whoever else I am listening to at the time. I am pretty sure it’s the same for all of us.
But no doubt Led Zeppelin did make a big impact on people’s lives back in their day, and they will also go down in history for sure. They certainly rocked my boat, but I have to confess it took me awhile for them to do so, and you can read all about that in my next review of the bands 2nd album.
I Got To Ramble, Oh Yeah…
The album track listing is as follows:
01. Good Times Bad Times. 2:47.
02. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You. 6:42.
03. You Shook Me. 6:28.
04. Dazed and Confused. 6:28.
05. Your Time Is Gonna Come. 4:34.
06. Black Mountain Side. 2:12.
07. Communication Breakdown. 2:30.
08. I Can’t Quit You Baby. 4:42.
09. How Many More Times. 8:29.
01. Good Times Bad Times / Communication Breakdown (Live in Paris, 1969). 3:52.
02. I Can’t Quit You Baby (Live in Paris, 1969). 6:41.
03. Heartbreaker (Live in Paris, 1969). 3:49.
04. Dazed and Confused (Live in Paris, 1969). 15:01.
05. White Summer / Black Mountain Side (Live in Paris, 1969). 9:19.
06. You Shook Me (Live in Paris, 1969). 11:55.
07. Moby Dick (Live in Paris, 1969). 9:21.
08. How Many More Times (Live in Paris, 1969). 11:14.