Record Machine: Led Zeppelin I

It is a point of pride that my record collection boasts original Zeppelin albums in good to excellent condition. Some albums must be treated with a certain amount of reverence when they lay the groundwork for so many forthcoming bands. Channeling the blues and with Robert Plant’s otherworldly yowl, Led Zeppelin’s first album makes the impending decade of rock possible, and it is likely one of the most important albums I own.

Led Zeppelin I

With just nine songs, Led Zeppelin’s 1969 eponymous debut is a loud, woozy delight. All four members primarily share songwriting credits, though they cover two Willie Dixon songs — “You Shook Me” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby.”

I dig the harmonica.

In 1987, Dixon’s influence on Zeppelin’s sound resulted in an out-of-court copyright settlement for elements used in the song “Whole Lotta Love.” Of course, even the influencers had to be influenced by someone, and in this case, it was a whole lotta Chicago Blues.

As much as Robert Plant is a force of nature, I admit I am most partial to John Bonham’s drumming, so I get why they are hesitant to do too many reunion gigs. Even if Bonham’s son Jason is a perfectly capable drummer, I understand why they feel it is not quite the same.

Take that stoner anthem “Dazed and Confused” — my favorite part is all that drumming in the last two minutes. It has to be so much fun to play:

I admit that Led Zeppelin is not one of my main areas of musical knowledge, though I do have that recent Robert Plant biography by Paul Rees sitting here waiting to be read. From what I’ve seen of his work at Q Magazine, Rees is a thorough and thoughtful interviewer, and I hope to expand my knowledge on Plant and the band. There are certain groups that, even if they are not one of your all-time favorites, it is helpful to know plenty about them in order to better understand the ones that do get played on your stereo. I’ve always really liked Led Zeppelin, and there are certain songs I love, but the whole has never been all-out love.

And yet, you hear songs like “Communication Breakdown,” and you think, how can anyone not like this band?

This song is made to be played loudly and exuberantly. Even my kids, who are suspicious of all my music suggestions, love this song.

So tell me, out of the nine songs on Led Zeppelin I, which is your favorite?

Led Zeppelin I (back cover)Side One

Good Times Bad Times
Babe I’m Gonna Leave You
You Shook Me
Dazed and Confused

Side Two

Your Time is Gonna Come
Black Mountain Side
Communication Breakdown
I Can’t Quit You Baby
How Many More Times

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Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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