I wish I could tell you that I remember when I first heard them, but I can’t. I do remember that in 1969, starting in the middle of my sophomore year of high school, I was crazy about the new band from England called Led Zeppelin.
My guess would be that I first heard Led Zeppelin on the radio since I was a devoted listener in those days to WBCN, 104.1 FM, broadcasting from Boston, Massachusetts.
‘BCN was simply the best Rock radio station ever and they were always premiering a cut from the latest album by all the greatest bands, old and new. So I probably first heard Led Zeppelin beckoning from the black, boxy Philco AM/FM radio that graced my bedside table.
Led Zeppelin’s first LP Led Zeppelin was released on Atlantic Records on January 12, 1969.
I started listening to Led Zeppelin again a few days ago and have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. The thing that really struck me was the dazzling array of guitar sounds that Jimmy Page created and spread across the span of the album’s nine often lengthy tracks. There is the tight metallic crunch of the power chords in “Good Times Bad Times,” the rich, woody acoustic arpeggios of “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” and the thickly oozing, super-saturated lead guitar lines in “You Shook Me.”
I should also mention the swooping Country-tinged pedal steel on “Your Time Is Gonna Come,” the fingerpicked jangle of the DADGAD-tuned acoustic on “Black Mountain Side,” and the echo-soaked, psychedelicized swirl that permeates “How Many More Times.”
But wait! There’s more!
Led Zeppelin is a grand master class in the limitless tonal possibilities of the guitar.
So, what track from Led Zeppelin should I add to this post for your listening pleasure?
After much consideration, I decided on Track 3: “You Shook Me.”
After all the cozy familiarity of listening again to “Good Times Bad Times” and “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” “You Shook Me” took me by surprise.
The first instrumental solo in this slow and luxuriously long Blues is taken by John Paul Jones on the organ! And that organ solo is followed by Robert Plant’s harmonica solo! Then comes Jimmy Page’s guitar solo!
Wow. Hadn’t remembered that.
Listen for yourself!
The musicians of Led Zeppelin were:
- John Bonham: drums, tympani & backing vocals
- John Paul Jones: bass, organ & backing vocals
- Jimmy Page: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, pedal steel guitar & backing vocals
- Robert Plant: lead vocals & harmonica
- Viram Jasani: tabla drums on “Black Mountain Side.”
One last thing that I remember about being a Led Zeppelin fan in a small New Hampshire high school in the winter of 1969 is that no one except me and my good friend, Tom, knew who they were!
Our little secret, of course, did not last for long.