Sonic Grade: B
Considering how bad (or at best mediocre) the average copy of the first Zep album sounds, let’s give credit where credit is due and say that Bernie’s remastered version on Heavy Vinyl is darn good (assuming you get a good one, something of course that neither I nor you should assume).
It’s without a doubt the best of all the Classic Zeppelin titles, most of which we found none too pleasing to the ear.
Our Thinking Circa 2010
We like the Classic, albeit with reservations. It’s without a doubt the best of all the Classic Heavy Vinyl reissues of the Zeppelin catalog, most of which are not very good and some of which are just awful.
Why is this one good? It’s tonally correct for one thing, and the importance of that cannot be stressed too strongly.
Two, it actually ROCKS, something a majority of pressings we’ve played over the years don’t.
Three, it’s shockingly dynamic. It may actually be more dynamic than any other pressing we have ever played.
If you aren’t willing to devote the time and resources necessary to acquire a dozen or more domestic and import copies, and you don’t want to spend the dough for one of our Hot Stamper copies, the Classic is probably your best bet.
We would agree now with almost none of what we had to say about this Classic title when it came out back in the day. We’ve reproduced it below so that you can read it here for yourself.
It’s yet another example of a record we was wrong about. Live and Learn, right?
Our (Somewhat Mistaken) Commentary from the ’90s
A Classic Winner! Zep 1 Rocks! Beats my best domestic copy (the former champ) and all the imports I”ve heard (at least 10 I would say), even the expensive Japanese Analog version I used to recommend.
This version is a little (deep) bass shy — 2 or 3 db at 40 helps a lot — but it’s cleaner and more dynamic than any other copy I have heard. Things get loud on this version that never got loud before. And that is, to quote one of my competitors, awesome!
Maybe Bernie trimmed the bass because it’s distorted, which would be a mistake, as the distortion is on the tape and rolling off the bottom end solves nothing. Zep II is the same way, maybe even more so.
Since 90% of all the audiophile systems I’ve ever heard were bass shy, this may not be as obvious as it should be. But Led Zeppelin without much deep punchy bass emasculates the music in such a fundamental way that it’s hard to imagine this album could have much effect on its audience without it.
It’s called head banging music for a reason. Like Wayne, Garth and their buddies driving down the road in Wayne’s World, when it’s really rocking you have an uncontrollable desire to bang your head up and down to the beat, and you need bass to make it rock. No bass, no headbanging.
and we can’t forget this one