Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin I

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Reviews and Commentaries for Led Zeppelin I

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  • A truly INCREDIBLE import of Zep’s amazing debut with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides – this is very close to As Good As It Gets folks, and on quiet vinyl to boot!
  • Arguably the biggest, clearest and most Tubey Magical Zeppelin album ever recorded, thanks to the engineering genius of Glyn Johns (and production genius of Jimmy Page, who paid for the whole thing out of his own pocket)
  • Just look at the track list – the lucky owner of this LP will be hearing those songs come to life like never before
  • 5 stars: “Taking the heavy, distorted electric blues of Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and Cream to an extreme… But the key to the group’s attack was subtlety: it wasn’t just an onslaught of guitar noise, it was shaded and textured, filled with alternating dynamics and tempos.”

For the real Led Zep magic, you just can’t do much better than their debut — and here’s a copy that really shows you why. From the opening chords of Good Times Bad Times to the wild ending of How Many More Times (“times” start the album and end it too it seems) this copy will have you rockin’ out!

Both sides have THE BIG ZEP SOUND. Right from the start we noticed how clean the cymbals sounded and how well-defined the bass was, after hearing way too many copies with smeared cymbals and blubbery bass.

When you have a tight, punchy copy like this one, Good Times Bad Times does what it is supposed to do — it REALLY ROCKS! With this much life it’s light years ahead of the typically dull, dead, boring copy. The drum sound is PERFECTION.

Drop the needle on Babe I’m Gonna Leave You to hear how amazing Robert Plant’s voice sounds. It’s breathy and full-bodied with in-the-room presence. The overall sound is warm, rich, sweet, and very analog, with tons of energy. Dazed and Confused sounds JUST RIGHT — you’re gonna flip out over all the ambience!

Communication Breakdown sounds superb — the sound of Jimmy Page’s guitar during the solo is shockingly good.

What The Best Sides Of This Legendary British Blues Rock Album Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1969
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Like any Zeppelin album, this music absolutely requires BIG BASS. So many copies are weak in that area, suffering from a lack of weight down low. When some of the deep bass is missing, the tonal balance shifts upwards and the sound can become upper midrangey and bright. When you get a copy without the kind of big, meaty bottom end a track like Dazed and Confused demands, you’ll be left cold — just as we were from all the second rate copies we heard this time around.

Engineering

There’s a reason the first Zeppelin album is one of the two best they recorded: it’s engineered by Glyn Johns, one of the greats.

(The other killer Zep recording is of course Led Zeppelin II, by far the best thing Eddie Kramer and Andy Johns, Glyn’s younger brother, ever did.)

It was only about 2000 or so that we discovered what an amazing engineer (and producer) Glyn Johns is. A Hot Stamper of the first Eagles album (his masterpiece) on the original Asylum White Label blew my mind, produced and engineered by none other, so I quickly started looking around for other records he might have had a hand in.

The list was long: Who’s Next. Let It Bleed. Sticky Fingers (the best sounding Stones album). On The Border (my personal favorite Eagles album). Led Zeppelin’s debut (my favorite Zep LP). A Nod Is As Good As A Wink. All his.

What We’re Listening For on Led Zeppelin’s Debut Album

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt — Glyn Johns in this case — would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

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

AMG 5 Star Rave Review

Led Zeppelin had a fully formed, distinctive sound from the outset, as their eponymous debut illustrates. Taking the heavy, distorted electric blues of Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and Cream to an extreme, Zeppelin created a majestic, powerful brand of guitar rock constructed around simple, memorable riffs and lumbering rhythms. But the key to the group’s attack was subtlety: it wasn’t just an onslaught of guitar noise, it was shaded and textured, filled with alternating dynamics and tempos.