The world of music gained one of its greatest influences 45 years ago. Led Zeppelin’s self-titled debut album, released Jan. 12, 1969 initially garnered bad critical reviews. Fortunately enough, commercial reception was strong enough to allow the band to continue. Led Zeppelin is arguably one of the most influential rock and roll bands ever to exist, so how does its initial effort stand 45 years after its first album’s release?
The album starts off with a punch with “Good Times Bad Times,” a very in-your-face song for the time. Just take a listen to the opening riff and compare it to the other music in the late ‘60s for an idea of how progressive and heavy Zeppelin was from its opening notes. Follow-up song “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” begins another of Zeppelin’s legacy markers: the constant changing of song style while maintaining a distinct and identifiable sound. “Babe” is a Spanish-guitar-influenced ballad building up to a huge ending; it remains one of Zeppelin’s biggest songs. “You Shook Me” continues the ballad style, though it is decidedly more acid rock and bluesy.
The fourth song on the record is likely the biggest to come from it. “Dazed and Confused” has one of the most signature bass lines ever written. Jimmy Page also showcases his progressive guitar style here, performing a solo with a violin bow in lieu of a pick. The song would go on to become a staple of Led Zeppelin’s myriad sold-out live performances. A little further along the album, “Communication Breakdown” closes off the big-influence songs. In a similar vein as “Good Times Bad Times,” this song has a very aggressive riff. Its influence can still be heard in a lot of modern punk music.
I could go on and on about the nuances of each song on this record, but the point would still be the same: this album is phenomenal. It hides its age very well, despite being 45 years old. All modern influence aside, and that in itself is unbelievable, the music on this album remains some of the best music ever written. Spanning an insane variety of musical styles from punk to blues to stadium rock, there are few albums that stand in its place. Many of the others in that list are either by or are influenced by Led Zeppelin. So much music would not be possible without the incredible effort showcased on this album, which earns a 9.5/10. The only deduction there is for the all-too-similar sound of “You Shook Me” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby” despite being placed so far apart on the album. I recommend that any fan of rock listen to this album front to back, the way it was intended, as none of it was released as a single song. Though it may have been made of Led, this Zeppelin certainly flies.
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