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Thread: Help me understand Led Zeppelin?

  1. #26
    Member since March 2004 mozo-pg's Avatar
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    My favourite is Houses Of The Holy.

  2. #27
    Member Koreabruce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sputnik View Post
    They're so much more than a blues rock band. Yeah, their stuff is often rooted in the blues and some of it is pretty straight blues. But they go way beyond that, even in the earlier albums, and more-so in the later albums. Not "Prog Rock," in my book, but they often dabbled with elements that Proggers used which give them a scope that a lot of harder edged bands in the 70s lacked. You may not like Zeppelin, but even a non-fan can't write them off as simply a "good blues rock band."

    But to me, the thing that keeps me returning to Zeppelin is their mastery of rock & roll swagger. Nobody had it like Zeppelin. Nobody. They have the tunes, but the tunes have an attitude that is palpable. They have enough to feed your head, but never lose lose sight of punching you in the gut like rock & roll is supposed to. It's a combination so few bands really master, and Zeppelin mastered it for virtually their entire career. If their stuff doesn't get your blood up, I don't know what to say, other than you're probably listening too much with your ears and not enough with your gut.

    Crank it up and enjoy it, and stop worrying about Plant's voice. Enjoy that he's giving it everything he had!

    Bill
    I was going to respond, but Bill did it for me. Thanks Bill!

  3. #28
    Estimated Prophet notallwhowander's Avatar
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    I've tried to start this off a few different times and wound up in cliched language every time. Led Zeppelin is visceral, and I think you either connect with the music on a visceral level or you don't connect at all.

    Listen to this:


    The drummer pounds out an unrelenting rhythm, really driving the whole thing like a fucking steam engine. The bass locks in, giving the beat swagger and boogie, now you could dance. The guitar follows behind, almost relaxed in comparison, like a caboose swinging back and forth, barely keeping on the tracks. It rolls and rolls on top of the rock. So the whole thing manages to be both intense and laid-back. It's just so damn cool. Then Plant is crying out how he's lonely, and all things he's longing for, giving a narrative to the intensity of the music; and the whole thing is tight!

    This is the band firing on all cylinders. This is Led Zeppelin at their most visceral. While there are other aspects to their sound, start here. It's the visceral connection that makes the whole thing go.
    Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world.

  4. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Sturgeon's Lawyer View Post
    But I want to understand the phenomenon that surrounds them, why so many people think they are the peak of rock'n'roll. So please help me understand.


    So ... just what is it about this band that makes people think of them so highly? They seem like a pretty good blues-rock band.
    It was the trousers... seriously though for me they checked all the boxes of what a teenager was looking for at that time (early to mid 70's) Loud R&R.. Page laid down some tasty licks on several of their albums.. I never took the lyrics seriously and other than photos in pop magazines I never really knew what the band looked like live till seeing TSRTS movie at a midnight showing after it was released. Of course a lot of that movie was over the top.. but (someone will chime in here how it was shot without an audience) I always like the live album..

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sputnik View Post
    They're so much more than a blues rock band. Yeah, their stuff is often rooted in the blues and some of it is pretty straight blues. But they go way beyond that, even in the earlier albums, and more-so in the later albums. Not "Prog Rock," in my book, but they often dabbled with elements that Proggers used which give them a scope that a lot of harder edged bands in the 70s lacked. You may not like Zeppelin, but even a non-fan can't write them off as simply a "good blues rock band."

    But to me, the thing that keeps me returning to Zeppelin is their mastery of rock & roll swagger. Nobody had it like Zeppelin. Nobody. They have the tunes, but the tunes have an attitude that is palpable. They have enough to feed your head, but never lose lose sight of punching you in the gut like rock & roll is supposed to. It's a combination so few bands really master, and Zeppelin mastered it for virtually their entire career. If their stuff doesn't get your blood up, I don't know what to say, other than you're probably listening too much with your ears and not enough with your gut.

    Crank it up and enjoy it, and stop worrying about Plant's voice. Enjoy that he's giving it everything he had!

    Bill
    I guess I'd third this.
    Some info about which similar-enough (bluesy hard rock) bands you like would've helped, for a reader to find out whether you maybe don't generally enjoy 'bluesy hard rock' in the first place (??), in which case your interest in "understanding" is maybe for that sort of music rather than LZ in particular. For example, if you don't care much for
    pre-90s (especially pre-80s) Deep Purple either (see: especially the Made In Japan album), maybe it's that sort of subgenre not LZ you're thinking of. I have no idea. Millions enjoyed LZ w/o analyzing it, I'd say just listen, is all you might find sufficient. Also I guess I could sit down and analyze various LZ music to bring out its traits but I'm being lazy, sorry.

  6. #31
    Can someone help me understand how can anyone listen to the Rain Song or Ten Years Gone without getting goosebumps?

  7. #32
    Thank you all for your input. (I too greatly prefer The Who.)

    I will give some of the later stuff a listen.

    Notall - I am of course familiar with "Rock and Roll," and consider it the best song by LZ I have ever heard - that opening drum riff is iconic and brilliant.

    Jed - Your juxtaposition of "Stairway to Heaven" with "Hotel California" is apt. I HATE both those songs. (The only Zep song that turns me off worse is the grotesque penis-worship of "Whole Lotta Love.")

    Spyros - I will check out "When The Levee Breaks," with which I am unfamiliar.

    I'll also check out "How the West..." since they seem to work better for me live.

    To all who said "if you don't like it, you don't", yes, that's true, and it's been my position for years; but now, I want to understand what it is I'm not liking. Who knows; I may end up liking it.
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  8. #33
    cunning linguist 3LockBox's Avatar
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    Beyond those first two albums, I like the variety that they brought to each album. Had they stuck with the same formula and kept making the second album over and over again I would have probably burnt out on them. But then again, there might be those who think they did make the same album over and over again.

    I personally don't believe that Led Zeppelin were the pioneers that people make them out to be. Jimmy Page was a businessman as well as a great rock guitarists. He always had his ear to the ground with regards to popular music and strove to make music that would sell. He plied his trade in the blues at first and then on their 3rd album struck out into folk territory because of that trend. By the time they recorded LZ4 they had really hit their stride as songwriters, especially Plant as a lyricist. HotH was a mix of every possible type of music of its time and somehow was a very cohesive work and still definitively Led Zeppelin. Physical Graffiti may have been an amalgamation of studio leftovers but it's a collection of what made Led Zeppelin great, not to mention a collection of their last great works.

    I think that by time In Through the Out Door came out they'd grown weary of each other. I believe signs of strain first showed up on Presence actually. There were some great songs on their last album proper but as Coda displayed there was a lot of work that was comparatively feeble left in the can that otherwise might never had seen the light of day.

    After the album Physical Graffiti I think the band existed on reputation and myth. Had anyone else but Led Zeppelin made albums like Presence or In Through The Outdoor I doubt anyone would revere them at all.

  9. #34
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    ^ Hmm...I think Presence is their 2nd or 3rd best album, and I doubt that I'm alone in that.
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  10. #35
    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    Help me understand why Presence is disliked by so many Zep fans.....

  11. #36
    Jon Neudorf
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    Same holds true for In Through The Out Door. An excellent album that has held up well, IMO.

    Jon

  12. #37
    Led Zep has always been my favorite band. Sputnik sums it up quite well. I love all of their albums from LZ I through Celebration Day. Zeppelin would try anything from funk (The Crunge), folk (Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You), heavy rock (Immigrant Song), Blues (When the Levee Breaks, originally done by Memphis Minnie in 1929, Nobody's Fault But Mine was recorded in 1927 by Blind Willie Johnson), Prog (Carouselambra), Latin (South Bound Suarez), rockabilly (Hot Dog), and so on. Zeppelin introduced me to the blues. They also introduced me to prog as well.

    When asked about technique, Jimmy Page said "Technique doesn't come into it. I deal in emotions". That pretty much sums it up. Zeppelin was all about the feel. Live, they were quite improvisational. Sometimes over indulging but when they were on, as they were much of the 73 and 75 tours there was nothing quite like them.

    Bill
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  13. #38
    cunning linguist 3LockBox's Avatar
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    I think it had two really good songs, Nobody's Fault But Mine and Tea For One, but the rest leave me cold. Everyone seems to like Achilles Last Stand but I find it ponderous.

  14. #39
    I used to be a fan. Haven't been for years.

    Even when I was a fan, I never thought they lived up to their hype.

    Their only song that I still enjoy is, "Achilles Last Stand".

    I was never a fan of the blues, when done by the originators, or the later British bands.

    I never fell for that whole, "3 chords and the truth" hogwash, whether referring to blues or country.
    And if there were a god, I think it very unlikely that he would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence - Russell

  15. #40
    Member Vic333's Avatar
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    They were my favorite band when I was a teen. Haven't listened to them much in the last couple of decades, but every once in a while I'll throw on a piece or two.
    Live, they could really cook, but Page's over indulgent soloing (that I use to love) wears thin real fast.

    Tunes that still float my boat: Kashmir, Achilles, In the Evening, What Is and What Should Never Be, Dancing Days, Ten Years Gone ... Black Dog has nifty little time things.

    Their variety from one album to the next is principally what I found interesting. They seemed to grow and alter their sound as they went along.

  16. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by Vic2012 View Post
    Help me understand why Presence is disliked by so many Zep fans.....
    It's the comparison with Physical Graffiti that makes it look as a step in the wrong direction. Up until Physical Graffiti, you see a band evolving, incorporating new elements in their sound - this is not the case with Presence. Of course it is far from a bad record, Achilles Last Stand, Nobody's Fault By Mine, Tea For One are classics, but the rest of it not so much in my opinion.

  17. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by simon moon View Post
    Their only song that I still enjoy is, "Achilles Last Stand".
    .
    Definitely Zeppelin at their most ambitious.
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  18. #43
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moecurlythanu View Post
    ^ Hmm...I think Presence is their 2nd or 3rd best album, and I doubt that I'm alone in that.
    I concur.
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  19. #44
    Yeah, I think Presence is a damn good record. That one and House Of The Holy are my favorites.

  20. #45
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    Yeah, I think Presence is a damn good record. That one and House Of The Holy are my favorites.
    Same here. Add in IV for the trifecta.
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  21. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by moecurlythanu View Post
    ^ Hmm...I think Presence is their 2nd or 3rd best album, and I doubt that I'm alone in that.
    One of their best for sure IMO.

  22. #47
    Estimated Prophet notallwhowander's Avatar
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    I listened to Led Zeppelin II last night in light of this thread. What I hear is a rock band kicking ass six way to Sunday. It makes me wonder if some of you know shit from good chocolate, but to be fair, you're probably thinking the same of me.

    Grotesque penis worship? Okay, that's one way of putting it. I think it is obvious that you're not making the visceral connection with the music at that point, but rather listening at it in a kind of detached fashion. Of course I made this connection when I was a horny adolescent. Nowadays, the idea of rocking out to "Whole Lotta Love" where anyone but my wife, or other friends who have known me since that age, could witness it is mortifying. I try hard for middle-aged respectability now. But this is who I am, and the connection to that song is still part of me as my youth is still part of me. I can see that others approaching this music would find it embarrassing. As a horny adolescent, I found the music brilliant: a whole palette of sound, words, and emotions that the expressed feelings I had that nothing else really expressed, or at least didn't express it so well. It helped me toward a practiced sexual confidence.

    This is why I wouldn't measure Led Zeppelin against The Who, or The Who against Led Zeppelin. They hoe the same row musically, but the emotional palette is different. Led Zeppelin is a lot of mysticism and sexuality. The Who is a lot of alienation and social angst. Both connected with me in profound ways when I was a lad. I honestly revisit Led Zeppelin more than I do The Who, I think because it is a happier place for me.
    Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world.

  23. #48
    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    ^ Good post. Spot on. The First time I heard The Lemon Song I got an erection.

  24. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by Vic2012 View Post
    ^ Good post. Spot on. The First time I heard The Lemon Song I got an erection.
    Did you use an LP or 45 RPM?

    First time I heard "The Lemon Song," I thought of "The Killing Floor."
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  25. #50
    Occipital Provocatee Plasmatopia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by notallwhowander View Post
    I listened to Led Zeppelin II last night in light of this thread. What I hear is a rock band kicking ass six way to Sunday. It makes me wonder if some of you know shit from good chocolate, but to be fair, you're probably thinking the same of me.

    Grotesque penis worship? Okay, that's one way of putting it. I think it is obvious that you're not making the visceral connection with the music at that point, but rather listening at it in a kind of detached fashion. Of course I made this connection when I was a horny adolescent. Nowadays, the idea of rocking out to "Whole Lotta Love" where anyone but my wife, or other friends who have known me since that age, could witness it is mortifying. I try hard for middle-aged respectability now. But this is who I am, and the connection to that song is still part of me as my youth is still part of me. I can see that others approaching this music would find it embarrassing. As a horny adolescent, I found the music brilliant: a whole palette of sound, words, and emotions that the expressed feelings I had that nothing else really expressed, or at least didn't express it so well. It helped me toward a practiced sexual confidence.

    This is why I wouldn't measure Led Zeppelin against The Who, or The Who against Led Zeppelin. They hoe the same row musically, but the emotional palette is different. Led Zeppelin is a lot of mysticism and sexuality. The Who is a lot of alienation and social angst. Both connected with me in profound ways when I was a lad. I honestly revisit Led Zeppelin more than I do The Who, I think because it is a happier place for me.
    Good points. Your post points to the defining elements and differences that I wanted to mention. Led Zep had a mystique (as has been mentioned on this forum over the years) which would probably not be taken very seriously at all these days, but the '70s were a different time, culturally. And, mystique or no mystique, LZ tunes had some sort of a signature vibe that ran through most all their tunes (which is surprising given the diversity of styles) that no one else truly replicated, IMO (or as far as I'm aware). It was a combination of their songwriting, their image/persona, and (for me) the sounds they were able to put together in the studio. That studio production is a huge part of why their music spoke to me. And that's part of why I don't worry too much about their plagiarism. What they brought to other people's music in the studio was itself an artistic expression.

    Over time I've found the closer they stayed to well-worn blues tropes the less interested I was.

    The Who (I was never really a fan) are an entirely different beast and I'm not sure why they should necessarily be used as a comparison. But their music didn't come across to me as being as "heavy" or dark. In that way they always felt closer to pop than metal.

    Deep Purple too often returned to blues-based stuff for my liking (but I do like their more adventurous stuff).
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