Buried On Mars

[Music] Led Zeppelin III – Led Zeppelin (1970)

Collaboration post! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on Led Zeppelin! Each week, we will be reviewing a Led Zeppelin album on our respective blogs! So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!

Read up on my thoughts on:

My history with Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin’s first album

Led Zeppelin’s second album

This week, we look at Led Zeppelin’s third album, Led Zeppelin III (1970)

Story time!

When I was in high school, Christmas Eve night for my family was usually a low-key affair. Back then it usually involved my Mom and Step-Dad going over to his sister’s place for some Xmas cheer, while my sis and I hung out spending a quiet night at home watching a Christmas movie, or going over to my friend Mandy’s. Christmas Eve 1990, I found myself at loose ends; my sister was with the boyfriend, so I tagged along with my parents to my Step-Aunt and Uncle’s. I know to some teens, this would sound lame, but I always enjoyed their company, and my Step-Aunt always made a tasty buffet dinner. The conversation was always lively and there was usually some type of sports, or at least something funny to riff on on TV. My Step-Uncle is a crusty sort who would stand behind his rec room bar and regale us with some hilarious story about teaching French in high school, while I, the only teen in the room among adults, would sit, amused, cross-legged on the floor.

My Step-Cousins, grown young men out of the house at this stage, were long gone, but their mom kept their precious things in the house. So, when I noticed the turntable and stack of vinyl hiding in the dark corner of the rec room that evening, I scooted over to the general direction to the music and just sort of flipped through the records to see what was there. There was a small but respectable collection of about 30 records. I flipped and something familiar caught my eye. WHAAAA…!!??

[flip] Led Zeppelin II.. [flip] Led Zeppelin III…[flip] Led Zeppelin IV…[flip] Houses of the Ho-…

Turn’s out my Step-Cousin Philippe is a massive Led Zeppelin fan!!!

That evening in 1990 was the first time I got to see the gate-folds of these Led Zeppelin records. And Led Zeppelin III was wild, with its spinning psychadelic insert. I hadn’t even listened to it until a year later, when I bought it on CD with Christmas money I received. Philippe and I didn’t commiserate on our fandom until a couple of years later when he returned home for Christmas.

Why is this story important when we discuss Led Zeppelin III? Because, this album was a turning point in my Led Zep listening and consciousness. At this point in my history with the band, I had only Led Zeppelin IV and the Complete box set in my collection (which both lived in my stereo and Walkman). But, from the first *thump thump thump* feedback and Jimmy riff at the start of Immigrant Song, to the serene Friends, the rock of Celebration Day, Jones’ amazing bass work on Out on the Tiles, and the gorgeous classic, Tangerine, the album hooked me in.

Back in 1992-1993 when Led Zeppelin III was my favourite album (and still remains one of my favourites), I went through a period where I wanted to learn to play guitar, thanks in part to my second favourite Led Zep song, That’s the Way. I never learned to play guitar, but the song remains one of the most beautiful ballads I have ever heard. It always catches my breath every time; a haunting tune with a message that most can identify with.  Ever hear the song with headphones? I love how each ear is playing a different melody. As a teen, I couldn’t understand why this song was never popular, nor did it get the props it deserved. I suppose it’s because it wasn’t “loud” enough for radio, and there was no video. I loved That’s the Way so much that when my sister and I came upon a sketchy guy selling bootleg cassettes close to the corner of Richmond and Central in London, ON in July 1993, I was surprised to find a Led Zeppelin bootleg of one concert where That’s the Way had been performed live, and put money down on a Maxell tape of the concert. Man, if you ever needed evidence I was nuts for Led Zeppelin…the recording was not of great quality (it actually sounded like someone recorded the concert from inside their pants pocket, on the moon…). Unfortunately, I no longer have the Maxell cassette thanks in large part to the Moving Purge of 2006 where most of our cassettes (and my Archies) were sent to the Barrie, ON landfill. Regrets: I have a few…

Led Zeppelin III obviously dredges up some great memories for me, and I am so glad the album is still relevant in my life today. It is such an eclectic mix of blues, hard rock and folk, and it all blends well together. In my opinion, it’s pretty well a damn perfect Led Zeppelin album.

5/5

Led Zeppelin III (1970)
Led Zeppelin
Producer: Jimmy Page

Now go read Kevin’s take here

[Music] Led Zeppelin II – Led Zeppelin (1969)

Collaboration post! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on Led Zeppelin! Each week, we will be reviewing a Led Zeppelin album on our respective blogs! So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!

Read up on my thoughts on:

My history with Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin’s first album

This week, we look at Led Zeppelin’s second album, Led Zeppelin II (1969)

I bought my copy of Led Zeppelin II around August 1994 during a visit to my hometown of Sudbury, Ontario. At this time, I was a “starving student” living six hours away in London, Ontario, attending Western U. Back then, I was always looking to save a buck or two, but pretty much spent my disposible income on music (sorry Mom). It was difficult since CDs weren’t cheap. Sometimes you could find some used Led Zep CDs at the local Dr. Disc in London, but that was rare. Forget Sudbury: you were hard-pressed to find ANYTHING on sale up there, let alone used. So when I strolled into Sam the Record Man (RIP) at the Southridge Mall (death imminent lol) and found it on sale for under $10, I took the precious to the counter immediately!

At this point, my Led Zeppelin collection included the Led Zeppelin Complete box set on cassette, Led Zeppelin III, Led Zeppelin IV, Houses of the Holy, Physical Graffiti and Coda on CD. When I acquired Led Zeppelin II, it was mostly a formality as I was pretty familiar with most of the songs from my Led Zeppelin Complete box set. There were just three choice songs that were new to me, namely Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman), the Lemon Song, and Bring It On Home. What was I missing not knowing these songs? Of course, I had to know!

Unlike my review of the first album, I really don’t have anything critical to say about Led Zeppelin II. I will say this: when Kevin suggested we do this series, and I reflected on each album, I couldn’t for the life of me remember from memory what was on this album! It had been a long while since I’ve listened to it in this track listing. Let’s blame the Orange box set for that…the sequence of songs on those cassettes has stuck with me so long that upon re-listening to the album, the track listing seems off.

If there was ever an album to introduce someone to Led Zeppelin’s music, just say, “here” and hand them a copy of Led Zeppelin II. Top to bottom, this album showcases the hard rock blues that Led Zeppelin is known for. Rock greats include, Whole Lotta Love, What is and What Should Never Be and Heartbreaker. They also do the “soft crescendoing into hard rock” really well – Ramble On being one example. The over-processing that I addressed in my review of Led Zeppelin’s first album is not present here. The overdubbing no doubt is, but it’s more subtle, and not on every song. Let’s once again take a look at Ramble On, one of the songs that I think really benefits from Jimmy Page’s love of the reverse echo technique. Just listen to it with headphones on and you’ll hear what I’m talking about; especially the last part at the end when Robert Plant’s voice is transferred from one ear to the other. Quite impressive!

The songs I was less familiar with before purchasing Led Zeppelin II were treats. I wasn’t the least bit disappointed in Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman); an upbeat song about a supposed band groupie, that does get some radio play these days. The lyrics used to slay me: “Alimony alimony, payin’ your bills…when your conscious hits you, knock it back with pills“. Bring It On Home is probably my favourite song on the album, with a great guitar arrangement, hefty drums and a heartbeat bass. Interestingly, I would often include these two songs on my mix tapes back in the day.

Then we have the Lemon Song. When I first saw “the Lemon Song” as a track listing, I immediately thought of my favourite Led Zeppelin song ever, Travelling Riverside Blues, a song that appears on my Complete box set. The ubiquitous lyric “squeeze my lemon” always made me giggle and I imagined the Lemon Song would be a shortened version of my favourite song. Not quite…it does use the famous lyric, but it’s in fact nothing like Traveling Riverside Blues. The song manages to switch tempo mid way leading to the chorus, and the result is an interesting blues track. But if I’m honest, it’s taken me years to enjoy the Lemon Song. It isn’t a favourite of mine, and it just comes down to personal taste, I guess.

Overall, Led Zeppelin II is a pure top-to-bottom great album.

4/5

Led Zeppelin II (1969)
Led Zeppelin
Producer: Jimmy Page

Now go read Kevin’s take here!

[Music] Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin (1969)

Collaboration post! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on Led Zeppelin! Each week, we will be reviewing a Led Zeppelin album on our respective blogs! So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!

This week, Led Zeppelin’s first album, Led Zeppelin (1969)

If you read my last post, you would have discovered my first owned Led Zeppelin album was their fourth album (Led Zeppelin (1971) or Led Zeppelin IV) on cassette in 1990, and I then got the orange box set (Christmas 1990). If we’re talking the first Led Zep album from 1969, named Led Zeppelin, I didn’t even own a copy of it until much much (much) later on in my Led Zeppelin fandom – later, like third year uni later (1996).

Why so late?

I had already owned the Led Zeppelin Complete orange box set, as well as the Led Zeppelin Remasters set (acquired around 1996). Between the two, I owned most of the songs found on this album; why bother buying it? Listening format, baby. My orange box set was on cassette; is that enough of a reason? The Led Zeppelin Remasters was a 3-CD set, and a truncated version of the orange box set containing only 26 songs. I definitely didn’t have every song on CD. And frankly, my box set cassettes were wearing down to nothing from listening to them constantly, so their sound quality was for shite.

When I first bought Led Zeppelin I, and listened to it for the first time, I have to say I was ambivalent about it maybe because I’ve heard most of these songs a million times. Were they good? Bad? It was Led Zeppelin! They were gods in my book. Even the worst song was good, damn it! Yet, I’ve owned the CD for 25 years, and I can honestly say, it wouldn’t be part of my 5-CD carousel of Led Zeppelin music. Could Classic Rock Radio be blamed? Maybe…

Listening to the first Led Zeppelin album today with “fresh ears” and a more mature outlook, I can say this: the album was an ambitious effort of artistry. It’s obvious to me that the band tried really hard to prove their musicianship, and to be authentic, and they succeeded. Good Times Bad Times, the first song on the album, was the first song released commercially, and it really showcases each member’s musical prowress, particularly John Bonham’s ability on the drums. Dazed and Confused, fourth song on the album, is an auditory treat, complete with reverse echo and Page using a violin bow on his guitar. Communication Breakdown is an upbeat rocker with a great Page rif (and is a lot of fun to jam to…). There is also an amazing moment of greatness that I feel should have had more attention, particularly the last song on the album, How Many More Times – a song that isn’t found on either of my boxed compilations and is, in my opinion, a real Tour De Force; this one kicks the door down and lets the rock in!

But, if I am to critique…

Pablo Picasso once said, “Art is the elimination of the unnecessary…to be a painter, you need to know how to paint, and when to stop.” I find Led Zeppelin’s first album suffers a little from being a tad overworked. Led Zeppelin the band were no doubt great musicians. But, to my ears, the album suffers a little from post production overdub-itis (reverse echo 2 the max!) to the point that made me briefly ponder if any song on this album could stand on its own without effects. Perhaps a bad example, but my two least favourite songs on the album are the church-organed Your Time is Gonna Come and the awkward instrumental, Black Mountain Side – two songs that were left au naturel, yet weren’t great either. Does Led Zeppelin need to overwork to be great? Then again on second listen, I Can’t Quit You Baby, the eighth song, used no real effects and the result was an honest and great blues song. Hm.

Although I do find Led Zeppelin’s first album to be a bit unbalanced and tad overworked, it’s still a decent effort with listenability (hey, this album was played four times in a row for this review!). It is not my favourite Led Zeppelin album, but as first albums go it does show potential of what the band are capable of.

3/5

Led Zeppelin (1969)
Led Zeppelin
Produced by Jimmy Page

Now go check out Kevin’s blog!