Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin

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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin
A black-and-white photograph of the Hindenburg
Studio album by Led Zeppelin
Released 12 January 1969
Recorded October 1968
Studio Olympic studios, London
  • Hard rock
  • heavy metal
  • blues rock
Length 44:52
Label Atlantic
Producer Jimmy Page
Led Zeppelin chronology
  Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin II
Singles from Led Zeppelin
  1. "Good Times bad Times / Communication Beakdown"
    Released: 10 March 1969


  "Led Zeppelin" is the eponymous debut studio album by English rock band Led Zeppelin. It was released on 12 January 1969 in the United States and on 31 March in the United Kingdom by Atlantic Records.

The album was recorded in October 1968 at Olympic Studios, London, shortly after the band's formation. It contains a mix of original material worked out in the first rehearsals, against covers and rearrangements of contemporary blues and folk songs. The sessions took place before the group had secured a recording contract and were paid for directly, and took 36 hours and less than £2,000 to complete. The album showed the group's fusion of blues and rock, and their take on the emerging hard rock sound was immediately commercially successful in both the UK and US. Although the album was not critically well-received when first released, critics have since come to view it in a more favourable light.




In July 1968, the English rock band The Yardbirds disbanded after two founder members Keith Relf and Jim McCarty decided to quit the group, with the third, Cgris Dreja deciding to become a photographer shortly afterwards. The fourth member, guitarist Jimmy Page, was left with rights to the name and contractual obligations for a series of concerts in Scandinavia. Page asked seasoned session player and arranger John Paul Jones to join as bassist, and hoped to recruit Terry Reid as singer and Procol Harum's B.J. Wilson as drummer. Reid declined to join but recommended Robert Plant, who met with Page at his boathouse in Pangbourne, Berkshire in August to talk about music and work on new material.

Page and Plant realised they had a good musical chemistry together, and Plant asked friend and former band-mate John Bonham to drum for the new group. The line-up of Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham first rehearsed in September 1968, shortly before a tour of Scandanavia as "The New Yardbirds", performing some old Yardbirds material as well as new songs such as "Communication Breakdown", "I Can't Quit You Baby", "You Shook Me", "Babe I'm Gonna Love You" and "How Many More Times". After they returned to London following the tour, Page changed the band's name to Led Zeppelin, and the group entered Olympic Studios in October to record their debut album.



Page said that the album took only about 36 hours of studio time (over a span of a few weeks) to create (including mixing), adding that he knew this because of the amount charged on the studio bill. One of the primary reasons for the short recording time was that the material selected for the album had been well-rehearsed and pre-arranged by the band on the Scandanavian tour.

Since the band had not yet signed their deal with Atlantic Records, Page and Zeppelin's manager Peter Grant paid for the sessions entirely themselves, meaning there was no record company money to waste on excessive studio time. The reported total studio costs were £1,782. The self-funding was important because it meant they could perform the album exactly as they wanted without record company interference.

For the recordings, Page played a psychedelically painted Fender Telecaster, a gift from friend Jeff Beck after Page recommended him to join the Yardbirds in 1965, replacing Eric Clapton on lead guitar. Page played the Telecaster through a Supro amplifier, and used a Ginson J-200, for the album's acoustic tracks. For "Your Time is Gonna Come" he used a Fender 10-string pedal steel guitar.



Led Zeppelin was produced by Page and engineered by Glyn Johns, both of whom had known each other since teenagers in the suburb of Epsom. According to Page, most of the album was recorded live, with overdubs added later.

Page used a "distance makes depth" approach to production. He used natural room ambience to enhance the reverb and recording texture on the record, demonstrating the innovations in sound recording he had learned during his session days. At the time, most music producers placed microphones directly in front of the amplifiers and drums. For Led Zeppelin, Page developed the idea of placing an additional microphone some distance from the amplifier (as far as 20 feet (6 m)) and then recording the balance between the two. Page became one of the first producers to record a band's "ambient sound": the distance of a note's time-lag from one end of the room to the other.

Because of the live recording, some songs had Plant's vocals bleed onto other tracks. Page later stated that this was a natural product of Plant's powerful voice, but added the leakage "sounds intentional". On "You Shook Me", Page used the "Reverse echo" technique. It involves hearing the echo before the main sound (instead of after it), and is achieved by turning the tape over and recording the echo on a spare track, then turning the tape back over again to get the echo preceding the signal.

The album was one of the first albums to be released in stereo only. Prior to this, albums had been released in separate mono and stereo versions.




The image of the Hindenburg airship seconds after catching fire in 1937, used as the Led Zeppelin album cover.


Led Zeppelin's front cover, which was chosen by Page, features a black-and-white image of the burning Hindenburg airship, photographed by Sam Shere in May 1937. The image refers to the origin of the band's name itself: When Page, Beck and The Who's Keith Moon and John Entwistle were discussing the idea of forming a group, Moon joked, "It would probably go over like a lead balloon", and Entwistle reportedly replied, "a lead zeppelin!"

The back cover features a photograph of the band taken by Dreja. The entire design of the album's sleeve was coordinated by George Hardie, with whom the band would continue to collaborate for future sleeves. Hardie himself also created the front cover illustration, rendering the famous original black-and-white photograph in ink using a Radiograph technical pen and a mezzotint technique.

Hardie recalled that he originally offered the band a design based on an old club sign in San Francisco – a multi-sequential image of a zeppelin airship up in the clouds. Page declined but it was retained as the logo for the back cover of Led Zeppelin's first two albums and a number of early press advertisements. The first UK pressing featured the band name and the Atlantic logo in turquoise. When it was switched to the orange print later that year, the turquoise-printed sleeve became a collector's item.

The album cover gained further widespread attention when, at a February 1970 gig in Copenhagen, the band were billed as "The Nobs" as the result of a legal threat from aristocrat Eva von Zeppelin (a relative of the creator of the Zeppelin aircraft). Von Zeppelin, upon seeing the logo of the Hindenburg crashing in flames, threatened legal action over the concert taking place. In 2001, Greg Kot wrote in Rolling Stone that "The cover of Led Zeppelin … shows the Hindenburg airship, in all its phallic glory, going down in flames. The image did a pretty good job of encapsulating the music inside: sex, catastrophe and things blowing up."


Critical reception

The album was advertised in selected music papers under the slogan "Led Zeppelin – the only way to fly". It initially received poor reviews. In a stinging assessment, Rolling Stone magazine asserted that the band offered "little that its twin, the Jeff Beck group, didn't say as well or better three months ago … to fill the void created by the demise of Cream, they will have to find a producer, editor and some material worthy of their collective talents." It also called Plant "as foppish as Rod Stewart, but nowhere near so exciting". Because of the bad press, Led Zeppelin avoided talking to them throughout their career. Eventually, their reputation recovered by word of mouth as a good live band.

Rock journalist Cameron Crowe noted years later: "It was a time of 'super-groups', of furiously hyped bands who could barely cut it, and Led Zeppelin initially found themselves fighting upstream to prove their authenticity."

However, press reaction to the album was not entirely negative. In Britain the album received a glowing review in Melody maker. Chris Welch wrote, in a review titled "Jimmy Page triumphs – Led Zeppelin is a gas!": "their material does not rely on obvious blues riffs, although when they do play them, they avoid the emaciated feebleness of most so-called British blues bands". In Oz, Felix Dennis regarded it as one of those rare albums that "defies immediate classification or description, simply because it's so obviously a turning point in rock music that only time proves capable of shifting it into eventual perspective." In comparing the record to their follow-up Led Zeppelin II, Robert Christgau wrote in The Village Voice that the debut was "subtler and more ambitious musically", and not as good, "because subtlety defeated the effect. Musicianship, in other words, was really incidental to such music, but the music did have real strength and validity: a combination of showmanship and overwhelming physical force."

The album was a commercial success. It was initially released in the US on 12 January 1969 to capitalise on the band's first North American concert tour. Before that, Atlantic Records had distributed a few hundred advance white label copies to key radio stations and reviewers. A positive reaction to its contents, coupled with a good reaction to the band's opening concerts, resulted in the album generating 50,000 advance orders. The album reached number 10 on the Billboard chart. The album earned its US gold certification in July 1969.



Retrospective professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars
Blender 4/5 stars
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars
MusicHound Rock 4/5
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars
Sputnikmusic 3/5

The success and influence of the album is today widely acknowledged, even amongst publications that were initially sceptical. In 2006, Rolling Stone commented on the originality of the music, and their heavy style, comparing them to Cream, Jimi Hendrix, the MC5 and the Stooges, but reiterated that they had mass appeal.

Led Zeppelin was credited by Stephen Thomas Erlewine for marking "a significant turning point in the evolution of hard rock and heavy metal". According to arts and culture scholar Michael Fallon, the album "announced the emergence of a loud and raw new musical genre" in metal. The BBC described it as "a product of the 1960s whose often bombastic style signposted a new decade", while Sheldon Pearce from Consequence of Sound regarded it as Led Zeppelin's "ode to rock's progressive metamorphosis" and "the first hard rock domino" for their future accomplishments: "Its orchestration delves adventurously through hard rock and heavy metal with bluesy undertones that often cause the chords to weep poignantly as if struck with malice". The album was described as a "brilliant if heavy-handed blues-rock offensive", by popular music scholar Ronald Zalkind. Martin Popoff argued that while the album may not have been the first heavy metal record, it did feature what was more likely to be the first metal song in "Communication Breakdown", "with its no-nonsense machine gun between the numbers riff".

In 2003, VH1 named Led Zeppelin the 44th greatest album of all time. The same year, the album was ranked 29th on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time an accompanying blurb read: "Heavy metal still lives in its shadow." In 2004, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of fame.



Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
The Times United Kingdom "The 100 Best Albums of All Time" 1993 41
Rolling Stone United States The Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 2003 29
Grammy Awards United States Grammy Hall of Fame 2004 *
Q United Kingdom "The Music That Changed the World" 2004 7
Robert Dimery United States 1001 Albums You Must hear before You Die 2006 *
Vlassic rock United Kingdom "100 Greatest British Rock Album Ever" 2006 81
Uncut United Kingdom 100 Greatest Debut Albums 2006 7
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame United States The Definitive 200 2007 165
Q United Kingdom 21 Albums That Changed Music 2007 6
Rolling Stone United States Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 2012 29

* denotes an unordered list




Track listing

Standard edition

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Good Times Bad Times"
  • Jimmy Page
  • John Paul Jones
  • John Bonham
2. "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You"
  • Anne Bredon
  • Page
  • Robert Plant
3. "You Shook Me"
  • Willie Dixon
  • J.B. Lenoir
4. "Dazed and Confused" Page, inspired by Jake Holmes 6:28
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
5. "Your Time Is Gonna Come"
  • Page
  • Jones
6. "Black Mountain Side" (instrumental) Page 2:12
7. "Communication Breakdown"
  • Page
  • Jones
  • Bonham
8. "I Can't Quit You Baby" Dixon 4:42
9. "How Many More Times"
  • Page
  • Jones
  • Bonham













Taken from the sleeve notes.

Led Zeppelin

  • John Bonham – drums, timpani, backing vocal
  • Robert Plant – lead vocal, harmonica
  • Jimmy Page – electric, acoustic and pedal steel guitars, backing vocal, production
  • John Paul Jones – bass, organ, backing vocal

Other musician

  • Viram Jasani – tabla on "Black Mountain Side"

Other personnel

  • Chris Dreja – back cover photography
  • Peter Grant – executive prodution
  • George hardie – cover design
  • Glyn Johns – engineering, mixing



Weekly charts



Year Single Chart Position
1969 "Good Times Bad Times" US Billboard Hot 100 80



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA) 2× Platinum 140,000^
Argentina (CAPIF) Gold 30,000^
Canada (Music Canada) Diamond 1,000,000^
France (SNEP) Gold 210,875
Italy (FIMI) Gold 50,000*
Netherlands (NVPI) Gold 50,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE) Platinum 100,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland) Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) 2× Platinum 600,000^
United States (RIAA) 8× Platinum 8,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone





Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin

UK Atlantic K 40031 stereo (1974).

This record for sale is the 1974 re-issue of the album first released in 1969.

The vinyl record attains a strong excellent grading, suggesting few plays.

Audio quality is very clear and strong throughout.

Both record centre labels are clean, unmarked, and free from tears, stains or stickers.

The albums laminated cover is in excellent condition, displaying only minimal signs of wear.

The album cover has a strong, undamaged spine, displaying very clear, printed script.

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