On January 12th, 1969, a relatively unknown band formed out of the Yardbirds’ ashes and recorded an eponymous debut album. Spearheaded by Jimmy Page, the band was predicted to “go down like a lead zeppelin” by Keith Moon, drummer for The Who.
Fortunately, for fans of any rock genre, Led Zeppelin did not succumb to their predicted fate. Instead, they became rock music pioneers. Led Zeppelin I was unlike anything of its time, cultivating a blues-rock sound with a crisp heaviness. Perhaps it was the combination of Page’s swift blues guitar playing in conjunction with the falsetto of Robert Plant. Perhaps it was the insane drumming of John Bonham or the brilliant musicianship of John Paul Jones.
Whatever it was, Led Zeppelin was a force to be reckoned with. Though they were only active for twelve years, up until Bonham’s death in 1980, the band put out album after album of extremely influential and unequivocally great music.
Now, 50 years later, Led Zeppelin I stands up to the test of time. From the opening chords of “Good Times Bad Times” to the closing notes of the blues saga “How Many More Times,” there isn’t a single dull moment on the whole album. Songs genres bounce from hard rock to deep blues to folky, three styles that the band would embrace throughout their career. Transitions like “Black Mountain Side,” a steel-string acoustic guitar ballad, into “Communication Breakdown,” a fast-paced rocker, immediately showcased this band’s extraordinary talent.
Of course, no discussion of Led Zeppelin I is complete without a mention of “Dazed and Confused.” With its slow, descending bass-line, the song lingers in the mysterious before punching its way into hard rock legend. Add in a guitar solo played with a violin bow, and you have yourself an instant classic.
Where would music be without Led Zeppelin? Fortunately, we don’t have to answer that question. From a band that pioneered hard rock and heavy metal, Led Zeppelin I was the album that started it all.