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Info 101: Musicbits 66: That stuff'll go over like a lead zeppelin

Led Zeppelin I, easily one of the best debut albums ever, is being re-mastered and re-released this June.
Led Zeppelin I, easily one of the best debut albums ever, is being re-mastered and re-released this June.
1969/2014: Atlantic Records: non-free use of cover art to promote product with no intent to compete with or hinder copyright owner in any way.

"LED ZEPPELIN I" (1969; 2014) Atlantic Records, DELUXE EDITION to be released on June 3, 2014.

In the mid-1960s, the Yardbirds released a series of singles, some major hits, some major flops. The band consisted of Keith Relf (vocals), Chris Dreja (guitar), Paul Samwell-Smith (bass) and Jim McCarty (drums). Early on, their primary guitarist was Eric Clapton (1963-1965) who moved on to avoid being trapped in a band setting. Jimmy Page, a friend of the band, recommended Jeff Beck who accepted the job. Innovative and talented, Beck's material stood out among all other guitarists and helped establish the Yardbirds as a major force. Page himself joined the band in late 1965 and within a year, Beck was gone. It was the beginning of the end for the Yardbirds.

In 1966, Samwell-Smith left. As a pre-cursor, John Paul Jones played bass while Dreja learned the instrument. Throughout some disastrous tours and album sales that were dismal at best, the band floundered. McCarty left to join Renaissance Faire in early 1966, followed by the departures of Relf and Dreja. Within a comparatively short time, John Paul Jones took over on bass, John Bonham became the drummer and Robert Plant was hired to sing. This new line-up toured as The New Yardbirds but none of them liked the name. The story goes that the name was coined by either Keith Moon or John Entwhistle (of the Who), one of whom said that "the music will go over like a lead zeppelin". The 'a' was dropped and Led Zeppelin was born.

Jimmy Page and their manager, Peter Grant, paid the expenses themselves for recording the demo for the first album, mostly because Page wanted complete artistic freedom for the sound he wanted for the band. He produced the tracks and they sold them to an enthusiastic team at Atlantic Records. About half of the material had already been developed while on tour prior to the recording sessions which cut down on expensive studio time. All nine tracks were recorded live in studio with very few over-dubs. All in all, the record was ready in days rather than weeks and was released in the spring of 1969.

The album was immediately crucified by most of the critics, including those at Rolling Stone, all of whom concluded that Page had gone quite insane and this had to be a joke. The record-buying public saw it much differently. It was new, brash, fresh, crisply played and highly energetic. Led Zeppelin I sold very quickly, even locally, especially after their concert in Minneapolis in early 1970. They played for nearly two hours and left having exhausted the sell-out crowd. It was a preview into the direction rock and roll would be moving, essentially the complete opposite of the sugary sweet and innocent early days of pop. It was no joke and those critics soon changed their tune, mostly to avoid looking and sounding like complete morons who were afraid to change.

The Deluxe Edition release will be a 2 CD package. Disc 1 will include: "Good Times Bad Times", "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You", "You Shook Me", "Dazed and Confused", "Your Time Is Gonna Come", "Black Mountain Side", "Communication Breakdown", "I Can't Quit You Baby" and "How Many More Times". Disc 2 will feature a previously unreleased concert from Paris in 1969 including "Good Times Bad Times/Communication Breakdown", "I Can't Quit You Baby", "Heartbreaker", "Dazed and Confused", "White Summer-Black Mountain Side", "You Shook Me", "Moby Dick" and "How Many More Times". The package includes a 16 page book. The re-mastering and additional production work is done by Jimmy Page.

There are several package options available including new 180 gram vinyl. Amazon is offering their own pre-order deal right now. The Electric Fetus (4th Av.-E. Franklin Av.) and Cheapo Records (Lake St.-Fremont Ave. S., Mpls.) will also offer excellent deals of their own. This will be the first deluxe edition re-issue that will include all nine Led Zeppelin releases.

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