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Rock Hall Anniversary: Led Zeppelin’s Debut Album

It was initially panned by critics. Its cover depicted the Hindenberg disaster. But mostly, it was one of the forefronts of the emerging heavy metal sound. It was the self-titled album from Led Zeppelin.

Released n January 1969, the band’s debut album was their mixture of blues and hare rock, with guitarist Jimmy Page at the helm. It was recorded in only 36 hours in a span of a few weeks, but in that brief moment, came the nine tracks that would help define the hard rock sound, that would soon dominate the 1970s.These tracks include “Dazed and Confused” (which showcased Page playing the guitar with a violin bow), “Good Times, Bad Times” (recently heard in the movie American Hustle), and covers of Willie Dixon compositions “You Shook Me” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby”.

Famously, the cover of Led Zeppelin featured a black and white photo of the Hindenberg airship bursting into flames. The image was used as in reference of a joke from Keith Moon, who said Led Zeppelin would “go over like a lead balloon”. The concept would initially be used through Zeppelin’s press advertisements.

When the album finally hit stores in January 1969, it was mostly panned by critics, including those from Rolling Stone, who initially saw Zeppelin as “another hyped-up British supergroup trying to pick up where Cream’s dissolution left off”. But critical reception would tremendously improve over the years, as it would later receive numerous accolades, including being ranked as one of the top thirty greatest albums by Rolling Stone and Q Magazine, and receiving a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. Meanwhile Led Zeppelin started out as a huge success, cracking the top ten on both sides of the Atlantic, spending nearly eighty weeks on the charts, and going on to sell over ten million copies worldwide. The ride of Led Zeppelin has officially begun.

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