CoS Exclusive FeaturesDissected

Dissected: Led Zeppelin

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Welcome to Dissected, where we disassemble a band’s catalog in the abstract. It’s exact science by way of a few beers.

Rock ‘n’ Roll 101: The Beatles are for elementary school. The Rolling Stones for middle school. Led Zeppelin for high school. The Doors for college. Reason being, you’ll learn the meaning of love by second grade, you’ll want to crumple up every piece of your homework around seventh grade, you’ll need to release your angst come sophomore year, and you’ll feel smart enough (and on plenty of drugs) to defend the lunacy of “The End”. Let’s go back to Zeppelin for a minute.

In high school, my friend and former writer of Consequence of Sound, Dave Moser, bought me a two-disc greatest hits collection of Led Zeppelin during our band’s secret Santa. (“Roffman will love this,” he told my drummer, who was then perplexed why he opted for that over some unnecessary Nirvana relic.) The thing never left my car, soundtracking every moment, from the time I peeled away from a few racist Davie boys to the night I drove over to my girlfriend’s house knowing I was going to lose my virginity that night.

Watch Cameron Crowe’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High. (Yes, I understand Amy Heckerling directed the film, but the writing’s all Crowe.) Mike Damone’s advice says it all: “When it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV.” Granted, I was always partial to the second half of Houses of the Holy in those situations, but it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that Led Zeppelin represents the rock ‘n’ roll you’re meant to believe in as a teenager. We’re naive to ignore the musical perfection and hungry enough to enjoy the feels.

For that reason, above all, I can’t dust off Physical Graffiti or III without thinking about long drives, easy nights, and PBJ days. Whether you’ve lived that, are going to, or are currently… the ride is always the same and definitively worth it.

–Michael Roffman

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November 12, 2014 at 1:35 am

Agree on 10 Years Gone. Zeppelin IIl is well before Zep got heavily into drugs, so the notion that it was inconsistent because of drugs is simply wrong. Since I’ve Been Loving You has gorgeous Page licks and dynamics. Immigrant Song is glorious. Achilles Last Stand is brilliant–Presence is a strange album of very different tunes, but they range from brilliant to fun little tracks like Hot Dog. I thought For Your Life was a highlight of the 2007 show. Kashmir is an atmospheric masterpiece–Plant’s favorite Zep tune. On the other hand, Living Loving Maid is simply silly–there is a reason they never played it live–they didn’t particularly like it. And of course, WLL is the King of teenage lust that keeps its charms on a thousand listens. Loved the ’72-’73 medleys they did with this song. And no discussion of Zep should ever omit Dazed and Confused. The Jake Holmes bit is ridiculous–10 notes that sound the same in the abstract do not change the utterly unique power and glory that is that tune. And shorting How Many More Times–with that classic Bonham shuffle before they break into The Hunter–is a sin. Easy to go on, but….

Great, great band–trying new things to the end, with four superb and committed musicians constituting a whole that was even greater than the sum of its parts. I still remember their live shows as absolute mind-and body-blowers. For all the sniping at their supposed “plagiarisms”, I have never heard a band remotely like them, before or since.

Brian Burton (@bmburton13)
June 2, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Man, no mention at all to the masterpiece that is “Ten Years Gone.” Easily my favorite song on my favorite album. That being said I agree with everything said here, although I do love “Sick Again” and can definitely remember how that and “Black Country Woman” start off. Only way to here this record properly is through a needle.


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