The 1st album I ever bought was Led Zeppelin III. Okay, I did not in fact purchase it. I was still too young to handle cash. I pilfered it off my older brother. He was too involved in Houses Of The Holy to notice anyways. Alas, LZIII was indeed the first album I chose to acquire for myself. Every other piece of music up until that point had been passed into my ready and waiting hands and ears by my dad. This time, it was a concerted choice, and here I will tell you why it was worth being so determined to obtain the record by covert means. Picture dark rooms and headphones when everyone else was asleep.
1st off. They called it Led Zeppelin III, NOT Led Zeppelin 3. I believe that this was a true sign of intelligence. A sign that these boys were educated, because they cared about the distinction. There’s just a cool, ancient sophistication that’s conveyed with symbols. Then there’s the artwork, which feels more like an installation piece, designed by a college buddy of Sir Page who goes by the name of Zacron. Before I so much as dropped the needle, I studied the artwork extensively, with as much diligence and wonder as I did the album itself. I mean come on, a wheel behind the front panel that you manually spin to reveal each band member’s face juxtaposed brilliantly with psychedelic flight and aviation imagery? Tying in “Zeppelin.” Who does that? Who thinks of that? It’s a toy.
Spin the LZIII wheel here: http://discography.ledzeppelin.com/disc_lz3.html
Now, the main reason I loved this record right off the bat is that it kicked me hard in the gut. In such a way that the pain felt good. At a young time when I knew little of pain. It is so tough and dark, unintentional and loose, natural and glorious all at once. A beautifully juvenile and innocent sense of rock n’ roll.
It’s a true album in that it’s one long experience. That’s how it’s meant to be listened to. Not as background music or little individual pieces. Each song flows into the next seamlessly, like each is an extension of the future and of the past respectively. This fact currently helps significantly dull out the intense hum and crackle I’m currently experiencing on my record player as I take a few re-listens.
There’s so many things I could say about Robert, about Jimmy, John Paul and John. But to me it’s more the combination of all of them together that creates the overall grandeur.
I will single out the drums though.
The crazy counter rhythms that sneak up on you just when you thought you could settle in. You’re thrown off. They suck you back in just at the right moment. You’re held.
It was only later in life that I discovered and appreciated the incredible situation, circumstance and manner in which these songs were recorded. In 1970 the band resided in a remote 18th century countryside cottage to compose LZIII, known as Bron-Yr-Aur, in Gwynedd, Wales, on a hilltop overlooking the Dyfi Valley, three miles north of the market town Machynlleth. It had no running water or electricity (Wikipedia). One day John Bonham received a drum kit delivery. Before the delivery man had the chance to vacate, before anyone could say boo, or jostle anything around, JB sat down and played the shiz out of them drums. Right then, right there. The drums remained in that vestibule, at the base of the grand, cascading staircase, for the entirety of the recording process. Mega massive.
Walk to the Bron-y-aur cottage here: http://discography.ledzeppelin.com/disc_lz3.html
Notice the drums are mixed louder than anything else on the record? Could be my headphones, but they’re up there. Particularly in “Out On The Tiles,” they even dare to pan the drums so that they sweep from side to side.
When I was writing Of The Valley, I took a moment one day to learn how to sample. I ripped 4 bars, in the most basic technical way possible, of a drumbeat from one of these LZIII songs, looped it, and it became the foundation for my demo of OTV’s opening track “Control.” Can you guess it?
Now, to follow along here is a matter that requires pulling out the actual record and listening to it again for the first time. I encourage you to do so. Or you can listen to the full album from the Youtube link above. Here are the biggest moments for me:
Anyone who starts an album with a wail like that can sit at my dinner table any night of the week.
The acoustic guitar here completely informed and inspired the way I play guitar.
Also love the open tuning. Love the swaying, arabesque intro strings.
The rhythmic gallop between all members.
“My my my I’m so happy I’m gonna join the band”
Yeah! I’m gonna do that too.
Since I’ve Been Loving You:
Jimmy’s opening notes
The epic duration of this song clocks in at a dashing 7:25
Out On The Tiles
“All I need from you
Is all your love
All you gotta give to me
Is all your love”
“Ooh yeah, ooh yeah”
Sweeping side to side insane drumland outro
When the mandolin lick kicks at the second:
Oh, in a little while
I think I see my brother coming
Riding many a mile”
(not the banjo in the middle, but the mandolin man)
The gang Aah aah aahs at the end
I’ll never forget when I first learned this song on my friend’s 12-string one hot Montreal summer day. Those days were muggy.
“Thinking how it used to be, does she still remember times like these?”
That’s the Way
The blanketed acoustic guitar intro cuts in deep, followed by the heaviness of:
“I don’t know how I’m gonna tell you
I can’t play with you no more”
If I had to pick a favourite track, this would be it.
Hats Off to Roy Harper
That weird oscillating siren thing that happens right before the song cuts in.
Who does that? Led Zeppelin does.
LED ZEPPELIN III LYRICS
LED ZEPPELIN III ARTWORK
LED ZEPPELIN III – Story behind the artwork artist and more of Zacron’s work
“If anyone can guess which LZIII song I sampled the drum beat from for the DEMO of OTV’s opening track “Control” (listen to actual album track of “Control” here: ofthevalley.com) I will personally buy, sign and send a copy “Of The Valley” to you! Tweet your guesses to @danielleduvaltw for your chance to win.
Contest closes at midnight EST on March 7, 2012.”
Danielle Duval is a Montreal-based musician. Delivered by a magnetically gutsy voice; the music is old school, harmony driven pop, mixed with an early rock n’ roll sensibility. The band live, delivers music that is at times dreamily melodic and at others driven to feverish crescendos. An encapsulation of style and grit that harkens back to the likes of Patti Smith and Joan Jett, we hereby present you with a whole new approach that redefines the explosive girl rock era that took the world by storm in the 70s and 80s. Duval rips her Tele axe, sings from the deep depths, and composes melodic songs with artful lyrics that leave her audience with a story told.