You shook me....
Released January 1969
Recorded at Olympic Studios, London
This review is for the double CD remastered version, containing the "Live From Paris" material on Disc two. Five stars for the actual album. Four stars for the live extras.
Released in very early 1969, the first album was incredibly ground-breaking. A mix of rock and blues with clear folk influences and a bit of late 60s psychedelia thrown in. Only Hendrix and Free played blues rock with anything approaching the soul, feel and raw electric full-on power as this. It is still my favourite Led Zeppelin album.
1. Good Times Bad Times
2. Babe I'm Gonna Leave You
3. You Shook Me
4. Dazed And Confused
5. Your Time Is Gonna Come
6. Black Mountain Side
7. Communication Breakdown
8. I Can't Quit You Baby
9. How Many More Times
The two shorter more "commercial" tracks, the proto-punk Communication Breakdown and Good Times Bad Times are the ones that initially stuck in the mind, but the extended blues of I Can't Quit You Baby, Dazed And Confusion, How Many More Times and the pounding, slow bassy blues of You Shook Me, with its mesmeric intro, are where to find the real soul of this album. Black Mountain Side, however, is a small hint towards the folk influence that would pervade a lot more as the band moved into and through the seventies.
The sound on this album is fantastic. From the opening blast of Good Times Bad Times and the crystal clear acoustic guitar on Babe I'm Gonna Leave You it is a sonic revelation. Play it loud. Remember this was recorded in 1969 too. They were way ahead of the game.
Now, on to the live cuts. Many people have been disappointed with them, feeling that they resemble bootleg quality. I must say I have to disagree. Sure, there is a "rough and ready" feel to them, but considering the year they were recorded (1969) they are not so bad and they certainly capture the rawness of this mighty group as they first started to flex their muscles. At times you feel as you are there. Feedback and the odd strange noises and all. The opener, a mix of Good Times Bad Times and Communication Breakdown is, at times, a bit messy, but for me, therein lies its appeal. I Can't Quit You Baby sees a bit of improvement, and Heartbreaker is excellent. Dazed And Confused has quite a bit of buzzy feedback, to be honest, and I realise this is what has probably put a lot of people off. The "rock" bit at eight minutes is great, however. Some excellent guitar in You Shook Me too.
Much as I find some drum solos indulgent, I never tire of John Bonham on Moby Dick. Raw power.
Overall, I just see it as a welcome document of Led Zeppelin live from this era, of which there is not much. The BBC live sessions are better, however.