Discovering Led Zeppelin

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Music
March 31st, 2003 • 10:37 pm

Having been a teenager in the 1980s, I missed out on a number of musical acts that happened “before my time” and that I was too lazy or not intrigued enough to explore after the fact.

Of course I started going back in time later on, but there is so much stuff to explore and I have such a long list of “things to CHECK out one day” that, well, it’s taking me a lifetime… As well, it doesn’t help that I tend to have pretty eclectic tastes and love many different kinds of music. (One of my lifetime projects is to identify what it is exactly that links all these different kinds of music to each other and makes them equally attractive to me.)

Led Zeppelin is one of those acts that had, so far, fallen through the cracks in my musical awareness. Of course, I’d caught a snippet of this and a bit of that over the years, and I had heard a few of the major hits here and there. But it was definitely not enough to be able to say, “OK, I don’t think I’ll ever be interested in them.”

Then Prince started playing “Whole Lotta Love” live during his “One Nite Alone” tour in 2002. I was fortunate enough to see/hear him and his band play the song as the opener in a fierce, rock-oriented SHOW at Paisley Park in Minneapolis last June, and it was quite powerful. (I missed the acoustic rendition of the same track the night before, though.)

And, later on in 2002, Prince released the One Nite Alone… Live box set. It doesn’t include his rendition of the track, unfortunately — but on the last pages of the big booklet that came with the box set, there was a list of tracks entitled “The WNPG Origin Playlist”, and it included, among many other tracks by many other artists, yet another Led Zeppelin track (“Black Dog”).

That was enough to prompt me to purchase the Led Zeppelin box set earlier this year.

I didn’t really know what to expect. I hadn’t done any reading beforehand. At first I was a bit underwhelmed, feeling that the tracks didn’t sound as “massive” as I expected them to be (based on the reputation). But that was probably because my ears had been exposed to too many modern, bass-heavy productions.

Now I find myself listening to the CDs repeatedly, and feeling what I think is something reminiscent of the excitement that this music must have generated at the time. I still don’t know much about the band or their history, their impact, etc. (I haven’t read any of the big booklet that came with the box set either.) I don’t even know which tracks belong to which albums. But I don’t really care. I’m just enjoying the music. There is an incredible level of energy in it, but it’s channeled INTO playfulness and musicality rather than, well, screaming for screaming’s sakes, if you know what I mean. It’s still loud, but it’s enjoyable, exciting loudness.

Or maybe I’m just trying to relive my teenage years :).

As usual (French being my first language and everything), I tend to focus on the music more than the words at this stage. So my whole perception will probably still evolve quite a bit. But it’s already quite satisfying…

Better late than never, right?

One Response to “Discovering Led Zeppelin”

  1. Olivier2 says:

    > Better late than never, right?

    Of course! I also got into Led Zeppelin after hearing Prince’s version of “Whole Lotta Love”. I think from the Las Vegas DVD. I then downloaded most of their albums. And finally bought the 10-CD box set. I’ve been a fan ever since!

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