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RoundingRover

Page's "guitar army" effect?

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Has there ever been any in depth thing written thing written about how Jimmy constructed his "guitar army" effect--The overdubbing and layering of guitar harmonies on say, Ten Years Gone and Achilles' Last Stand? Like take for example the harmony section of Ten Years Gone--ever anything in depth as to how that was constructed?

I've read Ten Years Gone's harmony section had 14 different guitar overdubs. Or the epicness of the "Mighty Arms of Atlas" section of Achilles' Last Stand....

I'm asking because the effect/technique serves to add an insane level of epicness to those two songs in particular.

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Has there ever been any in depth thing written thing written about how Jimmy constructed his "guitar army" effect--The overdubbing and layering of guitar harmonies on say, Ten Years Gone and Achilles' Last Stand? Like take for example the harmony section of Ten Years Gone--ever anything in depth as to how that was constructed?

I've read Ten Years Gone's harmony section had 14 different guitar overdubs. Or the epicness of the "Mighty Arms of Atlas" section of Achilles' Last Stand....

I'm asking because the effect/technique serves to add an insane level of epicness to those two songs in particular.

You could almost say it started back with HOTH and TSRTS! Seems there were quite a few overdubs on that and was the direction Page was taking with this song and others in the future.

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You could almost say it started back with HOTH and TSRTS! Seems there were quite a few overdubs on that and was the direction Page was taking with this song and others in the future.

I'd say even earlier and right back to Ramble On

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I'd say even earlier and right back to Ramble On

There is that kind of effect on the strong and what he was trying to develop.

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Being a one-guitarist band, there was always going to be some overdubbing needed with Led Zeppelin...like with The Who, Black Sabbath and other bands with only one guitarist.

But the earliest I think Jimmy uses the 'guitar army' effect is on "The Lemon Song" on side 1 of Led Zeppelin II. Not just simply a case of double-tracking a riff("Whole Lotta Love", "Dazed and Confused") or overdubbing a solo onto a rhythm background or mixing electric over acoustic("Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You", "Thank You", "Ramble On"), "The Lemon Song" has what sounds like four or five electric guitars going at once, layered on top of each other, each playing something slightly different. Listen especially to the massed roar of rhythm guitars playing underneath the solos.

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Being a one-guitarist band, there was always going to be some overdubbing needed with Led Zeppelin...like with The Who, Black Sabbath and other bands with only one guitarist.

But the earliest I think Jimmy uses the 'guitar army' effect is on "The Lemon Song" on side 1 of Led Zeppelin II. Not just simply a case of double-tracking a riff("Whole Lotta Love", "Dazed and Confused") or overdubbing a solo onto a rhythm background or mixing electric over acoustic("Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You", "Thank You", "Ramble On"), "The Lemon Song" has what sounds like four or five electric guitars going at once, layered on top of each other, each playing something slightly different. Listen especially to the massed roar of rhythm guitars playing underneath the solos.

Very valid point Strider. This began a lot earlier than I thought. Just more obvious, I guess a few years later.

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I've always found it funny when people talk about this guitar army that Jimmy "created". He infact pioneered the techinque but I must say that to me the first one to use it was George Harrison on the Beatles.... Example: Abbey Road. It's full of guitar harmonies and intricate guitar parts, like he did in Hey Bulldog. I think that the guy who used it the most in the 70's was Brian May.

Don't get me wrong, the whole concept was sort of made up after ALS came out, and holy crap, was it good!! But by any means was Jimmy the first one to use that. This kind of stuff dates back to the early sixties., in my opinion. But I must say, my favorite guitar army user would be Jimmy, I mean, the stuff he did in TYG is out of this world. Same goes for Brian May in songs like Good Company.

Edited by magerogue

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I've never listened to zeppelin and thought, guitar army. Pages sound was huge anyway and combine him with bonham...even greater. On stuff like, ten years and Achilles, I think..orchestrated guitars. But sonically to reflect on what term guitar army would be, I think of the page and crowes record. The guitars define that record to me, and the singer and drummer are good too.

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I've always found it funny when people talk about this guitar army that Jimmy "created". He infact pioneered the techinque but I must say that to me the first one to use it was George Harrison on the Beatles.... Example: Abbey Road. It's full of guitar harmonies and intricate guitar parts

Paul McCartney plays a lot of guitar on Abbey Road as well. As layered as The Beatles' sound could be at times they never layered guitar tracks like Jimmy Page did...according to Mark Lewisohn in The Beatles Recording Sessions book when recording "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" Lennon and Harrison spent an afternoon tracking the guitars in the coda section to get a 'massive' sound...maybe they did; it still doesn't sound anywhere as 'massive' as "The Lemon Song", "Ten Years Gone" or the Presence album. Compared to Zeppelin, who recorded mainly on 16 track gear, The Beatles were extremely limited with the Abbey Road studio's 8 track.

No, Jimmy Page wasn't the only guitar player to use the "Guitar Army" technique but he was probably the one who made it his trademark.

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Paul McCartney plays a lot of guitar on Abbey Road as well. As layered as The Beatles' sound could be at times they never layered guitar tracks like Jimmy Page did...according to Mark Lewisohn in The Beatles Recording Sessions book when recording "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" Lennon and Harrison spent an afternoon tracking the guitars in the coda section to get a 'massive' sound...maybe they did; it still doesn't sound anywhere as 'massive' as "The Lemon Song", "Ten Years Gone" or the Presence album. Compared to Zeppelin, who recorded mainly on 16 track gear, The Beatles were extremely limited with the Abbey Road studio's 8 track.

No, Jimmy Page wasn't the only guitar player to use the "Guitar Army" technique but he was probably the one who made it his trademark.

Yeah, well about the lemon song, there's two guitars going throughout the whole song. They are both doing rythm, one on the left and one on the right, it's pretty standard stuff, but what really shines on the song is the way that Jimmy was able to create this sort of huge sound from his mixing abilities, you know, because it was recorded on an 8 track and they didn't have alot of tracks to spare, so he probably played the solos live on that song, the whole band at the same time, and he overdubbed a rythm guitar. The whole Presence album is made around rythm guitars, I could never understand what the hell's going on in Royal Orleans, but I do know that I love it. I've mentioned it before, the reason why I think that every guitar player should like Presence is because the whole album is about guitar sounds and techniques that Jimmy was able to pull off. Hots on for nowhere is my favorite Zepp song, and the way the guitars are layered... it's just pure genius, incredibly simple, but astonishingly effective. I guess there's about four guitars going at the end of the song, the way he played with different octaves and using different guitars on the same song overdubbing them, carefully placing them in the mix worked tremendously well on Presence, and that's why it's my favorite album. Nobody's Faul But Mine has like two overdubs during the verses and the chorus, like the solo and a tiny harmonie at the end, that's it: now you tell me if anybody but the great Jimmy Page could pull something like that. I don't think so!

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now you tell me if anybody but the great Jimmy Page could pull something like that. I don't think so!

No question about it, Presence is a vast smorgasbord of layered guitars and different guitar tones. And that makes it one of the great guitar albums...best appreciated on good headphones, so as to pick out all the overdubs even easier. Jimmy Page has every reason to be justifiably proud of that album; as I've said before I reckon it's Jimmy's "This is how great I am" statement, and even more so considering he laid down all those fucking overdubs in something like two days! To give him his due, as fucked up as Page was in those days his artistic vision came through clear as a bell...he certainly never rose to that level again IMO.

I think the only other time Page came close to conjuring up the Presence-style Guitar Army was on the Coverdale/Page project...as annoying as I can find David Coverdale at times I love that album for the massive, over the top guitar tracks.

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To give him his due, as fucked up as Page was in those days his artistic vision came through clear as a bell...he certainly never rose to that level again IMO.

Neither has anyone else. For me, the stand out track off Presence is Royal Orleans, maybe because of how stripped down and playful it is compared to the rest of the album, which is pretty much multi-layered and intense as hell.

I also think Emerald Eyes from Outrider is the best post Zeppelin example of Page's "guitar army" in full effect,

it always amazes me.

Edited by blindwillie127

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Any other guitarist out there who employs the guitar-army paradigm?

Billy Corgan. Check out 'Thru The Eyes of Ruby' from the smashing pumpkins third album. Its a great example of multilayered guitars bringing glorious textures to a song.

Another example IMO would be Jeff Martin of The Tea Party. See songs like Sister Awake and the bridge and solo parts of Walk With Me, from the astonishingly good Edges of Twilight album.

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Apart from Susan Fast's In The Houses Of The Holy (Oxford University Press), I don't know many other scholarly or in-depth writings on Page's guitar work. However, there are plenty of articles and books on rock music, looking at things through theories like Bordieu's theory of cultural capital, masculinities and social class (I'm sure I've just lost a few of you with those!). Some of these writings are really fascinating insights from angles one might not usually consider. Other articles smell of the awful academic bolloxology that gives scholars a bad name. :P

Here's a good one which analyzes the use of the electric guitar in the recording studio: Clarke, P., 1983. “A magic science”: rock music as a recording art. Popular Music, 3, pp.195–213.

I have the PDF attached if anyone wants a copy - you might not find it too easily outside of academic libraries. Personally I find it kinda cool to read some academic viewpoint explaining the power and awesomeness of rock guitarists like Hendrix etc.

Re: above posts, I agree: Brian May would be another guitarist in the studio who - whether you like Queen or not - excelled at creating the 'guitar army' wall of sound.

'A Magic Science'- Rock Music as a Recording Art.pdf

Edited by Triplet Kick

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Re: above posts, I agree: Brian May would be another guitarist in the studio who - whether you like Queen or not - excelled at creating the 'guitar army' wall of sound.

Good catch with Brian May. Queen employed the same layering technique with vocals. Bohemian Rhapsody sounds as if they have a whole damn choir in the recording studio when it was only Mercury, May and Roger Taylor's voices.

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Apart from Susan Fast's In The Houses Of The Holy (Oxford University Press), I don't know many other scholarly or in-depth writings on Page's guitar work. However, there are plenty of articles and books on rock music, looking at things through theories like Bordieu's theory of cultural capital, masculinities and social class (I'm sure I've just lost a few of you with those!). Some of these writings are really fascinating insights from angles one might not usually consider. Other articles smell of the awful academic bolloxology that gives scholars a bad name. :P

Here's a good one which analyzes the use of the electric guitar in the recording studio: Clarke, P., 1983. “A magic science”: rock music as a recording art. Popular Music, 3, pp.195–213.

I have the PDF attached if anyone wants a copy - you might not find it too easily outside of academic libraries. Personally I find it kinda cool to read some academic viewpoint explaining the power and awesomeness of rock guitarists like Hendrix etc.

Re: above posts, I agree: Brian May would be another guitarist in the studio who - whether you like Queen or not - excelled at creating the 'guitar army' wall of sound.

I also had to read some academic analyses of rock for my job, it's very interesting. For exemple that's how I learned that Robert Plant has a "fausset" voice (according to a Paris-la Sorbonne music researcher).

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Another thing that Page was brilliant at was hes post production on hes guitar tone.. I remember Immigrant song rehearsal outtakes how bad it was..Put some Page magic production on it and Wha La...Black Dog.. Page Tone was another example.Studio Vs Live..

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It kinda seems like people are having two different conversations. Some people are pointing out that other people had multiple tracks of guitars before Jimmy Page. Therefore he didn't create the "guitar army". Of course simply stacking a couple guitar tracks was not new. But what JP did was on a whole new level. He wasn't just simply adding overdubs. He was stacking tonal mediums. The next overdub always picked up where the last one left off tonally. So it's not just simply adding an acoustic guitar behind a electric guitar, that's pretty standard. But when you start using effects and guitar synths(which jimmy absolutely pioneered the use of) to create tonal soundscapes to back the actual original gutiar track(or tracks) you're getting into a whole new territory there. In later years guitar synth technology even allowed him to employ the whole guitar army theory in a live setting. He regularly blends stacked pitch changes and octave changes while playing live. No one has attempted to take it as far as he has. If you listen to Presence, In Through The Out Door then his solo album Outrider, then the Coverdale/Page album... you can hear the constant technical progression of the "guitar army" theory. And it is not just simply overdubbing. That's just one stage of the whole process.

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No question about it, Presence is a vast smorgasbord of layered guitars and different guitar tones. And that makes it one of the great guitar albums...best appreciated on good headphones, so as to pick out all the overdubs even easier. Jimmy Page has every reason to be justifiably proud of that album; as I've said before I reckon it's Jimmy's "This is how great I am" statement, and even more so considering he laid down all those fucking overdubs in something like two days! To give him his due, as fucked up as Page was in those days his artistic vision came through clear as a bell...he certainly never rose to that level again IMO.

Exactly, and I'd also like to point out that one of the things that makes Presence sound as heavy as it sounds is JPJ's new 8 string bass. That bass makes ALS sound like a train when combined with Bonzo's drums. I'd love to hear an isolated version of that song with only the bass and the drums. It plays a huge role on the album. And the fact that Robert also sang Presence with less screaming and focusing more on nailing the groovy notes. Presence is the perfect formula/ combination of guitar, bass, drums and vocals.

Edited by magerogue

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I remember hearing that Achilles' Last Stand had a total of 12 guitar tracks, which was the record for Page (the magic of heroine, right?) ;).

Ten Years Gone definitely has some pretty awesome layering, but I don't think it was quite 14 tracks.

Anyways, the 'Army of Guitars' thing makes me think of something Page said about the very opening to Black Dog, with the weird Tape-ish effect whirling around before the vocals start.

He referred to this as him "Waking up the army of guitars" or something along those lines.

Still not sure exactly how he gets that sound though.

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I'm familiar with the concept of overdubs and doubling lines.

I'm pretty sure that what Page meant by "guitar army" is the layering of different guitar parts (not just harmonizing guitar lines but actually orchestrating guitar chords and riffs).

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I'm familiar with the concept of overdubs and doubling lines.

I'm pretty sure that what Page meant by "guitar army" is the layering of different guitar parts (not just harmonizing guitar lines but actually orchestrating guitar chords and riffs).

Yeah, it really is nothing out of this world, it's just riffs layered on top of chords, power chords and stuff like that, he does that alot in The Wanton Song, when it gets to the chorus. It's acutally pretty simple, but the sound Page gets out of it, no that's something nobody can get.

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