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The Dark Lord

What Was The Most Important Zeppelin Album?

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I'm not asking which album is your favourite, but I am asking which album was most important to the Led Zeppelin canon, in your opinion. It dawned on me the other day, that had it not been for Led Zeppelin III, they might just have been another rock band, like Nazareth, for example. That's not to say that they would not still have been excellent and distinct, but instead, that Led Zeppelin III took them to an entirely new dimension and distinguished the band as far reaching in their style and ability. I think if Led Zeppelin III was taken out of their catalogue altogether, they would have suffered tremendously in their diversity and significance as pioneers. I also think that Led Zeppelin III was the most critical album to the legacy of the band, despite the fact that it's not my favourite. We'll never know for sure, but it crossed my mind that In Through the Out Door was their next pivotal album, despite the fact that it is a controversial album. To me it represented the rebirth of the band, and a paradigm shift in the way that they did business as a group. So, what do you think was Led Zeppelin's most important album, and why? Discuss.

Edited by The Dark Lord

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"Led Zeppelin". The first album.

Remember...Jimmy paid for the first album sessions out of his own pocket. He bet all he had on this gamble of his and if the album tanked, then not only would he be out of money, but also the band's confidence would have been shakened and maybe they would have been more susceptible to record company pressure to be more commercial and toe-the-line. The album's success gave the band carte blanche to do whatever they wanted, to follow any whim. As people often forget, "acoustic Led Zeppelin" didn't begin with Led Zeppelin III. "Black Mountain Side"and "Your Time Is Gonna Come" gave ample warning to the public that this wasn't your standard heavy rock band.

Let us also not forget the importance of how the first album sounded compared to other records of its day. The equal weight given to all the instruments and sonic elements, so that it sounded like a real band playing in your room as opposed to the guitar or vocals hogging all the sonic spectrum with all the other instruments squashed over to the side...which is how Jeff Beck's albums sounded like. The weight and force of the sound, especially the detail of the drums, and the way you heard the room ambience, would have far-reaching influence on the future of music production.

Led Zeppelin III was definitely an important album in the development of their sound. But if the first Led Zeppelin album doesn't strike a chord with the record-buying public and give them a firm base to launch further explorations, then Led Zeppelin might not have existed long enough to record the third album. Therefore, in my estimation, the first album is the most important album to Led Zeppelin's existence.

Edited by Strider

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I agree with Strider, their first album is their most crucial and defined their legacy from the start. As diverse as they got, when the average person thinks "Led Zeppelin" they are thinking of heavy songs, not Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp. It also happens to hold together as an album better than any other of their albums (in my opinion.)

Like Strider said, the diversity was already there on the first album. Let's not forget the second song (Babe I'm Gonna Leave You) is built around an acoustic pick line.

The only real competition to it is probably the fourth. That immortalized them.

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The arguments for I and III are strong, and we can speculate how important ITTOD would have been if the band continued, but the fourth record was the one that skyrocketed the band from being big to gargantuan...

Edited by Pb!

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1st album for me too. Not only it was the first Zeppelin I bought and heard, but you can imagine all the people who had heard that album for the first time back in 1969? Sure Jimmy's Yardbirds legacy gave a few pointers into what was going on but given the time it was recorded and the musicians involved, you can't take it away the fact the 1st album was a bombastic opener and it lead to the history of arguably the greatest 4 man band of all time

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The first album for me too, not wanting to sound obvious without the first there would be no ITTOD.

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I'm gonna change it up and present an argument for Zeppelin II. Often, the second album of an up and coming band is maybe the most significant, because it convinces the fans, critics, potential new fans and the record company, that you are not a one album fluke. It shows them you can do it again. Also, Zep II, is what broke the band to the mainstream, especially with 'Whole Lotta Love'. Zep II's commercial smash success at the time and since, validates I and allows for the credibility for a gamble on III. They probably wouldn't have had the confidence or support to change it up on Zep III without back to back great showings, and I think without Zep II, as great as the debut is, that Zep I may have just gone down as just a great debut album, rather than being seen as a great album period.

Edited by price.pittsburgh

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Vol. II.

And particularly, Whole Lotta Love. It was the riff that shook the world. It multiplied greatly their listening market.

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i gotta go with III which defined Zep as a band that crossed genres and styles and along with PG and Presence remains my favorite...definitely my favorite early Zep

Edited by ksgemini

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Led Zeppelin, that album says it all. It's where it all started and foreshadowed what would inevitably come thereafter.

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I think their 4th album was their most important. It came after a lot of critics accused them of going soft on LZ 3. There was no album or band name on the record and many people in the industry thought it to be commercial suicide, however the music spoke for itself and it turned out to be one of the greatest albums of all time. I think this album really sent Zep into the stratosphere, where they remained all by themselves for the rest of the 70's.

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I'm changing my selection to CODA.

CODA opened the door for artists who wished to fulfill contractual obligations by releasing uninspired throwaways.

It gave confidence to other bands to try and fool the public by claiming that live tracks were studio alternate takes. It laid the foundation for bands to record backing tracks in one decade, then add vocals 10 years later, and claim it was all one session.

All Zep albums bow to CODA!

LOl, just kidding ha ha

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Led Zeppelin (1)

Thank God it was released and there was even such a band. Without it, there would be no other.

It also changed the spectrum of rock music from then on.

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That's a very difficult question. Has Jimmy ever been asked this?!

In my opinion, every album was very important in their career especially I-IV, those are like a 4 step program to becoming rock gods lol, then PG gave them the chance to officially dominate the world. But if I had to choose then I would agree with Neilr2000 about Whole Lotta Love and Led Zeppelin II being a very important part of their career.

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Difficult question. Obviously, without the first nothing else would have happened. Every album afterwards (up to Physical Graffiti) solidified that this was more than a band. PG really continued the songwriting and instrumental prowess of the band. Each album was important but PG nailed it in the coffin that this band was one of the best ever

Edited by ColoradoZephead

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That's a very difficult question. Has Jimmy ever been asked this?!

In my opinion, every album was very important in their career especially I-IV, those are like a 4 step program to becoming rock gods lol, then PG gave them the chance to officially dominate the world. But if I had to choose then I would agree with Neilr2000 about Whole Lotta Love and Led Zeppelin II being a very important part of their career.

Jimmy has been asked and his answer is Zeppelin I

http://radio.com/2014/10/21/jimmy-page-interview-led-zeppelin-2014/

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I can see why Jimmy would say Vol. 1. Vol 1 represented their start, their great deal with Atlantic, their initial partnership/group product, and their template from where they went on and evolved from. Had it been ignored by fans, it would have been hard to rebound from. However, I still believe Vol II was their "most important". That killer WLL riff propelled them from a relatively little-known band into global superstars. Vol II was one of those albums that every serious music fan just had to have in his/her collection. Their live venues suddenly increased in a big way and radio stations that had not previously played Zep were now doing so. Yes, Vol IV and PG were subsequent major milestones, but in terms of being a game changer, Vol II was it.

Even after all these years, ask non-Zep fans to name two of Zep's songs. Stairway will always come first, and WLL will be next.

Edited by NealR2000

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I agree with all the above comments but i go for ITTOD because i was in my late teens waiting for this album to come out and the music scene had changed in their absence.Punk was all the rage and just about every rag was saying they were washed up.Disco was in and bands like Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles and bland radio friendly music was everywhere.Some of the old guard were still making noise like Pink Floyd(The Wall),Yes(Going For The One) and the Stones(Some Girls)but Zep were seen as the most likely to fail.They had to overcome past tragedies and Page,Bonham and Grant were not exactly in th best of health.When ITTOD was released it flew up the charts and Zep was 'in ' again,particularly in America .Knebworth was also important as it was their chance to reclaim England.Whether the album or Knebworth were entirely successful musically is debatable but for the band to bounce back from the ashes it was a success.

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I can see why Jimmy would say Vol. 1. Vol 1 represented their start, their great deal with Atlantic, their initial partnership/group product, and their template from where they went on and evolved from. Had it been ignored by fans, it would have been hard to rebound from. However, I still believe Vol II was their "most important". That killer WLL riff propelled them from a relatively little-known band into global superstars. Vol II was one of those albums that every serious music fan just had to have in his/her collection. Their live venues suddenly increased in a big way and radio stations that had not previously played Zep were now doing so. Yes, Vol IV and PG were subsequent major milestones, but in terms of being a game changer, Vol II was it.

Even after all these years, ask non-Zep fans to name two of Zep's songs. Stairway will always come first, and WLL will be next.

I agree and here is a paste of my original comment.

I'm gonna change it up and present an argument for Zeppelin II. Often, the second album of an up and coming band is maybe the most significant, because it convinces the fans, critics, potential new fans and the record company, that you are not a one album fluke. It shows them you can do it again. Also, Zep II, is what broke the band to the mainstream, especially with 'Whole Lotta Love'. Zep II's commercial smash success at the time and since, validates I and allows for the credibility for a gamble on III. They probably wouldn't have had the confidence or support to change it up on Zep III without back to back great showings, and I think without Zep II, as great as the debut is, that Zep I may have just gone down as just a great debut album, rather than being seen as a great album period.

Edited by price.pittsburgh

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I'm changing my selection to CODA.

CODA opened the door for artists who wished to fulfill contractual obligations by releasing uninspired throwaways.

It gave confidence to other bands to try and fool the public by claiming that live tracks were studio alternate takes. It laid the foundation for bands to record backing tracks in one decade, then add vocals 10 years later, and claim it was all one session.

All Zep albums bow to CODA!

LOl, just kidding ha ha

Hahahaha -- you're a fellow of true wit.

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I think Led Zeppelin II.

why?

Because that album put out the "Canon" sound of what we know as Led Zep, and also was recorded in difficult conditions, cheap studios, while they were on the road, and record and album in those circumnstances is difficult to imagine how well they sounded despite the fact of being heavy touring on those times.

Also they have tremendous songs like WLL, HB, TLS, TY, LLM and BITOH.

i think this album paved the way to all the LZ greatness

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Depends on what you measure influence with:

- I: of course without first there would be no other. However, it was mostly a collection of classic covers so I don't count it fully as original Led Zeppelin.

- II: language and themes marked the beginning of a new decade (or the end of the 60s) in whole lotta love or what is and what should never be; heartbreaker and ramble on showcased their breadth of repertoire and sound for the first time

- III: blues and folk music reinvented

- IV: production technique and songwriting peaked with probably the best record in rock history

- HOTH: exploration of new genres

- PG: creativity and pure genius of the arrangements (Kashmir and In The Light)

- Presence: Achilles is the high water mark of all their live performances

- ITTOD: a glimpse of what they could have become in the 80s... Still an amazing band, with a complex and versatile sound

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"Led Zeppelin". The first album.

Remember...Jimmy paid for the first album sessions out of his own pocket. He bet all he had on this gamble of his and if the album tanked, then not only would he be out of money, but also the band's confidence would have been shakened and maybe they would have been more susceptible to record company pressure to be more commercial and toe-the-line. The album's success gave the band carte blanche to do whatever they wanted, to follow any whim. As people often forget, "acoustic Led Zeppelin" didn't begin with Led Zeppelin III. "Black Mountain Side"and "Your Time Is Gonna Come" gave ample warning to the public that this wasn't your standard heavy rock band.

Let us also not forget the importance of how the first album sounded compared to other records of its day. The equal weight given to all the instruments and sonic elements, so that it sounded like a real band playing in your room as opposed to the guitar or vocals hogging all the sonic spectrum with all the other instruments squashed over to the side...which is how Jeff Beck's albums sounded like. The weight and force of the sound, especially the detail of the drums, and the way you heard the room ambience, would have far-reaching influence on the future of music production.

Led Zeppelin III was definitely an important album in the development of their sound. But if the first Led Zeppelin album doesn't strike a chord with the record-buying public and give them a firm base to launch further explorations, then Led Zeppelin might not have existed long enough to record the third album. Therefore, in my estimation, the first album is the most important album to Led Zeppelin's existence.

Nice post! I'll try to think of another question to ask to get more informative replies from you. And yes, I agree thar Zep I was their most important album, defining our expectations.

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