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When The Levee Breaks

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  • 2 weeks later...

This gets rather complex because although Page is/was one of the main proponents of "ambient" miking,(

not miking everything close, experimenting with putting mikes in unusual positions, also mikes far away, combining close/far miking, etc.)he didn't invent the technique, just brought it to the forefront. I think

a cleaner argument is that no one but Bonzo could have swaggered thru the track like he did. Maybe there

are other eyewitnesses who could really pinpoint Page or Johns. I say Page, but Page has kind of claimed

too many JPJ ideas as his own, so who knows. I also say what is amazing about this track is that Zep had

invented a new sort of blues, and the power in this track has as far as I know not had any bonafide

bluesmen attempt it.

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Andy Johns is the one responsible for that sound at least as much as Page, probably more. The recording process and reactions to it are detailed in this interview:


Two tales about the drum placement: Andy Johns says it was his idea to move the drums to the hall, while Jimmy says the (new) drums were already set up there by one of the techs. A sort of happy accident. Whatever way the drums ended up where they were, it was down to Andy to capture that sound. There's another (probably AJ) interview that I remember where it was said that Bonzo had never been as happy with his recorded drum sound as on WTLB. Page off course had to have his recording engineers think along the same lines as he was, but they still had to do their job of actually getting a good sound. Famously on led Zeppelin II, Andy's brother Glyn Johns recorded the drums using a then new method that is now named after him. 

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Yeah that sounds like more Johns than Page. Still think no one but Bonzo could get that legendary

intro. I'm a guitarist, and I used to constantly rewind that part as a kid over and over, it used to get me

so psyched and energized.

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Page has never shied from crediting Engineers.. He has talked about him and Eddie Kramer turning every knob in sight on WLL, the marathon 18-20 hour mixing sessions that he and Keith Harwood did for Presence among other examples... But, he has always made it clear that HE was the Producer..

The only Engineer I can ever recall him critcizing was Glynn Johns. Not due to his engineering skills either, but because he tried to get a co-producers credit.. (And the whole backwards echo / reverb argument on You Shook Me with Johns insisting it couldn't be done... )

This is one reason why he would use different engineers for each release. All the albums sound great, but the one constant behind the board was Jimmy Page..

Levee was the combination of a great sounding room, a powerful, controlled, balanced Drummer, a talented and alert Engineer and a brilliant Producer.

No doubt Andy Johns deserves some of the credit. He was an excellent Engineer. Johns got by far the best drum sound on any Van Halen album (For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge). But, Page added his own touch to WTLB.  He slowed the whole track down. He also added a slight echo to the drums. This made it sound even more massive and suspenseful.

IMTOD I'm pretty sure was recorded the exact same way with Ron Nevison engineering... one microphone hanging from a floor above in the stairwell. It also sounds great and I think shows what Levee would have been with no echo and the tape not slowed down..

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  • 2 weeks later...

I must say that I have probably read a portion of what your'e saying, but you really have a command of this stuff. I wonder

what the deal is with the delays, etc. on the coming gear book. I think there will be much murkiness with Page's end.

I believe his first tech was Jo Jammer(something like that), but from all the material Iv'e been thru  never have I seen

him  give an interview, etc. on Page's stuff. What is a big problem  is I'm pretty sure he died 5-10 yrs ago. There was a

new tech from 77' on, again didn't divulge much. Perhaps Page wanted all the tunings secret ? There was actually an

interview  in the early 90's  where Page said he wouldn't give away some other tunings that he used which hadn't been

figured out. IMO these were probably used in the studio, Keith Richards used to do it as well. Tuning to a minor chord,

a 9th chord, who knows.

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