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LZ III Review


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Winona (MN) Sunday News


Back Pages by Denny Burt

You can always tell major record events by a casual glance at the floor of a record shop. Chances are, had you entered any record store during the past week or two (months seem to elapse between the time I write these things and the time they're published) or three or four you would probably

have stumbled over the two major events of that particular period of time: stacks and stacks of the Rolling Stones live album and equally large stacks of Led Zeppelin III. This week I'll devote all my space to Led Zeppelin III.

In early 1969 the last of the great Yardbirds guitarists, Jimmy Page, put together a group consisting of one legend (himself), one exceptionally talented studio musician (John Paul Jones, who did the string arrangements on the Stones' She's Like a Rainbow among other things), one unknown

drummer (John Bonham) and one unknown singer named Robert Plant, who looked like he'd been run through a computer programmed to select all those features and talents and traits that would particularly satisfy the market demands for a New Teen Sensation.

Within two weeks an album was ready which was released shortly thereafter to much critical acclaim. Lots and lots of people bought it and Led Zeppelin was on the road that led them to beating out the Beatles (yes the Beatles!) as everybody's favorites in 1969. (That's according to the well respected MELODYMAKER poll.)

Led Zeppelin has always struck me as being a bit like the Monkees, only with talent. The Monkees, you may remember, were at one time just people until some smart production people got together

and read all kinds of research about what the youth market spent its allowance on each week and ran all these statistics through a computer and came up with the Monkees formula. And it worked.

I imagine Jimmy Page's mind going through similar procedures each time he starts anything. Led Zeppelin's career has been orchestrated by a very shrewd and very able mind. In a sense it's

what any group must go through: timeliness (Trends) sell more records than talent

This is not to discredit Led Zeppelin. In spite of obvious bowings to mass tastes (that's what rock is after all), Led Zeppelin is one of the finest all around groups to be found these days. Robert Plant

does sing, well and with originality, and Page's guitaring manages that rare feat of combining flash and simplicity. Led Zeppelin III is much better than their last effort, which was sort of quintessential Led Zeppelin for forty five minutes and as a result rather dull. Led Zeppelin III is less

hysterical than the second album and more varied than the first. Side one Is for Led Zeppelin freaks; it's What You Want.

Side Two is different. The bases of all the songs are voice and acoustic guitar accompaniment,

with electric overdubbing. The texture on all the songs very dense. Page's genius as a producer is most evident on these four cuts. The simplicity of songs themselves are highlighted and extended

by Page's and Jones' electric embellishments. It's a new step for Led Zeppelin, but one for which the long run is more healthy for Led Zeppelin's music, and music in general.

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Nice to see a fair review of an under-rated album by most fans and most critics. I still remember spinning the wheel on the album cover to change the pictures.

I wish I still had that! :angry: Oh, well. I liked the picture on the back even more :P

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