The Everlasting Reign of Rock ‘n Roll Overlords
A Classic Album Review
Say that you know someone who doesn’t like at least one Led Zeppelin song and I will call you a rotten liar. That absurdity would be half-possible only if the year was 1969, and most of the public was of the belief that the band had no dimension because of the supposed ‘lack’ of acoustic elements in their music. However, the year is not 1969, and Led Zeppelin have proven time and time again that they are a multi-faceted innovative group of rock and roll musicians who can not only command the ‘hardcore,’ but also the soft. Led Zeppelin III stands today as the mark of the beginning of widespread changed perceptions of the band.
Released in 1970, the record nearly overflows with acoustically based tracks. During this time of their meteoric rise to super-stardom, many critics were constantly on Led Zeppelin’s back for not releasing ‘enough’ acoustic music. However, just as the great Cameron Crowe pointed out one of his many interviews with the band, in an article titled The Durable Led Zeppelin, there were acoustic elements present on their very first record. Nonetheless, Led Zeppelin III did more than just satisfy the general-critic-world’s acoustic cravings, it was able to make the infamous Lester Bangs — who was certainly not the band’s biggest fan — confess that he liked, and maybe even loved, a song of theirs.
After all, who could resist “That’s The Way”? In a record review expected to bash the record, Bangs instead praised the softly haunting lines on this track, calling them “beautiful, and strangely enough — Zep.” Though I can understand Bangs’ love for this hypnotizing number, the song that hooked me on this record was Bron-Y-Aur Stomp. The visual elements present transport the listener to the golden breast cottage in Wales alongside the members of Led Zeppelin. Robert Plant’s depictions of country lanes, brick walls and blue-eyed-Merles light the fuse of a journey through the mind of what the picture that he is painting must look like. After viewing photographs of the cottage, it is overwhelmingly evident that what Plant describes is exactly what is found at the cottage in Wales (sans perhaps a blue-eyed-Merle or two).
The longest track on the record, “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” is arguably the most story-evoking, despite having few lyrical changes. As far as pivotal instrumental moments go, a rare moment of John Bonham’s toned-down drumming at just shy of the seven minute mark works seamlessly with Jimmy Page’s slow guitar — perhaps even overshadowing it at times.
Clearly, there is no need for an explicit lyrical recollection of the pain Plant seems to be experiencing, as his vocal strains alone can make any listener recall exactly how it feels to not want to leave someone that you love, even when they are driving you absolutely mad.
Staying the acoustic version of the straight-and-narrow that the record boasts, the seventh track “Tangerine” is sandwiched between mine and Lester Bangs’ favorite moments. I cannot help but describe this track as having a regal, era-of-King-Arthur feel to it. Plant refers to his past lover as his ‘Queen’ while in a reminiscing fog where he depicts how his past relates to the present day, a time frame which Plant appropriately labels — ‘a thousand years between’. Oddly enough, “Tangerine” almost sounds more like a pre-battle song to me than “Immigrant Song” does. With this track, a lovesick young knight appears on the front-lines. While pathetically wallowing in the painful hours leading up to the impending war, he finally acknowledges that he has nothing more to lose — as he has already lost his one love — and without her: his once summer-day-world slips away, to gray. As with all music, however, the images evoked by this track are up to the listener’s unique imagination. All that can be said for absolute certain in regards to this record is that even now, nearly fifty years after its initial release — Led Zeppelin III is indisputably not a record to leave out on the tiles.
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