Sunday, March 18, 2012

Educate Emma: Albums: Led Zeppelin (the album)

I'm a little ashamed I even get to review this album in the first place. How it wasn't an integral part of my childhood is totally beyond me. I got my Beatles, Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Johnny Cash, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen with dashes of popular singles from serious music icons. I also grew up with CDs made by several obscure independent musicians that happened to find their way to Vancouver, BC while touring. I blame my mother for my love of rock operas and New Wave. Some quality contemporary was incorporated too, from The Killers to Norah Jones. My father can only be applauded for supporting my short but passionate devotion to Avril Lavigne because he gave me the actual good stuff too. I thought I received a solid music education from both my parents, even if mom forced me to listen to Muskrat Love more times, and dad would have made me craft a shrine to Bob Dylan if he ever got the chance. You know, they had their faults, but they were easily forgiven.

After listening to Led Zeppelin's One, I'm pretty sure I'll never love my father the same way again. I mean, there was no hope for mom heavily incorporating Zeppelin into my life, but I will always carry resentment towards my dad for never cranking up Immigrant Song or Black Dog or Kashmir in the car. There's about a lifetime worth of payback I'll get for that one transgression.

Pretty serious words, even coming from a hyperbolic, pretentious adolescent with a blog, I know. But besides occasionally hearing Stairway to Heaven and knowing the band was supposed to be The Best Thing Ever No Seriously, I never understood what the big deal was about.

Now I get why Led Zeppelin was considered revolutionary. When I even try to grasp how strange it would have been to hear the album as a kid in 1969, my mind kind of breaks apart and struggles to reassemble itself. As soon as you reach the guitar solo in Good Times Bad Times, you know you've stumbled onto a great thing. The entire first side of the album is perfection. After originally being confused by the leeway from Good Times Bad Times into Babe I'm Gonna Leave You, I found a love for it by the time I played the album over for the third time. After the first few days of listening to One, I replayed Babe over and over and over again until I knew it was the appropriate time to go to bed. Then I played it five more times. I couldn't stop myself.

This album is like basking in the holy waters of rock music, except somehow you swallowed the water when you dove in and now you're on this acid trip. Above everything else, you don't want the acid trip to end, because everything is suddenly so shiny. I'm starting to look like a fangirl, aren't I? Before I digress from my usual hyper-critical review style, I get how One's sound is somewhat derivative. Its heavy blues tones weren't wasted on me, and the band was obviously playing around with their style.

I'm mostly so excited about this first Educate Emma album because the music is so intuitive. It's less about perception and more about emotion - and I don't say that to make up for lack of quality or excessive gimmicks. The songs can't be rushed. They just have to take their course. And when they do, the music in between words does not seem frivolous. The guitar itself seems to be saying much more poignant and excellent things than the lyrics themselves. The instruments are necessary to communicate, even more necessary than the words. You soak in the album and its progression. That's a refreshing pace from most of today's popular music.

You can tell this is Led Zeppelin's start, but they show some versatility in the differences between songs like Dazed and Confused and Your Time Is Gonna Come. I want to bask in the music and bind myself to the sound. And as the cherry on top, the more often I listen to it, the more I fall in love with arrangement of the album. The rises and falls, the fun and the heartbreak, they all fit exceptionally well. I'm a little bit in love with the flow of One alone. There's so much to enjoy here. I don't want it to stop.

Favourite songs: The raw desperation of Babe I'm Gonna Leave You tops all the others in my opinion. Dazed and Confused would be my runner-up, just because it doesn't evoke the same power for me. As for non-covers, the last track, How Many More Times is the perfect closer.

Least favourite song: Oddly enough, it's probably Communication Breakdown. You can tell it's a single, and maybe that's my problem with it. It can't hold the same weight as other songs on One.

I think this facet of Educate Emma is going to be awesome. Feel free to leave recommendations in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. Maybe you should an album review for Ceremonials by Florence + The Machine. I think you've posted a video of one of their songs on your Facebook page. By the way, your Educate Emma project seems to be going really well!