We’re not quite halfway through this musical lexicon and we’ve already had a few examples of musical epiphany. However, for sheer power and immediacy there has never been anything to match the very first time I heard Led Zeppelin.
By the time we got to the Lower Sixth (first of two years of A-level studies), certain ‘privileges’ were accruing. One of these was access to a record-player (remember them, anybody?) during the lunch break. One day in 1969 – it would have been the beginning of the Summer Term – I walked into the common room just as somebody’s copy of the eponymous debut album ‘Led Zeppelin’ was reaching the end of side 2.
I was, almost literally, stunned. The thunderous drums, the amplified guitars and Robert Plant’s stentorian wailing just blew me away.
In a previous instalment of this Lexicon I wrote about the many pale imitators of The Beatles and the very few exceptions. Having discovered Led Zeppelin, I realised that when it came to rock music there were no exceptions. This is the standard by which all others should be judged – and will be found wanting. As I’ve said before, listening to Led Zeppelin in their pomp is like being carpet-bombed with testosterone.
Of course I have all their albums, and while they undoubtedly went a bit off-piste and self-indulgent later on (why, I even heckled them once) all the best stuff is primal and will never get old.
And what better to illustrate my point than that first thing I heard: ‘How Many More Times?’. My magic moment comes about six and a half minutes in.
My Music Lexicon