'Recorded in a matter of 30 hours': Jimmy Page goes inside the sessions for Led Zeppelin's debut

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Brad Tolinski, in a forthcoming book called Light And Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page, shares a series of interviews held with the notoriously press-shy guitarist. A particularly interesting passage takes readers inside the sessions for Led Zeppelin’s self-titled 1969 debut recording.

Led Zeppelin would go to No. 6 in the UK, and No. 10 in America — eventually earning eight-times platinum sales according to the RIAA. Rolling Stone magazine, in 2003, ranked the album No. 29 on its listing of the 500 greatest albums ever.

That success wasn’t by accident. By the time Page was constructing Led Zeppelin with Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham, he had already spent years as a sessions guitarist — having appeared on recordings by the Kinks, the Rolling Stones, the Who, and others — and had also served as a member of the Yardbirds.

He knew exactly what it would take to get the new band off the ground, and he had a plan: Page tells Tolinski (who serves as editorial director for Guitar World, Guitar Aficionado and Revolver) that he arrived at Atlantic Records with the album already recorded and ready to press.

That meant Led Zeppelin wouldn’t be beholden to anyone: “I wanted artistic control in a vice grip, because I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the band,” Page tells Brad Tolinski in Light And Shade, via CBS affiliate WZLX. “In fact, I financed and completely recorded the first album before going to Atlantic. It wasn’t your typical story where you get an advance to make an album: We arrived at Atlantic with tapes in hand. The other advantage to having such a clear vision of what I wanted the band to be was that it kept recording costs to a minimum. We recorded the whole first album in a matter of 30 hours. That’s the truth. I know, because I paid the bill,” Page added, laughing.

Light And Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page is due October 23, 2012. You can preorder it below.

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Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: LED ZEPPELIN: Led Zeppelin’s image, dating back to the band’s debauched 1970s heyday, has grown so outsized that it sometimes obscures, well, the music. After all, that was time when — as Rolling Stone’s Stephen Davis famously wrote in a late-period Zep review — you could “give an Englishman 50,000 watts, a chartered jet, a little cocaine and some groupies and he thinks he’s a god.” Sure. But what, you know, about the records? Your friends over at SomethingElseReviews.com sat down and spun a few, in an effort to reevaluate Led Zeppelin simply as a rock ‘n’ roll act — one that moved from copying their American blues heroes to toward a nimble, versatile new heavy-rocking amalgam … OK, with a whole lotta love along the way. But, still …

JIMMY PAGE, THE EDGE AND JACK WHITE – IT MIGHT GET LOUD (2008): This film, a documentary of sorts featuring Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White, is a must see for the rock fan. Heck, you can even hate Led Zeppelin, U2, and the White Stripes, and still get something out of the movie. Seriously. The film provides individual histories of each guitarist, told in a non-linear fashion. Eventually, the three stars meet in a summit of sorts, with the discussions and righteous guitar playing taking place in a temporary sound state set up in a barn. The documentary portions don’t really provide much in the way of new information, but I’m sure that that wasn’t the point.

SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: MORE LED ZEPPELIN!: What’s the continuing attraction, in 2012, for the long-gone Led Zeppelin? From movie trailers to “American Idol,” these long-haired, often-shirtless heavy-metal rock-gods — disbanded since the turn of the 1980s, mind you — remain front of mind. Check out the promo reel for “Battlestar Galactica: Blood And Chrome,” and there’s Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” remixed by Trent Reznor and featured vocals by the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O. Stop by eBay, and you’ll find a rare first-pressing vinyl edition of Led Zeppelin’s self-titled debut — which sold for approximately $1,890 recently. So, we figured, it’s high time for a revisit to this ageless musical force, highlighting both some familiar favorites and a few tasty deep cuts.

JIMMY PAGE AND THE YARDBIRDS – LITTLE GAMES (1967): Originally released in 1967, Little Games marked the end of the Yardbirds as we knew them, as a year later, the wildly inventive and influential London band was laid to rest. Lead guitarist Jimmy Page formed a new band, Led Zeppelin, while bassist Chris Dreja changed careers altogether by pursuing his love of photography, and lead singer Keith Relf and drummer Jim McCarty established Renaissance, a progressive folk rock outfit. Little Games has been reissued before, but as always, the Sundazed label has taken things a couple of steps further by resurrecting the record in mono and making it available on both vinyl and compact disc. Talk about utterly fabulous sound quality!

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The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
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