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The Greatest Songs Ever!

Black Dog

How a week in a haunted English manor in the dead of winter inspired Led Zeppelin’s smoldering blues-rock come-on. “Hey, hey, mama…” By Michael Odell Blender, Jan/Feb 2005

By winter 1970, rock-god avatars Led Zeppelin were three blockbuster albums into their career.

Comprising former Yardbird and session guitarist Jimmy Page, classically trained John Paul Jones and two working-class Midlanders in singer Robert Plant and drummer John “Bonzo” Bonham, album number four should have seen them cruising. Instead it was, as Jimmy Page remarked, “make or break,” a riposte to their critics who, despite the band’s huge success in America, saw them as derivative and opportunistic.

After initial sessions at Island Studios in London, they decamped to Headley Grange, a three-story manor house in the Hampshire countryside in southern England. They’d rehearsed there previously, but now, in the depths of winter, John Bonham sensed the place had deteriorated. Tour manager Richard Cole, in his Stairway to Heaven memoir, recalled reminding Bonham “that during our last visit we had sacrificed a banister to the gods when we needed firewood.” Perhaps it was the cold, but Led Zeppelin kept to a grueling schedule. They would write and rehearse for a week. Then the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording studio was booked to record the album. They hired it for just six days. “Jimmy had the nickname ‘Led Wallet,’ and it’s true, he was a bit tight,” says Andy Johns, brother of legendary producer Glyn Johns and engineer on Led Zeppelin IV. “Mick Jagger had offered us his baronial mansion Stargroves for £1,000 a week and Jimmy wouldn’t pay it. So we ended up in this 20-by-25-foot room with Bonzo playing drums in the hallway.”

Chief songwriters Page and Plant arrived with 12 taped songs, including fragments of a tune that would evolve into the epic “Stairway to Heaven.” But uncharacteristically, Jones stepped in with a riff inspired by a track on the Muddy Waters LP Electric Mud. “I wanted to try electric blues with a rolling bass part,” Jones said. “Black Dog” was born. Zep fans knew of Page’s keen interest in occultist Aleister Crowley. But any of them believing “Black Dog” carried some satanic resonance were off-base. “There was a black dog hanging around Headley Grange,” the guitarist says with a shrug. “Jimmy thought he’d seen a ghost there too,” Johns adds. “The rest of us moaned about being cold, but Jimmy was more concerned with creepy noises or flying fucking furniture.” It was agreed that Jones’s idea would provide an ideal opener for the new album. To get the intense, dense sound, Page’s guitars were triple-tracked and recorded directly from the mixing desk rather than amplified. “I stole the idea from Bill Halverson, who worked with Buffalo Springfield,” Johns says. “And you never had any problem convincing Jimmy his guitar should be as loud as possible.” “That’s the guitar army waking up: Rise and shine,” Page said of the song’s intro. But raw power wasn’t what they were after. That would obliterate Plant’s erotic “Hey, hey, mama, said the way you move.” Page suggested an a cappella stop-start vocal after hearing Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well.”

Meanwhile, Bonham, who often approached his drum kit like it was an old piece of furniture that needed smashing into more manageable pieces, proved capable of great subtlety. Ensconced in Headley Grange’s vast hallway, he perfected the song’s deceptively simple time-signature variations (4/4 with a 5/4 variation), inspired in part by his knowledge of Little Richard’s “Keep a Knockin’.” “The band is getting really attuned to time slips,” Plant enthused. “We were messing around when the other lads suddenly came up with that passage on ‘Black Dog.’ They just played it, fell about all over the floor for 20 minutes in fits of laughter, played it again, burst into more laughter, then put it down on tape.” All they needed now was a suitable banshee wail. “Black Dog” was a primal howl that nodded to the blues greats who inspired so much British ’60s rock. Plant’s lyrics followed this tradition: Essentially an essay on relationships that could’ve been written by a caveman, the author bemoans a long-legged girl who’s good at sex but otherwise unreliable. “There are moguls of lyrics-writing in every generation, and I guess I’m just below the mogul zone,” Plant later manfully conceded. “Black Dog” embodied the sound of a peerless drummer, a transcendent vocalist and two multitalented musicians pushing each other to new heights. “Before Zeppelin, when I’d played with Bonzo, we felt we were the best,” Plant said. “With Page and Jonesy, suddenly we weren’t. You were challenged and everything you wanted was in that room.”

The album was completed in August 1971, and its artwork would arouse a fair amount of controversy. Page decided the new record would eschew all marketing considerations: Its sleeve would bear no title, no band name, no record-label logo. “If the music was good, we could call ourselves ‘The Cabbage’ and still get across to our audience,” Page explained. But the cover’s cryptic runic symbolism would give rise to all manner of dark, occultist speculation. Atlantic Records executives believed the band was committing commercial suicide. Nevertheless, after prolonged mixing difficulties, the officially untitled album was released in November 1971. The album has since become known as “Led Zeppelin IV,” the “Runes album,” “Zoso” (after a misreading of the album’s symbols) or “Untitled.” With “Stairway to Heaven,” the band wrote the pomp-rock ballad par excellence. And “Black Dog” became an instant FM hit; it remains playlisted more than 30 years on. “When I was 14,” remembers Velvet Revolver guitarist and Guns N’ Roses alum Slash, “I stayed with my grandmother in L.A. She was a middleclass black woman with fine Southern manners. I’d play ‘Black Dog’ full volume, and she’d shout, ‘Stop playing that honky-tonk music!’ It was the biggest, baddest, sexiest riff out there.” It was also an unforgettable opening to 42 minutes of music, which, at 22 million copies sold, became the fourth-highest-selling album in history.

Led Zeppelin IV

Black Dog
Rock And Roll
Battle Of Evermore
Stairway To Heaven
Misty Mountain Hop
Four Sticks
Going To California
When The levee Breaks
Led Zeppelin IV - a.k.a. Zoso, Runes, Four Symbols, Untitled or whatever the hell the album with the strange cover sporting a photograph on a war-torn wall of an old man seemingly stooped over, loaded down with a batch of straw on his back (?) is called - is a crowning achievement from one of rock's most enduring legends. Taking elements of the hard rock, blues-based format the band had mastered on their first two albums; merging the suave acoustic/folk musings from the third album; and blending it all with an exotic mix of Indian/Mediterranean stylings and mythological lyrics, Led Zeppelin's fourth album confirmed the inevitable - they were on their way to becoming the biggest musical act on the planet. Guitarist Jimmy Page, unveiling a flurry of complex overdubs and drop dead dripping textures, was the chief architect, maneuvering his vision to fruition on this record. As a producer, Page skillfully manipulated and molded the band's natural thunder into an intoxicating wall of sound.

Robert Plant's wailing voice was a vital part of that sound, effectively becoming a fourth and unique instrument unto itself. This is obvious on "Black Dog," the album's opening track with a stop-and-go arrangement that relies completely on the singer's well-paced and screeching delivery. The energy shifts into overdrive with "Rock and Roll," another signature tune that would eventually be mutilated by every garage band in existence. And then in one grand swoop, a mystical mood settles in, mandolins and acoustic guitars howl at the moon, and Plant and Sandy Denny - a member of the seminal English folk group, Fairport Convention - exchange verses in the dramatic, "The Battle Of Evermore." As if everything for this band climaxes during the fourth round, the first three songs meticulously set the stage for the album's magnum opus, "Stairway To Heaven."

Despite the fact that "Stairway To Heaven" would go on to be the most overplayed song in the history of FM radio, it was never released as a single. This undoubtedly helped push the fourth album up the charts, peaking at number two in the U.S. Beyond the first four cuts, there's a bountiful helping of prime-cut Zep to maintain the momentum. The invincible keyboard work of John Paul Jones, weaving in and out of Page's smooth guitar lines, tastefully eases "Misty Mountain Hop" forward; four drumsticks and the powerful foot of John Bonham drives "Four Sticks;" the folksy meanderings of Page and Plant reveal yet another side on "Going To California."
The record closes out - suitably enough - with the epic, "When The Levee Breaks." And while Led Zeppelin would go on to produce other classics of this caliber, nothing would ever capture the band's pure essence and strength as well as the notorious fourth album - no matter what you want to call it.
- Review by Shawn Perry


Amazon essential recording
Also known as the "rune" album because of the medieval symbols adorning its cover, Led Zeppelin's fourth album, released in 1971, turned them from mere superstars into giant behemoths of the rock world. On tracks like "Black Dog," "Misty Mountain Hop," and "Rock and Roll," the combination of Robert Plant's banshee wails and Jimmy Page's frenetic guitar playing forever altered the stylistic bent of hard rock music. And the foreboding "When the Levee Breaks" demonstrated that Zeppelin could indeed play the blues fairly straight if they so desired. Still, everything here ultimately took a back seat to the album's (and, ultimately, the band's) magnum opus--the expertly constructed and deftly executed classic, "Stairway to Heaven." --Billy Altman Jimmy Page was a top London studio guitarist before he got rich and famous as the musical leader of Led Zeppelin. The group's fourth--and arguably their finest--album is as much a tribute to his technique as a monument to his versatility. Page produced the album, co-wrote all eight songs, and played mandolin as well as all the guitars.


CD Universe

Led Zeppelin: Robert Plant (vocals, harmonica); Jimmy Page (electric, acoustic & 12-string guitar, mandolin); John Paul Jones (bass, keyboards); John Bonham (drums, percussion). Additional personnel: Sandy Denny (vocals); Ian Stewart (piano). Recorded at Headley, Grange, Hampshire, Island Studios, London, England; Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, California. All tracks have been digitally remastered. LED ZEPPELIN IV is the definitive Led Zeppelin recording. It was on LED ZEPPELIN IV that the band's sound and concept, Plant's vocals, and Page's arranging skills finally crystallized into something completely distinct and original. The earthy hedonism of their earlier work was deepened and extended on rockers like "Black Dog," "Rock And Roll" and "Misty Mountain Hop." Their interest in traditional folk music (and a more tender form of sentiment) found fresh expression on "Going To California" and "The Battle Of Evermore" (with Sandy Denny of Fairport Convention). And "When The Levee Breaks" was yet another powerhouse blues. LED ZEPPELIN IV was also the recording which produced Led Zeppelin's most celebrated composition, "Stairway To Heaven". From its familiar opening chord progression, the song steadily grows in intensity, reflecting Led Zeppelin's growing interest in metaphysical imagery, gradually transforming itself from a folkish ballad into a rocking anthem.



This much they evidently did, as you could tell from the opening bars of 'Black Dog' and 'Rock And Roll' on 'Led Zeppelin IV'. Fantastic electrified riffs, and the world was Led once more. Then, of course, came 'Stairway To Heaven'. OK, mystical hippy bollocks on the one hand, but, hey!, great guitar 'work', and extensive air guitar duties were expected of every teenage boy during the last fast bit. And finally, of course, there was 'When The Levee Breaks', and the drumbeat that ate a continent. They just don't write them as big as that any more.



You bought Remasters. You bought Boxed Set-2 to mop up. You went mad, bought The Complete Studio Recordings. And now you can buy each album, digitally reupholstered, separately. Who are you, exactly? Not Tony Blair, surely. Anyway - note III's release is delayed due to sleeve restoration - the first one (1969) is the rites of passage, Marquee-style bluesbreaker album, recorded in just 30 hours (no record contract, no cash), its peak Dazed And Confused, wherein half-inched blues explodes into riffology. II (1969) streaks ahead, recorded en route in America, swollen rock excursions Whole Lotta Love and The Lemon Song its keystones, Bonham's Moby Dick a happy indulgence. IV or Four Symbols (1971) abides the unbeaten classic, its Headley Grange big-room ambience still best described by When The Levee Breaks - Bonzo in excelsis. Survive Stairway To Heaven and you'll know why it's the best seller of the lot. Houses Of The Holy (1973) is the sound of a band whose cup overfloweth - Plant and Jones couldn't get the individual stuff down fast enough. Disparate and less earthy, the latter's No Quarter is an involving mantra and The Ocean is funky, but it is a sickly whole when you know what came next . . .
Reviewed by Andrew Collins


Rolling Stone

It might seem a bit incongruous to say that Led Zeppelin-a band never particularly known for its tendency to understate matters-has produced an album which is remarkable for its low-keyed and tasteful subtlety, but that's just the case here. The march of the dinosaurs that broke the ground for their first epic release has apparently vanished, taking along with it the splattering electronics of their second effort and the leaden acoustic moves that seemed to weigh down their third. What's been saved is the pumping adrenaline drive that held the key to such classics as "Communication Breakdown" and "Whole Lotta Love," the incredibly sharp and precise vocal dynamism of Robert Plant, and some of the tightest arranging and producing Jimmy Page has yet seen his way toward doing. If this thing with the semi-metaphysical title isn't quite their best to date, since the very chances that the others took meant they would visit some outrageous highs as well as some overbearing lows, it certainly comes off as their most consistently good.

One of the ways in which this is demonstrated is the sheer variety of the album: out of eight cuts, there isn't one that steps on another's toes, that tries to do too much all at once. There are Olde Englishe ballads ("The Battle of Evermore" with a lovely performance by Sandy Denny), a kind of pseudo-blues just to keep in touch ("Four Sticks"), a pair of authentic Zeppelinania ("Black Dog" and "Misty Mountain Hop"), some stuff that I might actually call shy and poetic if it didn't carry itself off so well ("Stairway to Heaven" and "Going To California") ... ... and a couple of songs that when all is said and done, will probably be right up there in the gold-starred hierarchy of put 'em on and play 'em again. The first, coyly titled "Rock And Roll," is the Zeppelin's slightly-late attempt at tribute to the mother of us all, but here it's definitely a case of better late than never. This sonuvabitch moves, with Plant musing vocally on how "It's been a long, lonely lonely time" since last he rock & rolled, the rhythm section soaring underneath. Page strides up to take a nice lead during the break, one of the all-too-few times he flashes his guitar prowess during the record, and its note-for-note simplicity says a lot for the ways in which he's come of age over the past couple of years.

The end of the album is saved for "When The Levee Breaks," strangely credited to all the members of the band plus Memphis Minnie, and it's a dazzler. Basing themselves around one honey of a chord progression, the group constructs an air of tunnel-long depth, full of stunning resolves and a majesty that sets up as a perfect climax. Led Zep have had a lot of imitators over the past few years, but it takes cuts like this to show that most of them have only picked up the style, lacking any real knowledge of the meat underneath. Uh huh, they got it down all right. And since the latest issue of Cashbox noted that this 'un was a gold disc on its first day of release, I guess they're about to nicely keep it up. Not bad for a pack of Limey lemon squeezers. (RS 98)


Barnes & Noble

Rightfully renowned for the powerful crunch of their blues-based hard rock, Led Zeppelin are regarded as an important stylistic template for everything from heavy metal to grunge. But the softer, folk-rock side of Zeppelin proved to be equally influential, and it was the band's fourth album that achieved the finest balance between bucolic strums and ear-smashing bombast. "Black Dog" opens the album, with vocalist Robert Plant boasting about how he's "gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove," and the band backs up the bravado with the hard rock of "Rock and Roll" and "Misty Mountain Hop," songs that remain touchstones to generations of head-bangers. But guitarist Jimmy Page was also drawn to softer textures, and he shrewdly enlisted Fairport Convention singer Sandy Denny to duet with Plant on "The Battle of Evermore," over mandolins riffling around the pulsing folk melody. Soft meets hard on Zeppelin's most famous song, the epic "Stairway to Heaven," with verses strung upon arpeggiated guitar lines that ultimately lead to an explosive, finely-chiseled blues-rock solo. Led Zeppelin made other fine albums, but this one remains the core of their canon.
John Milward


All Music Guide

Encompassing heavy metal, folk, pure rock & roll, and blues, Led Zeppelin's untitled fourth album is a monolithic record, defining not only Led Zeppelin but the sound and style of '70s hard rock. Expanding on the breakthroughs of III, Zeppelin fuse their majestic hard rock with a mystical, rural English folk that gives the record an epic scope. Even at its most basic -- the muscular, traditionalist "Rock & Roll" -- the album has a grand sense of drama, which is only deepened by Plant's burgeoning obsession with mythology, religion, and the occult. Plant's mysticism comes to a head on the eerie folk ballad "The Ballad of Evermore," a mandolin-driven song with haunting vocals from Sandy Denny, and on the epic "Stairway to Heaven." Of all of Zeppelin's songs, "Stairway to Heaven" is the most famous, and not unjustly. Building from a simple fingerpicked acoustic guitar to a storming torrent of guitar riffs and solos, it encapsulates the entire album in one song. Which, of course, isn't discounting the rest of the album. "Going to California" is the group's best folk song, and the rockers are endlessly inventive, whether it's the complex, multi-layered "Black Dog," the pounding hippie satire "Misty Mountain Hop," or the funky riffs of "Four Sticks." But the closer, "When the Levee Breaks," is the one song truly equal to "Stairway," helping give IV the feeling of an epic. An apocalyptic slice of urban blues, "When the Levee Breaks" is as forceful and frightening as Zeppelin ever got, and its seismic rhythms and layered dynamics illustrate why none of their imitators could ever equal them. Stephen Thomas Erlewine RW New York New York: Why the hell is this so low down in the list?! I can't understand it! This is the greatest album of all time! 10/10:


SBRV chelt england:

Undeniably the best album ever written, and the boys were British- where true rock/punk/folk and metal originated. It is practically impossible to find fault in any track, because the four pillared power house that was Led Zeppelin, knew exactly what it was playing at. It screams; pick up a guitar, learn the drums, buy a bass and get some singing lessons. 10/10:



This is an inside peek into Led Zeppelin's untitled album as told by Jimmy Page. It is from a BBC series entitled "Classic Albums".

Jimmy Page: From the first sort of blues oriented album, the second one was rock & roll, I think they assumed the third was going to be, you know, yet again rocking on, and the added fact that Led Zep II was like "THE" classic rock album and I think they expected like I know the record company expected a follow-up to "Whole Lotta Love" which obviously wasn't on this. But however, we always stick to how we were shaping at the time. Anyway, we never really made a point of trying to emulate something that we had done before, so consequently the whole thing came out 'Zeppelin are a hype' blah, blah, blah, and it came to the point where we thought 'right, on the next album we we'll make it an untitled album with no information on it whatsoever, virtually saying if you don't like it, you don't have to buy it for the name.

Q: Fans refer to it as Led Zeppelin IV or the runes album because of the runic symbols on the sleeve, but what did the band themselves call it?

JP: I think Four Symbols at the time was how it was referred to by us, but it is runes, yeah runes, but I don't think we used to refer to it as the runes album ourselves, but they were runes. This was the whole idea, you know there was this thing you see on the illustration that's with the lyrics.

Q: To record the album Led Zeppelin installed themselves, and the Rolling Stones mobile recording studio at Headley Grange in Hampshire. Not that it was a conventional rehearsal set up.

JP: Apparently, it was a Victorian work house at one time, that's what I was told. It was a sort of three story house with a huge open hall with a staircase going up and that's where we get the classic drum sound on "Levee Breaks" I'll come onto that later, but that's what it was. It had incredible … I loved it. It was a pretty austere place; I loved the atmosphere of it. I really did personally. The others got a bit spooked out by it.

Q: So there they were, ready to rehearse and record. What happened next?

JP: Whenever we got together from the third, fourth, fifth album etc, around that time we would always say 'what have you got?' to anybody else to see if Jonesy had anything to be honest. Robert and I were doing all of the writing up to that point, unless it was a number which sort of, like a blues number. For instance, "When the Levee Breaks" is, and then we would make a split between the four of us. We were always trying to encourage him to come up with bits and pieces so to speak, cause that's usually what they were, he never came up with a complete whole song or anything, (until 'In Through the Out Door'). But he had this great riff with "Black Dog" and I added some sections to it as well and then we had the idea actually, I must be totally honest, I suggested, how you get the breaks with the vocals. That's it, I've finally owned up as no one else will in the band, but that was the idea to give it the vocal thing then the riffs in.

Q: And what's that noise on the front of the track?

JP: That's the guitar's warming up. To me, the most important part about anything is to have a really good bass and drum sound because I knew after that I'd be working on the guitar. So, I did all the rest of the guitar overdubs in Ireland .

Q: But the basic tracks were done at Headley Grange?

JP: Yes. We had the drums in the hall and sometimes the drums were in the room as well, (in the sitting room with the fireplace) and the amplifiers were all over. When Bonzo was in the hall, Jones and I were out there with earphones, the two sets of amps were in the other rooms and other parts such as cupboards and things. A very odd way of recording but it certainly worked. When you've got the whole live creative process going on, that's how things like "Rock and Roll" come out.

Q: And how exactly was that?

JP: I think we were attempting "Four Sticks" and it wasn't happening and Bonzo started the drum intro to "Keep a Knocking" (by Little Richard) and I played the riff automatically, that was "Rock and Roll" and we got through the whole of the twelve bar bit (the first verse). We said 'this is great, forget "Four Sticks" let's work on this' and things were coming out like that.

Q: "Rock and Roll" was recorded in two or three takes, a happy incident inspired by the set up at Headley Grange. Another benefit of being there was that the creative process was not confined to a timetable and there were instruments lying around, like a mandolin belonging to John Paul Jones.

JP: I remember seeing it. We were living in the house, some would go to bed and I would sit up and play quite a bit and I picked it up and it just came out! I had never played one before, the tuning is totally different. That was something about that period. It was a time of great inspiration, you know. Anyway that came out.

Q: Who's idea was it to use Sandy Denny on "The Battle of Evermore"?

JP: That was an idea of Robert's. He had this idea to bring in Sandy Denny. I though it worked out well.

Q: What about guitars? Did you have a lot of them with you?

JP: All the guitars I had, (I didn't have many at that point). For example, I know everyone knows me for the double neck, but in fact I had to get the double neck to handle "Stairway" because even though I had played six string acoustic, electric and twelve string electric. I couldn't do it on one or the other. The double neck was the only way of being able to handle it. Now everyone's familiar with it. It may not make a lot of sense but it was quite a complicated song to actually get across to everybody. I know one of the bits that was difficult for Bonzo at the time was the twelve string fanfare into the guitar solo and that took a bit of time. We were going over and over it from the beginning to the end quite a few times, with Robert sitting on the stool listening and he must have got inspiration as he wrote these lyrics then. He said I think I've got some things for it. We had an old Revox tape recorder at that time and I remember there were a good 70 to 80% of the lyrics there.

We played it at the L.A. Forum; it's a long track when you think about it, a hell of a long track. You know how difficult it is when you go and hear a concert and hear a number from a band for the first time and that's quite a long time to concentrate on something. I remember we got a standing ovation from a considerable amount of that audience and we went 'wow'! We knew it was good, we didn't realise that people would latch onto it, but from testing the gauge of it like that it was an early reaction. We thought 'that's great, fabulous'.

We'd be doing things that just, you know, playing around and this, that and the other suddenly. For instance I remember "Misty Mountain Hop" - I remember coming up with the opening part of that and then we would go off into that. Jonesy put the chords in for the chorus bit and that would shape up. We used to work pretty fast. A lot of that ("Misty Mountain Hop") would have been made up during the point of being at Headley.

Q: But they didn't all come that easily?

JP: "Four Sticks", I remember, we tried that on numerous occasions and it didn't come off until the day Bonzo who was just playing with two sticks on it and we tried all different things, then one day he picked up two sets of sticks, so he had four sticks, and we did it. That was two takes, but that was because it was physically impossible for him to do another. I couldn't get that to work until we tried to record it a few times and I just didn't know what it was and I still wouldn't have known what it was, we probably would have kicked the track out, but then Bonzo went and I'm not going to repeat the language he said at the time, but it was nothing to do with the fact that it was taking a long time. We had actually gone in to try on a fresh occasion and he just picked up the four sticks and that was it.

Q: Why did you choose to release the fourth album as untitled?

JP: It started of originally going out without any information whatsoever, nothing. Then it was coming down to maybe we will have one single on it and then it got to the point where we all chose our own symbols.

Q: Jimmy's being the hermit.

JP: Some people say it has illusions of Jolman Hunt (a painter) but it hasn't. It actually comes from the idea from the tarot card, the hermit and so the ascension to the beacon and the light of truth. The whole light so to speak.

Q: The last but one track on the album is "Going to California "

JP: That was another late night guitar twiddle, you know, the structure of it at Headley. That was the good thing about staying at that place. You didn't have anything like a snooker table or anything like that. No recreational purists at all. It was really good for discipline and getting on with the job. I suppose that's why a lot of these came at Headley Grange. For instance "Going to California " and "Battle of Evermore" came out. But obviously then we got together and it was just away and a far, it was Jonesy on the mandolin, myself and Robert singing on it.

We went over to mix it at Sunset Sound (L.A.). This is Andy Johns and myself and Peter Grant was there as well; he came over. The funny thing is on "Going to California " you got "The noises of the canyon got to tremble and shake" curiously enough when we landed, this is absolutely true. Apparently, as we were coming down the escalators into the main terminal there was a slight earthquake. In fact, it was quite big actually. It cracked one of the dams there in San Diego and the in the hotel before going to the studio you could feel the bed shaking. I thought 'well, here we go'.

Q: When people talk about drum sounds, they often refer to Led Zeppelin and "When the Levee Breaks" in particular. It wasn't all down to John Bonham's playing as producer. You knew what he wanted to hear.

JP: Having worked in the studios for so long as a session player, I had been on so many sessions where the drummer was stuck in a little booth and he would be hitting the drums for all he was worth and it would just sound as though he was hitting a cardboard box. I knew that drums would have to breathe to have that proper sound, to have that ambiance. So, consequently we were working on the ambiance of everything, of the instruments, all the way through. I guess this is the high point of this album. You've got something like "When the Levee breaks" which was with Bonzo in the hall and on the second landing was a stereo mike and that's all there was. But that whole drum sound and all this ambiance is now captured digitally in the machine. Where we would do it that way, you have now got it in machines. I think we set a trend with all of this.

Q: On to the final cut on this classic album "When the Levee Breaks".

JP: "The Levee" was recorded at Headley Grange with the mobile truck and it was at this point, I believe to the best of my recollection that John Bonham had been attempting "The Levee" before as a riff. I had a whole concept of how this thing was going to end up, but it just so happened we put a mike into the hallway which, as it was a three storey house with the stairs going all the way up, had all this beautiful space. So, on the second landing was just a stereo mike and the sound was just phenomenal. That was it - it was going to be "THE" drum song. As soon as it was set up, it was the one we went for and it worked. We had a couple of attempts at it before which just didn't feel right. It must have been in the hands of the Gods really. We would say 'wait until the drum kit arrived and everything is going to be fine'. At the end of it where we've got the whole works going on this fade, it doesn't actually fade, as we finished it the whole effects start to spiral all the instruments are now spiralling. This was very difficult to do in those days. I can assure you - with the mixing and the voice remaining constant in the middle. This only really comes out on the headphones. You hear everything turning right around. In fact, at the time I was extremely happy with "The Levee".

Q: Looking back is there anything you would change about the album?

JP: Yes, I would do it with click tracks, synthesizers and sampling (Jimmy laughs) and then I would retire (more laughter). No, no I've really got fond memories of those times and the album was done with such great spirit. Everyone had a smile on these faces. It was great.