Led Zeppelin (1969)
Heavier than hell. When this came out in 1969, it started a new paradigm. By 1971, Zeppelin’s untitled fourth album would cement their legacy: being one of the first hard rock outfits who started to fracture the universal appeal of pop music in the wake of the Beatles, by focusing on being high-concept, musically complex, and uncompromisingly heavy instead of accessible and modest. The debut inspired gritty loudness, a band-focused dynamic and high-pitched shouty vocals in numerous successors. It also pioneered grandiosity and (sometimes unfounded) mystification and self-indulgence in 70s rock bands. All sorts of intense subgenres owe their existence to Led Zeppelin, an album which showcases the band’s best attributes. Thundering drums, pyrotechnic guitar, wailing vocals, and fluid basslines (with eventual synth accompaniment later in the group’s career). True, the band stole (or, more politely, “reworked”) some melodies from old blues songs, occasionally had really dumb lyrics, and sometimes dragged a tune on too long, but that wasn’t what they were concerned with. They were focused on ROCKING, and they did that flawlessly and with great technical aplomb.
Key track: “How Many More Times”
See also: Led Zeppelin II – Led Zeppelin (1969), Led Zeppelin III – Led Zeppelin (1970), Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin (1971), Houses Of the Holy – Led Zeppelin (1973), Physical Graffiti – Led Zeppelin (1975), Toys In the Attic – Aerosmith (1975), Rocks – Aerosmith (1976)