Wednesday, November 12, 2008

TVD's Daily Wax | The Producers | Jimmy Page

Blues is a tricky genre despite its prevalence. It can either run its routine on ya' or TRANSCEND and lift right off the ground. Led Zeppelin spent very little time on terra firma alongside their peers and lifted off into misty, ethereal heights. And it's not because they perhaps had the best triumvirate of musicians and the finest drummer of all time (apologies to those Moon and Starr worshippers) it's because their studio performances were engineered, recorded, and produced so magnificently.

Via Wiki: "Page is credited for the innovations in sound recording he brought to the studio during the years he was a member of Led Zeppelin. During the late 1960s, most British music producers placed microphones directly in front of amplifiers and drums, resulting in the sometimes "tinny" sound of the recordings of the era. Page commented to Guitar World magazine that he felt the drum sounds of the day in particular "sounded like cardboard boxes." Instead, Page was a fan of 1950s recording techniques; Sun Studios being a particular favourite. In the same Guitar World interview, Page remarked, "Recording used to be a science", and "[engineers] used to have a maxim: distance equals depth." Taking this maxim to heart, Page developed the idea of placing an additional microphone some distance from the amplifier (as much as twenty feet) and then recording the balance between the two. By adopting this technique, Page became one of the first British producers to record a band's "ambient sound" - the distance of a note's time-lag from one end of the room to the other.

For the recording of several Led Zeppelin tracks, such as "Whole Lotta Love" and "You Shook Me", Page additionally utilized "reverse echo" - a technique which he claims to have invented himself while with The Yardbirds (he had originally developed the method when recording the 1967 single "Ten Little Indians"). This production technique involved hearing the echo before the main sound instead of after it, achieved by turning the tape over and employing the echo on a spare track, then turning the tape back over again to get the echo preceding the signal.

Page has stated that, as producer, he deliberately changed the audio engineers on Led Zeppelin albums, from Glyn Johns for the first album, to Eddie Kramer for Led Zeppelin II, to Andy Johns for Led Zeppelin III and later albums. He explained that "I consciously kept changing engineers because I didn't want people to think that they were responsible for our sound. I wanted people to know it was me."

In an interview he gave to Guitar World magazine in 1993, Page remarked on his work as a producer: “Many people think of me as just a riff guitarist, but I think of myself in broader terms... [A]s a producer I would like to be remembered as someone who was able to sustain a band of unquestionable individual talent, and push it to the forefront during its working career. I think I really captured the best of our output, growth, change and maturity on tape -- the multifaceted gem that is Led Zeppelin."

Led Zeppelin - Whole Lotta Love (Mp3)
Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven (Mp3)
Led Zeppelin - The Song Remains The Same (Mp3)
Led Zeppelin - Kashmir (Mp3)
Led Zeppelin - Achilles Last Stand (Mp3)


SnowDove said...

What a man. I never fail to be amazed by the greatness that is Zeppelin

Anonymous said...

Jimmy was there when all the stars aligned and he knew exactly what to do. The psychedelic blues power trio format of The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream were the new paradigm, but their record production was less than desirable. The Jeff Beck Group added the ass shakin' high pitched front man to the mix (Rod Stewart) to make it a four piece, but again the record production was poor. Page took all of this that he saw happening and presented it with the type of perfection that comes from years of studio work, both as an engineer/producer and session player. And then taking over the defunct Yardbird's contract was vehicle that allowed it all to happen.

JON said...

But the sound, man. The SOUND!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Champ, the sound, the sound.


JON said...


Anonymous said...

...and don't forget about the little help from satan, satan, satan, satan, satan...