Jimmy Page Says Led Zeppelin Albums Were Too Difficult To Review
Iconic guitarist Jimmy Page joined Sophie K for an interview during which he revealed the reason why it was quite challenging to review Led Zeppelin‘s albums.
Formed in 1968, Led Zeppelin was among the most influential bands of the time with their unique guitar-based sound, the variety of influences found in their music, and their impact on the nature of the music industry. Throughout the band’s career, Led Zeppelin also had one particular thing: they disliked releasing singles.
Led Zeppelin were seeing their albums as complete and indivisible listening experiences. They didn’t like the concept of re-editing their existing tracks to release them as singles. Their manager Peter Grant tried to maintain a pro-album stance, however, some of Led Zeppelin songs were released as singles without the band’s consent.
In 1969, Led Zeppelin released their second album ‘Led Zeppelin II.’ The same year, an edited version of ‘Whole Lotta Love,’ the song which appeared in the album, was released as a single in the U.S. Although the band was reluctant to release a single, it sold one million copies and helped them to gain popularity.
Led Zeppelin then released their third album ‘Led Zeppelin III’ in 1970. Following the release, the album received mixed reactions since the sound of it was rather different from their previous albums. In November 1970, the album’s opening track ‘Immigrant Song’ was released as a single against the band’s wishes.
During an interview with Sophie K on November 15, 2021, Jimmy Page revealed that this was the reason Led Zeppelin’s albums were difficult to review. He said that reviewers relied on singles as references at that time, and they couldn’t understand why each of the band’s albums sound so different. So, they criticized them no matter what, and it was bad for the band due to their stance against releasing singles.
In the interview, Jimmy Page said the following:
“The reviewers of the time could only have a point of reference. They were so used to bands that did singles. And there was a conduit between one album and the current album that they might have to review. The singles made it a comfort zone to be able to review stuff.
People found it very difficult to review Led Zeppelin albums at the time. So, [they] couldn’t really work out what it was all about, and why each album was sounding so different from the next. And there would be criticism no matter what. So, because they didn’t have this point of reference of singles, well, that was just too bad because for us it was right from the beginning.
I didn’t want to get caught up in the singles market. And that gives you the license to be able to just expand what you’re doing, and keep expanding without having to have it drawn back into ‘Oh, but where’s the single?’ There isn’t a single, it’s an album.”
You can listen to the interview below.