Led Zeppelin (album) - Reception


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Entertainment Weekly A−
Oz Favourable
Rolling Stone (1969) Unfavourable
Rolling Stone (2001)
The Rolling Stone Album Guide

The album was advertised in selected music papers under the slogan "Led Zeppelin — the only way to fly". It initially received poor reviews. In a stinging assessment, Rolling Stone magazine asserted that the band offered "little that its twin, the Jeff Beck Group, didn't say as well or better three months ago... It would seem that if they are to fill the void created by the demise of Cream, they will have to find a producer, editor and some material worthy of their collective talents." It also called Plant "as foppish as Rod Stewart, but nowhere near so exciting". John Paul Jones later recalled:

We had appalling press at the time. Nobody seemed to want to know us for one reason or another. We got to America and read the Rolling Stone review of the very first album, which was going on about us as another hyped British band. We couldn't believe it. In our naivety we thought we'd done a good album and were doing all right, and then this venom comes flying out. We couldn't understand why or what we'd done to them. After that we were very wary of the press, which became a chicken-and-egg situation. We avoided them and so they avoided us. It was only because we did a lot of shows that our reputation got around as a good live band.

As was noted by rock journalist Cameron Crowe years later: "It was a time of 'super-groups', of furiously hyped bands who could barely cut it, and Led Zeppelin initially found themselves fighting upstream to prove their authenticity."

However, press reaction to the album was not entirely negative. In Britain the album received a glowing review in the Melody Maker. Chris Welch wrote, in a review titled "Jimmy Page triumphs — Led Zeppelin is a gas!": "their material does not rely on obvious blues riffs, although when they do play them, they avoid the emaciated feebleness of most so-called British blues bands".

The album was very successful commercially. It was initially released in the US on 12 January 1969 to capitalise on the band's first North American concert tour. Before that, Atlantic Records had distributed a few hundred advance white label copies to key radio stations and reviewers. A positive reaction to its contents, coupled with a good reaction to the band's opening concerts, resulted in the album generating 50,000 advance orders. Within two months of its release the album had reached Billboard's Top 10. It stayed on the Billboard chart for 73 weeks and held a 79-week run on the British charts. By 1975 it had grossed $7,000,000.

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