May 072010

The current SHOWDOWN poll asks What’s the cooler studio gimmick in a Led Zeppelin song? Along with the choices of the pre-echo in the breakdown of “Whole Lotta Love” and the dueling guitars bouncing from the left and right speakers at the end of “What Is and What Should Never Be” you’ve been given a rare third option, which allows you to add your choice for coolest Led Zeppelin studio gimmick here, in this thread. Your entry must be a studio gimmick of some sort, not a cool riff or something like that.



  18 Responses to “Once and For All: What’s the Coolest Studio Gimmick in a Led Zeppelin Song?”

  1. Way Down Inside!

  2. What he said.

  3. Mr. Moderator

    Although I would probably agree that the pre-echo on “Whole Lotta Love” is the most distinctive studio gimmick in the recorded history of Led Zeppelin (and a contender for most distinctive studio gimmick in all of rock), I’m going to bat for the speaker-bouncing guitars at the end of “What Is and What Should Never Be” as the coolest gimmick. The song itself takes some patience, but when those guitars start riccocheting I want to roll down the windows and crank up the volume. If I’m listening to the song indoors I want to run out to my car and then do that. Baby, that’s cool!

  4. I like how Ramble On shift from one speaker to another. Not really a different effect as it is sort of done all throughout LZ II. And old boss that latelydavidbass and I had once described Led Zeppelin II as “headphone sex.”

  5. BigSteve

    I didn’t think ‘way down inside’ was a studio gimmick. I thought it was groove crosstalk. Pre-echo? Really?

  6. Pre-echo, baby. Run the tape backwards and print the echo to another track, then flip it and it comes first. Cool in both sound and concept.

  7. Lotta Hendrix in the opening section of that tune. Wandering guitars are also a pretty big Hendrix gimmick. Never noticed that but was never really a Zeppelin fan.

  8. 2000 Man

    When the needle lifts up at the end.

  9. BigSteve

    Ok I admit I’m pretty immune to the charms of LZ, esp Plant’s vocals, but why is that cool in sound and concept? If I recall the ‘pre-echo’ is kind of muffled. I recall believing at first that it was some kind of bleed-though, as if you were hearing it on the other side of the control room glass.

  10. dbuskirk

    Just listening to ARE YOU EXPERIENCED on my computer as I read this, and I’d forgotten how pan happy his records are.

  11. According to Eddie Kramer…

    “The time of that particular mix was 1969, and this all took place over a weekend at A&R studios in New York. Imagine [mixing] the entire Led Zeppelin II on 8 tracks in two days! As we got into “Whole Lotta Love,” I actually only ended up using seven tracks because tracks 7 and 8 were two vocal tracks. I think I used the vocal from track 7. We’d gotten the mix going, I believe it was a 12-chanel console with two panpots.

    “During the mixdown, I couldn’t get rid of the extra vocal in the break that was bleeding through. Either the fader was bad, or the level was fairly high — as we were wont to do is those days, we hit the tape with pretty high levels. Jimmy [Page] and I looked at each other and said “reverb,” and we cranked up the reverb and left it in. That was a great example of how accidents could become part of the fabric of your mix, or in this case, a part of history. And I always encourage people today not to be so bloody picky.”

    Re: Are you experienced – again Eddie Kramer – he claims that at some point on the album, he managed to create the illusion that something was happening behind the listener, though he insisted on being mysterious, not saying exactly where it was. I’ve never sat down to listen to the whole thing so carefully since then, but that’s what he claims, anyhow.

  12. Anyway, to actually respond to the thread, I’m going to go with the big stairwell drum sound on “When The Levee Breaks.” Boss!

  13. misterioso

    First thing that came to mind were the right/left guitars of “What Is…” The second was the massive sound of “Levee.” Third is whatever all the stuff is in “Dazed and Confused.” Strangely, “Whole Lotta Love” did not come to mind at all, even though it might well have.

  14. Mr. Moderator

    OK, so you nerds had to do research and confirm that the mind-blowing “pre-echo” was a brilliant mistake. Thanks a lot, cher:)

    BigSteve, to answer your question about why some of us find that part so fascinating, I’ll say that whenever I first heard it, probably at the age of 12, it BLEW MY MIND! It was aural time travel. How can an echo precede the source sound? About 10 years later I could begin to conceive of how this effect could be achieved, but that’s 10 years of me contemplating the possibility of time travel. I’m telling you, that was cooler than the stuff they did on Star Trek, but not quite as cool as the end of “What Is and What Should Never Be.” Now that the “pre-echo” has been proven a mistake rather than a gimmick, it’s coming down to “What Is…,” the intro to “…Levee…,” and “Dazed and Confused.”

  15. jeangray

    I always had a soft-spot for Plant singing through that Leslie Speaker thang on “Hats Off to Harper.”

  16. hrrundivbakshi

    Though the pre-verb in “Whole Laoota Love” was the gimmick that most filled me with wonder as a youngster, a recent fave is the stoned-hippy, on-tape decision to leave the jet airplane noise in on… what was that track… Bron-Yr-Aur?

  17. Hate to bust yez bubble boys but according to Sir Jimmy Page when visiting Headly Grange for the first time since Zaso (in the viddy It Might Get Loud) the big Levee drum sound was – if not an accident – an unexpected and fortunate synchronicity.

    I won’t spoil the punch line tho. You’ll have to see the show. It was the best part for me.

  18. Mr. Moderator

    So it’s sir telewacker now! Congrats on your knighthood, old friend! 🙂

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