Jimmy Page Critical Essays

Introduction

Jimmy Page 1944– Robert Plant 1948–

British songwriters and filmmakers. Page and Plant are the two focal points of the premier heavy-metal rock band, Led Zeppelin, a group which for ten years has explored various musical forms and techniques while still adhering to their blues roots. By combining music both delicate and powerful with lyrics that reflect an interest in mystical and physical subjects, Led Zeppelin has developed a fanatical following and a reputation for always providing their audiences with the unexpected. They are the first band to have broken international concert attendance records set by the Beatles, and have spawned scores of imitators. Many critics and fans agree that they are the current embodiment of the quintessential rock band. Much of the credit for the group's success is given to Page, their leader and lead guitarist. Page was a member of the legendary blues-based group, the Yardbirds. When it folded in 1968, Page was left with the responsibility of completing a series of unfulfilled contractual obligations which prompted him to form Led Zeppelin with vocalist Plant, bassist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. Led Zeppelin expanded on the ground broken by the Yardbirds, Cream, and the Jeff Beck Group and redefined the genre these bands began with their spontaneous vocal improvisations, unusual chord progressions, and forceful instrumentation. Their song "Whole Lotta Love" is considered the classic representation of all these elements. Both Page and Plant collaborate on ideas for their music, but Plant is most often considered responsible for the band's lyrical stance. Often alluding to traditional English ballads, folklore, and works of fantasy such as J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Plant's lyrics create their own imaginative mythology with songs like "The Battle of Evermore" and "Stairway to Heaven," the latter being most consistently regarded as the band's best work. The lyrics often refer to sixties-based concerns such as universal love and world peace, causing Plant to be criticized as a naive, outdated flower child. Plant's darker side has also emerged in Led Zeppelin's lyrics, many of which are overtly sexual and often considered chauvinistic. The band has also been charged with lifting lyrics and music from uncredited blues sources and for creating music that is ponderous, boring, and excessive. Their film, The Song Remains the Same, has been criticized for similar reasons. However, Led Zeppelin is still looked to for music that is both physically exciting and spiritually uplifting, and despite sporadic album releases and tours, personal misfortune, and changing musical tastes, they remain among the favorite groups of many young people.