The Making of Led Zeppelin ZOSO
by Robert Godwin
Collector’s Guide Publishing
Ya gotta love fans who obsess over a 35-year-old album, collect every single bootleg, find the rehearsal tapes, and even know what the band had for breakfast when they recorded their big hits. When I first saw this slim little book by über-fan Robert Godwin, it looked like a 15-minute read. But… three days later I finished this amazing compilation of interviews, quotes, and contemporary source material. He begins with the symbolism of the title, which we’ll call “ZOSO” for this story; I’m not sure how to render the mystical symbols that form the album’s official title. Just like that other musician “The Artist Formerly Known As,” Led Zeppelin attempted to prove they weren’t just hype by suppressing their name. Rather than do the conventional and call the disc Led Zeppelin IV, each band member went off and found a mystical symbol to represent himself, and they never mention the band’s name on the album. Of course the label (Atlantic) had a conniption, but Led Zeppelin proved themselves right, ZOSO became one of the milestones of Heavy Metal.
Godwin devotes chapters to the cryptic cover art, the singles, and eventually the mechanics of producing the classic sound of each of the eight cuts. Here the book really shines — in the pre-digital era getting echo, presence, and special effects relied on clever cutting of tape, electro mechanical reverb units, and in the case of this album, the use of a sprawling Victorian workhouse called Headley Grange. Reading about hanging microphones off balconies and putting the drummer in another room gives a new appreciation for the groundbreaking technical work Zep pulled off. Today we take these methods and their electronic simulacrum for granted, but when this stuff was new, the sound made the band stand out on an additional level. Even if you’re not a big metal fan, this little book is a slice of how rock and roll operated a generation ago.
Collectors Guide Publishing: www.cgpublishing.com