When Led Zeppelin released their debut album on Jan. 12, 1969, it was critically lambasted, most famously by Rolling Stone. But the record-buying public disagreed, and history has since been kind, acknowledging it as a classic and a blueprint for nearly all hard rock that came in its wake. In its honor, we’ve put together this feature of other versions of the nine songs on Led Zeppelin, including both notable covers and the original takes from which the band drew their inspiration.
"Good Times Bad Times"Cracker
Like most tribute albums, 1995’s Encomium: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin was a hit-or-miss affair, with a collection of alternative bands performing Zeppelin favorites. Cracker’s faithful take on "Good Times Bad Times," however, was a highlight.
"Babe I’m Gonna Leave You"The Association
Originally written by Anne Bredon in the '50s, Led Zeppelin heard it first via the Joan Baez in Concert, Part 1 album. But four years before Zeppelin cut it, pop stars the Association ("Cherish," "Windy") recorded their own version, complete with their trademark group harmonies.
"You Shook Me"Muddy Waters
Muddy Waters recorded "You Shook Me" in 1962, overdubbing his voice onto an Earl Hooker song from the previous year called "Blue Guitar." Composer Willie Dixon recorded his own version on 1970’s "I Am the Blues," which contained many of his compositions that were brought to white audience through bands like Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.
A monolith in the Zeppelin catalog, "Dazed and Confused" is one of the toughest songs to cover. And even though Metallica has performed it, we’re partial to this live rave-up by Van Halen from Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Cantina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Well, until it unexpectedly breaks down nearly four minutes in.
"Your Time Is Gonna Come"Sandie Shaw
Sandie Shaw ranked, along with Dusty Springfield and Petula Clark, among Britain’s most successful pop singers in the ’60s. It’s believed that her take on "Your Time Is Gonna Come," which appears on 1969’s Reviewing the Situation, was the first cover of a Led Zeppelin song.
"Black Mountain Side"Bert Jansch
Jimmy Page’s Indian-influenced instrumental was adopted from a traditional Irish folk song called "Down by Blackwaterside." Page knew it from Bert Jansch, who recorded it as "Blackwaterside" on his 1966 album Jack Onion, a year before he formed the seminal British folk-rock band Pentangle.
No stranger to slammin’ riffs, Iron Maiden released a faithful cover of "Communication Breakdown" in 1990 as a B-side to "Bring Your Daughter ... to the Slaughter." That single, which turned out to be Maiden’s only song to top the U.K. singles chart, also featured a cover of Free’s "I’m a Mover."
"I Can’t Quit You Baby"B.B. King and Buddy Guy
Another Willie Dixon song, "I Can’t Quit You Baby" was first recorded by Otis Rush in 1956 and has since become a blues standard. We like this version, where B.B. King and Buddy Guy trade guitar licks back and forth.
"How Many More Times"Alabama Shakes
Since releasing their debut in 2012, Alabama Shakes have become one of the most acclaimed indie bands around thanks to amazing live shows and a throwback blues-rock sound powered by the vocals of Brittany Howard. They recorded this cover for NPR’s World Cafe program.