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Page's Studio Tricks III (Backwards echo) - from Bill O'Neil

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Subj: Page's Studio Tricks III

 

Hello, All --

 

Rather than disect a song, I thought I'd point out Page's use of "backwards echo," as he likes to call it. Page generated backwards echo (ohce sdrawkcab, as I like to call it) by playing his part regularly, then flipping the tape over and adding echo or reverb to it. When the tape is returned to it's normal direction, the reverb sound preceeds the sound it's been applied to, making an interesting "sucking" sound. Page usually applied this technique to acoustic guitars.

 

When I say "flipping the tape over," I mean exactly that. A multitrack machine has open reels which can easily be reversed by turning them upside down and placing each on the opposite spindle. The track recieving backwards treatment will be found at its mirror position. Take an eight-track, for example. When turned over, track one can be found (on the tape heads and therefore the mixer) where track eight used to be, track two where track seven should be, three to six, etc.

 

Examples:

 

"Hey, Hey, What Can I Do": During the choruses ("I got a woman, work the bar long day, yeah), notice you how can hear the acoustic guitar "swooshing" into each chord.

 

"Whole Lotta Love": Here Page applies an echo to Plant's voice (Waaaaaay down inside, woman WOMAN). He's also got regular, forward echoes going on here. Way cool. These echoes make this part sound trippy, full, and o-so-unusual.

 

"That's the Way": During the ascending chords at the end of the song (the coda), you can really hear the reverb preceeding each chord.

 

"Bron-Y-Aur" (from Physical Graffiti): At least one of the guitars has been treated with backwards echo, helping the piece pump. Nice!

 

There must be other examples, but those are the ones that come to mind.

 

To the best of my knowledge, Page never recorded a backwards guitar part. Backwards guitar, and occasionally drums, were used frequently in the late sixties and early seventies by Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd (and many others). Parts recorded backwards and played forwards sound trippy, but they're a bit gimmicky. Hats off to Page for avoiding them.

 

His use of backwards echo was always subtle and tasteful.

 

Happy birthday to the man.

 

Bill O'Neil
Venice, CA, USA
Maker's Mark is mother's milk.

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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

July xx, 1969 - The band play many festivals now on their third American tour
July xx, 1970 - Additional recording for Led Zeppelin III at London’s Island Studios
July 16, 1970 - Photographer Chris Welch films Led Zeppelin on his 8mm camera, some clips later used in the Whole Lotta Love promo video
July xx, 1971 - Untitled gets re-mixed in London
July 05, 1971 - A riot erupts mid-concert, forcing Led Zeppelin to stop after about 40 minutes
July xx, 1972 - After repeated bad press, Led Zeppelin hire their first publicity firm
July 20, 1973 - A last minute decision is made to film the remaining part of the tour
July xx, 1973 - Led Zeppelin is filmed over the three nights for their film that will emerge as The Song Remains The Same
July xx, 1974 - After viewing their 1973 filmed performance, it is apparent critical errors were made
July xx, 1974 - Mixing for Physical Graffiti at Olympic Studios
July 05, 1975 - The band meet in Montreux to discuss adding South America and Japan to the end of their North American tour
July xx, 1976 - Bonham and Page fly to Montreux, Switzerland to check out some new sound and drum effects
July 17, 1977 - The last ever performance of Moby Dick played at the Seattle Kingdome
July 24, 1977 - The band plays its last US date at the Oakland Coliseum
July xx, 1978 - Led Zeppelin are invited to perform at Maggie Bell’s Festival Hall show
July xx, 1979 - Led Zeppelin film their rehearsal at Bray Studios
July 04, 1979 - Led Zeppelin confirm a second date at Knebworth in August 1979
July 05, 1980 - Simon Kirke joins in on drums for an encore in Munich
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