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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

March 17, 1969 - A four-song performance is filmed for TV Byen in Denmark (aired on May 19, 1969)
March 21, 1969 - Zeppelin’s debut TV appearance on "How It Is"
March 25, 1969 - Filming session for the Supershow
March xx, 1970 - The band turns down many TV offers worth large sums
March 05, 1971 - Led Zeppelin started a 12-date "Thank You" tour for British fans, appearing at the clubs from their early days and charging the same admission prices as in 1968. The first show was at Ulster Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland where they played songs from their upcoming fourth album, including the first public performances of Black Dog, Stairway To Heaven, Going To California and Rock And Roll.
March 12, 1972 - Page and Plant rehearse some songs with the Bombay Orchestra
March 25, 1973 - Led Zeppelin finally release Houses of the Holy after production issues with the album cover
March 28, 1973 - Led Zeppelin released Houses Of The Holy in the UK. The album title was a dedication by the band to their fans who appeared at venues they dubbed "houses of the holy". Houses Of The Holy has now been certified 11 times Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for US sales in excess of 11 million copies.
March xx, 1974 - The band decide to release a double album due to the amount of left over studio material
March 29, 1975 - Led Zeppelin saw all six of their albums in the US Top 100 chart in the same week, alongside their latest album Physical Graffiti at No.1. Physical Graffiti has now been certified 16 times Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for US sales in excess of 16 million copies.
March 15, 1975 - Tickets for the Earls Court shows sellout within four hours
March xx, 1976 - Jimmy speaks with reporters mentioning the new album due out called Presence
March 31, 1976 - Presence is released
March 28, 1977 - Zeppelin arrive in Dallas, Texas to rehearse before opening the eleventh tour of the US
March xx, 1978 - Robert and John spend some time hanging around the Midlands
March 26, 1979 - Robert takes lead vocal at a Bad Company gig in Birmingham
March 04, 1980 - John Bonham makes a TV appearance on "Alright Now" with Bill Connolly
March 26, 2006 - Readers of Total Guitar magazine voted the guitar solo by Jimmy Page in Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven as the greatest guitar solo of all time. The 1971 track was voted ahead of tracks by Van Halen, Queen, Jimi Hendrix and The Eagles. On the 20th anniversary of the original release of the song, it was announced via US radio sources that the song had logged up an estimated 2,874,000 radio plays - back to back, that would run for 44 years solid.
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