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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

April 24, 1969 - 2nd US Tour begins (1st as headliners) at the Fillmore West
April xx, 1970 - Robert comments about the violence in the audience near the end of the fifth tour
April 04, 1970 - Jimmy Page performs White Summer/Black Mountain Side on the Julie Felix BBC show
April 16, 1970 - Whole Lotta Love was certified Gold in the US after selling over a million copies. The single had peaked at No. 4 on the US singles chart. In the UK, Atlantic Records had expected to issue the edited version themselves, and pressed initial copies for release on December 5, 1969. However, band manager Peter Grant was adamant that the band maintain a "no-singles" approach to marketing their recorded music in the UK and he halted the release.
April xx, 1971 - Untitled is rumored to be released this month
April xx, 1972 - Recording sessions for Houses Of The Holy at Stargroves and Olympic studios
April xx, 1973 - Led Zeppelin rehearse their new stage show in preparation for their huge 1973 US Tour
April xx, 1974 - Swan Song concentrates its efforts on signing new acts
April xx, 1975 - Jimmy does some mixing at Electric Lady studios for TSRTS soundtrack
April 19, 1975 - 51,000 tickets sell in two hours for three nights at Earls Court, two added dates see another 34,000 tickets sold
April xx, 1976 - The band decide they will release their film to theaters
April 30, 1977 - Led Zeppelin breaks the record for the largest attendance for a single-act show in the Pontiac Silverdome with 76,229 in attendance
April xx, 1978 - The band hold a meeting, this time with Robert, to discuss Zeppelin’s future
April 03, 1979 - Page, Bonham and Plant jam with Bad Company again in Birmingham
April 27, 1980 - The band rehearses at Rainbow Theater for an upcoming European tour
April 26, 1988 - James Patrick Page III’s birthday. He is named after his father is the only son of Jimmy and Patricia Ecker. Jimmy spoke of his son saying: "He is wonderful. He has made a big difference to my life."
April 21, 1998 - Page and Plant released Walking Into Clarksdale.
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