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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

May 31, 1948 - John Henry Bonham was born at Redditch, Worchestershire
May xx, 1969 - The band’s debut album enters the US Top 10
May xx, 1969 - Recording sessions for Led Zeppelin II begin
May xx, 1970 - The band works on new material at Bron-Y-Aur
May 03, 1971 - Richard Cole jams on Whole Lotta Love playing congas
May xx, 1972 - Houses Of The Holy recording sessions on location at Stargroves and Olympic studios
May 27, 1972 - Warm-up gigs kick off in Holland for an upcoming American tour
May 04, 1973 - Led Zeppelin gross nearly $250,000 for their performance in Atlanta, GA
May 05, 1973 - 56,800 attend the second show of the 1973 US tour at Tampa. This sets a record for the largest attendance for a one-act performance, previously held by the Beatlesfor their Shea Stadium show in 1965
May 10, 1974 - Swan Song Records is officially launched
May 11, 1974 - Led Zeppelin attend an Elvis concert and are thrilled when Elvis announces that Led Zeppelin is in the building
May 10, 1975 - Showco ships their PA system and video screens for the Earls Court shows from Dallas to London
May 23, 1976 - Page and Plant join Bad Company onstage at the LA Forum
May 21, 1977 - The Houston Summit claims $500,000 in damages to their venue caused by rowdy fans
May xx, 1978 - The band reunite at Clearwater Castle to rehearse
May 22, 1979 - It is officially announce that Led Zeppelin will headline at the Knebworth Festival in August
May 15, 1980 - After many revisions the European tour dates are finalized and the band is scheduled to open in Germany
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