British hard-rock icons Led Zeppelin’s blues roots are somewhat historic. As the same inferences apply to Cream, Jimi Hendrix and other pacesetters emanating from the 60s, 70s and onwards. Yet this documentary zooms in on Zeppelin’s correlation with preeminent blues figures such as Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters amid Celtic and folk elements. With musings by blues historians, producer Joe Boyd and British folk guitar giant John Renbourn, this video commences with dissertations on pioneering 20s bluesman Charley Patton spanning Elvis Presley and more.
As stated in the video, Led Zeppelin defined the hard-rocking progressive band aura via its integration and reshaping of blues, folk and other genres. Ultimately, this flick surfaces as a rather penetrating documentary of the blues amid its early European and African influences. Discussions of vocalist Robert Plant’s initial meetings with guitarist Jimmy Page at the latter’s boathouse paved the way for the band’s initial strategy. One of the more appealing aspects of the film pertains to the color shots of the Mississippi Delta and the old plantation areas that served as launching grounds for blues artists to coincide with blow by blow iterations of Robert Johnson, for example.
Musicians on hand perform and describe how Johnson and Patton played the guitar while using various rhythmic techniques and harmonically advanced chord voicings. Moreover, we find that Page’s decision to become a guitarist was largely influenced by Presley’s famous rockabilly guitarist Scotty Moore. However, it is reaffirmed that Page never actually mimicked Moore’s style but there is also mention of Page’s obsession with the occult. As the course continues, producer Sam Phillips’ Sun Studio legacy in Memphis, TN is also highlighted in the mix.
Not having seen the initial installment of the "Down The Tracks" DVD on Bob Dylan, I will go out on a short limb by stating that the preponderance of this program is more of a historical canon on the blues itself. You won’t find concert highlights or interviews with the Led Zeppelin band members here. Its an interesting chronicle, but perhaps a bit too detailed and overloaded with gobs of blues-based factoids, well beyond anything strictly related to Led Zeppelin’s legacy.