Carouselambra

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"Carouselambra"
Song by Led Zeppelin
from the album In Through the Out Door
Released 15 August 1979 (1979-08-15)
Recorded November–December 1978
Studio Polar Studios, Stockholm, Sweden
Genre Hard rock[1], progressive rock
Length 10:28
Label Swan Song
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s) Jimmy Page
Audio sample

"Carouselambra" is the fifth track on Led Zeppelin's 1979 album In Through the Out Door. The name Carouselambra is a reference to the first section of the song sounding similar to carousel music. It is the second-longest song the band recorded in the studio (after "In My Time of Dying"), at more than 10 minutes in length. John Paul Jones' synthesizers dominate the song, with Jimmy Page's guitar playing a supporting role.

Overview[edit]

With its early working title of "The Epic", what would eventually be called "Carouselambra" was conceived during the band's rehearsals at Clearwell Castle in May 1978.[2] The song itself is split in three sections. The first section is a fast-paced showcase of Jones on synthesizer (he overdubbed bass guitar or already recorded it as part of the backing track), with Robert Plant's vocals mixed down slightly underneath Jones, the drums of John Bonham and Page's guitar chord progression. The second section is much slower in pace, highlighting Page's use of the Gibson EDS-1275 double-necked guitar, the only time he used that instrument on a Led Zeppelin studio song,[2] while Plant sings some reflective lyrics. The final section returns to an up-tempo beat, with all four band members performing in unison. Page's deep, droning guitar sound was produced with a Gizmotron, a device that creates infinite sustain, unusual harmonics, and allows the guitar to sound like a string section.[2]

Jones, in an interview, stated he had obtained the Yamaha GX-1 synthesizer from Keith Emerson. He later sold this GX-1 back to Emerson after Led Zeppelin's last tour in 1980.[3]

Plant's vocals, particularly in the first section of the song, are somewhat buried in the mix and the words are difficult to discern. According to an interview Plant gave in 1979, the song was about someone who, when one day realising the song was written about them, would say, "My God! Was it really like that?"[2] Later comments suggest that the singer meant his bandmates; the lyrics allegedly were a veiled description of their troubled creative chemistry.[4]

Reception[edit]

In a contemporary review for In Through the Out Door, Charles M. Young of Rolling Stone described "Carouselambra" as having "an extremely lame keyboard riff" and said the song was too long, clocking in at "an absurd 10:28".[5] Young also called the song extremely repetitive, and while "repetition to weave a hypnotic effect has always been part of the Zeppelin sound, what they are repeating here is not worth the effort."[5]

In a retrospective review of In Through the Out Door (Deluxe Edition), Andrew Doscas of PopMatters gave "Carouselambra" a negative review, calling the song something you would hear from either Styx or Genesis and not Zeppelin.[6] Doscas found Plant "mumbling inaudible inanities for about 60% of the song."[6] While Doscas found the song's synthesizers catchy, he found that Zeppelin fans will find it hard not to skip over "Carouselambra" after the four minute mark "in favor of the final two tracks."[6] On the Deluxe Edition, Doscas found Plant's vocals on the "Carouselambra" rough mix (titled "The Epic") much more clear than the original version.[6]

Live renditions[edit]

"Carouselambra" was never played live by the band at Led Zeppelin concerts. John Paul Jones once said that his original idea for the song was for it to be used as a "centrepiece" of their live shows, using it as a medium between songs as they moved from one to the other. The band planned to perform the song on its 1980 North American tour, but because of the death of John Bonham, this never came to fruition.

During the 1995–96 Page and Plant tour, Plant would often sing the middle verse of the song when he and Page performed "In the Evening".[7]

The Epic[edit]

A rough mix of the song with fewer overdubs was re-released in 2015 on In Through the Out Door (Deluxe Edition), under the title "The Epic".[8]

Personnel[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Lewis, Dave (2004) The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9
  • Welch, Chris (1998) Led Zeppelin: Dazed and Confused: The Stories Behind Every Song, ISBN 1-56025-818-7
  • Cross, Charles R. (2009) Led Zeppelin: Shadows Taller Than Our Souls, ISBN 978-0-06-180914-9

References[edit]

  1. ^ Davis, Stephen (1985). Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga. New York: Ballantine Books. p. 291. ISBN 0-345-33516-3. 
  2. ^ a b c d Dave Lewis (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.
  3. ^ John Paul Jones' Yamaha GX-1 http://www.reocities.com/jpjkeys/yamahagx1.html
  4. ^ Jeff Giles, "Jimmy Page Says Led Zeppelin's Ninth Album Would Have Been 'Hypnotic," http://ultimateclassicrock.com/led-zeppelin-ninth-album/
  5. ^ a b Young, Charles M. (18 October 1979). "In Through The Out Door". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 27 July 2017. 
  6. ^ a b c d Doscas, Andrew (22 September 2015). "Led Zeppelin: In Through the Out Door (Deluxe Edition)". PopMatters. Retrieved 27 July 2017. 
  7. ^ Los Angeles 6/26/77 - It'll Be Me; Official website
  8. ^ Grow, Kory (3 June 2015). "Led Zeppelin Announces Final Three Deluxe Reissues". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 August 2017. 

External Links[edit]