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Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012

If You Like Led Zeppelin… (Backbeat Books), By Dave Thompson

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The latest installment in the “If You Like…” series of fan books is admittedly short on theory. “This is not the place to ponder the reasons why,” writes the author on Led Zeppelin’s commercial and artistic achievements. And then, four pages on, the British expat critic presents a theory—and a good one—about “their openness to influence, their willingness to listen and their ability to seamlessly assimilate so many personal fascinations into what became a very public whole.

If You Like Led Zeppelin…
is like that—a fun and fact-filled read that could have been even better with a bit more thought and organization. And yet, Dave Thompson’s insights are usually sound and almost always interesting as he follows the band from their varied roots in blues, rock and folk through their unusually interesting solo careers and their influence, which continues to reverberate across the decades. He conveys a sense for the band members’ personalities and the band’s integrity. “Not for them the protracted, tragic zombiehood that awaited Keith Moon’s survivors in the Who,” he says, regarding their decision to end with the death of John Bonham. Although admittedly an apologist, Thompson does good work in sifting through the tangled copyrights and sources for many of Led Zeppelin’s songs.