Jeff Beck Group vs. Led Zeppelin

Simple as it sounds. Who do you prefer, and why? Give me details.

I’m expecting this’ll be a pretty one-sided topic, since Zep is such a super-famous group. But I’ve been poring over Truth and Beck-Ola/Cosa Nostra for the last few days. The bands have a lot in common, but I have to say I like Beck’s band better. They’re not as self-indulgent as Zeppelin, and while Tony Newman is no John Bonham, I like what Nicky Hopkins brings to the JBG, and - this is something I never thought I’d write when all I’d heard was “Maggie May” - I’ll take Rod Stewart’s singing anyday.

No rancour intended, of course. But what do you guys think?


I like Jeff Beck a soloist but he’s really got nothing on Jimmy Page as a composer. I think it’s telling that “Beck’s Bolero,” one of JB’s best known songs, was written by Page.

Beck’s entire sound is more sophisticated. They win hands down. I also don’t think Zepplin held up over the years. I was a devoted fan back in the day, but I can live without them now.

Marley23 - great question. Now, granted, you have to only look at maybe LZ 1 and 2 - beyond that they stretch out and by the time you get to Kashmir they are doing truly wonderful things.

But Truth vs. LZ 1? Please - no contest. Truth by a mile. That album is the most influential to me as a guitar play by leaps and bounds - Let Me Love You (track 2) is THE single greatest guitar lead work I have ever heard - simple, single note stuff that any kid with a decent amount of practice under his belt can play - but how the hell does Beck do it? As melodic and sharp as David Gilmour - another great single-note, non-dweedly-gunslinger player - but Beck has more edge to his stuff and a greater sense of spontaneity. And that Les Paul through a Marshall tone - just definitive. Did I mention the call-and-response work where Beck leads and Rod Stewart follows? Just amazing…

I can do without Ol’ Man River or Blues Deluxe, but the rest - especially the infamous Beck’s Bolero - with Jimmy Page on rhythm, and Entwhistle and Moonie in the rhythm section in what was supposed to be the New Yardbirds before E & M got cold feet and went back to the Who, and Beckie decided to form his own group - is just amazing.

The most obvious comparison is You Shook Me - heck it is on both Truth and LZ 1 - I love Beck’s take on the guitar.

You should see the DVD out last year - How the West Was Won. Worth it for Kashmir and In My Time of Dying alone. Monster slide guitar work on the latter - just blow your head clean off.

I prefer Truth to LZ1, but Zep definitely holds up to me…

Absolutely right. I meant to say the same in my OP.


Because I never got into Led Zeppelin.

And because his (solo) 'Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers is on my Top Ten Favorite Songs Of All Time list.

Oh, I totally disagree here. I think Zeppelin still sounds great. I’m 30, so I only got into Zep well past their time, but they’re one of the few bands from those “classic rock” stations that I still enjoy listening to. I mean, you have Bonham who is hands down my favorite rock drummer. Then we got John Paul Jones who, as I mentioned in another thread, is on my short list of rock bassists. I need not say much about Jimmy Page. I’m not a lead guitar kind of guy, but Page is pretty much the prototypical lead guitarist. Robert Plant–now there’s the only guy in Zep I’m not totally head over heels for. I don’t think Zep would sound right with another vocalist, and their songwriting sure would have been a little bit different, but I can take or leave his vocal stylings.

I’m still blown away when I hear the drum intro to “Rock ‘n’ Roll” or “When The Levee Breaks.” I mean, the sound of the drums on “Levee” is thunderous and soulful. Nobody hits the drums the way Bonham did, nor has the same ass-shaking bluesy swagger. Anybody today should be proud to produce a sound like that. And the bassline in “Ramble On.” Holy shit. It still hits me right in the gut.

Don’t get me wrong, Beck was great, but Led Zeppelin was greater than the sum of its insanely talented parts.

It may be the boring choice, but I’ll take Led Zeppelin any day over the Jeff Beck Group.

Well, most people don’t record drums in a stone stairwell. Maybe more people should. :smiley:

Daaaamn Marley, that’s like asking “Which is better, the Book of Matthew or the Book of Mark?” (I couldn’t answer that, not having read either in twenty years or so. Maybe not a good example.)

The first concert I ever saw was Jeff Beck (“Blow By Blow” tour, Mahavishnu Orchestra opened) and it made me a music snob. I prefer the later band (Tench, Middleton, Chaman and Powell) to the earlier version, but that may just be familiarity. The Jeff Beck Group seemed more of an ensemble, playing off of each other like a jazz band (or something). Zeppelin seemed more like a backup to the soloist (kind of). Not that anyone in Zeppelin couldn’t play, God knows, more that the song arrangements were structured that way. (Some of them. ow A little bit. ouch I know, I know they were great, I’m just sayin’. OOOW Quit hittin me! :slight_smile: )

Still, you can’t deny the Zeppelin influence. I’m the last person in the world to cite sales or popularity, I think they are both meaningless in judging talent, but Zeppelin changed the face of rock music. (Not necessarily for the better, ultimately leading to Huge Shows and Huge Ticket Prices, but still.)

Maybe it comes down to who made more. There are more Zeppelin songs I like than there are Jeff Beck Group songs I like. But I like my favorite JBG song more than my favorite LZ song. (Both change daily, I’m fickle.)

I guess I’m saying, “I abstain.”
Or maybe, “I got to have a sooong”. Definitely Maybe.

There’s another trick here, it was recorded at a higher speed and slowed down. That’s probably why the track is in such an odd key.

I’ve not listened to Truth for a while so right now I couldn’t judge. I expect it shows more finesse than Zep1 but doesn’t have any riffs as good as How Many More Times.

I’m with the Zeppelin got better crowd. It’s likely that Page was deliberately ripping off Beck on Zep1, I much prefer Zeppelin when they’re not playing straight(ish) blues (squeeze my lemon, oh dear) Where they really score is in riff songs like Whole Lotta Love or out-of-nowhere weirdness like the Immigrant Song or Kashmir.

Since I didn’t care much for Zeppelin in the 70’s (and still don’t today), I’ll pick Beck.

puly - given your musical chops, I am going to push on this to get your thoughts. I hear you and agree in terms of overall contribution to music - there’s not even a contest. But what about LZ1 vs. Truth, head to head? In that case, I pick Beck solidly - the songs are at least as good, if not better, on Truth and the playing is much better. Jimmy Page is a better complete package as a writer, player, producer, bandleader, etc. - but solely as a lead guitarist, sorry - Beck is better and I bet Page would be the first to acknowledge it…

Good question, Marley23, and the answer, for me, has changed over the years. I was a 14 year old beginning guitarist in 1968 when I began to be aware of Beck and Page. In 1969 and 1970, I listened to(and tried desperately to imitate) Cream, Hendrix, Zeppelin and Beck constantly. In those days, Page seemed like a much better guitarist to me than Beck, but I preferred Beck’s band. Robert Plant’s voice irritated me (still does) and I thought Rod Stewart was absolutely great. In later years, I began to feel that Beck was the superior guitar player, but I also began to recognize the achievements of Page as a composer and producer. I also understand and appreciate the talents of John Paul Jones and John Bonham much more than I did in my teens. So my opinions have reversed, pretty much. Today, I would say that I prefer Led Zeppelin as a band, and prefer Beck over Page as a player. Plant’s voice still irritates me, unfortunately.

Don’t get me wrong. The Zepmeisters are good for a trip down memory lane (we LIVED for these guys when I was in high school), but as my musical tastes matured, they fell away, while Jeff Beck still mesmerizes me.

Yes, I certainly would agree with you here. As I said, I’m not much into lead guitars, but Jeff Beck’s guitar work does sound much better to me than Page’s. It’s just I prefer the overall Zeppelin sound and band over Beck’s.

It’s been ages since I’ve head Truth, so I’ll try to get around to listening to it this weekend with LZ1. It’ll be interesting to see if my perspective has changed at all.

As for the Levee drum sound, what I heard was that the drums were recorded a floor above the studio, but were miked not only up there, but the floor directly below, for those thunderous bass sounds.

I preferred Led Zeppelin, but I loved most of “Truth” and “Beck-Ola.”

Even though a brief listen to either of those albums makes one weep for how great Rod Stewart USED to be.

And Ron Wood did some superb bass work! Any time I hear someone rank Bill Wyman with the best bass players ever, I say, “He isn’t even the best bass player in the Rolling Stones!”

And Beck’s “All Shook Up” is, in my opinion, the greatest Elvis cover ever made.

Problem with the Jeff Becfk Group is… Beck was a magnificent guitarist and a great bandleader, but he’s NEVER been much of a composer, and Rod Stewart hadn’t yet developed into a capable songwriter. So, some of the material is spotty. And a few of their covers (“Jailhouse Rock,” for instance) are pretty lame.
Jimmy Page was a better composer than Beck, and that’s what made Zeppelin a better band.

Now, knowing that Rod Stewart BECAME a terrific songwriter, I’d have liked to see the Jeff Beck Group stay together for longer. They might have made some even better albums.

At what point did Rod Stewart become a songwriter, let alone a terrific one? I think of him as Mr. Covers.

Stewart did do a bit of songwriting: Every Picture Tells a Story, Maggie May, Mandolin Wind, Tonight’s the Night, You’re in My Heart, Gasoline Alley and quite a few others, many with the sole songwriting credit.

Tough choice. I think Beck was more innovative and adventurous than Zep, but Zep had more memorable songs.

It seems to me that somebody is forgetting “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy!”