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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


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September 07, 1968 - The band fulfills some old Yardbirds dates in Scandanavia
September xx, 1969 - Jimmy Page is reported saying the second album will be harder than the first
September 19, 1970 - Led Zeppelin gross over $100,000 for two performances at Madison Square Gardens on the same day
September xx, 1971 - Jimmy Page is furious over a live Yardbirds release. It was forced off the shelves
September xx, 1971 - The band vacations in Hawaii
September xx, 1972 - Discussions to play various countries ends with a decision to play Japan again
September xx, 1973 - Jimmy Page considers a live release of material before releasing a new album
September 14, 1974 - Led Zeppelin and CSN&Y jam at an after party
September xx, 1975 - Jimmy meets up with Robert in Malibu, where he is staying on a tax exile
September 12, 1976 - Page and Bonham return to Switzerland and record a drum piece title Bonzo’s Montreux
September 08, 1977 - Page takes to the stage with other well knowns at a WEA records sales conference
September 15, 1978 - Zep road manager Richard Cole and Bad Company’s Simon Kirke get married in a double ceremony
September 17, 1979 - Promoter Fred Bannister forced into liquidation over Knebworth Sales with Led Zeppelin
September 18, 1980 - Jimmy reviews a new stage set up and technical details for the Eighties Part One tour at Swan Song offices
September 25, 1980 - John Bonham is found dead in Jimmy Page’s Windsor mansion by sound technician Benji Le Fevre
September 12, 2007 - It was announced at a press conference by Harvey Goldsmith that the remaining members of Led Zeppelin would reunite with Jason Bonham on drums.
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