Led Zeppelin: The Origin of the Species [DVD]

Zeppelin fans will know much of this material already. But I once wrote a book about this band (not a very good one, admittedly), and there are things here that I never knew.

Led Zeppelin

The Origin of the Species

Label: Chrome Dreams
US Release Date: 2006-08-06
UK Release Date: 2006-07-31

Doing pretty much exactly what it says on the tin, Led Zeppelin - The Origin Of The Species is an informative and entertaining documentary that focuses on the roots and early days of the world's greatest ever rock band. Taking us all the way from Jimmy Page's school days right up until the release of the Brown Bomber, Led Zeppelin II, Origin Of The Species also manages to present a quite parallel history: that of the true majestic pomp of British music journalism.

So feel free to admire the likes of Barney Hoskyns (NME) and Phil Sutcliffe (Sounds) as they provide an informed critical perspective on the nature of the beast. To marvel that Keith Altham looks and sounds more like a '50s sitcom bank manager run to seed than a former editor of the NME who really has lived Thee Rock 'n' Roll Life. To mock the perpetually self-important Paolo Hewitt. And to confuse that fabulous writer Chris Welch (Melody Maker) with the perennially awful British agony aunt, Claire Rayner.

Of course, Zeppelin fans will know much of this material already. But I once wrote a book about this band (not a very good one, admittedly), and there are things here that I never knew. My favourite is an extract from the BBC's '50s children's TV show, All Your Own, in which the 14-year-old Jimmy Page explains to presenter Huw Wheldon that although he was quite a good guitarist, he didn't plan to become a musician but rather, a biological researcher. Wheldon, rather surprisingly, went on to become the Managing Director of BBC Television. While Page, who was modest enough to admit that he didn't have the brains to become a doctor, was somehow sadly lost to scientific research.

Robert Plant, it transpires, was very nearly an accountant.

And John Bonham was such a loud drummer that his bands were frequently paid off halfway through a show for fear that he would bring the venue crashing down around the promoter's ears.

As usual, there's little here about John Paul Jones; and nothing from any of the band themselves. But nonetheless with lengthy contributions from Chris Dreja who played with Page in the Yardbirds and came close to filling Jones' role in Led Zeppelin and other '60s musicians such as Chris Farlowe, Dave Berry, and Clem Cattini, Led Zeppelin - The Origin of the Species is a documentary that all Zeppelin fans will want to see. If not own.






Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Sufjan Stevens' 'The Ascension' Is Mostly Captivating

Even though Sufjan Stevens' The Ascension is sometimes too formulaic or trivial to linger, it's still a very good, enjoyable effort.

Jordan Blum

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.


Sally Anne Morgan Invites Us Into a Metaphorical Safe Space on 'Thread'

With Thread, Sally Anne Morgan shows that traditional folk music is not to be smothered in revivalist praise. It's simply there as a seed with which to plant new gardens.


Godcaster Make the Psych/Funk/Hard Rock Debut of the Year

Godcaster's Long Haired Locusts is a swirling, sloppy mess of guitars, drums, flutes, synths, and apparently whatever else the band had on hand in their Philly basement. It's a highly entertaining and listenable album.


The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".


GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".


Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".


Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".


Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.