“The whole room just exploded,” are the famous words bassist John Paul Jones used to describe the vérité of the four dudes who became Led Zeppelin on this day in 1968, as an old Yardbirds cover standard, “Train Kept A-Rollin’,” could be heard shaking the walls of a West End basement in London.
An old wood-slapping jump-blues number by Tiny Bradshaw from the early 50s about a “gone dame from New York City,” the tune became a coddled adoptee of the burgeoning hard rock scene, Johnny Burnette bridging the movement with one of the first intentional distortion techniques and original hipster howl that probably still puts the fear in post-war parents.
Keith Relf kept the bar room stomp alive for years with The Yardbirds’ version. But when Robert Plant got ahold of its sexual undertones, and Jimmy Page and John Bonham let loose, for this was the day that the song’s antagonist lost its power and the Led hath broke:
We made a stop round Albuquerque
She must’a thought I was real gone jerk
She was pretty from New York City
Jack isn’t she pretty or what?
WIth a heave, and a ho-ohhh
Couldn’t let her go
The train kept a rollin’ all night long