'Communication Breakdown' is a 1969 song by English rock band Led Zeppelin. The song was composed by Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham, and recorded and mixed at Olympic Studios, Barnes, England in October 1968. It appeared as the seventh track on Led Zeppelin's eponymous debut album Led Zeppelin, released on 12 January 1969. 'Communication Breakdown' was also issued as the B-side of the 'Good Times Bad Times' promotional single in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, France, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Greece, Mexico, Japan, and the Philippines. The song became an early live favourite with its high energy and rapid-fire guitar solo, and one of their most played songs in their live set list.
'Communication Breakdown' was amongst one of the first songs guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Robert Plant worked on for the debut album. It is built around an up-tempo riff by Page, who used a 1959 Fender Telecaster and a miked Supro amplifier. The 'claustrophobic' guitar solo effect was achieved by using a Vox wah pedal, fully closed. Page also sang backing vocals for the track. The band segued the song into their set list opener 'The Train Kept a-Rollin'', due to its energy and it developed during the first Scandinavian tour in 1968. 'Communication Breakdown' made an early appearance as a television promotional clip, featuring members of the band lip-syncing the song on Swedish television in 1969. The song was featured a total of three times, with different improvisations, on the 1997 BBC Sessions release. The 2003 DVD features performances from Tous en Scène, a television series from Paris 1969, the band's Earls Court show on 25 May 1975, and Knebworth Festival on 11 August 1979.
The song was a popular live number at Led Zeppelin concerts, and was the only song to be played during every year that the band toured. It usually either opened shows or was played as an encore. 'Communication Breakdown' was the encore song performed in the year of 1975 and 1979, and for the band's Tour Over Europe 1980 shows. It was included as part of Plant's solo set list in 1988 and 1990, and was played by John Paul Jones with Diamanda Galás on their 1994 The Sporting Life tour.
- Jimmy Page – electric guitar, producer, remastering, digital remastering
- Robert Plant – vocals
- John Paul Jones – bass guitar
- John Bonham - drums, percussion
- Peter Grant – executive producer
- Glyn Johns - engineer, mixing
- Joe Sidore - original CD mastering engineer (mid-1980s)
- George Marino - remastered CD engineer (1990)
- Lewis, Dave (2012) Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1 (OCLC 782996334).
- Welch, Chris (2009) Led Zeppelin: The Stories Behind Every Led Zeppelin Song. London: Carlton Books. ISBN 978-1-84732-286-9 (OCLC 317254118).
- 'Communication Breakdown' (1969 promo) at ledzeppelin.com
- APRA: GW02829824
- ASCAP: 330171185
- GEMA: 371683-001
- ISWC: T-070.027.657-8
- US Copyright Office: EU0000096054
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