🎵November, 1969

It’s helpful to remember that things haven’t always been this way. Before podcasts there was satelite radio, before that AM/FM, and before that just AM. FM radio was invented in the 1930s but it was expensive. Plus, AM did the job. There just wasn’t enough content. Then the 60’s arrived. 

There were three things that came together in 1960’s America. Car companies added FM bands to their stereos, Japanese manufactures made the hardware cheaper, and the Federal Communications Commission ruled that stations couldn’t duplicate shows. My paternal grandmother was alive at the time and if the FCC had asked her to convey the message I know exactly what she’d have said; shit or get off the pot. 

The stage is set for something new. 

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On his houseboat Jimmy Page writes the guitar riff for Whole Lotta Love. Page is a great guitarist becuase he was a studio guitarist. He played for a lot of musicians and that practice built his technical skills, but he also learned about the wider landscape of music.

“We (Page and John Paul) had recorded on hundreds of singles and hated the abbreviated, canned format. I also knew that stereo FM radio was emerging in America and playing albums. I wanted to develop our songs emotionally, beyond just lengthy solos.” 

There were two ingredients that led to the album Whole Lotta Love, reaching number one on the Billboard chart. It was the conditions being right for more music, for full albums, to be played on FM radio. It also took someone with expertise to make something worth playing. Page and Paul were great. “John Paul and I knew our way around a recording studio, so we weren’t going to waste studio time or produce something that wasn’t cohesive.” 

In that case it meant an album being played the whole way through. The next time you hear about the ‘iTunes singles’ or someone bemoan the loss of ‘albums’ this was the source.