I’ve been working through my Instapaper queue, and I just read this tremendous analysis of the production of ‘When The Levee Breaks’ — I’m only three years out of date!
The author used a free tool I had never heard of for the spectral and temporal analysis of the song: Sonic Visualiser. It looks like it could be very useful, but the download links are broken (as of August 10, 2015).
The paper is full of great details about the recording of the song —- things I never realized:
According to Andy Fyfe, the drum sound on WtLB was the result of Jimmy Page’s ‘master plan for the track, which he set out to make sound as ominous as possible’ (2003, 85). The antagonistic quality perceived by listeners appears to have been an intended aspect of their identity. In addition, the instrumental tracks were originally recorded at a slightly faster speed, then slowed down, lending the song a sluggish, eerie quality (Eddy: 1997, 74).
This song really is a masterpiece, and this analysis is well worth a read.