Communication Breakdown

Originally Performed ByLed Zeppelin
Original AlbumLed Zeppelin (1969)
Lyrics ByBonham/Jones/Page
Phish Debut1990-01-25
Last Played1990-10-20
Current Gap1613
HistorianMartin Acaster


The January 1969 release of Led Zeppelin’s eponymous first album forever changed the face of rock and roll. Their inventive brand of hard and heavy rock had dropped upon the earth with all the impact of a planet-killing asteroid. Most severely damaged by the shock wave it generated was the made-for-radio single; the album-oriented rock format had been born. Nonetheless, a single from the album was released in March 1969. That single was “Communication Breakdown.” Pushed along by the driving rhythm section of Bonzo and Jonesy, the guitar wizardry of Jimmy Page soared into the ethers on the heels of the orgasmic wails and moans of an enrapt Robert Plant. He didn’t know what he liked about that woman’s charms... but we sure know that he liked them a lot. 

Phish debuted the song (1/26/90) at the Tree Cafe in Portland, ME. They then reprised “Communication Breakdown” on back-to-back nights (1/27/90 and 1/28/90) at the Front in Burlington, VT. The song would be played for an audience only twice more, once (as an encore that included “YEM”) on 9/15/90 at the Colonial Theatre, in Keene, NH and again on 10/20/90 in Tuscaloosa, AL. During the remainder of the ‘90s “Communication Breakdown” was dusted off only once for the soundcheck at Old Orchard Beach (7/3/94) and has resided in the “where are they now?” file ever since. Though it is difficult to match the vocal gymnastics of Robert Plant or the inspired soloing of Jimmy Page, the musical grandeur of the song was kept largely intact each time Phish gave it a go. Keeping alive the chance that Phish may bust it out in the future; Trey, Mike and the Benevento Russo Duo (aka GRAB) closed their single set PNC Bank Center show (7/1/06) with a raging version of "Communication Breakdown."

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