“Communication Breakdown” is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, from their 1969 debut album Led Zeppelin. It was released as the B-side of “Good Times Bad Times”, the group’s first single in the US. A promotional video was released, with the group miming to the recording; it is included on the Led Zeppelin DVD (2003).
The song was one of the first worked on by the band, shortly after formation and before they had played any gigs. It developed from a guitar riff played by Jimmy Page, while the rest of the band wrote the song around it. Bassist John Paul Jones later said “This is Page’s riff – you can tell instantly”. Singer Robert Plant could not receive a songwriting credit owing to a previous record contract, and consequently it was credited simply to the other three band members.
“Communication Breakdown” was part of the group’s initial live set in 1968. It was played at every gig until 1970, after which it was featured as an encore. The group played it on at least one show for all subsequent tours, including their residency at Earl’s Court, London in 1975, the second appearance at the 1979 Knebworth Festival, and the band’s final tour in 1980. Plant played it on some of his solo tours, while Jones performed it live with Diamanda Galás in 1994.
On the Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions, released in 1997, this song was featured three times, each with a slightly different improvisation by the group. Three live versions–taken from performances at the TV program Tous en scène in Paris in 1969, at Danmarks Radio in 1969 and at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970–can also be seen on the Led Zeppelin DVD. The version of “Good Times Bad Times/Communication Breakdown” released on 15 April 2014, on iTunes, is from 10 October 1969 in Paris, on the European Tour of Autumn 1969.