Led Zeppelin IV (1971)


 
1. Black Dock 2. Rock and Roll 3. The Battle of Evermore 4. Stairway to Heaven 5. Misty Mountain Hop 6. Four Sticks 7. Going to California 8. When the Levee Breaks

 

One of the biggest selling and most respected albums among critics and fans alike. And it really doesn’t even have a name. Most call it “Led Zeppelin IV”. Regardless of the name of the album, it is at least by consensus, the band’s fourth album. Not to get too far off topic, but the nameless album was supposedly in response to the negative reviews and reactions to last year’s Led Zeppelin III. Not exactly sure how to connect the dots there. Whatever.

Regardless, this is a masterpiece. The band is incredibly focused yet still diverse in styles. They’re pouring every bit of heart, soul, and energy into every song on this thing. Sadly, time has shown that one can have tooStairway to Heaven. Although a phenomenal piece of music, it’s forgivable for anyone that has been alive for the last fifty years to claim that they are sick of the tune. Even Robert Plant has expressed his loathing for the song. It’s simply been overplayed. It’s even a pop culture joke in many instances (see the movie ‘Wayne’s World’ for example). To be fair, one needs to listen to the track with fresh ears. Focus on the tune – make sure you’re listening to it on the album and not one of the ubiquitous “Class Rock” stations. Focus allows one to remember why this tune was so special in the first place. I won’t even describe it here – since everyone should already be familiar with it.

Is the rest of the album as good? Well maybe not “as good”, but very few things are. The album still resonates very favorably. The one-two punch of Black Dog and Rock and Roll set the stage rather nicely. It’s hard for me to think of one of these tunes without the other. In fact, these two songs were actually released as singles. Stairway to Heaven was simply too long for a.m. radio airplay (and trying to edit the piece would be blasphemy).

Misty Mountain Hop doesn’t have quite the tempo has the above mention songs, but it’s still a solid rock contribution, nicely enhanced with electric keyboard playing from John Paul Jones throughout. When the Levee Breaks is heavy on the blues influence, yet it’s far from a blue number with plenty of John Bonham bashing throughout keeping the piece alive and colorful. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum is the acoustic, flowery mellow piece Going to California - probably the best “sweet” song they ever did. The song Four Sticks has a very addictive thump-thud repetition that’s a lot of fun, but if I were to be completely honest, I would have to say that this tune seems a bit long and a bit monotonous. A very small sin considering what else is here. Rounding out the album is the folky The Battle of Evermore which sounds as though it would be quite at home in a ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie or something. Again, Zep have the style nailed in that department as well.

Being that this was the first Led Zeppelin that many people bought, it’s quite conceivable that such the person would easily begin procuring more and more of the band’s offerings. There are many devoted fans that wouldn’t even rank this album as the band’s best (although close to it), so one would imagine such the fan would be surprised of all of the other offerings and just how splendid they all were. Yes, there is much much more to this band than simply Stairway to Heaven.

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