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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV CD (album) cover

LED ZEPPELIN IV

Led Zeppelin

 

Prog Related

4.38 | 824 ratings

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mystic fred
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The greatest album in the history of rock?

Many polls over the years since its release would suggest so, as "Led Zeppelin IV" usually appears if not at the top but always in the top 3 - quite an achievement! This album is no accident, it was forged by four excellent musicians right at the top of their game, who worked hard creating their image with wily rock solid management in the form of Peter Grant, relentless touring, and their trump card - "Stairway To Heaven", often described as the greatest song ever written!

"Led Zeppelin IV" also allowed the band to mature and settle into various musical styles; folk, prog, blues, heavy rock - but Jimmy Page always hated having his music labelled, he found it restricting. There is also another powerful personality influencing this album, hotly debated theories abound about the "prescence" of Aleister Crowley - true or not, it all adds to the mystique of LZ, many will describe the music in detail here, but here are the stories that surround the songs!

"Black Dog"- LZ IV was recorded at Headley Grange studios in Hampshire, this old building had many spooky stories attached to it, and during the band's stay they were visited by a mysterious black labrador that hung around the place. This complex number is heavy, bluesy, with a Muddy Waters' inspired riff.

"Rock and Roll"- It is impossible to keep still to this good old fashioned rocker! John Bonham had just recieved a shiny new kit, whilst practising the complicated pattern for "Four Sticks" he momentarily lost it, and in frustration crashed out the intro for "Rock and Roll" instead - the rest of the band joined in and jammed and a song was born!

"The Battle of Evermore"- With mystical references to "Lord of the Rings", the magical mandolin, Sandy Denny's haunting vocals echoeing Plant's, this song, about a walled citadel under siege, is a pretty English folk ballad which inspired "wizard and demon" song material for years to come by folk, prog and metal musicians alike. The song was reworked by Robert and Jimmy in 1994, with Indian and Egyptian musicians to great effect.

"Stairway to Heaven"- Arguably the greatest song ever written, and one people still have played at their funerals! This song is famous across all music genres - while record hunting in a market fair some years ago a small girl clutching LZ IV asked me "does this have Stairway to Heaven on it?" All the songs on the album seem to revolve around this one, an achievement the band are rightly proud of, a rock masterpiece - their most proggish? As with every great song (such as "Lucy in the Sky"), the song had detractors from fundamentalist religious groups and ministers claiming backmasked secret and satanic messages were in the song lauding Satan! ...time for another listen, I must have missed those!

"Misty Mountain Hop"- Very similar to "Black Dog" a bluesy riff and complex drumming patterns, the song is about every hippie's favourite pastime smoking pot, and an invitation by the Police to come to tea! Could this be the first rap song?

"Four Sticks"- Such a complicated drum pattern Bonzo struggled to learn, he ended up with two sticks in each hand to great effect, a hypnotic song with a great heavy riff.

"Going to California"- An American folk style song this time, the song is a tribute to Joni Mitchell and the band's musical spiritual home.

"When the Levee Breaks"- A much-sampled classic, the amazing drum sound on this track was achieved by placing Bonham's kit beneath the stairwell at Headley Grange. Bonham's drum sound is legendary on this track, an amazing psychedelic trip written around an old blues song by Memphis Minnie, Zeppelin were often accused of ripping off black music, nowadays rappin' black musicians are "ripping" off Led Zeppelin! Also Michael Jackson's "Bad" bore many similarities to "Hearbreaker", so there!

Whatever one's musical background or tastes "Led Zeppelin IV" deserves a place in any music collection, it has come full circle and is "cool" again, absolutely essential listening, and a huge influence on many music genres including prog!

MUSIC RATING 5/5 PROG RATING 4/5

mystic fred | 4/5 |

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