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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV CD (album) cover

LED ZEPPELIN IV

Led Zeppelin

 

Prog Related

4.38 | 805 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer
5 stars THE MASTERPIECE ONE

This album has a VERY special effect on me and therefore I managed to match it my three hundredth review on PA. I already mentioned in other reviews (sorry for the repetition) that the whole of 1972 was just a nightmare for the teenager I was : I spent ten months lying in my bed due to a leg injury. The only thing I did was to listen to music. The music I loved : Purple, Santana, Sabbath, Hendrix, Slade, The Who and of course, Led Zeppelin.

This album, particularly, accompanied me during these hard times in my personal life. I missed their concert of May 28th of that year in Brussels. My friends taped it for me, so that I could experience a Led Zep concert while being confined to bed while being only thirteen. I only hope no-one will ever "experience" such a thing. The worst of all is that I did not keep the recording.So, no doubt about the rating of this wonderful album of course.

This is the perfect combination between their second album, which I consider as a masterpiece of HEAVY / HARD rock and their third one in which they showed some FOLK (not prog-related) influences.

It was an "Untitled" album since the band wanted to prove (and they succeeded just a bit.) that they could sell records without any reference to the band (they will sell over 23 millions of it in the US only : it sits on the fourth spot all time in album sales in the US, on the eleventh one in the world history.). It was in reaction to poor critics they had in the press about their third release (which topped the charts both in the US and in the UK).

Is this the best ROCK album in history ? I do not know. Is this prog ? Let's investigate.

There are three HEAVY number on this fantastic album. The B-side opener "Misty Mountain Hop" is a strong bass and vocal effort. Heavy as Led Zep could be. Lyrics were inspired by Tolkiens, but that does not make it prog, right ? "Four Sticks" is the follower. The title of the song is simply taken from the fact that Bonham plays drum with . four sticks. Another strong song.

If you play this album rather loud and pay attention, you'll really discover how great a drummer John was. His work is just gigantic and tribute must be given to this incredible drummer. Led Zep is huge by that time : flying in a private airplane, paying for almost the whole of the hotels in which the band is staying (some of those stays will lead to almost unrivalled wild scenes of "re-vamping" the room décor, throwing televisions out of the window etc. After a rather wild party, they will be banned in any Hilton hotel in the world).

"When The Levee Breaks" is a heavy blues one. The incredible drums sound was reached in recorded John while playing on a stairwell in their fetish Headley Grange studio. For once, the band will credit a co-author : Memphis Minnie.

To keep the balance, there are two acoustic songs featured as well. "Going To California" is a beautiful and tranquil song dedicated to Joni Mitchell. It is a tribute to California where the whole story started in December 1968. It will be included in their live sets during their acoustic part, making of Led Zep a rather unusual band who mixed the hardest rock with folkish number.

Again, folkish does not mean prog. The second one is ""The Battle of Evermore" : it is the only Led Zeppelin song to feature a guest vocalist, Sandy Denny. Plant felt he couldn't make it alone, so he has only the role of the narrator in this song. Lyrics will, again, be influenced by Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings. They will play this song live not too often. While doing so, Jones will take over Denny's parts (not the greatest experience, I must say.).

There are two hard-rock songs featured as well. The first two songs of the album. Two Led Zep anthems. "Black Dog" is just incredible : both Bonham and Jones are doing a fantastic work, generating such a great feeling. An all-time high classic in the rock industry. The first one of this FANTASTIC record (which is just normal since it is the opener).

"Rock And Roll" was a response to the (bloody - my consideration) bunch of journalists who rejected their third album. The band wanted to make clear that they could still rock like hell. And god damned, they did.The number has its origin in some studio jams during which Bonham was singing.

Oh, there is one song missing in my review. For the purpose of this review (and for my personal pleasure), I'm listening to it for the tenth time or so today (original, live and unofficial ones- do you remember laughter) ? It's one my all-time favorite song. Love at first sight. Since 1972 (I missed the first two months of its release). The instrumental intro is of course a complete rip-off. If you listen to the number "Taurus" from the band Spirit you'll be convinced. Led Zep toured as a support act for Spirit in 1968.

Much, much later (1997), the leader Randy California will tell "Led Zep made their own interpretation of the song". I can tell you that he was very gentle. It is an exact copy of his song. This guy could have made millions if he would claim for the rights. But he never did. RIP. He "just" wrote the intro of one of the most fabulous ROCK song ever written. Plant has been granted to have written the lyrics in one day. About the lyrics, he will tell : "My hand was writing out the words: "There's a lady is sure , all that glitters is gold, and she's buying a stairway to Heaven".

"I just sat there and looked at them (Jimmy, John and John Paul) and almost leapt out of my seat." Plant's own explanation of the lyrics was that it "was some cynical aside about a woman getting everything she wanted all the time without giving back any thought or consideration. The first line begins with that cynical sweep of the hand ... and it softened up after that. I think it was the Moroccan dope"!

Page recalls : "Bonzo and Robert had gone out for the night, and I worked really hard on the thing. John Paul and I then routined it together, and later we ran through it with the drums and everything. Robert was sitting there at the time, by the fireplace, and I believe he came up with 80% of the lyrics at that time. He was just sort of writing away and suddenly there it was.... Plant picks up the story: "Yeah, I just sat next to Pagey while he was playing it through. It was done very quickly. It took a little working but, but it was a very fluid, unnaturally easy track. It was almost as if uh-oh-it just had to be gotten out at that time. There was something pushing it, saying : "you guys are okay, but if you want to do something timeless, here's a wedding song for you".

The record company will push very hard to edit it and release it as single : but the band will fortunately reject all attempts to do so. Now, another thing about it : the "satanic" lyrics while being played reversed. I have listened many times to available sources and if I trust these, there is definitely something weird there. But I do not trust them, really. Since I do not have the equipment to figure out myself, I will have it taped backwards by a professional studio and figure out myself and faithfully provide my feedback. I'll keep you posted after this personal attempt (probably before end of April, 2007).

What I can say, is that I have spent about 120 minutes today listening to this track only. I could spend another 120 without any problem. I believe it is one of the greatest song in the music history. I have already mentioned in my wishes that this song has to be played in the intro of my burial ceremony. Maybe there won't be any laughter to be remembered. But at this moment of time, I will definitely need a stairway to heaven.

To answer the question of my intro : of course not. This is a hard to heavy album with two acoustic songs. The masterpiece being a mix of folk (which has been stolen) and hard-rock.

AT THE TIME OF RELEASE, NO ONE WOULD HAVE EVER CONSIDERED THIS ALBUM AS PROG RELATED. NOTHING HAS CHANGED IN THE MEANTIME. STILL IT'S ONE OF THE GREATEST IN MUSIC HISTORY.

Five star rating ? I bet you ! Is there any way to rate higher ? To get closer to heaven ?

ZowieZiggy | 5/5 |

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