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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV CD (album) cover


Led Zeppelin


Prog Related

4.39 | 1060 ratings

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5 stars Led Zeppelin - Fourth Album 1971

So who needs another review of this album. Don't know but I will include my views.

First is it a prog rock album? It's not like Close To The Edge, nor is it like Sabbath's Vol 4 (all contemporary releases with Zeppelin's more or less titled 4th release) and the completion of Jimmy Page's original vision of this band. Incidentally the complex structure of Sabbath's Wheels Of Confusion is more densely structured than most pieces here. Not a negative criticism, just an observation in examining the prog credentials fro validity. The credentials, not Zeppelin.

Black Dog is the blues riff written by the Zeppelin prog man John Paul Jones. Actually this was simplified by Page from what it originally was. It is not prog, like Genesis or Yes. It is a great song and it is progressive. I mean if T Lev and his band play it is it prog now? Oh, yes it is... T Lev btw plays the vocal part on the Stick. Regrettably I have only read description sof this, not having heard it (yet).

Rock and Roll a 24 bar rock and roll song. It is simple, straightforward. No way is it pro; it is a great rock and roll song.

Here we go. Battle Of Evermore and it's Jimmy Page on mandolin not Jonesy. Sandy Denny and Robert Plant share the vocal play and a very atmospheric lyrical drama it is as well.

There's the next song you may have heard of, called Stairway To Heaven. It's quite a straightforward contrasting Am chord progression with the equivalent type of mirroring C major changes. The subtlety is in the details. The ascending melody against the descending bass line on the acoustic guitar, the perfectly placed harmonies backing up the magic. Yes the recorders are multi-tracked recorders by JPJ, replicated on mellotron for the most part. Though the uniqueness of STH live on HTWWW is lost as that version had organ accompaniment which was removed by Page to be replaced by the mellotrons on the 22 Jan 73 multi track unofficial release.

On we go into the verses which are simple structures to accompany the vocals. The C major section changes as does the Am section. Then a few moments in 7/ 8 (the heavy guitar intro section) and a great bass line is played under the famous lead break (in Am now) with superb upper register vocals from Rob Plant. Yeah, a prog rock / classic rock staple. Over played and over exposed, don't let the media saturation ruin this piece for you.

After Stairway there's Misty Mountain Hop. Nice riff drives the song and in a way it may have gone on Houses better than here. Busted by cops for smoking grass in the park. It is a hippy anthem. Prog? Not really. It's juxtaposition with SIBLY in concert (no gap, just straight from one track to another makes that idea truly intriguing as neither track have anything to do with each other.

The most obviously prog rock song is Four Sticks. The drawn out mellotron melody, the four sticks in two hands powering the 5/4 guitars rhythm (4 sticks in a 5/4 rhythm.). Well this is not hard rock. No solo as such other than a synth break from JPJ. These two tracks get slightly over looked because they are not as direct, as immediate as their respective A sides. But the atmosphere in each track is perfectly there. These are the tracks for the prog fans, as well as the two preceding it. Frankly the only thing not really prog is Black Dog, Rock And Roll and may be Misty Mountain Hop. Levee Breaks is Zeppelin showing us how psychedelic blues is supposed to be played.

Going To California is more beautiful arpeggios from Page with JPJ playing mandolin this time. One of the few tracks to not feature the whole band. Folk prog if you like. Or even if you don't. And why not? Another detailed track and a very lyrical one. Superb bridge beautifully sung and the segue back to the verse is a triumph. They do it easily in concert as well. As well as in Plant's post Zeppelin career.

So he might be absent from one of Led Zeppelin's most gentle songs, his presence is not to be missed on the closer. As ever Led Zeppelin finish their album with a blues. But being progressive by nature and heart they do not ever repeat themselves. When The Levee Breaks used to be a ukulele accompanied song about floods. In the hands of Bonham and his pals it is a track countries could go to war on. It crushes all the way until 3/4s in then, check it out on the headphones - the entire mix turns in on itself and the psychedelic blues leaves you stunned.

No track wasted, nothing repeated, every track perfectly positioned, it is a perfect album. Perceptions vary of course but I would be hard to NOT get something good from this release. Just don't let the radio batter you to the point where you cannot hear it from too much repetition.

JPJ's birthday today (3 Jan) and this album has now been out for 36 years and is till held to be the finest in rock. Still you got to get to prog rock to find real competition..

Prog rock or not? JPJ - "I thought we were playing progressive rock." Fine by me..

Five Stars easily.

uduwudu | 5/5 |


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