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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV CD (album) cover


Led Zeppelin


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4.39 | 1132 ratings

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4 stars I have a love/hate relationship with this album. Though it is Led Zeppelin's most critically- and commercially-successful album, I believe is it also one of their most uneven. At times I feel this album represents everything wrong with progressive rock - overblown pomposity and pretense, ridiculously fantastical lyrics, and egotistical musicianship. At other times I think it's a masterpiece - primarily anchored by the strength of creative song craft, innovative sonics and imaginative instrumentation. Surprisingly I didn't really appreciate LZ IV until after high school, which seems to be the most commonly formative and associative time people attribute to this album. My introduction to these songs came by way of the 4CD Led Zeppelin boxed set, which excises "Four Sticks" and rearranges the track sequence. For better or worse, this altered my long-term opinion of the album, not having familiarized myself with it in its natural habitat. Having since acquired the proper album on CD and LP, I have a new appreciation for the running order and how it ebbs and flows, particularly in the case of the vinyl release. Of these 8 songs, 2 are perfect; 2 are really, really good; 2 are pretty good; two are just okay. There is not a bad song in the bunch for this excellent addition to any rock music collection. Essential? You decide.

"Black Dog" has become a staple of commercial rock radio and for good reason - it simply rocks, and in a way only LZ can. Guitarist Jimmy Page manages to take a somewhat rudimentary riff and concentrate it, deconstruct it, and exploit it. Drummer John Bonham victimizes the kit with brutal precision. Bassist John Paul Jones gives the song exactly what it needs all of the time. And Robert Plant screeches and howls, finally coming into his own as a vocalist. "Rock And Roll" is my least favorite song on IV, as it rollicks with reckless abandon and gets old fast. The magnificent "Battle of Evermore" uses mandolin to great effect, preparing the audience for the coalescent "Stairway To Heaven." Much has been written about the song already, so much so that it has reached mythic proportions. I'll spare you the details because you have all heard it before but "Stairway" was the first long song I remember hearing as a child and probably the first prog song...because of this it will always occupy a special place in my mind.

The second side is not quite perfectly paced as the first, "Four Sticks" and "Going To California" being the highlights. "Misty Mountain Hop" and "When The Levee Breaks" have become somewhat tiresome at this point in my life, particularly the latter. Though I can't imagine the album without either of them I could definitely survive if they disappeared tomorrow. LZ IV may not live up to its essential reputation in my opinion, but it serves its purpose and is a worthy primer to Led Zeppelin's best album, Houses of The Holy.

coasterzombie | 4/5 |


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