A site where I get to complain about music I don't like.
Along with Aerosmith and AC/DC, Led Zeppelin form the trifecta of classic hard rock. It would be nearly impossible to think of music now if Zeppelin had never formed. And today, we’re looking at their most famous album, Led Zeppelin IV/IV/Untitled/The Hermit/Symbols/Zoso.
1. Black Dog
So we start off the album, and already there is something new. Here, Robert Plant starts off with a cappella singing, followed by the whole band jumping in right afterwards. Not only that, but while the rest of the band is playing all around with time signatures, the drummer John Bonham stays with 4/4 timing, creating a bizarre mixture of notes. All of these combine to create a truly unique take on the old blues format. The song is often considered a Zeppelin classic, and it’s not hard to see why.
2. Rock n’ Roll
Unlike “Black Dog”, however, we have “Rock ‘n’ Roll”, which doesn’t really try to do anything special. Here, it’s just your typical blues song, similar to Zeppelin back in their early days. It even has a vocal part that reminds me of CCR’s “Travelling Band”. It’s one of the weaker songs, but in that way that it would be great if it wasn’t Zeppelin, similar to how “Twisting by the Pool” would be better if it wasn’t Dire Straits, or how St Anger would be a better album if it wasn’t by the guys who made Master of Puppets. The song is ok.
3. The Battle of Evermore & 8. Going to California
Now here’s a great study in contrast. “Going to California”, a tribute to Folk legend Joni Mitchell, is one of the best songs on the album. “The Battle of Evermore”, the other Folk song on the album and a tribute to Tolkien, is probably the worst. And here’s why. “Going to California” sounds like it was built to be an acoustic song, and is all the stronger for it. “Battle of Evermore”, on the other hand, sounds like a Hard Rock song they decided to strip down at the last minute. You can even almost hear drums at some points. That’s the contrast between these songs.
4. Stairway to Heaven
#6 on my list of Top Ten Songs Ruined by Overplay.
5. Misty Mountain Hop
Starting with an organ riff, the song quickly goes into the main riff, which really is a great riff. However, unlike most of the songs on this album, Robert Plant just sounds tuneless while he sings with the instruments. It gets really annoying and monotone, similar to a shirtless Liam Gallagher (which I cannot get out of my head now). Every time we’re out of the chorus, though, the song really does improve, back to the awesome opening riff. It’s great song, even if the verses want me to tear out my ears with hammers.
6. Four Sticks
Named due to the use of four sticks played by Bonham in the take used in the song, “Four Sticks” really seems like a song of buildup with no real climax. Sure, it’s an awesome buildup, with an awesome building riff and excellent drumming, but a song does need to have payoff at some point in the song. It’s a good song, and it is the forgotten song of the album, but similar to Ray Charles’ “Georgia on my Mind”, it just needs somewhere to land.
8. When the Levee Breaks
Luckily for the album, they saved the best for last, and what a finale. “When the Levee Breaks” is my favorite Zeppelin song, and possibly even my favorite Hard Rock song of all time. Starting off with the greatest drum beat of all time, best used later in The Beastie Boys’ “Rhymin’ and Stealin’”, it soon goes into a great guitar riff, and one of Robert Plant’s greatest vocal performances, and just builds from there. And unlike “Stairway to Heaven” the song never goes into self-parody territory. And so with this song, the album leaves with a fantastic memory in my head.
All in all, I’d say this is a great landmark album, and one that has held up over time. Sure, there are weaker songs on here, and parts of songs that are weak, but overall, it’s an awesome album by an awesome band.
Best Track: When the Levee Breaks
Worst Track: Battle of Evermore