Thursday, December 19, 2013

66. Led Zeppelin IV (1971) Led Zeppelin

1. Black Dog
2. Rock and Roll
3. The Battle of Evermore
4. Stairway to Heaven
5. Misty Mountain Hop
6. Four Sticks
7. Going to California
8. When the Levee Breaks

This list has its fair share of surprise entries. There are albums I've encountered which have been higher than I thought they were (Superfly for example) and other albums which I've been surprised to see included at all (Pretzel Logic? Seriously?). There are other releases which I've been personally disappointed to see so low (every Grateful Dead and Frank Zappa album for example) but Led Zep 4 is definitely the most surprising entry. What's it doing outside the top ten, let alone the top fifty?

This is the album with Stairway to Heaven on it. Stairway to Heaven! If you're going to list the greatest songs of all time (and goodness knows people have) then Stairway is always well up in the top ten. It's widely regarded as one of the definitive rock tracks and the solo is held up as one of the greatest collection of notes every squeezed out of six strings. The presence of Stairway alone is enough to grant it entry into this listing, god knows there are albums who are propped up by lesser tracks. The great eight minute opus that is Led Zep's most famous moments should guarantee its place here even if every other track was a tedious piece of filler designed to do nothing more than take up space.

But unlike a lot of albums with a huge hit on them, Led Zep 4 would demand a place on this listing even if its biggest track had been left on the cutting room floor (assuming studios have such floors).

Black Dog and Rock and Roll are two of the greatest songs of the classic era of Rock and Roll. They're barnstorming power houses which show off the talents of all bandmembers and have inspired generations of teenage boys to leap about their house like absolute lunatics. They're both so good we can forgive the legions of people who have tried to copy them and created an extremely crap genre that Gary Moore referred to as Led-Clones, bands who managed to do an excellent job of copying Robert Plant's hair and Jimmy Page's stance but had none of the songwriting ability.

Accompanying these three monster tracks on side one is an incredible song called The Battle of Evermore on which Sandy Denny joins Plant in proving that powerful voices can turn acoustic ballads into something truly savage. Page plays a mandolin as if it's an amplified Fender Strat, and they manage to create a headbanging metal song using an instrument that, lets be honest, is incredibly uncool. It's small and foolish and led Leo Kottke  to describe a mandolin player as "looking like a guy trying to play his tie pin" which still makes me laugh. Those four songs together make up one of the most powerful sides of vinyl ever produced.

Side two can't possibly be as good but it does its level best not to disappoint the listener. Going to California is a beautiful ballad and When The Levee Breaks is a swampy and soulful blues number with a fantastic driving bassline and is the perfect album closer.

In pure rock and roll terms there really aren't too many albums that are better than this. Drummers spend ages trying to replicate the iconic opening to Rock and Roll, vocalists drool over the talents on display on the Battle of Evermore and every guitarist who has ever wanted to rock has learnt the intro to Stairway and had a crack at the solo.

Led Zeppelin 4 appears on a huge number of "Best album" lists and this is the only one that puts it outside the top fifty, most have it well and truly in the top ten with many giving it the coveted number one spot. The fact that it's here at number 66 means it's apparently not as good as Appetite for Destruction, a view that even most of Guns and Roses would dispute.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "A .. .A.. AD.AJDADJ..F...... THEY WERE MUCH BETTER ON MASTER OF PUPPET..S........







-And that's the whole review. Doesn't Amazon have a moderator who deletes these kinds of things? How can they take themselves seriously when they let things like this up on their site?

-So do you love this album or do you agree with the above Amazon reviewer? And if you do can you tell me what the hell he meant? Let me know below.

1 comment:

  1. No 66 ? was it an attempt at a joke but it was a top 500, not top 1000 ? So it could have come in at no 666 ? That is my theory for not being in the top 10 where it truly deserves to be.