Led Zeppelin’s second and third albums had both gone to number one and they had become the biggest band in music. Despite their legion of fans, the critics were not kind to them. Upon the release of their fourth record, they decided to let their music do the talking. The album is untitled (Though various names abound like Led Zeppelin IV, Runes, Zoso), contains no reference to band and has no track listing. The album contains a mere eight songs, but they are among the most powerful and memorable in rock music. There is a mystic and medieval aura emanating from the album. The album kicks off with the sledgehammer riffs of “Black Dog” that contains a heavily echoed vocal from Robert Plant. “Rock & Roll” is just what the title says, a frenetic song that rocks and rolls with manic fury. “Battle Of The Evermore” is a mystical song that plays to Zeppelin’s dark side. “Stairway To Heaven” is the most requested song in the history of FM radio and though it has been overplayed to death, it achieved its status for a reason. From the quiet opening of an acoustic guitar and flute that slowly builds to a crashing crescendo to its cryptic lyrics to its grandly majestic vocals and powerful instrumentation, the song strives for greatness and achieves it. “Misty Mountain Hop” is an almost funky song with some great keyboards from John Paul Jones. John Bonham pounds some mean skins on the powerful “Four Sticks” while “Going To California” is a lush and beautiful song that has a tender vocal from Mr. Plant. The album closes with a song that is almost an equal in the epic standards of “Stairway To Heaven”. “When The Levee Breaks” is a driving, pulsating, blues-based song that has a piercing harmonica and master guitar work by Jimmy Page. Surprising, this album never made it to number one. It spent four weeks at number two, but has gone on to sell over 20 million copies and ranks as one the ten best selling albums in music history. Not too shabby for an album that doesn’t even have a title.
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I would like to start this review by stating that this is, arguably, the greatest rock album ever recorded. I don’t see how it has an overall 4.5 star rating and it’s all of the idiotic 1-star reviews that bring it down. I’m not calling it the best rock album of all time because I’m giving in to the hype about it, because I’m not. I own it and have listened through it over a hundred times so I am more than familiar with it, along with the rest of Zeppelin’s music. This is simply the most complete, diverse and distinctive album ever. Not only are Plant, Page, Jones and Bonham gods of their instruments but they are likewise with song writing. The songs range from funky rock and roll (Black Dog, Rock and Roll) to groovy melodies (Misty Mountain Hop) to the more melodic ballads (Battle of Evermore, Going to California) to the epic heavy hitters on the album, Stairway and When the Levee Breaks. These four guys have mastered blues-inspired rock and roll and play it like no other. Jimmy Page is equally masterful and brilliant with the electric and acoustic guitars and his melodies are some of the most unconventional, odd time-signatured yet captivating ever. This is the quintissential hard rock album and it seems like all other albums should be measured up against this one.
I give every single song on this album a 10/10 with the exception of Four Sticks, which I would give a 9.5. Albums can’t really rate much higher.
These are the gods of rock and this is their masterpiece. No person who claims to listen to rock should be without it. Don’t pay any attention to the 1-star reviews, or the 2- and 3- star reviews, for that matter. They are ridiculous and written solely out of rebellion. Let them listen to their Fallout Boys and Nirvanas and Panic at the Discos. This is real music.
I am someone who usually does not give in to fads and trends just for the sake of doing it, but Led Zeppelin IV is a trend that I can’t help but follow. It’s simply the best..
THE BAND: Robert Plant (vocals), Jimmy Page (guitars), John Paul Jones (bass, keyboards), John Bonham (drums & percussion).
THE DISC: (1971) 8 songs clocking in at approximately 43 minutes. The digitally remastered version released in 1994. Included with the disc is a 10-page booklet containing song titles/credits, song lyrics to “Stairway To Heaven” (only), and all original album artwork. All songs written by members of Led Zeppelin. This is the band’s 4th studio album. Recorded at Headley, Grange, Hampshire and Island Studios in London, England. Label – Swan Song / Atlantic.
COMMENTS: Zeppelin’s 4th album (often referred to as “Zoso” or “Ruins”) is the definitive Led Zeppelin recording. Here, the band’s sound and concept, Plant’s vocals, and Page’s music and arranging skills finally crystallized into something completely distinct and original. 1971 was a great year for rock & roll. Black Sabbath had “Master of Reality”. Deep Purple blazed with “Fireball”. Rod Stewart told us “Every Picture Tells A Story”. The Who had “Who’s Next”. T-Rex had his “Electric Warrior”… but nothing matched the magnitude of “Zoso”. Every song is a classic and can still be heard on the radio today (over 3 decades later). Jimmy Page was the mastermind behind this band and the direction they were taking. He co-wrote every song and produced the album. Each song is a staple – “Black Dog”, “Rock & Roll”, “Battle of Evermore”, “Stairway To Heaven”, “Misty Mountain Hop”, “Four Sticks”, “Going to California”, and “When The Levee Breaks”. Hard to believe only two singles were released in the U.S. from this album in 1971-72: “Black Dog” reaching #15 (B-Side was “Misty Mountain Hop”), and “Rock And Roll reaching #47 (B-Side was “Four Sticks”). But don’t forget Led Zeppelin’s most celebrated composition “Stairway To Heaven”… which turned into their greatest rocking anthem. This album defines rock & roll. Classic disc (5 stars).
You know, there are actually some people in the world who don’t own this album? What a shame. It’s a classic! From the manic vocals on “Black Dog” through the thundering backbeat and jagged guitar lines of “Four Sticks,” to the rough Mississippi Delta blues of “When the Levee Breaks,” the album is epic. And of course, the album’s centerpiece is “Stairway to Heaven,” a slow building folk rock masterpiece which climaxes in a volley of hard rock guitar lines with Plant’s wailing vocals over the top.That’s not to say that the album is all brawn and no melody. On the contrary, “The Battle of Evermore” and “Going to California” are beautiful folk ballads which perfect the folk sound that Led Zeppelin had been experimenting with ever since their first album came out.At any rate, if you don’t own this album, then you ought to go out and buy it. Just to have one of the greatest CD’s ever in your collection.
Within eighteen months three members of this band had gone from total obscurity to part of the best known rock band in the world. By the end of 1971 world domination was such that they could release their fourth album without any sleeve notes, no band image or song titles on the sleeve either. Therefore it has since been called by fans a variety of names from the obvious ‘Led Zeppelin IV’ to the less obvious ‘Runes’ after its many Lord of the Rings references to ‘Four Symbols’. Or ‘Zosa’ after its inside cover motif, or plain old ‘No Title’. Still, on pre-sales it went to #1 all over the world, being released on November 8th and staying at #1 into the New Year. Over the years it has probably generated enough sales to run a fairly large country. In the last thirty-two years it has won just about every accolade there is to get. Voted the best rock record ever in such illustrious magazines as ‘Classic Rock Revisited’, `Rolling Stone’, ‘Q’, ‘Mojo’, and even the Pattaya Mail. (We just had a vote Toto, Ella Crew, Andy, and Led Zeppelin experts Lars Fieste, John Osborne, Graham Rudd, Dai Coe, and the Dog – it was unanimous.)If you had wanted to put together a super group in 1971 all you would of had to do was put together Led Zeppelin, and there you are you had it. Out of the ashes of the `Yardbirds’ founding member Jimmy Page created Led Zeppelin (well, he had to, all the others had left). The new band did one tour of Scandinavia as ‘The New Yardbirds’. Jimmy Page originally joined the `Yardbirds’ as bassist, but switched to lead guitar to give the band a duel pronged guitar attack with a certain Jeff Beck on the other axe. Jimmy Page had long been a top session player, playing most famously on the Kinks’ `You Really Got Me’ famous guitar riff that almost invented heavy metal music. In Jimmy Page Led Zeppelin had a man with a vision as well as a guitarist that could shred the wallpaper off your walls one second and be as gentle as a snowflake the next. Robert Plant had quickly become the template of what a singer in a rock band looked and sounded like. His unique style of whoops, whines, and yells became his trademark. With his clear vocals he could always put across the stories he wanted to tell in his song writing partnership with Jimmy Page. Bass player John Paul Jones also had a previous successful career as a session player, but was completely unknown outside the inner music circles. His quiet nature, his bass playing skills, keyboard work, and help with the song writing were integral parts in the band and essential to its well being. Then behind the drums was the man to set standards of rock ‘n’ roll to the present day, even after his tragic death more than twenty years ago, Mr. John Bonham. (I mean even his name sounds like a drummer.) This God of Thunder only got the job because he went down with Robert Plant to keep him company on his journey from Birmingham, England, to audition for the band. The rest – as they say – is history.Is Led Zeppelin’s fourth album as good as its reputation? Has it stood the test of time? Stupid questions, of course it does. You get eight tracks all of which are classic. The opening one-two of the first couple of tracks allay any fears of fans that thought they might delve back further into their folksy roots after the rather laid back ‘Led Zeppelin III’ of the previous year. But the year of constant touring had honed their natural rocking instincts.As soon as Robert Plant leads the band off with those immortal lines, `Hey, Hey Mama, said the way you move, Gonna make You sweat Gonna make You groove, My, My Child when You shake that thing, Gonna make you burn, Gonna make You sting.`……you know you are off into totally politically incorrect rock ‘n’ roll heaven. The band then comes in with `Black Dog’s thunderous riff and off they all fly roaring straight the way through until you go without a second to catch your breath into the ‘Rock and Roll’ opening drum intro. What do you expect to get with a title like this? Page just peels off one riff after another, building them up to a shattering crescendo. John Paul Jones backs this up with some of the busiest fret work ever laid down in a studio by a mere mortal of his chosen profession. As for John (Bonzo) Bonham, he is a man at the height of his powers having the time of his life. Other tracks include the wonderful ‘Four Sticks’, so called because John Bonham gets the sound he wanted for the song drummed with four sticks simultaneously. (Obvious, isn’t it, when you think about it.) An acoustic ballad in ‘Going to California’. A keyboard orientated rocker in ‘Misty Mountain Top’, which on any other album, by any other band, would be the center piece of any collection. However, on this album it sometimes gets overlooked by its surroundings, but comes across as a real delight in the context of the album. There is also a raging folksy tale told with Robert Plant giving full reign to his Tolkien whims in the wonderful ‘The Battle of Evermore’, with some dexterous mandolin played by Jimmy Page. Robert Plant is able to display his vocal chops in his duet with Sandy Denny (ex-Fairport Convention), who in her illustrious but tragic career had probably never sung so sweet. The album closes with one of the darkest songs Led zeppelin ever recorded ‘When the Levee Breaks’, a blues as only Led Zeppelin can play, with Robert Plant’s vocals and harmonica play and Jimmy Page’s guitar to the fore as the others lay down a rock solid spine to the song.This was Led Zeppelin’s finest hour, and therefore rightly holds the claim to #1 album of all time.Oh by the way it also includes ‘Stairway to Heaven’. Does any body remember laughter?Mott the DogRe-mastered by Ella Crew