Stephen Chapman

The second incarnation of my blog

Rolling Stone top 100 albums: #69 Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV

Based on the top 100 albums in Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500, I have set myself the challenge of hearing and appraising each album. I hope to be surprised and educated along the way.

At number 69 is another Led Zeppelin Album (also see #73 and #79), Led Zeppelin IV is the accepted title, but Jimmy Page decided this album would officially be untitled. This, along with the inner sleeve’s design featuring four symbols that represented each band member, led to the album being referred to variously as the Four Symbols logoFour symbolsThe fourth album, UntitledRunesThe hermit, and ZoSo (which is derived from Page’s symbol).

The opener is the rocker Black dog which I have always found annoying in that, at about 48 seconds the timing alters and it disturbs me greatly. Despite that, I like the song for its raw power. It’s a Led Zep’ song through and through with powerful drums, powerful guitars and powerful vocals.  Overall… powerful. There’s no let up however and Rock ‘n’ roll hits you hard. This is a well known favourite pub rock track and features the stunning drum conclusion that many drummers say is a bitch to play!

The battle of Evermore slows us down and is a mandolin led song that I’ve always liked and although totally different to the first two songs, seems to fit the tone. Perhaps it’s the constantly strong Robert Plant vocals against the acoustic background.

Then there is an obscure 8 minute plus song that you won’t have heard of! The absolute classic Stairway to heaven is just so very good, but has been unfairly criticised by some who see it as generic and the lyrics twee. It certainly wasn’t seen like that at the time! The opening plucking of the strings (banned in guitar shops) and the way the song builds is near perfect. And as it reaches it’s crescendo, the guitars and vocals soar. How can you not be in awe of this amazing piece of music?

Misty mountain hop and Four sticks are the more experimental songs, lots of double tracked vocals and odd time signatures. Going to California could feature on the any modern folk album and is the only song that doesn’t seem to fit, it’s just a bit too “nice”.

The closing 7 minutes of When the levee breaks is a rolling rocking blues song that has effects all over it, including backwards harmonica!

This is a complete album, with few faults. I’m sure people would have played this over and over when first purchased and got something new from it each time. Although I think that this list is already too Led Zeppelin heavy, this was worth the listen that’s for sure and I cant fail to enjoy Jimmy Page’s guitar sound.


My rating: 7/10

Standout tracks:  Stairway to heaven, The battle of Evermore

Listen to the album here.

See the Top 100 here.

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This entry was posted on November 19, 2014 by in music and tagged , , .

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