Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV (1971)

Led Zeppelin really shines on this recording. Prior to this recording, Led Zeppelin had given us the Led Zeppelin I, II and III albums with each one being a step ahead of it in a logical progression. This is their best effort ever and sounds so awesome, even nearly 50 years later. The artwork and Zoso symbols have their own mystical meaning behind them as well. In short, it’s just brilliant.

We begin with Black Dog, which is a layered and interesting piece. “Hey-hey mama, gonna make you move, gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove!” sings Robert Plant. It’s a cool song with distorted guitar riffs and sexual wordplay. Just awesome.

The next song Rock And Roll is a straight ahead rock and roll piece that has stop/start motions and a 50s piano to boot. By this time, we sense that something very special musically is here, and this album is just a super listen.

The Battle Of Evermore follows with Mandolin (a Chinese instrument) by guitarist Jimmy Page and Sandy Denny doing backing vocals. It tells a tale directly inspired by The Lord Of The Rings book series. It may sound weird written here, but it is actually not a weird listen. It’s a beautiful and soulful piece.

Stairway To Heaven is quite possibly the most overrated rock song in history and has often been abused in its popularity. Still, there is no denying that this song is great. It starts off with fingerpicked acoustic guitar, before having various layers and elements segue into it, and finishes with a soul touching guitar solo and Robert Plant’s lone voice ending. It’s such a wonderful song to fit into the album. Led Zeppelin fans love this one. Interestingly enough, many people namely Christians think if you play this song backward, it has satanic quotes on it, though that’s not the purpose of the song whatsoever.

We go back to The Lord Of The Rings (again) with Misty Mountain Hop. It’s a keyboard driven song that sounds quite relaxing indeed. It’s a slightly weaker track but it’s still essential listening on the album. Sounds majestic.

We have the pounding Four Sticks next. It’s a good one, with Robert Plant singing some eastern music influenced harmonies. It’s brilliant, in many respects, of course.

Going To California is a delightful semi-country ballad. It’s so simple and beautiful that fans of Led Zeppelin III will love this one. But as the harmonies at the end of the song tell you, it’s much better a recording than many of the pieces on that particular album. Inspired and great listening.

When The Levee Breaks was originally recorded by another blues artist way back in the 1920s, so this is a cover. However, it is mind-blowingly awesome and sounds really trippy. It takes you into another world of music and is super special. It ends the album well.

This album not only defined the hard rock of the time, it deeply transcended it. It was such a special album in terms of overall quality that it has featured in many history books as one of the greatest albums of all time. It’s definitely in the top ten of the listings for the greatest albums ever. If you like hard rock with great performances and attitude, start here. You won’t be disappointed.

9/10