Thursday, August 29, 2013

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV (ZOSO)

Since I'm in the Zep section, lemme go over this one, as well. This may have been the first album of theirs
that I owned, simply due to the ubiquitousness of "Stairway to Heaven", which I admit to liking as much as the next stoner/metal kid in the 70's. I don't think that this is currently my top Zep record, but still it is pretty solid, overall.

This opens with one of their best riff-rockers, "Black Dog" (so named due to one walking by at the right moment, apparently), which actually got some AM airplay in the Chicago area. This is another wacky Page-ism that shouldn't work (I spent many an hour stumbling over this while trying to play it - don't think I ever conquered it) but does and is a bit of a monster as it does - again, Bonham's bashing certainly contributes to the success! A Zep-ified take on 50's rock'n'roll follows in the aptly titled "Rock and Roll" - another heavy piece of furious mania. Yes, a little corny lyrically, but still pretty ferocious!

The first acoustic number of this album is "The Battle of Evermore" featuring mandolin and the beautiful voice of Sandy Denny from Fairport Convention. The two vocals work together well, intertwining and weaving in and out and sometimes harmonizing, giving a terrific effect to the tune, which wouldn't be nearly as interesting if Plant had been on his own. I don't think that there is anyone on the planet who hasn't heard "Stairway to Heaven", but if you step away from it long enough you can learn to appreciate it again. It is a truly interestingly crafted number with its builds in intensity and instrumentation. Again, they show how they can create a classic that shouldn't be - how many songs this popular have no chorus whatsoever?

"Misty Mountain Hop" is another oddity - electric piano driven, with truly unusual harmonies and, again, no real chorus. Just slightly less weird is "Four Sticks" with a heavy, simple riff, pounding, jungle drums (what else?) and a bit more catchy, though still no true chorus, in a traditional sense. But the return to acoustic in "Going to California" brings us back to a more "standard" type of songwriting - a pretty, hippie-esque folk tune with some interesting changes. Speaking of changes, they radically re-worked Memphis Minnie's "When the Levee Breaks", though they still should have given her some credit! Regardless, love the harmonica here and, of course, Bonham is a monster and really makes the tune.

Yes, it's a classic - the first four albums are - but I don't know that it's the best of the bunch. Still, worth having if you dig hard blues-rock.