Saturday, May 14, 2011

Progress Report:Replay: Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV

Progress Report examines music as I'm working my way through it.

Replay revisits the music I've previously listened to.


I don't know how Led Zeppelin tapped into the magic fountain of rock awesomeness, but even as their reached their fourth album, they showed no signs of stopping. In some ways, IV, as it's commonly called--the album doesn't actually have a real title anywhere on it--is a continuation of the sound that Led Zeppelin had probably become known for over its prior three albums. Explosive, hard rock with a lot of musical complexity and really pushing the image of light and heavy at the same time, like it's name. But, as the album naming scheme changed with IV, the music of Led Zeppelin makes small shades of changes as well.

While IV sees no loss of awesome straight up rockers, like the opening salvo of "Black Dog" and "Rock and Roll", things get interesting right after with the folk rock epic, "The Battle of Evermore" only to follow with the iconic and even more multi-faceted "Stairway to Heaven" with its slow build to its cataclysmic end. The next pair returns to Led Zeppelin's hard rock with the raucous "Misty Mountain Hop", a personal rock favorite for its fun harmonies and then the tumbling atmospheric "Four Sticks". And then, a lovely folk rock love song with "Going to California" and then closing with the rumbling, menacing "When the Levee Breaks".

When a lot of people think of Led Zeppelin, the contents of this album is what they are thinking about. While Led Zeppelin has not been afraid to incorporate folk songs into their albums (like on III) they appear in greater strength here. More significantly, IV also just stretches the band to epic levels with multiple winding, multi-faceted and momentous songs in perfect sequence. Yes, Led Zeppelin makes great hard rock albums--this is their first epic rock album and they did it with history-making execution. 10/10.

Tracklist:

  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

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