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 Boon, Graham
Rudd, Dai Coe, and the Dog – it
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
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
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
Stupid questions, of course it has. You
get eight tracks all of which are classics.
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
My, My Child when You shake that
Gonna make you burn, Gonna make
…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
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 anybody remember laughter?
Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew