438 of 510 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2004
Within 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 Osborne, Graham Rudd, Dai Coe, and the Dog - it was unanimous.)
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 Page.
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 well being.
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 of time?
Stupid questions, of course it does. You get eight tracks all of which are classic. 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 You groove,
My, My Child when You shake that thing,
Gonna make you burn, Gonna make You sting.`...
...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 so sweet.
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 any body remember laughter?
Mott the Dog
Re-mastered by Ella Crew
128 of 151 people found the following review helpful
You know, there are actually some people in the world who don't own this album? What a shame. It's a classic! From the manic vocals on "Black Dog" through the thundering backbeat and jagged guitar lines of "Four Sticks," to the rough Mississippi Delta blues of "When the Levee Breaks," the album is epic. And of course, the album's centerpiece is "Stairway to Heaven," a slow building folk rock masterpiece which climaxes in a volley of hard rock guitar lines with Plant's wailing vocals over the top.
That's not to say that the album is all brawn and no melody. On the contrary, "The Battle of Evermore" and "Going to California" are beautiful folk ballads which perfect the folk sound that Led Zeppelin had been experimenting with ever since their first album came out.
At any rate, if you don't own this album, then you ought to go out and buy it. Just to have one of the greatest CD's ever in your collection.
97 of 117 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2007
I would like to start this review by stating that this is, arguably, the greatest rock album ever recorded. I don't see how it has an overall 4.5 star rating and it's all of the idiotic 1-star reviews that bring it down. I'm not calling it the best rock album of all time because I'm giving in to the hype about it, because I'm not. I own it and have listened through it over a hundred times so I am more than familiar with it, along with the rest of Zeppelin's music. This is simply the most complete, diverse and distinctive album ever. Not only are Plant, Page, Jones and Bonham gods of their instruments but they are likewise with song writing. The songs range from funky rock and roll (Black Dog, Rock and Roll) to groovy melodies (Misty Mountain Hop) to the more melodic ballads (Battle of Evermore, Going to California) to the epic heavy hitters on the album, Stairway and When the Levee Breaks. These four guys have mastered blues-inspired rock and roll and play it like no other. Jimmy Page is equally masterful and brilliant with the electric and acoustic guitars and his melodies are some of the most unconventional, odd time-signatured yet captivating ever. This is the quintissential hard rock album and it seems like all other albums should be measured up against this one.
I give every single song on this album a 10/10 with the exception of Four Sticks, which I would give a 9.5. Albums can't really rate much higher.
These are the gods of rock and this is their masterpiece. No person who claims to listen to rock should be without it. Don't pay any attention to the 1-star reviews, or the 2- and 3- star reviews, for that matter. They are ridiculous and written solely out of rebellion. Let them listen to their Fallout Boys and Nirvanas and Panic at the Discos. This is real music.
I am someone who usually does not give in to fads and trends just for the sake of doing it, but Led Zeppelin IV is a trend that I can't help but follow. It's simply the best..
44 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2000
THE BAND: Robert Plant (vocals), Jimmy Page (guitars), John Paul Jones (bass, keyboards), John Bonham (drums & percussion).
THE DISC: (1971) 8 songs clocking in at approximately 43 minutes. The digitally remastered version released in 1994. Included with the disc is a 10-page booklet containing song titles/credits, song lyrics to "Stairway To Heaven" (only), and all original album artwork. All songs written by members of Led Zeppelin. This is the band's 4th studio album. Recorded at Headley, Grange, Hampshire and Island Studios in London, England. Label - Swan Song / Atlantic.
COMMENTS: Zeppelin's 4th album (often referred to as "Zoso" or "Ruins") is the definitive Led Zeppelin recording. Here, the band's sound and concept, Plant's vocals, and Page's music and arranging skills finally crystallized into something completely distinct and original. 1971 was a great year for rock & roll. Black Sabbath had "Master of Reality". Deep Purple blazed with "Fireball". Rod Stewart told us "Every Picture Tells A Story". The Who had "Who's Next". T-Rex had his "Electric Warrior"... but nothing matched the magnitude of "Zoso". Every song is a classic and can still be heard on the radio today (over 3 decades later). Jimmy Page was the mastermind behind this band and the direction they were taking. He co-wrote every song and produced the album. Each song is a staple - "Black Dog", "Rock & Roll", "Battle of Evermore", "Stairway To Heaven", "Misty Mountain Hop", "Four Sticks", "Going to California", and "When The Levee Breaks". Hard to believe only two singles were released in the U.S. from this album in 1971-72: "Black Dog" reaching #15 (B-Side was "Misty Mountain Hop"), and "Rock And Roll reaching #47 (B-Side was "Four Sticks"). But don't forget Led Zeppelin's most celebrated composition "Stairway To Heaven"... which turned into their greatest rocking anthem. This album defines rock & roll. Classic disc (5 stars).
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2003
This album is of course Zeppelin's best-selling, because of guess which song, but a lot of people don't take the time to appreciate the incredible songs that populate the rest of the disk.
Black Dog--a sort of melding of blues and early heavy metal, this song's irregular rhythms and riffs, great solos and of course nonstop greatness from Bonham makes this one of the better songs on the disk. Like most of Zeppelin's songs, it gets better after repeated listening when you can appreciate the guitar playing skill of Page.
Rock and Roll--AKA 'The Cadillac Song'. I have more than once had to explain to someone hearing this song that no, in fact it is not The Cadillac Song, it is a Led Zeppelin song...oh well. After Black Dog with its random, roaming tunes, this song is pretty straightforward but not by any measure disappointing. Bonham really shows us what he's made of in a manner that rivals
'Kashmir', 'Levee' and 'Achilles', although the rest of the band isn't particularly great.
Battle of Evermore--very unusual-sounding mandolins, a great harmony between Robert Plant and Sandy Denny, and mystical lyrics form a great ode to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. A relaxing break from the hard rock of the preceding songs and it fits right into the sound of the next song.
Stairway to Heaven--there's not a lot more to say about this song that hasn't been said but that it got to its place as the most popular and most played out rock song of all time for a REASON. Great performance from all four band members, great arranging skill by Page, the best guitar solo ever (so it's said) and it's great from it's quiet soothing intro through all 8 minutes to the loud, metal-sounding ending. Not Zeppelin's best song, but certainly one of the best.
Misty Mountain Hop--a song allegedly about a kid on his first acid trip, with the title being a Tolkien reference. It'll grow on you, I promise. Bonham sounding his usual (i.e. great) and nothing special from the rest of the band.
Four Sticks--aside from the fact that Bonham used two sticks in each hand to play this song (takes a lot of skill and produces and unusual sound) there is nothing great about it. It's just good whereas Zeppelin's usual is fantastic.
Going to California--an underappreciated song about hippies. Listen to it and you'll come to like it.
When the Levee Breaks--one of Zeppelin's best 5 songs, easily. Turn the volume way up right for this and let the drums shake the earth. A smashing, steady rhythm combined with distorted, slightly psychedelic guitars and harmonica especially near the end on this mind-bogglingly good song will leave you hyped for more when the album ends.
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2014
If future Led Zeppelin "deluxe" releases are anything like "IV" and "Houses of the Holy", this may be my last purchase of these new remasters. It was the bonus material that enticed me to want to buy these, and now I feel regret to have fallen into this trap. The original album, of course, is phenomenal. It's definitely worthy of 5 stars and one of the best albums ever. However, the bonus material on the second disc offers very little value. Most of the songs sound identical to the original, with only a few minor tweaks here and there. As soon as I put the bonus disc in the cd player, the first song I listened to was the "Sunset Sound" mix of "Stairway to Heaven." Several minutes in, I had to double check the CD to be sure I hadn't put the original album in instead of the bonus. They sounded absolutely identical up until the very end, and only then you get what is basically a few seconds of extra guitar. Other songs sound exactly the same as well, while others are simply "karaoke" versions where the vocal track has been removed.
With so many high quality Zeppelin bootlegs out there, I would have preferred more live material from this period. And if they want to include "alternate" versions of songs, they should truly be alternate versions. Look at the alternate versions of Beatles songs on the "Anthology" discs. Those are what I would really consider "alternate." Different lyrics, different solos, etc. This just reeks of another cash grab from Page.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 1999
First of all, there is no need to compare Pink Floyd or the Beatles to Led Zeppelin. They are all great groups with different styles. To all you people giving this album 1 star, you obviously are part of a great minority. There is no need to argue which is better, you may have your opinion. No matter how much you may hate Led Zeppelin and this album, it is clear that this album wouldn't have been so popular if millions didn't love it like many of us do. (It was 17x platinum)
As a 17 year old in high school, I first started listening to Led Zep about 2 years ago. I started with Zoso and Houses of the Holy when I got them for Christmas. I listened to Zoso every night, and never did an album make me feel so touched. "Stairway to Heaven," which was fresh to me then, was absolutely magical. Never before had a song made me shiver like that. Almost anyone can fall in love with the main Stairway riff, but the solo is probably the best ever. It sums up every emotion of the song into a couple of minutes, and leads into the final conclusion. Stairway is the absolute definition of an "epic." Even though Robert Plant may be singing about nonsense, the powerful emotion that the song brings is unavoidable. I really don't care about you people with the degrees in music critisizing his lyrics. If you couldn't feel the emotion and power of Stairway when you heard the song a few times, then you are either completely oblivious to emotion in music, or you have a problem with the essential fabric of rock, or perhaps all music in general. "When the Levee breaks" was of almost the same caliber, and gave me the same euphoric feeling. I sat in bed and it hurt not to listen to the 2 songs. It was the strangest feeling to be so touched by music. It is indescribable. I can honestly say it was the most incredible music I had every heard in my life. I would love to hear anyone try to argue that Stairway to Heaven didn't touch people emotionally (please email me if you can -firstname.lastname@example.org-). Because if you didn't feel its power, then you simply missed out on something timeless, epic, emotional, and euphoric. Too bad for you.
I also loved most of the other songs on this album, but none are as touching as Stairway and When the Levee Breaks. "Going to California" is without a doubt a beautifully composed song. Most people can agree that it is a great song. Black Dog probably has the most incredible guitar riff ever written, but unfortunately it gets old faster than anything else. I loved the riff but was tired of the song after about 5 listens. Rock and Roll is the quintessential rock'n'roll song, and they obviously gave it the name to fit. This song never seems to lose its freshness, and is a truly classic tune. I don't care what anyone says, Battles of Evermore is a wonderful song. It is beautiful, and I love the JRR Tolkien references. Read "Lord of The Rings", it is a great book and will help you understand some Led Zep lyrics. Misty Mountain Hop is ok, but not great. Four Sticks is a bit weak, but as one reviewer pointed out, is ok on occasion.
Please take my word for this album. I may not have a Phd in music like some of our fellow reviewers, but I have emotions and I know what triggers them, and if you are like the majority of the population, these songs will trigger yours too.
31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Led Zeppelin's second and third albums had both gone to number one and they had become the biggest band in music. Despite their legion of fans, the critics were not kind to them. Upon the release of their fourth record, they decided to let their music do the talking. The album is untitled (Though various names abound like Led Zeppelin IV, Runes, Zoso), contains no reference to band and has no track listing. The album contains a mere eight songs, but they are among the most powerful and memorable in rock music. There is a mystic and medieval aura emanating from the album. The album kicks off with the sledgehammer riffs of "Black Dog" that contains a heavily echoed vocal from Robert Plant. "Rock & Roll" is just what the title says, a frenetic song that rocks and rolls with manic fury. "Battle Of The Evermore" is a mystical song that plays to Zeppelin's dark side. "Stairway To Heaven" is the most requested song in the history of FM radio and though it has been overplayed to death, it achieved its status for a reason. From the quiet opening of an acoustic guitar and flute that slowly builds to a crashing crescendo to its cryptic lyrics to its grandly majestic vocals and powerful instrumentation, the song strives for greatness and achieves it. "Misty Mountain Hop" is an almost funky song with some great keyboards from John Paul Jones. John Bonham pounds some mean skins on the powerful "Four Sticks" while "Going To California" is a lush and beautiful song that has a tender vocal from Mr. Plant. The album closes with a song that is almost an equal in the epic standards of "Stairway To Heaven". "When The Levee Breaks" is a driving, pulsating, blues-based song that has a piercing harmonica and master guitar work by Jimmy Page. Surprising, this album never made it to number one. It spent four weeks at number two, but has gone on to sell over 20 million copies and ranks as one the ten best selling albums in music history. Not too shabby for an album that doesn't even have a title.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Masterpiece, Robert's singing seems more Emotional and Inspiring than opera !
Black Dog and Going to California are my particular favorites on this CD. Sung with his needy , yearning, whining soul !
Got to buy it !
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2001
I'll start by stating the obvious - This is not Led Zeppelin's best album. Not by a long shot. I could never quite decide which is the best one, but IV (aka Untitled, aka Rune Album, aka Zoso) is not that. It's extremely commercial, designed to be successful (and that worked, by the way; another problem of the album is that so many of the songs - especially Stairway To Heaven - have been so terribly overplayed on the radio and, well, anywhere else.) In order to achieve that, the band cleaned their act a little, smoothed some rough edges. The blues influences, very powerful on the first album, are present, but very lightly and moderately. The music still rocks, but not half as loud and rough as LZ II or III. Instrumental segments are kept to a minimum, because that kind of stuff doesn't sell. Sure, the four minute drum solo that is Moby Dick and the long jamming on Dazed And Confused are two of the highlights of the first albums, but how many of your avarege rock-pop fans have the patience for that? Also, the production is dreadfuly clean. Some of the best songs on the album could have benefited a lot from a rougher sound, and indeed sounded a lot better when played live (see the Black Dog performance on 'The Song Remains The Same'.)
It's just because of this that Led Zeppelin IV is the perfect Led Zeppelin album for the non-Led Zeppelin fan, or, on the other hand, the perfect introduction to the band for someone who thinks Led Zeppelin equals Stairway To Heaven. Those are sure to enjoy singing along to old favorites like Stairway and Rock And Roll, as well as the lesser known Going To California and Misty Mountain Hop while When The Levee Breaks and Black Dog prepare them for the real Led Zeppelin (albums I-III). Later they can listen to 'The Song Remains The Same' to hear those songs performed like they should be, and hear the brilliant playing of Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John "Bonzo" Bonham at full power.
There is, despite everything, a wonderful selection of songs here. Black Dog, a slightly bluesy track, is a marvelous song (though it sounds much better live), with powerful, soulful singing from Robert Plant. Rock And Roll is a fast, catchy rocker, the kind of tune that gets stuck in your head and gives you a strange, irresistable urge to sing along, tap your feet, or, in more extreme cases, play your air guitar or drum on the nearest available solid object. Lacking the depth of heavy metal classics like Whole Lotta Love and Immigrant Song, Rock And Roll is still extremely fun. The Battle Of Evermore is a brilliant, unusual turn for Page and Plant, and probably the only song which sounds fantastic in this clean, smooth production. It's the height of Led Zeppelin's Tolkien and mysticism obsession, and sounds like nothing else they've ever done. Stairway To Heaven, while it is one of the most overplayed songs in history, is still an excellent epic song with some great moments.
Side B is slightly weaker; Misty Mountain Hop, Four Sticks and Going To California are all great tracks, but none is especially original or memorable. Misty Mountain Hop is a song which was probably made to be heavy metal but was softened and cleaned. Four Sticks is heavier, but nothing exceptional. And Going To California is a sweet little ballad, a nice song but really too smooth for Led Zeppelin. The whole thing, though, is saved by When The Levee Breaks. Some of the negative reviews on this album said that the best song on it was When The Levee Breaks and it wasn't even their song. Yes, it is the best song on the album. No, it's not a Led Zeppelin original. I wonder, though, how many of the reviewers who made this comment actually heard Memphis Minnie's original song, because the two have very little in common; the brilliance of this track is Led Zeppelin's arrangement, which turned a good old blues song into one of Led Zeppelin's heaviest, dirtiest, most powerful pieces of music. Bonham, Page and Jones did a brilliant job, not to mention Plant who brought out his harmonica for the recording. After hearing this album, try to find a live recording of the song. It's guaranteed to blow your mind.
Whether or not you're a Led Zeppelin fan, this album is a must, an essential part of every collection. There's something here to please anyone, and if When The Levee Breaks is tough on your eardrums, listen to Stairway To Heaven again, or try Going To California. If you are a fan, don't have a grudge against this album because it was so successful - there's nothing wrong with compromising a little to expand one's audience.