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The Led Zeppelin Discography Breakdown Thread


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In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 2:48:06 PM PST
Man, David i love "The Lemon Song". Really cool bass playing by John, nice groovy bass line. And i love that main riff by Page. Great song, to me.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 3:16:37 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 4, 2013 3:21:33 PM PST
But this song is the vessel that carries all that Exile sees that is bad about Plant in particular, and I tend to see where he's coming from with that.

Posted on Jan 4, 2013 3:19:44 PM PST
Even I think "The Lemon Song" is probably the weakest thing on either of their first two albums. I would happily have seen "Travelling Riverside Blues" in its place. But I still give "Lemon" a 3.5/5.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 3:26:13 PM PST
I would go so far as to say that, along with "Hats off....." it is probably the weakest track on the first four albums.

Posted on Jan 4, 2013 3:35:06 PM PST
@Buck Buckaw: I agree. While Anthony has a point about the riff and bass groove, I think "Lemon Song" is the one case where they stretched things out way too far. It would have been fine at three or three-and-a-half minutes. Also, as you note Plant isn't really at his best--although that whole "squeeze my lemon" line was very impressive to my friends and I when we were 12, LOL!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 3:49:26 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 4, 2013 3:49:38 PM PST
Yeah, definitely a song for its time, I would say.

The difference with "Hats off....." though is that it is right at the end and I can ignore it quite easily.

"Lemon....." is flanked by and breaks up two of Zeps best moments and is the only dud on an otherwise near perfect side.

Posted on Jan 4, 2013 3:53:12 PM PST
@Buck Buckaw: "Yeah, definitely a song for its time, I would say."

As the band members have admitted, LZII was the sound of a group having lots of naughty sex with groupies in hotel rooms while on tour. It's got a very primal, carnal edge to it. LZIII is the sound of them retreating to a cottage in the country and studying Crowley.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 3:56:56 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 4, 2013 3:57:16 PM PST
And what about Zep IV? LOL, I think I'm almost ready. I only ran through it one time as I'm pretty familiar with a few of the songs..haha..They've been on the radio. As I said earlier, I was supposed to be giving IV a second spin but someone mentioned the bassline from "Gallows" and I wound up playing all of Zep III again.

Was that you, Buck?

Anyhow, funky little bass riff in there.

Posted on Jan 4, 2013 4:01:30 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 4, 2013 4:02:08 PM PST
@Exile: just like you thought maybe I was a little 'mean' with "Bron", I thought you were maybe a little harsh in your initial review of "Gallows". Not to say that The Stones don't have superb ways of climaxing their songs...but "Gallows" is right up there in the exciting finish dept., IMO. The way it builds to its closing workout is sublime.

Can't wait to get to IV!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 4:01:37 PM PST
Yea, i get what both of you hear about Plant's style and it's totally there on "Lemon Song". But i still love that song a lot even with his overdone 'screamyness'. The live stuff can be way too much for me on Plant's vocal preening, but here i dig it.

Posted on Jan 4, 2013 4:05:12 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 4, 2013 4:05:41 PM PST
@Anthony Fernandez: while Plant was way more affected live than in the studio, I also think he was more impressive just on a sheer technical level. The studio records only give a glimpse into the vocal acrobatics that man was capable of live, especially in the 1970-71 period. By the time they got to the MSG shows filmed for "Song Remains The Same", he was already passing his prime (and upping the cheese factor a bit), although I do think he sounds good in the '75 Earls Court shows.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 4:14:09 PM PST
No, I recall it but not who it was.

Still, if it led you to listen to III again, I'll cop it.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 4:16:32 PM PST
I couldn't get enough of ".....poles" when I first got III.

I don't mind that it goes on, and then is followed by "Tangerine" and then "That's the way"...... Brilliant.

Posted on Jan 4, 2013 4:31:50 PM PST
@Buck Buckaw: I agree, it's a song you can't get enough of. Something about that rhythm--it's so bouncy and supple, but rocks so hard at the same time. Many layers going on at once by the end, all grooving and interlocking with each other. A perfect heavy metal folk song.

Posted on Jan 4, 2013 4:48:31 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 4, 2013 4:59:07 PM PST
Hey Hey Mama and all you Zepheads!!!!

I know Zep IV has been played to death and you're all sick of it. I'm tired of it also but let's try and think back to when this was fresh to our musical ears, before Classic Rock Radio bludgeoned us over the head with it. Did it live up to your expectations at the time? Did it grow on you? I was only a year old when it was released but I do recall when I first started listening to it. I was in 5th grade and I was about 11 years old. Everyone in school liked Zeppelin and most of the other classic rock bands, at least in my little delinquent crowd. :) My older sis got Zep IV before I ever did so I used to listen to her cassette. "WOW!" I would think.."Led Zeppelin! This is that band all the kids like in school and now I'm going to get a chance to hear them!" I was so excited because up until this point I would just tell people, "Yeah, I like Zeppelin" even though I couldn't tell you the difference between them and The Partridge Family at the time. Don't get me wrong, I had my VH records, AC/DC, KISS..etc..but this was 'old stuff', at least 10 years old and who listens to music that is 10 years old when you yourself are only....well, 10 years old??

I played the tape and was not as impressed with it as the other kids were. There was a problem here..I was really supposed to like this stuff, especially "Stairway To Heaven". Everyone talked about that song and how amazing it is. How come I'm not getting it? I didn't hate the album but it wasn't as enjoyable as my previously mentioned AC/DC, VH and KISS records. Of course at school I would tell people Zep is amazing and I got the iron-on T-shirt to prove it. I got older and bought more Zep and would play them but they were never my favorite band. In the early 90's I bought the boxset of all the Studio albums in remastered form for pennies on the dollar and gave Zep another try. And here I am trying to, yet AGAIN, give them another whirl.

As overplayed as it is and as tiresome as the album has become to rock fans, I still see it as the culmination of everything Zep did well in one neat little package. I feel it is the quintessential Zeppelin album and probably the best one to serve as an introduction. Other albums have a little of this and a little of that, but this album, to me, incorporates everything Zep did well all in one place, even if it wouldn't make my personal list of favorite albums. Led Zeppelin IV IS Led Zeppelin at the height of their powers and the album where they take the heavier elements of II and combine them with the folkier arrangements of III to create a powerful statement. The arrangements are fully fleshed out, the songwriting at a peak and the performances perfect and where they got just about everything right.

So why, to this day, do I still not love this album??

By the way, I used to look at the cover and wonder which member of the band that was...LOL

Black Dog - lots of good ingredients.... A wicked vocal, a cool riff, a good beat...But it doesn't rock me. I can listen to it and see why Zep fans like it...It's all there but I could take it or leave it and I'm not sure why. If I haven't been able to pinpoint what it is by now, I'm not sure I ever will but knowing myself pretty well, there is something about the starting and stopping that just doesn't work here for me.. Is it a good opener? Yes, but not as much as WLL and IS.

Rock And Roll - The title says it all. It's a revved up version of a 50's styled rock and roll song. I'm a rhythm guy so needless to say this has some serious rhythm and I've always liked this song. I like Page's tone especially and apparently Brian May did as well as there are countless Queen songs that sound just like it. I'm listening to this and almost singing "Sheer Heart Attack" in my head.

Battle - Loved this from the first time I heard it, appreciate it even more now. This is the sort of song that would separate Zeppelin from all the other heavy rock acts of the day. Could Deep Purple ever come up with this song lyrically? No way. Musically? Hmm, not so sure but definitely not with such a detailed arrangement..The mandolin and Sandy Denny's vocals..My God..Sabbath tried their hands at doing some ballads as well but nobody of the genre did it as effectively as this. This song is an extension of Zep III and light years ahead of anything they were capable of on II and especially I. When you think of all the separate pieces that went into making this song it's mindboggling at how well it all worked. Brilliant!!!!!

Stairway to Heaven - Uh Oh!! Again, so many incredible ingredients but in the end it's just a really great song to me. Before it became the biggest song on the planet and overplayed to death, when I first heard it on that cassette tape my thought when it was over..."OK, that was kinda cool..gotta flip the tape now." In other words, it didn't bowl me over like it did for others. I love the intro, the flute and Plant's vocals..but something about it never fully sucked me in. The song also contains one of the greatest guitar solos Page would ever commit to tape...I even like the "ooooh and it makes me wonder..." part. Maybe it was too mythical, reaching to be too deep lyrically or profound that I just sort said, yeah whatever you say, dude. It almost sounds to me like they sat there and said, "OK, to make a cool song we need to do this, this, this and this..." and they went about making "Stairway.." Cool solo? Check! Deep lyrics? Check! A song that's part ballad and part hard rock? Check! Epic and majestic? Check!" And, of course..anything so mystical as a 'stairway to heaven' will be sure to draw enough people in.

Good song...but time to flip the tape over.. ;)

Posted on Jan 4, 2013 5:18:46 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 4, 2013 5:29:06 PM PST
Side Two

Misty Mountain Hop - Man, I hated this song the first time I heard it and pretty much all the times after it. I recall being 20 years old in a bar and this guy talking to us was saying what a great song "Misty Mountain Hop" is and all I could think was, "Which f-ing version does HE have?" LOL..I can't say it's grown on me all that much over the years but at least I've learned that it's more Zep's STYLE that doesn't jibe with me more than it is their songs. This song has Zep written all over it. I can't really imagine any other band pulling this off but them. I can tolerate it on occassion and at least it's better than....

Four Sticks - The weakest song on the album. It just goes nowhere except on and on and on...LOL..Now somebody is going to come in and say how much they love such and such a part and that's cool, but I have never liked this song. That little bongo thing going on is pretty cool and it's unfortunate that Plant was sick with the flu when he recorded his vocal part...At least it sounds like he was...especially towards the end...LOL

Going to California - How can anyone NOT like this song? Well, let me tell you how...LOL...I'm kidding people. This is a great song and again, Page is the man on his acoustic. He obviously plays in a different style when he isn't plugged in and I love it. He is stunning on acoustic..always..And with so many different variations and ideas for every song....Excuse me while I go pop in Zep III just ONE more time.......

And I'm glad Plant got over his cold. He sounds much better. :)

When The Levee Breaks - If I were to tell you how I really feel about this song Amazon would delete it in about 3 seconds because it's so mother F.......bleeping mind blowingly f....bleepin' good!!!

WIKI - "When the Levee Breaks" was recorded at a different tempo, then slowed down, explaining the "sludgy" sound, particularly on the harmonica and guitar solos. Because this song was heavily produced in the studio, it was difficult to recreate live; the band only played it a few times in the early stages of their 1975 U.S. Tour, before dropping it for good."

Yes, sludgy! the studio enhancements give it the sound of impending doom and the slide guitar sounds so huge!! At the end, in addition to the 'sludgy' sound, you get this swirling effect which really adds to the atmosphere of the song. I guess this is more a triumph of studio wizardry than actual performance but the arrangement is great. It's a heavy song without necessarily being that heavy. Page's slide guitar..again, it sounds so huge and enormous...Geez, I'm running out of adjectives in my limited vocabulary...You might say I like the song...a lot.

Rating: It's a 5 star Zeppelin album, without a doubt. In comparison and in relation to other rock albums I would still give it a 5/5 classic rating.

For me personally, there are many albums I would put on before this one ..but again, that's simply a matter of taste and style. This is a landmark album.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 5:18:47 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 4, 2013 5:30:34 PM PST
In the depths of Mordor......

.....expectations can be a beast.

Great reviews Exile.

I'm old enough to remember IV and the impact it had when it was fresh, and I too was put back a bit by the adoration thrown around it like some kind of force feild.

We're only talking about the first side here, which didn't thrill me all that much except for ".....Evermore".

"Black dog" is a well executed throw away that always reminded me of army marching songs.

"I don't know what I believe.

(Pages guitar)

I'll be home by Christmas eve."

(Well, that's the clean version at any rate).

If you get a chance, Exile listen to "Taurus" by Spirit, who toured with Zep just before this was recorded ;-I.

Now side two, that's a whole different kettle full of kettles.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 5:20:40 PM PST
"@Exile: just like you thought maybe I was a little 'mean' with "Bron", I thought you were maybe a little harsh in your initial review of "Gallows"."

I probably was. Still a great song...but....My 'gripes' were relatively small. :)

Posted on Jan 4, 2013 5:26:58 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 4, 2013 5:44:47 PM PST
>>Four Sticks - The weakest song on the album......Now somebody is going to come in and say how much they love such and such a part and that's cool,<<

That would be me Exile.

This is one of two of Bonzos big moments on IV, the other is the monumental "......levee breaks".

This, for me fits right into the magnificent flow of the second side.

Removed from its context however, its weakness' become more evident.

It is a great song to listen to while driving.

I think it was a training run for "Kashmir".

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 5:29:27 PM PST
>>Excuse me while I go pop in Zep III just ONE more time.......<<

You're excused.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 5:32:21 PM PST
"If you get a chance, Exile listen to "Taurus" by Spirit, who toured with Zep just before this was recorded ;-I."

I HAVE heard it and when I had found out about it years later my first two thoughts were...

1) Now I like the song even less and..
2) If you're going to steal from another artist, at least Page is smart enough to know what is worthy of being stolen..LOL

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 5:39:58 PM PST
What annoyed Randy California so much was the way people used to come up to him and say "I like your version. Why don't you do the whole thing?"

Posted on Jan 4, 2013 5:52:20 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 4, 2013 5:56:53 PM PST
What amazes me about "Led Zeppelin IV" is that its quality has managed to outlast its enormous overplay, and even some pretty withering parodies over the years. There are albums that are good enough to survive overplay, but *this* much overplay? Very, very few. Sooner or later, the songs start to grate. But even with every guitar shop placing a sign on its door saying "no Stairway allowed", there's just not a lot I can say (with one exception) to critique this record. Sure, I need to take regular breaks from it, considering that I'm bound to hear one of its songs every time I flip a radio dial, anyways. But somehow, the songs do not lose their luster--it's perfect in just about every way. As Exile says, this is the album where they put it all together; it's their "Sgt.Pepper", "Rumours" or "Dark Side Of The Moon". And as Exile also notes, you have to try and look beyond the overplay and think back to your *initial* reaction on hearing these songs for the first time--but more on that in a second.

Black Dog--I'll get my one critique out of the way early, since "Black Dog" is essentially it. I agree with Exile--it seems on the surface like a good, complex, stomping hard rock opener to the album--but something isn't quite right. I've never warmed to this song, and in this case I *will* chalk it up to overplay. While the riff and its accompanying rhythm are pretty challenging and original for a hard rock number, even verging slightly into prog-rock territory, I don't think it stands the kind of repeated plays it has received over the years. After a while, all that stop-start stuff seems kind of laborious and overly-intricate (and this is coming from someone who usually loves that sort of thing in prog-rock, and even in other LZ songs). But one of the biggest problems I have with the song is its general attitude and feel. It's just too preening and cocky, even for LZ; it's the kind of song that all the stuck-up "cool kids" in high school would blast in their cars even though they hadn't a clue as to the rest of the group's output. Perhaps that makes me prejudiced against it a little, since I've always associated it with a certain kind of annoying trendiness. OTOH "Whole Lotta Love" and "Stairway" are also associated with that trendiness, and I have absolutely no problem with those. I think it's the music itself--it's momentarily arresting, but just doesn't stand up to the kind of overplay it has received.

Rock And Roll--now we're talking. The album revs up on all cylinders here, and doesn't let go until it's finished. I cannot imagine a purer expression of rock'n'roll excitement than what we get here. It's just an amped-up 50s throwback, but there's a majestic air to it that sounds transcendent. There's also a punkish quality that's quite endearing. Ian Stewart's piano contribution alone makes the song. Plant sounds perfect; he's just rocking out here, without the kind of overly-affecting 'tude he displayed on "Black Dog".

Battle Of Evermore--my personal favorite Led Zeppelin song. Exile described it pretty well: no, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath couldn't ever have (and didn't) come up with anything like this. There's a magic to this number that's hard to pin down in words, but you know it's there. Probably Plant's finest-ever studio vocal, with some help from the incomparable Sandy Denny. I wish she had guested with him on more of their songs, as the two of them truly sound like they are casting heavy spells here. This is just an utterly hypnotic journey from beginning to end, and its place in the song sequencing is perfect, acting as an intro to the similarly enchanted opening to "Stairway".

Stairway To Heaven--in a way, I know what Exile means when he describes this song as a little "too" perfect. The soft-to-loud construction, the solo, the lyrics--it's definitely got the self-conscious feel of having been created as their masterpiece. OTOH I can remember the first time I heard this song, and my reaction was unlike Exile's in that I (quite stereotypically) instantly thought it was the greatest rock song I had ever heard. Recently, when Ann and Nancy Wilson performed their cover of the song with a full orchestra-and-choir arrangement for LZ's induction into the Kennedy Center, I was reminded of just how timeless and powerful this song is; it does deserve to stand as an important historical-cultural document to be preserved along with the greats of classical and jazz. The opening folky section is beautiful and enchanting; the middle buildup has a breezy, thoughtful West-Coast feel not unlike The Byrds or CSNY; the seamless transition to the famous solo which builds and builds; and finally, the heart-stopping metallic conclusion which leaves one breathless...yes, it's all a bit "perfect". If you want to use that against the song, I suppose you could. But really, I can't. Perfect is perfect! And I still feel moved, compellingly grabbed by that dramatic final section even after all these years of parody and overplay. As for the lyric, I think it's one of their best; again, it has pretensions to perfect epic greatness, but again, I think it succeeds in fulfilling those goals with both poetry and insight.

Even given my reservations about "Black Dog", there are three consecutive all-time five-star masterpieces on side one which are at a level of truly timeless quality approaching The Beatles. The song flow is absolutely perfect, giving the album a coherence that suggests a concept, even though there is none. This music is sprinkled with Crowleyian spells, enchanted forest fairy dust and out-and-out punk/metal primal rock transcendence for a sound that is truly idiosyncratic to Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin only. Whither side two? We shall see...

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 6:05:18 PM PST
Nicely done...again, we aren't (very) far off, it's just how much we like what is being done that's different.

Stairway..yes, a little too self-concious for me..At least that's how I perceive it.

Happy to see I'm not the only one who isn't very fond of "Black Dog".

Posted on Jan 4, 2013 6:23:30 PM PST
Side two of "IV":

Misty Mountain Hop: I've heard some people say this is one of the weaker tracks on the album. Others, of course, love it. I can see why it might annoy some people (especially the chord progression of the verses), but I have to say I'm one of the ones that thinks it's yet another masterpiece. Another great riff, this time doubled on electric piano, it repeats itself without much variation but just sounds so supremely cool from start to finish. After all the heaviness of the last half of side one, and what is to come on side two, it's also a perfect breather at the perfect time; the group in an upbeat, lighter mood, just having a bit of fun. It maybe goes on for about a minute more than it needs to, but that's about all I can nitpick over.

Four Sticks: Let me side with Buck here--this, along with "Out On The Tiles", is another one of the great underrated LZ songs, if any song on this monumental album can be considered "underrated". This song is as epic as anything here, with that rumbling, circular, monster riff which constantly builds and builds; by the song's climax it feels like a whirling dervish. Acoustic accents, orchestral touches and some moog synthesizer complement the massive sound the group gets here. But, beyond anything, it's the underlying rhythm that keeps this thing cooking. In a way, this is the song on the album I can enjoy the most, thanks to the fact that you don't usually hear it on the radio.

Going To California--this is probably their finest acoustic number IMO, or at least vying for it with "That's The Way". This song sounds written with the critics in mind; both lyrically and musically the group go for the introspective singer-songwriter feel, as if they were trying to outdo Neil Young and Joni Mitchell at their own game (Plant even name-checked Joni in live performances of this one). It's yet another beguiling melody (although Zeppelin aren't generally known for their melodies, "IV" is chock full of great ones, which is possibly another reason for its popularity), with some absolutely gorgeous acoustic picking and Plant once again proving that he can sing with supreme delicacy and feel when he wants to.

When The Levee Breaks--the one throwback to blues on the album, this is another absolutely definitive number. Bonham is a monster, right from the opening; there's something to his style which is loud and booming yet oddly, does not sledgehammer you into submission and always leaves you wanting more. As Exile notes, the production is virtually the star here; the trippy touches transform this from just another heavy blues number, into something for thoughtful headphone contemplation. "Meaty" doesn't even begin to describe the effect they get here.

Track-by-track ratings:

Black Dog 3
Rock And Roll 5
Battle Of Evermore 5
Stairway To Heaven 5
Misty Mountain Hop 4.5
Four Sticks 5
Going To California 5
When The Levee Breaks 5

Overall Rating 5/5, or an "A" grade. "Black Dog", while not terrible, prevents this from being an "A+". This album is also #40 on my All-Time Top 100 Rock Albums list. Could they top this definitive statement? Moving on, now...
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