Album Review: Led Zeppelin – IV
IV is the fourth album by rock group Led Zeppelin. Formed in 1969, Led Zeppelin consists of vocalist Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham. The band released both I and II in 1969 which saw them propel towards success because of what they had offered to music. These two albums had already set a benchmark, but in 1971 they would attain legendary status. This album would turn the face of music upside down because Led Zeppelin had managed to integrate the heavy qualities of rock into their tracks with an elegance that bands like The Beatles couldn’t achieve. Led Zeppelin took their sound to another level on IV, which made them true pioneers and major influences on many generations of musicians to come.
Black Dog is possibly one of the best introductions to begin with on any album. Plant’s vocals are delivered with such power with the lyrics “Hey hey mama said the way you move/Gon’ make you sweat, gon’ make you groove.” After this section has been sung, we hear what we heard on their very first album, which is this monstrous, electrifying delivery consisting of guitar and bass playing a slick blues based riff accompanied by drums that are overbearing and menacing. Rock & Roll shows Zeppelin making blues their own once again through their heroes BB King, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and many others. The track rightly called Rock & Roll definitely does show rock at it’s pinnacle, which is bliss.
Battle of Evermore features Sandy Denny of Fairport Convention. Denny’s vocals are delivered exceptionally well and make the track so eery. Her voice is so unique and haunting that you could place her in almost any era of music. Harmonisation from Denny and Plant is wonderful and this accompanied by Page on mandolin adds to the folk-style of the track. Then we come onto Stairway to Heaven, the myth and phenomenon among fans. The composition behind this track is so beautifully put together. This track depicts all members as geniuses for their time. Stairway to Heaven is a magical and unique journey that could easily fit into a place in JRR Tolkein’s famous novel, Lord of the Rings. The effect that the track has on the listener is so personal and indescribable. It’s a crime for any music enthusiast not to shed a tear for this song.
Going to California is a lovely acoustic number with Jones on mandolin and Page on guitar. Plant’s opening lyrics “Spent my days with a woman unkind/Smoked my stuff and drank all my wine” reflect the antics of what hippies got up to in that era. Jones’s mandolin-playing is a lovely aspect that accompanies Page’s guitar-playing wonderfully. If you loved Battle of Evermore, then this song is an absolute wonder! When the Levee Breaks is the closing song to IV but my god does it pack a punch. Once again this highlights John Bonham as a monumental drummer in rock music. The house at Headley Grange where this album was recorded made Bonham’s drums sound utterly-awe inspiring. Also When The Levee Breaks has been repeatedly sampled in and other music since the 1980s, as a result of its distinctly “heavy” sound. The musicians that have sampled include The Beastie Boys, Enigma, Dr. Dre and Massive Attack.
Led Zeppelin IV is an exquisite example of rock at it’s absolute finest because every track has a variety of instruments. Each song doesn’t try to step on the others toes or try too hard. IV is eery, dangerous, captivating and beautiful because it marries the hard rock from their second album and folkier meanderings of their third. When you listen to IV or even other Led Zeppelin albums you understand how they made their name. They did it with such style that at the peak of their career, they were simply unstoppable. No one can even come close to what Led Zeppelin achieved because it was so versatile and innovative. If you’re passionate about music don’t even give a second thought whether to purchase this or not because this is an album that everyone should have in their collection.