Release Date: November 1971
Achievements: Never mind being one of the best selling albums of all time and tied for third highest certified album in the US at 23x Platinum, it’s also featured in just about every “greatest albums ever” list since “greatest albums ever” lists have been in publication. It also is in the Grammy Hall of Fame as of 1999.
Rating: 10’s across the board, no splash.
I promise I haven’t just accidentally re-written my research from my Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band review. This is another album where the band stopped touring just before and were turning down all gigs. Unlike the Beatles, however, Led Zeppelin took a break because they wanted to take some time to focus on their next album because of the poor critical reaction to III, their previous offering.
They spent time in Headly Grange, a country house in Hampshire, using the mobile studio belonging to the Rolling Stones. This effectively allowed them to chill out and amble around the lovely setting and dive back to record things when the mood struck.
It should be noted that the band declined a name for this album, preferring to have four symbols, each picked by one of the band to represent them. The record company hated it, but the band stood firm. Basically, the album is called Four (IV), ZoSo (based on what Jimmy Page’s symbol appears to spell), Untitled or Runes, depending on who you ask. Even the band don’t fully agree – so if you read the title of this review and thought “well that’s not an album by Led Zeppelin!” you can @ them, not me.
This is an album of absolute belters. Rock and Roll is one of those songs that you absolutely will have heard and was one of the earliest tracks recorded for the album. Stairway to Heaven is another one I think people would recognise. It’s a “Heavy Rock” album, but there are treats like The Battle of Evermore, which sounds a bit like someone’s fantasy D&D backing track, and the acoustic Joni Mitchell inspired Going to California.
I will say that I found the opening track Black Dog a bit jarring. There’s like an irregular time signature to it and through the acapella singing part it’s like John Bonham (the drummer) has a nap and loses track of the tempo. It’s probably intentional, but my brain doesn’t like it.
To use a Glastonbury festival analogy, you could just as easily hear this album playing in the hippy-vibe Healing Fields as on the Pyramid stage. It’s an album with a wide reaching appeal.
It’s a brilliant album, and you can see why it got the acclaim that it did. Well worth a listen if you haven’t heard it!
Is there an iconic film or album you think I should have experienced by now? Let me know @MoveToTRASHUK #latelatereview