Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Led Zeppelin - IV

Album cover: For most fans through the years, the cover that adorns Led Zeppelin IV is epic on many levels.  According to certain facts available online and in past interviews, the cover of the original vinyl or booklet of the CD when opened fully, represents a dichotomy between the country and the city or between the old ways and the new.  While I do think that the cover has some appeal, I am instead more drawn to the idea of the band placing their own symbol creation (one for each member of the band - as seen below) and embossing that in white across a jet black background.  


Image source: wikimedia.org

Overall album:   All in all Led Zeppelin IV, as it is more commonly referred to by fans, represents an epoch in music and cultural history.  It embodies a great deal of the spirit of rock n roll as well as showcases a beautiful fusion of progressive and folk music.  The whole package coupled with the stellar tunes contained within it, transport you to another dimension of existence. Led Zeppelin was one of the few bands that enjoyed hiding a ton of innuendo and cryptic meanings in their album covers, lyrics and memorabilia, which is fascinating for many fans to decipher including yours truly. Turning back to the first point about the album's title, it was actually simply "untitled." It has no real name, so a part from "IV" other fan names include "Four Symbols", "ZoSo" - after Jimmy Page's symbol, "The Fourth Album" or "The Hermit." 

Songs: 

Black Dog: This number has got a very memorable riff.  The structure of 'riff' 'vocal' 'riff' 'vocal' in the verse sections give the song a very organic feel and allow it to breathe. This allows it to draw you in. While Robert delivers some great vocals out here, it's Jimmy and Bonham that truly shine.  But not to miss that tight underline bass tone by John Paul. 

Rock N Roll: Energy driven, hard hitting and a great sense of groove are what sums up this epic number.  This song seems to move forward at break neck speed and get your head and feet moving to it.  Bonham dominates this piece with his sensational beats and cymbal work. 

The Battle Of Evermore: The first of two acoustic songs on the album.  The crescendo of sound that rise up and down with Roberts wailing vocals, conjure a series of images that may be like running across expansive grasslands under a morning sun or watching the dusk on a rough sea.  There is a slightly haunting element to this piece. 

Stairway To Heaven: Without a doubt the most majestic and most well known Zeppelin song ever heard.  Inspired by western mythology this song beautifully and delicately builds up from an acoustic start to a hard pounding riff juggernaut.  One key element to look out for are those high playing riffs in the middle, which Jimmy plays. 

Misty Mountain Hop: A funky and yet oddly flowing song that would get even the most formal rockers jumping around.  The groove that John Paul and Bonham dish out sticks in your head for a long time. 

Four Sticks: A high wall of sounds that flows along at a mild pace.  This seems to have a lot of depth to it but at the same time on closer listening, it sounds so simple. Jimmy throws in some high wave chords at a few points to give the song more texture. 

Going To California: The second acoustic song on the album.  A beautiful ballad that you just want to keep on repeat.  It brings to life vivid colors and imagery of cruising along a ocean road in the late afternoon reminding you how to let life take you along without a worry or care.  

When The Levee Breaks: Thumping drums begin before a deluge of guitars and a wailing harmonica come crashing down on you. It meanders on without losing any of its power or rawness.   

Ultimate Album Song: Stairway To Heaven

The Band: John Bonham (Drums), Robert Plant (Vocals, Tambourine, Harmonica), Jimmy Page (Guitars and Mandolin), John Paul Johns (Bass, Electric piano, Mellotron and Mandolin) 


Image source: allaboutjazz.com

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