It’s been a long time since they rock and rolled–but Led Zeppelin still rules
Sebastian Suarez ’18
Led Zeppelin IV is widely regarded as Led Zeppelin’s greatest musical project. With tracks like “Rock And Roll”, “Black Dog”, and the monumental “Stairway To Heaven,” the British rock outfit cemented themselves as one of if not the best rock n’ roll band of all time. However, simply praising the album for its quality has been done to death, and although the record is indeed a musical magnum opus, it means much more than only its musical genius.
The chemistry displayed in that 1971 album is largely why their music is still so sought out and renowned as some of the best of all time in its genre. John Paul Jones could start laying down a good bass line, Jimmy Page would find a syncopated rhythm with his Les Paul, John Bonham would begin to hammer on some incredible drum lines, and Robert Plant would let his golden voice soar. A very large aspect of Led Zeppelin’s appeal came from their ability to improvise on stage at any moment in the middle of a song. Many a live audience experienced a 20-minute long version of “Dazed and Confused,” which was only 8 minutes originally. This essence of this intuitive playing is what is captured in its epitome on Led Zeppelin IV. The riffs are harder, the drums are louder, and every record on the track from “When the Levee Breaks” to “The Battle of Evermore” displays a melodic synergy that encompasses the very essence of those four men as a musical act.
Apart from only its musical prowess, the record is a testament to Led Zeppelin’s constant instrumental connection to one another. Along with this, the symbolism surrounding Led Zeppelin IV is part of what makes it so elusively great. The record, in its original vinyl packaging, appeared with an old man carrying sticks upon his back, juxtaposed upon an old decrepit wall. This figure is already mysterious enough, but accompanying the photo were four symbols that represented the four members of the band. Jimmy Page’s tone resembled somewhat the phrase “Zoso,” which is why this album is also commonly referred to as such.
Led Zeppelin IV is a musical masterpiece but is also a time-stamped piece of history that can be examined to see a time in which four musicians were in such perfect harmony that any piece of music that they produced was to be cherished and savored until the last note.