Led Zeppelin

[Music] Led Zeppelin Studio Albums – Ranked!

JINX! This is ~the Final~ collaboration post in this series! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars have taken on Led Zeppelin! We have been reviewing a Led Zeppelin album on our respective blogs for weeks now! But….we’re not quite done yet! So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!

Inspiration comes when you least expect it. What inspired this whole Led Zeppelin series was when an impromptu Led Zeppelin listening session this summer prompted Kevin to asked me how I’d rank the Led Zeppelin studio albums from worst to best. After I rambled them off to him, he just did a “hmmm.” He then proposed this series to see if, after listening to all of them, I’d change my opinion.

Well, folks, here listed are, in my opinion (however humble), the worst to best Led Zeppelin studio albums. Here we go:

9. Presence

– My thoughts: This is my least favourite Led Zeppelin album. Aside from having terrible album art, Presence’s tracks are decently ok…they just aren’t Led Zeppelin GREATS, or even that memorable. It’s definitely not an album I’d pull off the shelf and listen to on repeat.

– Favourite song: Achilles Last Stand

– My Score: 3/5

8. In Through the Out Door

– My Thoughts: In Through the Door is one album where Led Zeppelin experimented with more styles in the rock realm, and took some risks. The majority of the songs are good, but In Through the Out Door  has I’m Gonna Crawl – my least favourite Led Zeppelin song.

– Favourite song: Carouselambra

– My Score: 3.5/5

7. Led Zeppelin

– My thoughts: A debut album that shows potential of what Led Zeppelin are capable of, but suffers a little from being a tad overworked with the overdubs and effects.

– Favourite song: Dazed and Confused

– My score: 3/5

6. Coda

– My thoughts: The previously unreleased songs chosen to be included in Coda were wise choices in my opinion. They all kick ass in their own right, and fit well together as a song list; really, not a bad one in the bunch. I love how the tunes showcase each band member’s talents well.

– Favourite song: I Can’t Quit You Baby

– My score: 3/5

5. Physical Graffiti

– My Thoughts: For the most part, every song on Physical Graffiti is solid, but this being a double album, there are a few songs that I feel could have been scrapped…a few bumps compared to the other Led Zeppelin albums I’ve reviewed, but I still like it a lot.

– Favourite song: The Wonton Song

– My score: 4/5

4. Led Zeppelin II

– My Thoughts: Led Zeppelin really redeemed themselves with their second album. I found it so good, that if there was ever an album to introduce someone to Led Zeppelin’s music, just say, “here” and hand them a copy of Led Zeppelin II. Top to bottom, this album showcases the hard rock blues that Led Zeppelin is known for.

– Favourite song: Bring It On Home

– My score: 4/5

3. Houses of the Holy

– My thoughts: To quote my review: “Houses certainly delivers more rock and less folk or blues than their previous efforts. there is a brightness or clarity to the songs too – no bleak messaging about the environment, no going to Mordor. The arrangement within the songs seem to have a sophistication not previously seen. The songs’ pacing is just right.”

– Favourite song: Over the Hills and Far Away

– My score: 5/5

2. Led Zeppelin IV

– My thoughts: Led Zeppelin IV has carried me through the thread of my life…A balanced album, musically and lyrically. I love it forever!

– Favourite Song: When the Levee Breaks

– My score: 5/5

1. Led Zeppelin III

– My thoughts: An eclectic mix of blues, hard rock and folk. A damn near perfect Led Zeppelin album…and crowned my favourite.

– Favourite song: That’s the Way

– My score: 5/5

There you have it – my ranking. And to answer the question, no, my opinion didn’t change upon relistening, except Physical Graffiti moved further up the ranks. Let me know what yours are in the comments! Thanks for following this series!

Now go read Kevin’s blog!

[Music] Coda – Led Zeppelin (1982)

Final collaboration post in this series! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on Led Zeppelin! For the past eight weeks, we have been reviewing a Led Zeppelin album on our respective blogs! So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!

Read up on my thoughts on:

My history with Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin II

Led Zeppelin III

Led Zeppelin IV

Houses of the Holy

Physical Graffiti

Presence

In Through the Out Door

This week, we look at Led Zeppelin’s ninth album, Coda (1982).

In June 1993, I acquired my copy of Coda on CD. At this time I only had two other Led Zep CDs – Led Zeppelin III and IV. Most of the songs found on Coda can be found on the Led Zeppelin Complete box set, but I had so few songs on CD at that point, that buying Coda felt like a good safe investment.

Coda was released after John Bonham’s death, post Led Zeppelin break-up, and contains previously unreleased material. Now that I’ve listened to all 9 of Led Zeppelin’s main albums, I can say Coda seems heavier in sound than the other albums in that the bass and drums are front and centre. It is also their shortest album, running at 33 minutes long.

Coda starts with the hard kicker, We’re Gonna Groove, easing into the lighter acoustic, Poor Tom – a song cut from the Led Zeppelin III album. Then, we hear my favourite version of I Can’t Quit You Baby from their January 1970 concert at the Royal Albert Hall, which differs from the version found on the band’s debut album.

Next up, the fantastic song called Walter’s Walk – a tune not released anywhere, and who the hell knows why? I think it needs more airplay! I even enjoy the message of love and loss. While the tune is on an upbeat, the lyrics speak of heartbreak:
“I’m walkin the floor over you
I’m walkin’ the floor
Every tear that falls is a smile that’s lost
When you hear the call can you count the cost?”

Ozone Baby is the more familiar latter-day Led Zeppelin contemporary rocker, and such a joy to listen to; I never get tired of it.

Darlene is the other previously unreleased song – a rock ‘n roller – and, dare I say forgettable… except I guffaw every time at the misheard lyrics I hear Robert Plant sing: “Darlene” sung like “Double D.” (…and judging by the lyrics of Darlene, I wouldn’t be surprised if Plant was actually singing about Darlene’s you-know-whats…). “yeah yeah Double D…”

Bonzo’s Montreux, a tune consisting primarily of drums is Bonham’s baby. I’m more familiar with the Moby Dick / Bonzo’s Montreux mashup that appears on the Led Zeppelin Complete box set.

The album ends on the up-tempo rocker Wearing and Tearing, highlighting Page’s guitar prowess (which is pretty excellent), and has some lyrics that I’m pretty sure allude to drug withdrawal (which are somewhat lame):

“Yeah, the funny fool
I love the funny fool
Just like foolin’ after school”

The previously unreleased songs chosen to be included in Coda were wise choices in my opinion. They all kick ass in their own right, and fit well together as a song list; really, not a bad one in the bunch. I love how the tunes showcase each band member’s talents well. Overall, Coda is a short but sweet collection of the remnants of Led Zeppelin’s 11-year career, and ties things up suitably. No regrets buying this album when I did.

4/5

Coda – Led Zeppelin (1982)

Thank you for joining Kevin and I on this project! Now go check out his blog post!

[Music] In Through the Out Door – Led Zeppelin (1979)

Collaboration post! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on Led Zeppelin! Each week, we will be reviewing a Led Zeppelin album on our respective blogs! So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!

Read up on my thoughts on:

My history with Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin II

Led Zeppelin III

Led Zeppelin IV

Houses of the Holy

Physical Graffiti

Presence

This week, we look at Led Zeppelin’s eighth album, In Through the Out Door (1978)

More confessions: Like Presence, Led Zeppelin’s In Through the Out Door was another album I never owned until my husband bought it on vinyl in the early 2000s, and it wasn’t until recently when we got the CD. No reason why I never owned it other than it was always too expensive to buy. I have not really listened to it, even though I am very familiar with four of its songs. Again, my point of reference is the Led Zeppelin Complete box set (a.k.a. the Orange Box), which has In the Evening, Fool in the Rain, All of My Love and I’m Gonna Crawl. John Paul Jones has a real presence on this album, and you can hear his work in the bass and piano arrangements. John Bonham’s drums never let us forget he’s there, and Jimmy Page is centre stage on guitar.

In Through the Door is one album where Led Zeppelin experimented with more styles in the rock realm, and took some risks. Let’s look at the three songs that are relatively unfamiliar to me as examples: South Bound Saurez, Hot Dog, and Carouselambra.

South Bound Saurez, a rocker with a strong beat is starting to grow on me with each additional listen, but it’s taken a few spins to get there. Bonzo’s signature power bass drum and Jonesy’s piano are staples here. Hot Dog, fourth song on the album, however, is a rockabilly tune that I didn’t enjoy.

Carouselambra, the fifth song on the album, is an epic 10-minute song that I can only describe as Led Zeppelin’s take on prog rock. Last week while I was taking breaks from cooking turkey and trimmings, the hubs and I started a puzzle (a hobby we have been involved in for a couple of years now) while we took In Through the Out Door for a spin. I immediately took to Carouselambra. Its initial Jones organ makes the song sound a little “Theme to the Olympics on CBC“-ish. But, then there is a change to the song that is quite haunting; if you don’t know the part, Page comes in with a droning and echoey guitar. It’s a beautiful thing. Now, I listen to it on repeat. The arrangement reminds me a lot of Genesis and I really like it! A completely underrated and overlooked tune.

The songs that are familiar to me, particularly In the Evening, Fool in the Rain and All of My Love are those Led Zep staples we’ve all heard before and are good tunes, if a bit overplayed on radio. My least favourite song (even more so than In the Light, I think) is I’m Gonna Crawl. It’s a slow dance of a song that suffers from a lack of inspiration I think, and ends with Plant screaming into a microphone. I don’t complain too often about Plant’s delivery in a song, but this one is not good. And, there it is in Led Zeppelin’s box set. “She give me good lovin’, she give me good lovin’. AAAAAAHHHHH. I’m gonna……………….CRU-AWWWWL.”

Complaints about one song aside, the majority of songs on In Through the Out Door are solid. And might I add, I enjoyed it much more than Presence. Further, thanks to Carouselambra not being on anything other than this album, I would definitely pull the CD off the shelf to listen!

3.5 / 5

In Through the Out Door (1979)
Led Zeppelin
Producer: Jimmy Page

Now go read Kevin’s take!

[Music] Presence – Led Zeppelin (1976)

Collaboration post! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on Led Zeppelin! Each week, we will be reviewing a Led Zeppelin album on our respective blogs! So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!

Read up on my thoughts on:

My history with Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin II

Led Zeppelin III

Led Zeppelin IV

Houses of the Holy

Physical Graffiti

This week, we look at Led Zeppelin’s seventh album, Presence (1976)

Confession time: I never owned a copy of Presence during my formative years of Led Zeppelin fandom. Even now, my only copy is my husband’s beaten up copy of Presence on vinyl. My point of reference for this album’s track listing pretty much comes down to what was on the Led Zeppelin Complete box set (a.k.a. the Orange Box), specifically, cassettes 3 and 4. Achilles Last Stand, For Your Life, Candy Store Rock and Nobody’s Fault But Mine are found there in the midst of other greats. These are all decent songs; in typical Led Zep form, they kick, they have balls. Did they add an extra mic to Bonzo’s bass drum? Me thinks so. They just aren’t GREAT songs or tunes that penetrate your consciousness, which pretty much sums up my thoughts on the album as a whole.

I was never chuffed enough to pull the trigger on the full Presence LP. There are only 7 songs on the album, and I had the best of ’em on the Orange box set; I get the sense Jimmy knew this too when he added the gems of the bunch to it. I don’t think I’m missing much here: Royal Orleans is listenable, but forgettable. Hots On for Nowhere is a whole lotta “la-la-la-lala-yeah” from Plant, and has a Nobody’s Fault But Mine leftover feel. Tea For One sounds very same-y and uninspired (Since I’ve Been Loving You, anyone?).

And about the Presence album art: not my favourite. I get that the iconography of a sturdy phallic object appearing in the everyday lives of people is a metaphor for Led Zeppelin’s power and “presence” (the “phallic” comment created an interesting discussion between myself and the hubs). For me, I’m more bothered by the artistic execution: I think it would have appeared to have been more entrenched in the people’s realities had the graphic designer used some shadowing on the object instead of just gluing it in place; as it stands, it looks like it’s just floating there. And maybe I’m thinking too much about it; joke’s on me, I guess. Led Zeppelin are taking the piss.

Which brings me back to Presence the album itself. The songs are not as memorable, or even as great as their past albums. Presence definitely wouldn’t be an album I’d pull off the shelf and listen to on repeat, and I’d have to think about investing the money for it to simply complete my Led Zeppelin collection.

3/5

Presence (1976)
Led Zeppelin
Producer: Jimmy Page

Now go check out Kevin’s take!

[Music] Physical Graffiti – Led Zeppelin (1975)

Collaboration post! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on Led Zeppelin! Each week, we will be reviewing a Led Zeppelin album on our respective blogs! So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!

Read up on my thoughts on:

My history with Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin II

Led Zeppelin III

Led Zeppelin IV

Houses of the Holy

This week, we look at Led Zeppelin’s sixth album, Physical Graffiti (1975)

At the end of summer 1993, I packed up my things and headed 6 hours southwest to London, Ontario to live with my sister and attend my first year at the University of Western Ontario. By this time, she got bitten by the classic rock bug and had amassed a small collection of rock albums herself, thanks in part to her membership in Columbia House where she could get 10 CDs for $1 (remember that?). This is how she owned Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti before I did!  The Wonton Song was one of our favourites, and since I had it already on the complete Orange box set, and we’d rock out to it when my sis came to visit, she got her own copy of the song by buying Physical Graffiti. Hey, there was no YouTube, streaming, downloading, or buying the MP3 back then! 

I enjoyed Led Zeppelin’s sixth album so much that by 1995 when she moved back to Sudbury, I had to get my own copy to add to my collection. I unfortunately don’t recall exactly when, but I remember where: the same place Houses of the Holy was bought – Dr. Disc in London, Ontario. (I loved that place!). Physical Graffiti has the noteriety as being the last Led Zeppelin album I purchased until Kevin entered my life. I still have it, though it’s a bit scratched up! 

As for the album’s music, Physical Graffiti is a very listenable album. Led Zeppelin mostly shed its dirty bluesy sound of their yesteryear albums for accessible radio rock, and I don’t think that is a bad thing. Each song, 15 in total, is mostly straightforward, and the music sticks to the rock genre pretty steadily. This double album starts with Custard Pie – a simple rocker that kicks from the start. In My Time of Dying, an 11-minute rocker has the best drums! Just listen to that bass drum go! Ten Years Gone, a quiet love ballad, is probably the only song I ever heard kudos from my Mom, who actually purposefully came up to my room one afternoon to ask what song was playing (I was playing the song from the Complete orange box); it happens to be my second favourite song on the album. Kashmir is probably one of the most played Led Zeppelin songs on the radio, and arguably their best. I mean, P Diddy liked it so much, he rangled Jimmy Page to play guitar on his take of the so- um I mean his song called Come Go With Me (rapping “yeah, yeah, yeah”)

I also like how Led Zeppelin have kept in the bloopers, the mistakes, and the quirky one-lines in their songs here. In My Time of Dying gifts us with this where at the end of their 11-minute song, someone coughs in the background, to which Robert Plant sings, “cough”. John Bonham can be heard saying, “That’s got to be the one, hasn’t it?” Or even Black Country Woman, where an airplane can be heard overhead, to which Plant says, “Keep it in, yeah.” It shows a humour and humanity to the band. It also demonstrates how they persevered for the best takes for their albums. 

For the most part, every song on Physical Graffiti is solid, but this being a double album, there are a few songs that I feel could have been scrapped. In the Light is not a favourite of mine AT ALL. It sounds to me like this one took work to lay down the track. The song has a great melody at its core once we get there, but I have a feeling no one had any idea how to start it, so they tack on this distorted beginning that doesn’t mesh well with the rest. The beginning part of the song “If you feeeeeeeeel <pause>THAT-YOU-CAN’T GO ONNNN”…disturbed me the first time I heard it (ever listen to it in the dark? It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end!). Then it goes into the rock part which is pretty good. I feel like they could have done better with that one or should have left it off the album. My second least favourite is Down By the Seaside: I’ve never been a fan of it. Another environmental message with Jimmy’s toodle-y guitar and Plant cooing away. Maybe I don’t like it because it’s an unexpected style from them? “People Turn Away” indeed! And how about that Boogie with Stu? Yeah…it would be better suited on a B-sides album, I think and fails following a tune as strong as the Wonton Song

Led Zeppelin really outdid themselves with the album art in Physical Graffiti. The vinyl sleeve is truly a work of art: the cover photo of a tenement in New York City, the windows cut out, and different images passing through the cut-out windows as you release the vinyl from the sleeve is a lot of fun. Figures from history such as Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Dadaist Marcel Duchamp, and the infamous Lee Harvey Oswald, are interspersed with pics of the band. The CD sleeve doesn’t even come close to doing the vinyl gatefold justice: a plain static cover image, and a lousy booklet that only contains an image of the cover, flattened and boring. It really doesn’t convey the artistic message the original vinyl sleeve does.

Overall, Physical Graffiti is a pretty good rock album; a few bumps compared to the other Led Zeppelin albums I’ve reviewed so far, but I still like it a lot.

4 / 5

Physical Graffiti (1975)
Led Zeppelin
Producer: Jimmy Page

Now go read Kevin’s take!

[Music] Houses of the Holy (1973) – Led Zeppelin

Collaboration post! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on Led Zeppelin! Each week, we will be reviewing a Led Zeppelin album on our respective blogs! So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!

Read up on my thoughts on:

My history with Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin’s first album

Led Zeppelin’s second album

Led Zeppelin’s third album

Led Zeppelin’s fourth album

This week, we look at Led Zeppelin’s fifth album, Houses of the Holy (1973)

Christmas 1991. This is the time I transitioned from a red Sanyo double tape deck player to an Emerson CD-double tape deck-radio player, thanks to my aunt, and received some Led Zeppelin in the form of Houses of the Holy, thanks to my sister. The Houses CD was used, and before you go “ew how gauche”, this was 1991, my sis was a starving student and new CDs cost $18.99 a pop back then. I didn’t care where she got it from (Dr. Disc in London, Ontario, my FAVOURITE store when I went to visit), it was Led Zeppelin! She said, “oh yeah, picked this up for you…” and handed me the CD, sales sticker still on it ($10), as she hastily purchased it on her way to catch the Greyhound bus home for Christmas and had no time to wrap it…It was in mint condition. I still own that CD!

Actually, the better question is: who the heck would trade in such a fantastic album that is Houses of the Holy??

Houses of the Holy arrived right in the thick of my Led Zeppelin fandom. At this point, Led Zeppelin posters adorned my bedroom walls. I was buying up Led Zeppelin books and post cards, I was even asking for LZ sheet music. “Led Head” was a true moniker. I had heard all of the songs on Houses before; most of them exist on the Led Zeppelin Complete Box Set; Over the Hills and Far Away, Dancing Days, and the Ocean are missing. What songs to exclude! Over the Hills and Far Away fast became a favourite from the album. Dancing Days was played a lot on the radio. The Crunge, with its “Where’s that confounded bridge?!” became a favourite saying (as opposed to swearing, which was frowned upon in my house). The Houses of the Holy tee I had acquired, with its iconography of nude children gravitating towards what looks like a mountain-top altar caught my Mom’s ire as it appeared sacreligious. Other loved ones didn’t like the nudity. Yeah, that tee didn’t get much wear unless I wanted to be hassled.

This Led Zeppelin Complete Sheet Music Collection was given away during a massive purge in 2018

Then there was Led Zeppelin’s take on a ballad, the Rain Song, that re-ignited my interest in the piano. Having had studied classical piano more out of a sense duty than enjoyment, the quiet piano in this song made me want to learn how to play it. Thanks again to my sister, who bought me the Led Zeppelin Complete sheet music collection, I tried to take a crack at learning the piano version. Unfortunately, the sheet music to the Rain Song did not sound quite like how John Paul Jones plays the Rain Song...or maybe it was my playing. At any rate, it wasn’t enough to keep me playing piano; I haven’t played in almost 30 years. But, the song is still beautiful.

Upon relistening to the album for this post, comparing it to the previous albums, I can say Houses certainly delivers more rock and less folk or blues than their previous efforts. there is a brightness or clarity to the songs too – no bleak messaging about the environment, no going to Mordor. The arrangement within the songs seem to have a sophistication not previously seen. The songs’ pacing is just right. Jimmy Page as producer, allowed the music to speak for itself, adding effects only where necessary; No Quarter is a prime example of this. The Ocean, with its faded intro “We’re four already and now we’re steady…” start which rolls into the Jimmy guitar and Bonzo drums is a great rock tune that has always lifted my spirits. In fact, this is the one album that was just more upbeat accessible rock. If I had started my aunt on Houses of the Holy instead of Led Zeppelin IV, I might have won her over!

5/5

Houses of the Holy (1973)
Led Zeppelin
Producer: Jimmy Page

Now go read Kevin’s take!

 

[Music] Untitled (a.k.a. Led Zeppelin IV) – Led Zeppelin (1971)

Collaboration post! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on Led Zeppelin! Each week, we will be reviewing a Led Zeppelin album on our respective blogs! So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!

Read up on my thoughts on:

My history with Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin’s first album

Led Zeppelin’s second album

Led Zeppelin’s third album

This week, we look at Led Zeppelin’s fourth album, Untitled, also known as Led Zeppelin IV (1971)

Led Zeppelin’s fourth album has been called several names: Untitled, Zoso, and the Symbols album, but I’ve always referred to it as Led Zeppelin IV. Here we circle back to the start of my journey with the band, the first Led Zeppelin album I ever owned. If you have been reading this series, you’ll know the story – I took a gamble on this album, only knowing a couple of songs. I was attracted to its cover art of urban decay and mystified by the tiny symbols.

It was my aunt who purchased Led Zeppelin IV for me for passing my driver’s license exam, September 11, 1990. It was a gift I think my aunt regretted, and it blew my chances of convincing her to get me the Led Zeppelin Complete Box Set for Christmas that year.

Growing up, my aunt always gave the air of being “rich” as she was always forthcoming with “the cool pricey gifts”. The truth was she never married and had more disposible income, while my mom, a widow raising two kids on her own, was constantly prioritizing her finances. We never went without mind you, but looking back, I can understand how my aunt’s gifts could appear to undermine my Mom constantly. My aunt spoiled my sister and me as we would pretty much get what we asked for (except for that Atari we asked for…never got one of those)…

My aunt and I were close, always looking forward to our weekly outings to a local restaurant to share a meal. She always drove the newest model car. I only cared that she was driving around in a car with a tape deck since our family car didn’t have one. I’d choose a cassette from my collection and we’d listen to it in the car on our way to the restaurant. Surprisingly, she liked most of what I’d listen to. Depeche Mode, INXS, even New Order were bands I’d hear her say, “this is a really nice song,” or “this is a lot of fun…”

The newly purchased Led Zeppelin IV goes into the tape deck, and her mood transitioned quick. Black Dog starts up, and she holds nothing back:

“Can you turn that down?! Lower. Looower.”

She didn’t dig it. That was basically it for LZ and my aunt.

Unfortunately, the dislike didn’t stop there. My mom was not too pro either, telling me to “turn it down,” and closing my bedroom door whenever the music was on (she likes Bach over Bachman). My Step-Dad (then only a boyfriend) jokingly called it hippy music, but was far more receptive to the rock, as he had Bat Out of Hell tucked away in his Delta 88’s glove compartment for those times he wanted to hear the Loaf. My girl friends didn’t dig this music. It was my guy friends that were into Zep; I found myself hanging with them more and more.

Don’t like Led Zeppelin? My internal attitude was always That’s Too Bad For You, because Led Zeppelin IV lived in my tape deck and Walkman. The music was a departure from what I was listening to those days, opening the door to some harder rock, blues and folk, and Led Zeppelin did each well.

Led Zeppelin IV has carried me through the thread of my life. Listening today, I recall Plant’s duet with Sandy Denny of Fairport Convention fame on Battle of Evermore making me jealous in my 20s, having practiced Denny’s part repeatedly in the solitude of the shower and wishing I was back in ’71 singin’ along with Percy. Misty Mountain Hop will always remind me of my days as a student in London, Ontario, visiting the Magic Mountain store located next door to my favourite vintage shop, Layman House on Richmond St. (It sold cool patched jeans, and smelled strongly of incense).

A lot has been said about Stairway to Heaven, so I’ll just say this: It was one of the only songs I knew from Led Zep IV before purchase, and although it’s ubiquitous as the last song played at a dance, I remember the one and only school dance I attended that wasn’t a Much Music Dance Party (remember those?) and them playing Stairway. That song is freaking awkward to dance to! Slow dance, speed up, white man’s overbite….

When the Levee Breaks is the song that made me want to listen to more Led Zeppelin. Bonzo’s sludgy drum beats that have been sampled over and over by other artists, the wailing bluesy guitar, and Plant’s desperate cry makes for a great sound.

Unlike Led Zeppelin’s first effort, I feel Led Zeppelin IV is a balanced album, lyrically and musically. Robert Plant’s voice really came into itself here and showed his range as someone who can effectively sing blues, rock and folk. Jimmy Page let the music speak for itself on this album, only subtly adding some effects, except where it counted. Relistening to it brings up some unforgettable memories.

5/5

Untitled (1971)
Led Zeppelin
Producer: Jimmy Page

Now go check out Kevin’s take!

 

 

 

 

[Music] Led Zeppelin III – Led Zeppelin (1970)

Collaboration post! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on Led Zeppelin! Each week, we will be reviewing a Led Zeppelin album on our respective blogs! So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!

Read up on my thoughts on:

My history with Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin’s first album

Led Zeppelin’s second album

This week, we look at Led Zeppelin’s third album, Led Zeppelin III (1970)

Story time!

When I was in high school, Christmas Eve night for my family was usually a low-key affair. Back then it usually involved my Mom and Step-Dad going over to his sister’s place for some Xmas cheer, while my sis and I hung out spending a quiet night at home watching a Christmas movie, or going over to my friend Mandy’s. Christmas Eve 1990, I found myself at loose ends; my sister was with the boyfriend, so I tagged along with my parents to my Step-Aunt and Uncle’s. I know to some teens, this would sound lame, but I always enjoyed their company, and my Step-Aunt always made a tasty buffet dinner. The conversation was always lively and there was usually some type of sports, or at least something funny to riff on on TV. My Step-Uncle is a crusty sort who would stand behind his rec room bar and regale us with some hilarious story about teaching French in high school, while I, the only teen in the room among adults, would sit, amused, cross-legged on the floor.

My Step-Cousins, grown young men out of the house at this stage, were long gone, but their mom kept their precious things in the house. So, when I noticed the turntable and stack of vinyl hiding in the dark corner of the rec room that evening, I scooted over to the general direction to the music and just sort of flipped through the records to see what was there. There was a small but respectable collection of about 30 records. I flipped and something familiar caught my eye. WHAAAA…!!??

[flip] Led Zeppelin II.. [flip] Led Zeppelin III…[flip] Led Zeppelin IV…[flip] Houses of the Ho-…

Turn’s out my Step-Cousin Philippe is a massive Led Zeppelin fan!!!

That evening in 1990 was the first time I got to see the gate-folds of these Led Zeppelin records. And Led Zeppelin III was wild, with its spinning psychadelic insert. I hadn’t even listened to it until a year later, when I bought it on CD with Christmas money I received. Philippe and I didn’t commiserate on our fandom until a couple of years later when he returned home for Christmas.

Why is this story important when we discuss Led Zeppelin III? Because, this album was a turning point in my Led Zep listening and consciousness. At this point in my history with the band, I had only Led Zeppelin IV and the Complete box set in my collection (which both lived in my stereo and Walkman). But, from the first *thump thump thump* feedback and Jimmy riff at the start of Immigrant Song, to the serene Friends, the rock of Celebration Day, Jones’ amazing bass work on Out on the Tiles, and the gorgeous classic, Tangerine, the album hooked me in.

Back in 1992-1993 when Led Zeppelin III was my favourite album (and still remains one of my favourites), I went through a period where I wanted to learn to play guitar, thanks in part to my second favourite Led Zep song, That’s the Way. I never learned to play guitar, but the song remains one of the most beautiful ballads I have ever heard. It always catches my breath every time; a haunting tune with a message that most can identify with.  Ever hear the song with headphones? I love how each ear is playing a different melody. As a teen, I couldn’t understand why this song was never popular, nor did it get the props it deserved. I suppose it’s because it wasn’t “loud” enough for radio, and there was no video. I loved That’s the Way so much that when my sister and I came upon a sketchy guy selling bootleg cassettes close to the corner of Richmond and Central in London, ON in July 1993, I was surprised to find a Led Zeppelin bootleg of one concert where That’s the Way had been performed live, and put money down on a Maxell tape of the concert. Man, if you ever needed evidence I was nuts for Led Zeppelin…the recording was not of great quality (it actually sounded like someone recorded the concert from inside their pants pocket, on the moon…). Unfortunately, I no longer have the Maxell cassette thanks in large part to the Moving Purge of 2006 where most of our cassettes (and my Archies) were sent to the Barrie, ON landfill. Regrets: I have a few…

Led Zeppelin III obviously dredges up some great memories for me, and I am so glad the album is still relevant in my life today. It is such an eclectic mix of blues, hard rock and folk, and it all blends well together. In my opinion, it’s pretty well a damn perfect Led Zeppelin album.

5/5

Led Zeppelin III (1970)
Led Zeppelin
Producer: Jimmy Page

Now go read Kevin’s take here

[Music] Led Zeppelin II – Led Zeppelin (1969)

Collaboration post! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on Led Zeppelin! Each week, we will be reviewing a Led Zeppelin album on our respective blogs! So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!

Read up on my thoughts on:

My history with Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin’s first album

This week, we look at Led Zeppelin’s second album, Led Zeppelin II (1969)

I bought my copy of Led Zeppelin II around August 1994 during a visit to my hometown of Sudbury, Ontario. At this time, I was a “starving student” living six hours away in London, Ontario, attending Western U. Back then, I was always looking to save a buck or two, but pretty much spent my disposible income on music (sorry Mom). It was difficult since CDs weren’t cheap. Sometimes you could find some used Led Zep CDs at the local Dr. Disc in London, but that was rare. Forget Sudbury: you were hard-pressed to find ANYTHING on sale up there, let alone used. So when I strolled into Sam the Record Man (RIP) at the Southridge Mall (death imminent lol) and found it on sale for under $10, I took the precious to the counter immediately!

At this point, my Led Zeppelin collection included the Led Zeppelin Complete box set on cassette, Led Zeppelin III, Led Zeppelin IV, Houses of the Holy, Physical Graffiti and Coda on CD. When I acquired Led Zeppelin II, it was mostly a formality as I was pretty familiar with most of the songs from my Led Zeppelin Complete box set. There were just three choice songs that were new to me, namely Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman), the Lemon Song, and Bring It On Home. What was I missing not knowing these songs? Of course, I had to know!

Unlike my review of the first album, I really don’t have anything critical to say about Led Zeppelin II. I will say this: when Kevin suggested we do this series, and I reflected on each album, I couldn’t for the life of me remember from memory what was on this album! It had been a long while since I’ve listened to it in this track listing. Let’s blame the Orange box set for that…the sequence of songs on those cassettes has stuck with me so long that upon re-listening to the album, the track listing seems off.

If there was ever an album to introduce someone to Led Zeppelin’s music, just say, “here” and hand them a copy of Led Zeppelin II. Top to bottom, this album showcases the hard rock blues that Led Zeppelin is known for. Rock greats include, Whole Lotta Love, What is and What Should Never Be and Heartbreaker. They also do the “soft crescendoing into hard rock” really well – Ramble On being one example. The over-processing that I addressed in my review of Led Zeppelin’s first album is not present here. The overdubbing no doubt is, but it’s more subtle, and not on every song. Let’s once again take a look at Ramble On, one of the songs that I think really benefits from Jimmy Page’s love of the reverse echo technique. Just listen to it with headphones on and you’ll hear what I’m talking about; especially the last part at the end when Robert Plant’s voice is transferred from one ear to the other. Quite impressive!

The songs I was less familiar with before purchasing Led Zeppelin II were treats. I wasn’t the least bit disappointed in Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman); an upbeat song about a supposed band groupie, that does get some radio play these days. The lyrics used to slay me: “Alimony alimony, payin’ your bills…when your conscious hits you, knock it back with pills“. Bring It On Home is probably my favourite song on the album, with a great guitar arrangement, hefty drums and a heartbeat bass. Interestingly, I would often include these two songs on my mix tapes back in the day.

Then we have the Lemon Song. When I first saw “the Lemon Song” as a track listing, I immediately thought of my favourite Led Zeppelin song ever, Travelling Riverside Blues, a song that appears on my Complete box set. The ubiquitous lyric “squeeze my lemon” always made me giggle and I imagined the Lemon Song would be a shortened version of my favourite song. Not quite…it does use the famous lyric, but it’s in fact nothing like Traveling Riverside Blues. The song manages to switch tempo mid way leading to the chorus, and the result is an interesting blues track. But if I’m honest, it’s taken me years to enjoy the Lemon Song. It isn’t a favourite of mine, and it just comes down to personal taste, I guess.

Overall, Led Zeppelin II is a pure top-to-bottom great album.

4/5

Led Zeppelin II (1969)
Led Zeppelin
Producer: Jimmy Page

Now go read Kevin’s take here!

[Music] Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin (1969)

Collaboration post! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on Led Zeppelin! Each week, we will be reviewing a Led Zeppelin album on our respective blogs! So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!

This week, Led Zeppelin’s first album, Led Zeppelin (1969)

If you read my last post, you would have discovered my first owned Led Zeppelin album was their fourth album (Led Zeppelin (1971) or Led Zeppelin IV) on cassette in 1990, and I then got the orange box set (Christmas 1990). If we’re talking the first Led Zep album from 1969, named Led Zeppelin, I didn’t even own a copy of it until much much (much) later on in my Led Zeppelin fandom – later, like third year uni later (1996).

Why so late?

I had already owned the Led Zeppelin Complete orange box set, as well as the Led Zeppelin Remasters set (acquired around 1996). Between the two, I owned most of the songs found on this album; why bother buying it? Listening format, baby. My orange box set was on cassette; is that enough of a reason? The Led Zeppelin Remasters was a 3-CD set, and a truncated version of the orange box set containing only 26 songs. I definitely didn’t have every song on CD. And frankly, my box set cassettes were wearing down to nothing from listening to them constantly, so their sound quality was for shite.

When I first bought Led Zeppelin I, and listened to it for the first time, I have to say I was ambivalent about it maybe because I’ve heard most of these songs a million times. Were they good? Bad? It was Led Zeppelin! They were gods in my book. Even the worst song was good, damn it! Yet, I’ve owned the CD for 25 years, and I can honestly say, it wouldn’t be part of my 5-CD carousel of Led Zeppelin music. Could Classic Rock Radio be blamed? Maybe…

Listening to the first Led Zeppelin album today with “fresh ears” and a more mature outlook, I can say this: the album was an ambitious effort of artistry. It’s obvious to me that the band tried really hard to prove their musicianship, and to be authentic, and they succeeded. Good Times Bad Times, the first song on the album, was the first song released commercially, and it really showcases each member’s musical prowress, particularly John Bonham’s ability on the drums. Dazed and Confused, fourth song on the album, is an auditory treat, complete with reverse echo and Page using a violin bow on his guitar. Communication Breakdown is an upbeat rocker with a great Page rif (and is a lot of fun to jam to…). There is also an amazing moment of greatness that I feel should have had more attention, particularly the last song on the album, How Many More Times – a song that isn’t found on either of my boxed compilations and is, in my opinion, a real Tour De Force; this one kicks the door down and lets the rock in!

But, if I am to critique…

Pablo Picasso once said, “Art is the elimination of the unnecessary…to be a painter, you need to know how to paint, and when to stop.” I find Led Zeppelin’s first album suffers a little from being a tad overworked. Led Zeppelin the band were no doubt great musicians. But, to my ears, the album suffers a little from post production overdub-itis (reverse echo 2 the max!) to the point that made me briefly ponder if any song on this album could stand on its own without effects. Perhaps a bad example, but my two least favourite songs on the album are the church-organed Your Time is Gonna Come and the awkward instrumental, Black Mountain Side – two songs that were left au naturel, yet weren’t great either. Does Led Zeppelin need to overwork to be great? Then again on second listen, I Can’t Quit You Baby, the eighth song, used no real effects and the result was an honest and great blues song. Hm.

Although I do find Led Zeppelin’s first album to be a bit unbalanced and tad overworked, it’s still a decent effort with listenability (hey, this album was played four times in a row for this review!). It is not my favourite Led Zeppelin album, but as first albums go it does show potential of what the band are capable of.

3/5

Led Zeppelin (1969)
Led Zeppelin
Produced by Jimmy Page

Now go check out Kevin’s blog!