Led Zeppelin IV


For two years I lived in a tiny one bedroom apartment on Pearl Alley and 13th Avenue right behind the Newport Music Hall.  This was back during my undergraduate years, and Lord Bacchus and his girlfriend du jour lived in the same apartment building two floors above me.  This led to a litany of untold debauchery, mostly involving 40s of Little Kings, bars mistaken for nightclubs, and weekly trips to visit Habib at Convenient One for cases of Honey Brown and Laker Ice.  Well, at some point during those two hazy years of drunkeness (somehow we both still managed to graduate), Lord Bacchus picked up a boxset of remastered Zeppelin albums and decide to unload all of his old Zeppelin albums.  I think he sold most of them to Used Kids or one of the other local record stores, but I wanted this album because at the time I was really into the song “Black Dog”.  So he sold it to me for $5, which was probably a good deal because I have never actually seen it any cheaper used (even at Used Kids it still goes for about $7 on the rare occasion that they have a copy), and it is definitely a better deal than he gave the Artistic One in high school when he traded him a Thurman Thomas rookie card for an Emmitt Smith rookie card.  But I digress…it’s a good copy, but my only issue with it is the original back cover artwork is on the back of the CD booklet and the picture of the hermit has been moved to the back cover.  This has been corrected on the more recent editions of the CD, but I guess I can live with it.

So anyway, this album is legendary, partially due to the song “Stairway to Heaven” (which I first encountered in the movie Wayne’s World when Mike Myers starts to play the opening riff and the guitar clerk stops him…”No Stairway? Denied!”).  But there are lots of other great songs on here as well, including “The Battle of Evermore”, which I first encountered as a cover by the Lovemongers (actually a side-project of the band Heart) on the Singles Soundtrack (best. soundtrack. ever.), and “Misty Mountain Hop”, both of which contain Tolkein/Lord of the Rings allusions.  Actually, “Evermore” seems to combine Tolkein references (“the ring wraiths ride in black”) with Arthurian legend (“I’m waiting for the angels of Avalon”), but regardless it’s a fantastic song.  And because it is Led Zeppelin, there is lots of the electric blues here…especially on “Black Dog” and “When the Levee Breaks”. Of course, there is some controversy over whether or not Pearl Jam ripped off Zep’s “Going to California” with their song “Given to Fly”.  Listening to both back to back, all I have to say is that they are very similar, but the Pearl Jam song goes to places “Going to California” never explores.  And at some point, Robert Plant got on stage with Pearl Jam and sang both songs, so it must be all good.  I just think of it as a tribute…kinda the same way Kenny Wayne Shephard was playing tribute to Pearl Jam when he wrote “While We Cry”, which blatantly rips off “Yellow Ledbetter”, which in turn pays homage (somewhat) to Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing”.  It’s all a cycle, man.  Oh wait, there’s a bustle in my hedgerow…gotta go.  Happy Independence Day peeps.

Other lists: “Stairway to Heaven” is #31 and “Black Dog” is #300 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  Also, “Stairway to Heaven” is #2, “Black Dog” is #3, “When the Levee Breaks” is #8, “Misty Mountain Hop” is #10, “Going to California” is #11, and “The Battle of Evermore” is #17 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 40 Greatest Led Zeppelin songs.

Ch-ch-changes: This album was leapfrogged by Radiohead’s Kid A and Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall, and with the addition of CCR’s Chronicle, it fall three spots from its original spot of #66 on the 2003 list.

My favourite track: “Black Dog”

Honourable mention: “Stairway to Heaven”

A word from the Princess: “Can I take the elevator [to heaven] instead?”

Quote: “There’s a sign on the wall, but she wants to be sure…’cause you know sometimes words have two meanings”