Yes, I know that’s not what it’s really called. But it was easier than looking for all the individual runes.
Some Historical Context
Another album that I feel like I’ve known forever. Although, I know I haven’t known it as long as something like A Night at the Opera. This was something that definitely knew well in the late 70s. I remember it being a big deal when Led Zeppelin played Knebworth in 1979. I wasn’t there, but a good friend was (and then didn’t shut up about how great it was for over twenty years).
I had this album on vinyl. I guess I bought it in about 1980 (nine years after it was released). It had a gatefold sleeve and an inner sleeve with the lyrics of Stairway to Heaven on it. I miss the kind of packaging you used to get with vinyl albums.
Anyway, it’s an album that I know and love. I don’t listen to it too frequently these days, but I’m looking forward to this.
The rest of this blog post will be written as I listen to the album.
1. Black Dog
And we’re straight in with some no frills heavy metal. Robert Plant shrieks the lyrics unaccompanied and the band respond in kind. I was about 16 when I first heard this and it made a huge impression. I still want to start banging my head whenever I hear it.
2. Rock and Roll
Another song that is instantly recognisable to anyone with any interest in British rock. When they recorded the song it had actually been about fifteen years “since the rock ‘n’ roll”. Now it’s been over fifty. That’s the kind of thing it would say about this song if they played it on Top of the Pops 2. But, of course, Led Zeppelin were never on Top of the Pops.
3. The Battle of Evermore
This is probably my favourite song on the album. It’s completely different to the first two tracks and has the sublimely wonderful Sandy Denny joining Plant on vocals. Oh, and the lyrics mention stuff from the Lord of the Rings – which would have had sixteen-year-old me squealing with delight.
4. Stairway to Heaven
Yeah. It’s that one. The song that is banned from being played in every guitar shop in the world. You know how it goes. It’s all slow and then it gets a lot faster. You probably love it – I know I do. I have nothing further to add.
5. Misty Mountain Hop
Have to say that some of side two (and this is the start of side two for those of your who don’t remember life before CDs) suffers a bit in comparison to the wall-to-wall classics on side one. This is great, but it’s definitely one of the weaker tracks on the album.
6. Four Sticks
Another non-classic that suffers from being on this album. But, once again, there’s really nothing wrong with it at all. If I’m asked to name the tracks on the album (not, I admit a task I’m often set) then this would be the one I’d forget about.
7. Going to California
Another slow one. And another one that I really like. Apparently it’s about Joni Mitchell.
8. When the Levee Breaks
And a really strong track to end. It’s a heavily reworked version of an old blues number. Love the tightness of the rhythm section.
This album is over forty years old, but it still holds up well today. I probably haven’t played it all the way through for about six months and I’ve really enjoyed listening to it again today. I should get into the habit of playing it more often.