Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Discovering a classic - Led Zeppelin IV

When Alison mentioned Led Zeppelin the other day, I was inspired to listen again to my (so far) one and only LZ album - Led Zeppelin IV. I guess there's not much I can say about an album as classic as this because everyone already knows it so well. Everyone except me that is. Listening to it today, it brings back, in an instant, memories of my brother playing it when we were kids and even then, if I dared to be honest, I would have had to admit that it was a phenomeal sound. It's an album that takes you on a real journey and, somehow, that opening track, "Black Dog", feels almost like a call, a summons, a challenge to follow.

I don't know enough (yet) of the words and their message to know fully what these songs are about - but the music journey is in itself enough to make this album pretty extraordinary, and certainly a great rejoinder to anyone who wants to claim that rock music is simplistic and one-dimensional. Led Zeppelin IV just covers so much territory musically - it screams and shouts its hard rock to you, and then seduces and caresses you with its gentle folk, and then, just when you're feeling comforted, it bludgeons you with its heavy metal.

I guess "Stairway to Heaven" is the best example of all this, but you get the same thing, on a much more epic scale, when you listen to the album as a whole and see what a rich and diverse journey it takes you on. Can that really be the same band playing the almost oriental mandolin jingle of "The Battle of Evermore" that later pounds out those primal riffs of "Four Sticks"?

I think Led Zeppelin IV is a great example of why it's good, whenever we can, to listen to albums in their totality. Everything here just fits together so well and, when you really throw yourself into it, you're left just exhausted by the end. It's little wonder that now, almost forty years after it was recorded, some people are still arguing that nothing has quite reached its heights, or plummetted its depths.

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