Saturday, November 2, 2019

Led Zeppelin IV - ZOSO

Led Zeppelin VI (AM10) encompasses all that we've come to associate with heavy metal in the 1970s; strong rhythm and distortion, guitar solos and machismo. Brash opener "Black Dog" and "Rock and Roll," which follows, reiterate that straight away.  Yet, what makes this record so appealing is that it stretches beyond Zeppelin's previous soirees in genre and dimension. Led Zeppelin IV is a metal record mixed into a concoction that contains the blues and a bit of rock and roll, with old-English folk and the occult mixed in for good measure; brilliantly, though subtlety comprised, it all falls perfectly into place. 

Robert Plant's dynamic vocals are best utilized during the folklore-ish, "The Battle of Evermore" and in the urgency of "Four Sticks," both of which are pivotal moments on the record. The anthemic "Stairway to Heaven" sits perfectly between the two. An angelic and heart-stopping arrangement, this seminal number, defined by Page's double neck guitar, is a poetic composition of epic proportion. This and its longevity are perhaps enough when in contention for "Best Album Ever," and although it's not my choice (it’s not even my fave Zeppelin LP), I won't argue with anyone who feels it is.  


One of the ways in which the album's dominance is demonstrated is the sheer variety: out of the eight cuts, there isn't one that steps on another's toes. There are the aforementioned Olde English ballads ("The Ballad of Evermore" with a lovely performance by Sandy Denny), a kind of pseudo-blues just to keep in touch ("Four Sticks"), a pair of authentic Zepplinania ("Black Dog" and "Misty Mountain Hop"), some stuff that I might actually call shy and poetic if it didn't carry itself off so well ("Stairway to Heaven" and "Going To California"), and a couple songs that when all is said and done, will probably be right up there in the gold-starred hierarchy of put 'em on and play 'em agains. The end of the LP serves up "When The Levee Breaks," strangely credited to all the members of the band plus Memphis Minnie, and it's a dazzler. Basing themselves around one honey of a chord progression, the band constructs an air of tunnel-long depth, full of stunning resolves and a majesty that sets up the perfect climax (see note below). It's forty years since IV; it's been a long time since I rock 'n' rolled over dead – not like this. It's been a long, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time.

Mike Damone's Five Point Plan (Fast Times at Ridgemont High): 
First of all Rat, you never let on how much you like a girl. "Oh, Debbie. Hi." Two, you always call the shots. "Kiss me. You won't regret it." Now three, act like wherever you are, that's the place to be. "Isn't this great?" Four, when ordering food, you find out what she wants, then order for the both of you. It's a classy move. "Now, the lady will have the linguine and white clam sauce, and a Coke with no ice." And five, now this is the most important, Rat. When it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV.