Led Zeppelin (1969)
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Good Times Bad Times A
This is a pretty cool song. It's structured like a three-minute pop ditty, except it is MUCH LOUDER than it needs to be. The guitars are loud, the drumming patterns are insanely complicated, and Robert Plant's vocals are over-the-top. ...Of course, that's what made Led Zeppelin who they are! It doesn't seem like such a revolution to my ears in 2009, but it was something else to the kids of the day. The melody is very catchy, which is nice, and that incredibly fast guitar solo that surfaces in the middle is absolutely ballsy expertly using scales and screeches without seeming to take them too far. This is a powerful, memorable, and entertaining song! (More entertaining than these guys typically are, I can tell ya!)
Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You A
And now! Led Zeppelin lays off the hard rock and gives us a folk cover that they heard on a Joan Baez record. (I have reviewed this record, as a matter of fact.) Hey, say all you want about Led Zeppelin, but they're 1000 times more exciting than Baez! This song doesn't start out too excitingly—just an acoustic guitar begins to play and Plant's wannabe gentle vocals come in and starts screeching the lyrics. This part of the song is OK, but not great. What makes it completely great is that powerful riff that suddenly pops up. It's weird how that's just an acoustic guitar playing the riff! The highlight is that insane marching interlude in the middle... That dark electric guitar playing that descending riff, the towering drumming patterns, and then Plant sort of trying to wail through it. .......Whoah. No wonder all the stoners of the world liked this band! I'm not high right now, and it blows me away.
You Shook Me A+
Wow. I don't usually like straight blues music, but this thing is really cool. The rhythm section, for starters, is completely nailed. The drums and bass plomp around at a mid-tempo pace creating one of the most powerful blues rhythms that I've ever heard. (Oh! I guess this is why they call Led Zeppelin a hard blues song!) Other than that, this is pretty much an ordinary 12-bar blues song. The riff is excessively common, and the only thing interesting about the melody is the completely overblown way that Plant sings it. Nonetheless, I approve of everything they do here. I like how that guitar soloing around at the beginning and end playfully mimics Plant's singing style. I like the dirty harmonica solo in the middle of it. I like that funny echo effect they put on the guitar solo at the four minute mark as well as those inventive drum fills that Bonham pulls off. ...Funny how this is a mid-tempo blues song that goes on for six minutes and it holds my attention span so well! I guess that must mean this is good! (Plant singing a cappella at the end, though? Hm. I'm not sure about that one.)
Dazed and Confused A+
I read that Jimmy Page stole this from a folk composer named Jake Holmes and claimed it as his own. Page rewrote the lyrics and some of the melody, but ... holy crap, this still sounds so similarly to the Holmes song that Led Zeppelin really should have given the poor guy credit. I mean, it's pretty blatantly obvious if you listen to it. ...But anyway, it's also pretty obvious which version of the song is better. It's THIS ONE! And as far as the songs on this album goes, this is the cream of the crop. First of all, that descending riff is excessively cool. It's played by just the bass at first with a few wobbly, minimalistic additions from the lead guitarist. After doing that for a little bit, suddenly the power-chords and drums blow away through my speakers! ...My favorite part has to be the interlude, though, where they are constantly shifting moods. At one point it's really creepy and absorbing, and then suddenly the drums start to play like mad, and Jimmy Page plays louder and dirtier. ...This is a pretty cool song.
Your Time is Gonna Come B+
Still good, but I suppose this is one of the things that prevents this album from becoming the world's greatest thing in my book. It starts out with a cool organ texture, which is sort of interesting, but all it leads to a fairly ordinary mid-tempo organ riff with generally typical additions from an acoustic guitar and drums. I like the chorus, but it's not extremely interesting melodically. I like its overall texture, but it strikes me as a bit flat.
Black Mountain Side B
Now see, these folk songs aren't bad. They're just weak compared to the more mind-blowing stuff that was on the first half of the album. This is just old Bonham playing the bongos and Jimmy Page doing some acrobatics on his acoustic guitar. No melody. The chord progression is standard. I fail to see the point of this except, perhaps, to give me a needed break from Robert Plant's incessant screeching!!! (Sorry... I'm kidding, you know.)
Communication Breakdown A
When I think of Led Zeppelin, I think of a song more like this than the ones that opened the album. This has the dirty, murky and catchy riff with a pounding bass and drums and an over-excited lead singer. This almost defines heavy metal, by the sound of it. It's only two and a half minutes, meaning that you can enjoy it without having to listen to it resort to a billion guitar solos or (god forbid) a drum solo.
I Can't Quit You Baby A-
A really cool blues song, but it's not nearly as good as “Dazed and Confused!” Did the first half of this album spoil me, or something? For the most part, this is pretty standard for the genre. The chord progression, of course, has been done a billion times. The drumming is cool, with some amazingly tight fills that he manages to sneak in there. I suppose the star of the show is Page's guitar, which noodles around interestingly. He always seems to come up with a new thing to do and a new way to do it. (Ugh! I can't get more descriptive than that? Who do you think I am?) Plant's singing is fine, but ... you know, I'm not a big fan of him anyway.
How Many More Times A-
Again, I think the opening four tracks must've spoiled me greatly, because I'm more or less unimpressed with this. Those songs were smacking me around, and this song is “only” holding my attention span. I mean, that's still impressive for an eight-minute blues song to hold my attention span. Give these guys all the credit they deserve for always seeming to come up with new things to do, and new moods to express. The riff they start off with is OK, but standard. I like that creepy echoey bit in the middle, although it seems like they could have done something to intensify its stark emotions. On the other hand, when Bonham starts to play this uber-complicated drum beat around the six-minute mark, that's pretty freaking cool, if you ask me. ...I almost don't know why Robert Plant is even bothering to sing through this, because he's almost not even adding anything! He's just sort of wailing aimlessly over everything... Of course Jimmy Page's guitar-work is nothing short of impressive, and it's pretty obvious why people consider him to be such a guitar-god. (I have to say that, in case there's any doubt! Mustn't take the dude for granted, ya know.)
Led Zeppelin II (1969)
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Whole Lotta Love A+
I've listened to this song a fair deal over the years, and somehow I got it stuck in my head that Robert Plant's first lyrics are “You need Kool-Aid!” Of course, he says “cool air.” I like cool air, too, but Kool-Aid is a great thing, too... Oh, and this song has a riff that's so strong that it's basically the reason that riffs were invented in the first place. That's what Led Zeppelin were always good for, and why they have about a billion hardcore fans in the world. This is a five minute song, and most of it consists of that riff being repeated over and over again, and Plant coming up with some silly vocal improvisations. (“I'm gonna keep it coooooool, baby!!!” ...Thanks! I don't like tepid Kool-Aid!) That psychedelic instrumental interlude is pretty ridiculous, but that's the point. Psychedelic instrumental interludes are awesome by definition. Luckily, at least, this one doesn't get boring. It reminds me of Dark Side of the Moon, come to think of it.
What Is and What Should Never Be A-
Even though this is a Led Zeppelin ballad, which is boring almost by definition, I find myself rather compelled with this one. It seems to wander around almost like a prog-rock epic, which is cool. Occasionally, it gets stuck a bit too much in the slow parts for my taste (without really delivering a rich melody), but my soul is airborne whenever those hard guitars and pounding guitars pipe up. And I like it when rock music makes my soul go all airborne and stuff... yessiree...
The Lemon Song B+
Alright. I think a big reason I'm not the biggest Led Zeppelin fan is because of these generic things. Granted, I appreciate that they were playing the blues HARDER than anyone else at the time. But I wasn't around in the '60s, and there's almost no novelty for me in that. This seems awfully generic to me. I liked “Whole Lotta Love,” because the riff to this day comes off fresh and exciting. This riff is far more clunky and routine. Of course, Jimmy Page plays it well... And they earn a lot of points for surprising me with that quick paced instrumental interlude. ...Robert Plant's vocal improvisations are funny. I don't even know what he's saying. The bass is cool, though. His patterns seem to interest me. I usually don't even notice bass players...
Thank You A-
Oh, this is the song made famous by Duran Duran! (Ha! I just checked and noticed that I actually gave the Duran Duran version a higher rating. There's my credibility out the window!) Well, this is an excellent song, anyway. The melody is about as engaging as Led Zeppelin ever gets, and I also like the way it flows... Except, sometimes I think this song gets too quiet, particularly at the end. In fact, it grows completely silent sometimes, which is unsettling to me. Maybe that's what they were going for, but perhaps it wasn't the greatest idea they had. I'll credit its undeniable epicness, though, which really manages to rock my socks off at some points. But this is hardly a perfect experience... I know, I'm rambling gibberish. These Led Zeppelin reviews are pretty useless anyway.
It's a heavy Led Zeppelin riff, and it ain't a generic blues one! That alone should give you a pretty good indication that this song will be as awesome as you'd expect a Led Zeppelin song to be. It's memorable without a doubt, but I don't find it to be nearly as great as “Whole Lotta Love” or anything... And that guitar solo in the middle is pretty ridiculous. Then again, Led Zeppelin is pretty ridiculous. That's why they're so memorable.
Living Loving Maid A
I'm probably going to help myself saying this, but I almost think I prefer Led Zeppelin when they just give these short little songs instead of their rambly excursions. I know, their rambly songs are oftentimes excellent, but sometimes they're not. These concise hard-rock songs, on the other hand, don't have much of a chance to get boring, do they? The guitars are quick and punchy, the drum beat is consistent, and it's even got a somewhat hummable melody. Who's not gonna have fun with this? Eh???
Ramble On B
You see how I said in the previous track review that Led Zeppelin has the tendency to ramble on? At least Led Zeppelin are honest enough with themselves to advertise that about themselves in their song titles! ...Anyway, this is a pretty cool song if you like guitars, but it's missing any sort of memorable riff or an engaging melody. I'm not even too entranced by the electric guitar solo, which sounds a little bit like a tornado siren to me.
Moby Dick B-
They call me Ishmael. Actually, they call me Don Ignacio. ...Well, actually they call me Michael. ...Or 'that guy' to anyone who doesn't know my name, which is most people in the world. Yup. Anyway, here we are at the penultimate track in this here Led Zeppelin album, and it starts and ends with another pretty cool hard-rock riff. But like “The Lemon Song” before it, it's a fairly standard blues riff. So, I don't really care about it. Just because they were awesome instrumentalists didn't mean that they could play anything and expect me to automatically be excited by it. Especially that drum solo. Why do drummers think they deserved to solo? Drum solos suck. Especially this one. ...Well, Rush had worse ones. Rush had worse everything.
Bring it On Home A
Basically, this starts with a very subdued version of Sonny Boy Williamson's song with Robert Plant singing very quietly. It actually strikes me as a bit weird, and I like that about it. The harmonica solo also seems pretty subdued and weird... like someone's trying to keep it from escaping. Not bad! Soon enough a more traditional heavy metal Led Zeppelin song pipes up, and it's awesome of course, and the riff is catchy. Yay!
Led Zeppelin III (1970)
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Immigrant Song A
This song has one of those uber-famous, mean-sounding riffs that only a band like Led Zeppelin could have produced. That and Robert Plant's characteristic wolf-howl at the beginning of this is what makes this song so dang memorable! (I'm sure you've all heard it before! Even if you never listen to this band, you probably recognize it.) This has the sort of riff that seems pretty simple, but it hooks me the first time it plays and takes me along with it for its entire duration. It's a bit of a short song, it's not even two-and-a-half minutes, so I guess all they wanted to do was give us a heavy metal introduction to what's commonly known as their “folk” album.
Ah yes, there is a reason people call this the folk album, I guess! I'm not always a huge fan of folk—particularly Led Zeppelin's brand of folk—but this gives off an atmosphere that immediately drags me in and it gets even more engaging by the time it reaches the end. This song starts off with an acoustic guitar riff! A creepy string section comes in to give it an irresistible, almost Middle East flavor, and it gets more mind-bending at the very end. And then there's that wavy synthesizer.... Cool.
Celebration Day B+
This one is characterized by a fast-paced blues riff that sounds weird and doesn't compel that much. The predictable drums and electric guitars pipe up to make the experience more exciting and that's all the better. Plant's vocal delivery is as weird and screechy as it's supposed to be...... I guess the Zep-heads love that about him. The melody usually isn't that interesting, but there are a few spots that I find memorable (I guess there's a “chorus” of sorts that piques my interest). This is a loud and violent song that's intentionally so. Maybe they were trying too hard to make this weird and violent at the same time, but it's pretty fun to listen to.
Since I've Been Loving You A+
Here they go off on a seven-and-a-half-minute excursion into the straight blues! I suppose when it's all said and done, I'd rather listen to them do that; they were supposed to be a blues band from the beginning, weren't they? Maybe I also prefer Robert Plant when he's singing more quietly and carefully... Although he does go off on a few of those parrot-screeching tangents... But even with the screeches, he puts in one of his better vocal performances here. Those characteristic vocal fills he comes up with are quasi-interesting and quasi-relevant to the sort of song he's singing. (Some reviewers would say I'm being too nice!) Plant is not “passionate” the way I know the term, but he fits in well with the instruments, which are the real stars of the show. Even though this is “ordinary blues,” they put quite a lot of energy and feeling in there. And it evolves such that it sounds more deperate toward the end. This energy and feeling is rather hard to describe... All I can tell you is that I listen to this entire seven-and-a-half-minute song, and I follow it 100 percent. That's pretty amazing, because I don't like the blues.
Out on the Tiles B+
This is a heavy riff-rock song, which I surprisingly find weaker than the previous song! (Who would have thought?) The riff is good, but not especially compelling. It's memorable I suppose, but that's mostly because I've listened to it so much. The vocal melody is probably even less notable. The one thing that I really like about this song is that evil tone they come up with for the guitars. That's what makes this, if nothing else, a fun song to listen to.
Gallows Pole B
For a “folk” album, there isn't a whole lot of folk in here! This is the sixth track already and only the second song that can even vaguely be called folk! Anyway, this isn't a bad song, but it isn't especially compelling. There aren't any riffs or melodies that I can latch onto. Rather, the only real appeal to this song is the sonic effects of that trotting drum line and that banjo. It's a neat sound, but it seems to fall a bit short on the songwriting side of things.
This is a fitfully good (I guess) Stones-style country ballad. It's a bit boring, though... It takes too long to get going, and the false start at the beginning doesn't help matters. It has a little bit going on when the drums finally pipe up, turning it into a moderately paced song, and Plant starts to sing a somewhat interesting vocal melody. I like the slide guitar that surfaces in the final half of the song; it is fun to listen to. This isn't so much a tedious song, but if they're going to write songs that don't ROCK, they really should take the time and come out with good melodies.
That's the Way B-
This album has often been called the one that'll define whether you're a true Led Zeppelin fan or not. ...I must not be a fan, because I find this five-and-a-half minute folk exercise bland. Not overwhelmingly bland, because I like the acoustic guitar textures they manage to come up with. If nothing else, this is a nice song to sit back in a lounge chair on a sunny afternoon and soak it up along with the rays. On the other hand, they could have shortened this, made it develop a little more excitingly, and made the melody more memorable.
Bron-Y-Aur Stomp C+
Another straight folk, acoustic song. It has a bit of a snappy upbeat quality that I like well enough, but this is not remarkable songwriting whatsoever. The melody, again, is forgettable. And, apart from the overall snappy quality of it, the instrumentation isn't the great shakes either. It's not tedious at all (hence the reason I feel uncomfortable giving it a score below this), but it's nonetheless average and unremarkable. I know they did this album as a response to people who thought they were a rip-off band, but ...... errrghhh! No more folk albums, please! It gets boring.
Hats Off to (Roy) Harper C-
This is a weird, weird blues song. According to Wikipedia, it's a conglomeration of old blues songs. They credited it to “traditional,” but the songwriters of these blues songs are pretty well known! (Come on, guys! You want to give the songwriters credit for their work, dontcha?) The blues riffs are alright if blandly played. The curious thing about this is Robert Plant's vocals who apparently thought it was a good idea to sing through a fan. (Wikipedia calls it a “Tremolo,” but it still sounds like he's singing through a fan.) This is the only song of the album that's quite uncomfortable to sit through.
Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
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Black Dog A
Hey hey mama, do my laundry! What do you think I keep you around for? (Good thing my mom doesn't know how to use the Internet... I'd be in so much trouble!) Anyway, I hear this song on the radio all the time, and I'm sick stupid of it. Why does the vocal melody have to sound exactly like the songs I hear from soldiers in boot camp in the movies? Good thing those thunderous guitars provide enough bad-ass head-bangery to distract me from it! ...Actually, it's kind of an awesome thing they do, having a call-and-response between those thunder guitars and Robert Plant's parrot squawks.
Rock and Roll A
Isn't this song in a commercial somewhere? Oh, Led Zeppelin has been so well integrated in our society that it isn't even funny. Especially this album it seems. This of course is a great hard rock song with an excessively cool, fast-paced riff and a Robert Plant vocal melody that actually sounds good to me. It deserves that A just for being fun. Why not an A+? Because I don't feel like it.
Battle of Evermore A-
Surely this is one of their better folk ditties. I love that pulsating acoustic guitar texture they come out with, and I even find that vocal melody interesting! It's kind of cool that a song like this would appear on such a widely loved heavy metal album. This ain't heavy metal! This is geek-folk!!! (The joke is on YOU, metal head!) Robert Plant's vocals are hilarious. He sounds like a pixie! Especially at the end when he starts singing “Ooh now! Ooh now! Now now now! Yeah, yeah, Yeahyeahyeahyeahyeah!” with tons of reverb. What a ditz!
Stairway to Heaven A+
I refuse to review this song. (Denied.) ….....Why are you looking at me like that? …...Ugh. OK. Fine. I'll review it! OK? But this is the last time. ….... First question: Why does everyone think this song is some sort of godsend from heaven? It's just a song for pete's sake. Second question: Why are there so many medieval folk songs on a heavy metal album? If that's the reason everyone thinks this is the greatest heavy metal album that ever existed, then I'm on board with that 1000 percent! ...As you can probably tell from that A+, I also happen to love the dickens out of this song. I got a little tired of hearing it all the time circa 2001 (hence denied!), but I hadn't heard it in awhile since right now, and it's such a lovely song! Perhaps a little long-winded (eight minutes?!?!?) and overly serious, but at least it rocks out at the end!
Misty Mountain Hop B+
Are these song titles starting to sound like Tyrannosaurus Rex song titles to anyone else? Unfortunately, Led Zeppelin songs can in no way ever hope to achieve what Tyrannosaurus Rex songs achieve. Led Zeppelin just doesn't understand the power of the bongo. Led Zeppelin might have earnestly wanted to become Tyrannosaurus Rex, but there are just some things that mere mortals can never achieve... This is sort of a hard-rock song, but the riff is weird and the singing is robotic. That's sort of an interesting idea, I guess; it reminds me of a Police song actually! It has enough energy to push it through to the end, but it seems like they could have done just a bit more with it. I'm enjoying this, but with reservations. Smells like a B+.
Four Sticks B+
Led Zeppelin like their riffs! This one sounds like someone's trying to start a lawn mower. That's complimented by John Bonham's busy rolls and patterns sound like a bubbling engine. I like that texture and sound quite a lot, actually, but I can't seem to get myself completely into the song as a whole... It seems to go on for a bit too long for my taste, and the vocal melody leaves something to be desired. Those out of tune guitars in the final third are just the ticket, though! This is easily better than most acid-inspired rock songs out there, so take that for what it's worth.
Going to California A-
I went to California once! It was fun! There were people there! And this folk ditty is another remarkably pretty song! I think I know why most people like this album better than their debut. It's just so pretty! The acoustic guitar pattern is sweet and mesmerizing, which is exactly how these songs should be. I even like Robert Plant's vocal melody despite those moments in the middle he starts squawking. He's definitely the Gilbert Gottfried of rock singers.
When the Levee Breaks A
And they close it with what I guess might be called a typical Led Zeppelin hard blues tune. Of course since they were one of the best bands in the business for this stuff, you can bet it's butt-whompingly awesome! The riff is dirty as hell, and that beat is so menacing that it has crazy eyes. I don't think it really had to be seven minutes long since it essentially repeats the same things over and over, but I surprisingly don't get tired of listening to it!
Houses of the Holy (1973)
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The Song Remains the Same B+
This song is rather odd. It kind of starts out like it's going to be a regular Led Zeppelin quasi-metal thing with a riff, but then it just sort of wanders along without ever finding any sort of concrete musical structure. This could have been their attempt at prog-rock, although I'm hesitant to call it that because it rocks too much. Whatever this is, the guitars are interesting, and Robert Plant finds a vocal melody of sorts to sing... although he's having a difficult time finding something that's hooky. As a whole, this is entertaining and fun to listen to, but emotionally it's rather blank.
The Rain Song A
Much nicer! This isn't rock 'n' roll at all, but a ballad featuring a Mellotron! If “Mellotron” doesn't scream prog-rock to you, then nothing will. Although this doesn't exactly seem like anything Genesis would write... It's far too repetitive and consistently mellow for Genesis... But that doesn't mean this song isn't as lovely as can be! It's beautiful with a nice melody and a pretty Mellotron. The textures are delicate and sweet... It's just a pleasurable thing to sit back and soak up... Perhaps a bit like the landscape after a moderate rain... Like “Stairway to Heaven” before it, this is so nice that I don't even mind that it's more than seven minutes long. Although that was pushing it.
Over the Hills and Far Away B
It starts out folky, but harder rockin' instrumentals take over after a few minutes, evolving the piece into a “more typical sounding” Led Zeppelin riff-rocker. I wonder if they wouldn't have been better off just making this a more straightforward riff-rock since that is a good riff, and Led Zeppelin of course were capable of ROCKING. As it is, the acoustic part at the beginning is rather boring, and the more casual addition of the electric instruments are met with a more or less ho-hum response. Maybe they were trying to do something different? That fade-out, fade-in thing they do at the end doesn't work, either.
The Crunge B
This is really odd. It looks like they were trying for some sort of funk song, but what they got instead was this weird extra-terrestrial music that sounds like something the Talking Heads might have come up with in an early jamming session. It's not bad, and sort of catchy, and they use a goofy sounding synthesizer to play a few bluesy lines here and there. I'm not sure what Robert Plant is doing, either... Then again, how would you sing to this groove if you were Robert Plant? ...And for god's sake, somebody show him where the bridge is.
Dancing Days A
Do you know what's weird? I spent a lot of time in previous reviews insisting that I'm not a big fan of Led Zeppelin's classic hard-blues style. Here is Houses of the Holy, which hasn't been a very bluesy until now, and I give one of the highest ratings to a hard blues song! Could I be a closet Led Zeppelin fan without my knowledge? Hm! Anyway, this mid-tempo ditty sure could have used a bit more punch, but the riff is catchy. I like that funny organ they used in the background, which gives it a bit of an alien edge.
D'yer Mak'r A-
I'm a man of contradictions. A long time ago when I first got this album, I claimed to hate reggae, but I also claimed that this was my favorite song of Houses of the Holy. This isn't my favorite song of this album anymore, but it's hard to deny that this thing has appeal. Most importantly, Robert Plant actually sings a catchy melody in a manner that seems appropriate to the backing music! ...Why the hell is this album reminding me of different '80s bands? “Every breath I take / Every move you make.” Am I imagining that? The Police did reggae, too... Errrrrr?
No Quarter A
My god, they waited until now to finally deliver a convincing prog-piece? Oh, I would say this is pretty boring compared to Yes, but Led Zeppelin actually develop absorbing and intricate instrumental textures, and they let it crescendo a few times. Nice! Robert Plant even surprises me and gives a good vocal performance, sounding like he's having some sort of emotional hissy fit, and I'm buying it. Even his pained wails at the end of the song carry a little bit of myself with them.
Alright, here is a more “typical” riff-rock song, but it comes off as a bit clunky to me. The riff itself is very catchy but it seems like it needs some oil around its hinges. I'm really not sure what to tell you about that fairy-queen a cappella bit they awkwardly bring up around the two-minute mark, as well as that sort of “party-time” outro that also doesn't seem to fit. Maybe this is proof they were trying too hard to be different.
Physical Graffiti (1975)
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Custard Pie A-
Not bad! I get the feeling that Led Zeppelin were somewhat slipping into some sort of same-old-same-old rut. Yes, they gave up their experiments from Houses of the Holy and returned to straightforward hard rock, but it doesn't quite have the freshness of one of their hard-rock songs from their first four albums. But this song is still cool, which I hope you gathered from that A-, and that's mostly because of its catchy riff. But Jimmy Page turns in some air-guitar-worthy licks in here. It's not earth-shattering, but it makes a good listen.
The Rover A
This one manages to go beyond “awesome but routine sounding” and become great. The riff is really catchy, and it's presented in such a bad-ass way that it immediately grabs my attention. But midway though this I start to get slightly tired of it. This is why making double albums isn't usually a great idea... If this was just an ordinary length album, maybe they would have had to cut this to a shorter and sweeter three minutes.
In My Time of Dying A
Whew! This monster is 11 minutes long! Good thing this is a pretty good song or I might have started to get bored with it. Just to prove that they hadn't run out of things to do with heavy blues rock, they pull out this expansive piece with evolving riffs and rhythms. There's not much else for me to say about this other than they consistently pull out good, crunchy riffs, and those slippery electric guitar solos planted throughout sounds and something I haven't quite heard before. The part at the end seemed rather excessive where they just jam a bit and Robert Plant yells a bit... But then again, this wouldn't be Led Zeppelin if they weren't allowed to be excessive.
Houses of the Holy A-
To make this a double album, they filled it up with songs that were slated to appear on earlier albums. ...I might not have realized that until I ran across this terribly confusing song title! (Then again, I live in a country that has places like Kansas City, Missouri and Arkansas City, Kansas...) This is a fairly standard but enjoyable riff-rocker that seems to go on for a bit too long, and I can see why they wanted to leave it off and wait to put it on their White Album. But since this is Led Zeppelin, I'm having fun listening to it, and catchy riffs like these don't grow on trees.
Trampled Underfoot A
Ha! I like this! It's one song that really stuck out at me as I was listening through this album in preparation for this review. It's a funk-rocker similar to “The Crunge” was on Houses of the Holy except this one's much more menacing and catchy. The guitars are tight and toe tapping, and what they're playing is so catchy and fun to listen to that it could go on forever. As you'd expect, the guitar solos are brilliantly fun and air-guitar worthy, and there's even a rather interesting, robotic bluesy keyboard solo in here. As a whole, this is not a terribly complicated song (this is a back-to-roots album after all), but Led Zeppelin wasn't the sort of band that needed to get too over-complicated on us. That's clear to me now.
I confess that the only time I've ever sat through this entire album from start to finish was in preparation to write this review. However, I had a copy of this album for quite some time, and I would occasionally listen to bits and pieces of it... And when I say “bits and pieces” it was pretty much just this one song, which has one of the grandest, most epic riffs of all time. The riff is very unusual for heavy metal, based on an ascending chord progression. It sounds like something that would go great with a classic, Technicolor movie epic like Ben Hur or Spartacus where most of the cast has ripped muscles and sweat like pigs. Like “Trampled Underfoot” before it, I could just listen to this riff forever... And I almost do since this thing goes on for more than eight minutes. (In this one case, I think cutting it would've actually harmed it...) I hate to speak on such a matter since I'm not a rock 'n' roll historian, but I'm guessing this was the principle origin of symphonic metal. For better or worse.
In The Light C+
If this album weren't released so damn far into the '70s, I might have been slightly more enamored over Led Zeppelin's attempt at writing an elaborate Middle Eastern new-age-type song. But as it stands, this sort of thing was pretty passe at the time, and I don't find it particularly entertaining anyway. The beginning of it with the bendy synthesizers were nice, but that section was a bit over extended, and they didn't really need to bring that back up again in the middle. Whenever the guitars pipe in, you'd think it would save the experience by introducing a killer riff or a heart-pounding rhythm, but unfortunately that doesn't happen. It plods along boringly at a mid-tempo pace without a hook in sight while Plant tries to sing “mystically” over them. I will say that the one interesting aspect about this song is how barren it seems... It's like music for the desert in the blistering heat, and it sucks the soul right out of you. Perhaps even some mental insanity kicks in. (I've been in the desert for a long period of time before... Nothing life threatening of course, but I know what it's like to be exhausted out there. Very similar to listening to this song the whole way through without trying to space out to something else.) I suppose some fans really enjoy this song, in which case I congratulate them for being true Zep-heads. As for me, zzzzzzz...
This is a nicely textured acoustic guitar instrumental that's short for a Led Zeppelin piece although I don't get a whole lot of feeling or emotion out of it. No particular melody, either. Given that it just fades in and fades out, I'm guessing this was just a bit of tinkering around. At some point in this section Page might have even come out with whatever Stomp went into creating that song for Led Zeppelin III.
Down By the Seaside B+
The name makes me think of The Kinks, and maybe that's the sort of thing Led Zeppelin were pointing their noses at when they penned this song. (Or perhaps this sounds more like The Band? Or a Rolling Stones country ballad?) The rhythm is mid-tempo and moseys like an old cowpoke tune. At times Robert Plant sounds like he's actually trying to sing a coherent melody instead of those goofy half-bluesish wails that he's best known for. This could have used a lot more kick to it at the beginning although Jimmy Page's watery guitar was a nice touch. Halfway into the song, they unexpectedly decide to up the rhythm and change it into a more hard-rocking tune... I appreciate it, because hard rock is a lot more fun when Led Zeppelin does it, but why the funny transition? They only end up bringing it back to the cowpoke song, so why not just have made two shorter songs instead of this messy five minute thing?
Ten Years Gone B-
I have to admit I giggle sometimes when I hear Robert Plant sing the word “baby,” which anybody who's heard these albums before heard him do frequently. ...Maybe bringing that up in this track review is evident that I find this light, mid-tempo song a little bland to my taste, and I can't find anything particularly interesting to say about it. It goes on for more than six minutes wallowing in the same empty mood and unexciting tempo. Despite that, it's not terribly boring to listen to... There are some nice guitar solos, and the riffs, whenever they pops up, has enough to it to keep my basic senses from growing bored. But it could have used some emotions or evolved a little less predictably.
Night Flight A-
It's really nice to get more or less a straightforward heavy rock ditty from Led Zeppelin for a change. I hate to say that a band oughtn't experiment so much, but Led Zeppelin seem like they would have been better off sticking to the hard rock. As long as it's good hard rock like this, which contains nothing more than a good chugging rhythm that's well-played and fun to listen to. It's rather forgettable, but at least the heavy guitars sound nice.
The Wanton Song A
Definitely more like it. “Night Flight” gave me a pleasurable listening experience, but “The Wanton Song” is actually one that offers me something to take away from it. That tightly played, fast riff is catchy as anything, and Bonham's densely played drum patterns helps give it a convincingly hellish atmosphere. Even Plant's wailing, toneless lead singing sounds like some sort of devil spirit. ...I don't know why they had to bring it to an organ solo, which seems almost happy to me. Not that it's a flaw, necessarily. The hell imagery is in my head. Anyway, this is a neat song.
Boogie With Stu A-
Lucky old Stu. Gets to boogie with the Plant named Robert. (I have to say that reviewing a double Led Zeppelin album gets a bit tiring!) Along with “Trampled Underfoot,” this is another one of the weird ones that sort of caught my fancy as I was listening to this album preparing to write this review. Most of the reason this stuck out at me is for that snapping and echoing drum pattern. It's an oddly appealing sound. Without that sound, this would have just been a run-of-the-mill boogie. Albeit Jimmy puts in a nice acoustic guitar solo, and we have to appreciate Ian Stewart's (on loan from The Rolling Stones) masterful boogie piano.
Black Country Woman A
It's probably weird that I like this song since it's more or less an ordinary country-rocker, but there's something about that stiffly played acoustic guitar riff and Bonham's robotic drum beat that makes it appealing to me. It puts a strange sort of alien edge to it that manages to stick out at me. It's not a complicated song at all, which makes it seem rather elegant, and Robert Plant actually seems like he's singing from heart. If not his heart, then his bowels, which is a nice thing for him. Great harmonica in here.
Sick Again A
I know... I must be losing my cool, but doesn't this thing rule? It's probably nothing but testosterone fueled posturing, but listening to that ultra-heavy riff gets some of those juices pumping through me. I not only approve of that overblown sound of the riff, but it's CATCHY. It even drowns out Plant's singing, and I sort of like more for that. It's like some sort of video game monster that he can't quite conquer. (...There's another one of my strange sentences I hope you can make sense of...) This sounds exactly like Kiss should sound like. Maybe that's why I'm giving it an A. I must like Kiss in theory.
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Achilles' Last Stand A-
This 10-minute epic rocker makes an entertaining listen, but I don't see what the fuss is about. Jimmy Page can play that guitar fast and the apparently wheelchair-bound Robert Plant could still wail in an entertaining manner (amazingly without being obnoxious whatsoever). The speed of that trotting bass guitar of course is something to behold. A few of those really tight riffs Page bring in here and there are flashy and memorable, which is the best way for '70s heavy metal to be, and some of those dreamy overlapping solos he does toward the end were a really good touch. But to me, this is more of a song that I can enjoy on the surface. I can't say that it really grabs me and forces me to listen closely, which plenty of Led Zeppelin's earlier songs have done (as hesitant as I might have been to admit that)! But at least it consistently stays fresh and exciting for its entire 10 minutes.
For Your Life C+
This mid-tempo song starts out slow and plodding, and it honestly doesn't get a whole lot more exciting than that. Jimmy Page's guitar grooves at times capture my attention, but usually they come off as very stiff and mechanical, which isn't a great sound for a band that isn't Devo. Plant's vocals seem like they were thrust too deeply in the background, but he wasn't singing anything interesting anyway. It doesn't help that they seemed to have extended this well beyond its expiration date, past six minutes. To its credit, there was some attempt to develop the song... the guitar riffs gradually get busier as it progresses. But it's a verrrrry gradual evolution, too slow, and I get a bit of a feeling of dullness as I listen to it. Page turns in an obligingly good guitar solo in the final third, but at that point I just sort of shrug. To be fair, this is an entertaining song, but it should have been more electrifying and imaginative. (I know... A lot of people really like this, so don't take my word for it! As always, listen to it for yourself, and see whether this thing speaks to you or not.)
Royal Orleans B+
I know a lot of people don't like this song at all whereas I kinda like it! (I don't know why, but I'm double guessing my own opinions in this review a lot!) The riff are tight and energetic, and I find them to be memorable. Jimmy Page's vocal performance is pretty rough and gritty even though it's a bit tragic he lost a lot of the power that he used to have. Best of all, it's only three minutes long, which is exactly what “For Your Life” should have been condensed to! This still sounds far away from an average song from their first four albums, which gives credence to those who say that Led Zeppelin were well past their peaks by this time. It's a fun song, but it doesn't seem to be special.
Nobody's Fault But Mine C+
This is one of the reasons I was fairly hesitant about reviewing this album. It's a bit tantalizing reviewing something that I think is mediocre that I know means a lot to a large amount of reasonable people! I really hated the first few moments of this song the first time I heard it. Listening to that solo fuzzy guitar playing those licks at the beginning and then hearing Plant moan along with makes me want to grip my stomach in pain and moan along with them. On second thought, maybe that was the point, since this is a song about Plant's drug addiction? But even if that's the point, it doesn't make it anymore fun to listen to. But I will at least say that Plant's vocals are quite passionate here, which helps make this rather endearing. They get a few good rocking grooves going throughout the course of this six minute track, and the harmonica solo is really good. Another complaint I have is I wish they didn't bring in all those stops, which makes this even more uncomfortable to listen to.
Candy Store Rock B-
I know, I'm probably making a lot of people angry right now by my track scores! But what can I tell you? I don't actively control what I like! This song is far simpler and I guess dumber than “Nobody's Fault But Mine,” and I suppose it was beneath Led Zeppelin, but I have a better time listening to it. The groove is a bit dull, but it has nice kick to it. As a whole, the song would have been better if it weren't so dang murky... Sometimes murky gives a song extra personality, but all it did to this song was make it.... murky.
Hots On For Nowhere B-
The riff is alright, but I wish it didn't have so much dang silence in it. I don't know why, but every time they put in those stops it really bugs me. The bass work is pretty good at least, and Page really consistently turns in some dazzling licks in here. Plant's singing isn't the great shakes, though, and neither is his melody. It has its moments, but altogether this is nothing special to me.
Tea For One B+
Actually, I like this one, although I don't seem to be quite as enamored by it as a lot of people seem to be. They've done this sort of slow blues song much better in the past, but it's still nice to hear Jimmy Page pull out a few excellent bluesy guitar licks here and there! The song is a bit long (approaching 10 minutes), but I'm able to stick with it. Me and my short attention span. It's not greatly interesting to me... at least interesting enough for me to think of tons of things to say about it... So, I'll just leave it here. By the way, Jay Leno is a dick.
In Through the Out Door (1979)
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In the Evening A-
Oh my, keyboards! Surely, Led Zeppelin were no stranger to the instrument that requires all ten fingers, but I usually don't expecting it to be playing the riff almost on equal footing with the electric guitar. (It just so happened that the album I reviewed immediately prior to this was Genesis' A Trick of the Tail, which had a song that was apparently meant to send-up Led Zeppelin. I subsequently made fun of for having a riff that was played exclusively with keyboards. Since it was released a few years after that Genesis album, perhaps Led Zeppelin were actually sending up Genesis?) I will say that the riff is fantastic, and it's well-played. I don't care if the band was having a plethora of problems at this point and were on the verge of dissolving, it's a strangely fun song. The riff sounds mean, and the keyboards give it an odd texture that captures my interest quite well. The nearly-dead John Bonham plays those drums simply, but he makes them pound. There could have been more going on in that mystical, echoey bit in the middle where Jimmy Page noodles about minimally reminiscent of Dire Straits. But at least that means they weren't playing that riff for the entire seven minutes!
South Bound Suarez B+
This is a really strange album. I don't think anybody can deny this. Those really rapidly played keyboards deliver a really unusual texture. Jimmy Page doesn't play a riff or anything, but he just sort of noodles around casually in the background, just doing whatever he feels like I guess. Plant just barks around willy nilly, and not particularly finding a melody to sing … nor lyrics for that matter! That rapid keyboard texture really gets me, though. I suppose if it doesn't make you want to vomit, you'll like the song!
Fool in the Rain D+
Ugh, this is terrible!!!!!! I've had a wishy washy relationship with reggae for pretty much my entire life, but I almost find myself offended at Led Zeppelin's flagrant mistreatment of the genre. (I used the word “almost,” because I made the decision never to get offended by anything free-speech related... but boy are Led Zeppelin pushing those limits.) The riff they use is once again keyboard-driven, but that's not why I dislike it; it's DEAD. That clunky six-note riff is deader than a cold fish that's starting to rot a bit. Jimmy Page, in his drugged up brain, tries to noodle around a bit in the background, and Jimmy Page rambles on unintelligibly. None of that saves it. Making it worse is that it goes on for six minutes. I'll give it some points for that percussion-heavy, party-time thing they bring up in the middle, but I'm really reaching.
Hot Dog A-
Seems like a parody of Elvis Presley given its fast-paced country-rock vibe and the song title. I certainly would never have expected Led Zeppelin to try something like this, and I can't think of many things more amusing than listening to Robert Plant warble around in an Elvis Presley manner (as opposed to warbling around in that Robert Plant manner). The melody, drum rhythm, and guitar playing are about as generic as I get. But I would imagine that these guys, being in the horrible state that they were in at the time, were having terrible fun with this. And you know what? I'm having fun, too. At least this means the album deserves a point for diversity!
Oh my CRAP!!! Maybe if this weren't the first time I was listening to this album, I wouldn't find it so shocking, but I swear Led Zeppelin sounds like they might have been interested in becoming a disco band at some point. That synthesizer plays a distinctly danceable pattern that, if this were a slightly altered parallel universe, might actually get a dancefloor full of John Travolta wannabes to start wiggling their booties. It's quite an effective synthesizer pattern they come up with, and the extremely simple chord progression actually catches my attention. The way Robert Plant wails unintelligibly over it is entertaining, and those growling power chords from Page are terrifying. It would have made quite an amusing three-minute song. The only problem was that it was TEN MINUTES LONG! And that sluggish bit in the middle is just boring and it lasts forever. But then they bring back the disco stuff at the end. It's a different groove, and it's still weird.
All My Love C+
If Led Zeppelin really wanted to achieve a contemporary sound with this album, they found the strangest way imaginable to accomplish that. For a start, Plant didn't seem to be completely on board with this. I mean, for once he's actually singing a melody, but it sounds entirely uncomfortable at it as though somebody is forcing him to! The keyboard sound is central to the song, but it sounds weak. I mean, turn up the volume, or something! Bonham of course checked out completely... Not that there are any points in this album where he wasn't checked out. To me, this sounds like a high school band that hadn't rehearsed. It's amusing in a way, but mostly pathetic. If a person like me can dare to call Led Zeppelin pathetic, you know there is a problem.
I'm Gonna Crawl A-
Some people call this song the album's only gem, and I can certainly see why. Robert Plant vomits over his microphone in a much more emotional and passionate way as opposed to the rather empty-headed way he sounded in most of these other tracks. He even screams in his microphone in a few points, and I actually find that convincing! There are light keyboards in the background, and they provide a backdrop instead of the main riff, which was certainly a good thing, and Page turns in a number of excellent bluesy licks to match Plant's emotional singing. My only complaint about this is that it's so dang sluggish that I get kind of bored with it.
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We're Gonna Groove A
Wow! This was played live in 1969! It sounds just as exciting as one of their songs from that era, too. It's a B. B. King cover, but it doesn't sound different than one of their regular hard-rock songs from the era. Plant screeches around youthfully and excitably. Page has a few exciting, tight licks. Jones gives us a groovy groove with his bass. Bonzo, back from the dead, completely floods this with tight drumming and fills. This excellent cooperation between these band members is almost certainly the reason these guys were such a powerhouse of a band. I don't understand how anyone can't enjoy the pants off of this!
Poor Tom B
Yes, that Tom is one poor guy. He was left off Led Zeppelin III and had to cope with being on an outtakes album! I do understand why they left this off the album since the melody isn't interesting at all, and this is basically a two-chord song. I also wonder why those vocals are buried so deeply in the mix! The only thing that keeps this thing afloat is that really tight drumming that Bonham does throughout. Maybe Page chose to include this song because of the drumming? That's the only reason I'm enjoying this.
I Can't Quit You Baby B+
A live version of their song from their 1969 debut album! It's quite good although some of Page's guitar noodles seem to go a little overboard. I'd certainly stick with the far superior and tighter original, but all you Zep-heads can surely love the dickens out of this version as well.
Walter's Walk B-
Is this Bonzo appreciation hour? That epic drum sound makes what would have otherwise been a pretty uninteresting hard rock tunes sound awesome. But once again, the drumming is the only thing that keeps this song completely together for me. The riff is OK, but nowhere near the greatness this band was supposed to sound when formulating riffs. This was an outtake from Houses of Holy, which makes sense because that was when these guys really started to fall apart.
Ozone Baby B
Oh yes, gimme summa that O3! ...Wait a minute, they left this off of In Through the Out Door. Why?! It's a thunderous and fun little tune with a catchy melody! That's quite a change of pace from the pure unfocused sloppiness that ran rampant throughout that album. You could accuse this of being dumb and banal. And I really don't care for that chipmunk effect they put on Page's voice at the end of it. But let's not nitpick!
The problem with this boogie woogie is that the riff just doesn't capture me a whole lot. However, it does have a lot of energy and I strangely like the stiffness of it. The Jerry Lee Lewis piano in the middle was certainly nice touch. Other than that, this is forgettable. Plant's vocal melody seems to be improvised!
Bonzo's Montreux B
Wow! Here's a drum solo that I more or less like! That's probably because it's not one of those stupid, flashy drum solos that I hear the likes of Ginger Baker and Neil Peart doing all the time. Rather, it's a rhythmic one that's played so loud and thunderously that it sounds as though he's playing for Zeus. Jimmy Page came in later and added some electronic embellishments. (I thought that seemed to be an '80s embellishment, and Wikipedia only confirmed my suspicions.) You probably won't be awed by this, but I like it, strangely enough.
Wearing and Tearing C
This boogie wouldn't have been so bad if the riff weren't so generic and … for some reason the production is so muddy. It sounds like Page put way too much fuzz on his guitar. I suppose I like the pure energy they put to this, but I get tired of listening to it after maybe two minutes. This goes on well past five.
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