For the fourth playlist in The Legend Slot, I decided it was about time I featured a band. So far we’ve had Elton John, Kylie Minogue and Aretha Franklin. All completely different genres of music but all solo artists. We’ve had pop rock, full on pop and soul so far…and now I’m bringing you some more heavy rock in the form of Led Zeppelin.
Led Zeppelin: A Brief History
Formed in 1968, Led Zeppelin were an English rock band made up of Robert Plant (vocals), Jimmy Page (guitar), John Paul Jones (bass/piano) and John Bonham (drums). Considered as one of the most successful and influential rock bands of all-time, their sound was heavy and guitar-driven, but their influences came from all different genres of music. Page wrote most of Led Zeppelin’s music while Plant generally supplied the lyrics.
Throughout their twelve year career as a band, Led Zeppelin saw each of their albums in the top 10 of the Billboard album chart, eight consecutively reaching no.1. In 1995 they were even inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The museum itself described the band as being equally as influential during the 1970s as The Beatles were in the 1960s. A pretty huge statement!
‘Led Zeppelin III’ (1970) – Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin: John Bonham’s Death
Compared to the other legends I’ve featured, you might’ve noticed that theirs was a fairly short career. This was due to John Bonham’s death in 1980, which was found as accidental from asphyxiation from vomit. After Bonham’s death the remaining members of the band made the decision to cancel their upcoming tour and disband as a group.
They released their ninth album, Coda, after John Bonham’s death. The album was made up of unused tracks from their career, and released as a compilation. Since then, they’ve reunited on a handful of occasions throughout the 80s, 90s and 00s, with John Bonham’s son, Jason, performing in his place at some shows.
The Legend Slot: Led Zeppelin
When I was around 16/17 I actually went through a bit of a Led Zeppelin phase. However, I have to admit that I haven’t really listened to them all that much at since then. Since they only have 8 studio albums (as well as Coda, which is considered a compilation), I had the time to listen to each song a couple of times, rather than just once through.
I think by listening to the tracks a few times I was able to get more of an idea of my favourites from each album. Rather than making a decision based on one listen I could really take the time to decide if they were going in the playlist. 8 studio albums and a compilation later, I picked out 29 tracks.
A Few of My Favourites…
Black Dog has been a favourite song of mine by Led Zep since I first listened to them years ago. I remember watching Glastonbury last summer and seeing Miley Cyrus’ set on the Sunday afternoon. Her performance of Black Dog absolutely blew my mind. What a track. Annoyingly I can’t find the full clip of her performing it at Glasto but you can have a quick glimpse at the performance in this video (skip to 1:30) or listen to the performance here. Honestly it’s compulsory listening.
‘Led Zeppelin I’ (1969) – Led Zeppelin
We’ve also of course got the classics like Whole Lotta Love, Immigrant Song and Stairway to Heaven which I’m sure you’ve come across before. A personal favourite of mine is Babe I’m Gonna Leave You from their first album. But what I didn’t know was that the track was actually originally written as a folk song by Anne Bredon, in the late 1950s. Page and Plant adapted the original and made it completely Led Zeppelin’s own, adding their classic hard rock edge to it.
Since I’ve listened to all of Led Zeppelin’s songs before I guess technically there aren’t any new discoveries. However, it’s been six years (yikes) since I did listen to all of their tracks. So, most of them do feel completely new to me. For the sake of this feature I’m going to call them rediscovered tracks, rather than completely new ones.
‘Led Zeppelin II’ (1969) – Led Zeppelin
Kicking off the rediscoveries is Living Loving Maid (She’s Just A Woman) from Led Zeppelin II. I looked into this track a bit and, after a little research, found out that it was actually never performed live by Led Zep because it was guitarist Jimmy Page’s least favourite Led Zeppelin song! It seems as if overall it’s got some seriously mixed reviews from fans and critics but, personally, it’s a favourite.
‘Led Zeppelin IV’ (1971) – Led Zeppelin
Another rediscovery was Rock and Roll from Led Zeppelin IV. I remember this being a favourite of mine back in 2016, but after years of not listening to them it just seemed to completely slip my mind.
HOW DO MY THOUGHTS STACK UP AGAINST THE CRITICS?
Out of the legends that I’ve featured so far in this series, Led Zeppelin was the one that I wanted to read the most about. In terms of what the critics had to say over the years that is. When it comes to picking the songs for each of these playlists I never research any other publications opinions on the songs until after I’ve made the playlists. As I don’t want other opinions to alter my own. So, after I put together my Led Zep playlist, I did a little digging into what the critics had to say.
It seemed that Led Zeppelin IV is the overall winner for the critics. Given that it brought us Black Dog AND Stairway to Heaven it’s hardly surprising. But I have to say my favourite is actually Physical Graffiti.
‘Physical Graffiti’ (1975) – Led Zeppelin
It’s not that Physical Graffiti has any particularly stand-out tracks or anything that’s made me love it so much. In fact, looking back at the album now, the only song that I remember in particular is Kashmir. So why is it my favourite?? I think it’s just one of those albums that has its biggest impact when you listen to it in full. So overall it just feels like the best one.
What are some of your favourite Led Zeppelin songs? Are you with me in thinking that Living Loving Maid (She’s Just A Woman) is an absolute tune? I want to know! Also, who else do you want to see featured in The Legend Slot? Got a suggestion? Send it my way!
Read next: Groovin’: My New Monthly Music Magazine.
*Photography taken from Wikipedia and Discogs.