Released November 1971
Recorded at The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio
After the blues rock of the first album, the concentration on rock of the second and the supposed folky feel, of the third, what were Led Zeppelin going to come up with for their fourth album in just over two years? A bit of everything, that’s what.
The short but powerful “Black Dog” and the mighty, riffy “Rock n Roll”, with John Bonham’s iconic cymbal intro, are classic upbeat Led Zeppelin rock. However, “The Battle Of Evermore” is as mysterious and folky as anything on “III”, as indeed, is “Going To California” and then, of course, there is “Stairway To Heaven” where all styles meet in possibly the band’s most well-known song. The early acoustic verses take a while to reach the climax (over five minutes or so) when Jimmy Page’s guitar kicks in for real, and how. One of the best endings to a song ever.
“Misty Mountain Hop” isn’t the folky tune its title may suggest, but a pounding drum and keyboards insistent rock shuffle. The monumental “When The Levee Breaks” is one of those classic, extended, thrilling blues numbers that wouldn’t have been out of place on “I” or “II”. “Four Sticks” has an almost funky drum intro and provides a flavour of the sort of material that would later appear on “Houses Of The Holy” and “Physical Grafitti”.
Overall, there is as much “folky” material on here as there is on “III”, and in some cases they are more obviously so. Popular opinion would have it that the blend is fully realised here, however, (“every song has its correct place within the album” and so on). Personally, I prefer “III”.