Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums: 69 - Led Zeppelin IV
What can I say about this album that hasn't already been said. This album has been talked about and dissected to death and that was just by my friends and I back in high school. I can honestly say that I have listened to this album so many times I know every note on it. I listened to it again anyway for this blog. No new revelations here. The first time I heard it, I was maybe 7 or 8 years old and I didn't like it. Plant's voice frankly scared the crap out of me. It wasn't like anything I had ever heard before and I couldn't figure out why it even existed. A few short years later and I was a Zeppelin freak, listening to every album over and over again.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote that "Zeppelin fuse their majestic hard rock with a mystical, rural English folk that gives the record an epic scope." I think that line rings true for most of Zeppelin's catalog. They are able to blend those fantasy elements with English folk that contrast with the heavy riffs and boomy drum sounds. Kind of like heavy metal unicorns. This does give them scale. All of their compositions were huge events, even the short ones had a sense of weight to them.
I have always liked melody driven music. To make a good pop song you really need at least 2 strong melody lines. The best songs use 3 or 4. Unless of course you are The Beatles then you can get away with one like 'Yesterday' provided it's that good of a line. Zeppelin tunes were always chuck full of awesome melodies. Just take Black Dog. The verse has 2 in it by itself. The bass and guitar figure and the vocal, then the guitar bass figure expands on its melody and then the vocal adds another melody on top of that. Then of course there's the breakdown part, simply but a melody line none the less. Even page's solo is a melody line. If you listen to it, it of course fits the song, but it doesn't actually repeat any of the other established melodies used already.
To be fair they did 'borrow' some of their melodies, but their sound was so original and fresh, does it really matter?