I actually already reviewed my physical copy of the original CD release of IV over at the old place. But, you know, I’m walking through these Led Zeppelin deluxe editions released last year and, so, why not stop and see what they did with this one, too? Eh?
So over at the old place I gave it a rating of four [clowns], harped on its weaknesses, and basically said it didn’t deserve its enshrinement as like the greatest hard rock album of all time. Now, it may not be the best such record, but for the rest of the review, I don’t know what I was thinking. I criticized “The Battle Of Evermore” and “Going To California,” which I guess may be the two worst songs on the album, but they’re still both great.
I’m much more fond of the disc now. Maybe the biggest difference is my gained appreciation for much of Side Two. “Misty Mountain Hop” should be a drag, with its repeated, droney guitar line and vocals, but, on the contrary, I want to put it on my next mix. The first verse of “Going To California” is so precious and wonderful and … perfect. It’s just a perfect mood. And then there’s “When The Levee Breaks,” which is probably my new favorite Led Zeppelin song.
And that’s another thing, the sequencing here is perfect. There’s no other order these songs could go in and they just nailed it. The open to “Black Dog” is so unique that it can only go first, but then you want “Rock And Roll” as high as possible because that’s your barn burner, and so it comes in at number two. And you have to have “Stairway To Heaven” end Side One because (i) it’s definitely got to close a side but (ii) it obviously can’t close the album. So now you have to break up “Rock And Roll” and “Stairway To Heaven” because holy crap you need a palette cleanser, and “The Battle Of Evermore” serves that purpose best with its strong taste of mandolin. Likewise, “Going To California” is the only thing that can lead into what needs to be the album closer, “When The Levee Breaks,” which leaves only two songs for the last two slots and, hell, maybe those could have gone in either order, but I do think “Misty Mountain Hop” both leads off a side better and is the cleaner break from “Stairway To Heaven.”
Here’s the thing, not only do I have more of an appreciation for, basically, all of Side Two, I can’t really find fault with anything on the album. Honestly, the worst part about it is probably the legacy of “Stairway To Heaven” as the exemplar of all that’s overblown about big rock and roll, but even there I’ve always maintained that when I listen to it with the freshest ears I can (admittedly still encumbered by its punchline history), I still really like it.
I’ve hardly said anything about the bonus disc. It’s the same songs in the same order, just mixed differently. The songs all have a bit of a different sound to them but never really get to the point of being significantly worse than the original. Two have no vocal tracks: “The Battle Of Evermore,” which suffers quite a bit as a result, and “Going To California” which holds up pretty well.
To wrap things up, at its best, I think I still prefer II to this album. However, II has those last two songs, and in particular the wretched “Moby Dick,” bringing it down quite a ways. So, on the whole, this is probably my favorite Led Zeppelin album. Which feel so…establishment.
Mix: “Black Dog,” “Rock And Roll,” “Misty Mountain Hop,” “When The Levee Breaks”
Love: “Black Dog (Basic Track With Guitar Overdub),” “Rock And Roll (Alternate Mix)”
Really Like: “The Battle Of Evermore,” “Stairway To Heaven,” “Four Sticks,” “Going To California,” “Stairway To Heaven (Sunset Sound Mix),” “Misty Mountain Hop (Alternate Mix),” “Four Sticks (Alternate Mix),” “When The Levee Breaks (Alternate U.K. Mix)”
Like: “Going To California (Mandolin/Guitar Mix)”
Meh: “The Battle Of Evermore (Mandolin/Guitar Mix From Headley Grange)”
Filed Between: Led Zeppelin’s III and Presence
Song Notes: After the jump
Disc 1: Original Album, Remastered
- Black Dog – Absolutely love how the riff Jimmy Page is playing almost falls off the rails, especially when John Bonham starts going crazy with the backbeat, but they hold it together and it’s fantastic.
- Rock And Roll – great Jerry Lee Lewis piano in like the third verse
- The Battle Of Evermore –
- Stairway To Heaven – some fat bass in the keys that I never noticed before
- Misty Mountain Hop – this is the better sounding version of the two in this collection
- Four Sticks –
- Going To California – Absolutely love the first part. They can’t quite close it up the way it deserves, but it’s still really good
- When The Levee Breaks – Awfully close to the best song ever
Disc 2: Bonus Disc
- Black Dog (Basic Track With Guitar Overdub) – “oh yeah” vox more prominent
- Rock And Roll (Alternate Mix) –
- The Battle Of Evermore (Mandolin/Guitar Mix From Headley Grange) – no vox. at least in the context of the vocals version, there’s just no reason for this
- Stairway To Heaven (Sunset Sound Mix) – sounds worse, though they bring out that fat bass in the keys more, which is nice
- Misty Mountain Hop (Alternate Mix) –
- Four Sticks (Alternate Mix) –
- Going To California (Mandolin/Guitar Mix) – no vox
- When The Levee Breaks (Alternate U.K. Mix) –