Led Zeppelin – The Fourth Album (aka Runes, Zoso or IV)

When I started this blog, I thought it was going to be easy.

I like music and I like writing, but really…how does one sit down and decide which Led Zeppelin album is the greatest?  I had the same problem recently with The Beatles before settling on “Let It Be,” mainly because I really like the rooftop concert footage and it was on YouTube.

I could get into making charts and graphs detailing the petty intricacies of consumer and critical response to the album as opposed to songwriting and musical craftsmanship, but then you’re gonna get one of those music blogs full of details that only the geekiest of us will understand…let alone want to know about. It’s best to keep it simple.

Yet, even when I try and simplify the process down to just the album that ranks as my favorite it doesn’t make it easier.  Luckily in such situations I tend to drink a lot while brainstorming (I call it “beer-storming”) and eventually do something lame like flip a coin.

This week it came up heads…so I bring you Led Zeppelin’s untitled fourth album.  Some call it “Led Zeppelin IV”, others call it “Runes,” “Signs” or even “Zoso.”  I’m gonna go with the first because, based on the previous albums, it just makes more sense…but it goes to show what happens when you don’t give the public a way to designate the album name.

Released in 1971, the band had been a little pissed at the harsh critical judgment passed on  Led Zeppelin “III” so Jimmy Page decided to do something as non-commercial as possible, an album with no title. You don’t get much more non-commercial than that. Instead there was only group of four symbols…each representing a different band member. I could go into all of them, but it’s really long and boring shit.  What matters is that they wanted to fuck with people…and they succeeded.

But what’s more important is that this is Jimmy Page’s masterpiece.  Before he joined Zeppelin, he was already a seasoned studio guitar player, and on the forth album his fingerprints are everywhere.  Not only did he produce the album, but he co-wrote all 8 songs, played guitar and mandolin as well as coming up with all the symbols.  As for the ‘Stairway’ lyrics and image on the inner sleeve? Jimmy found that font in some old book from the 1800’s and had someone make it up for him.  What a bad ass!

As for the album, how could you go wrong with a song line-up that has no filler???

You can’t.

For God’s sake this is the album that gave us ‘Black Dog,’ ‘Rock and Roll’ and motherfucking ‘Stairway!’  This is the album that turned Zeppelin from rock stars into rock gods!  If you have none in your stack, this is where to start.  Here.  Have a video of ‘When the Levee Breaks’ to tide you over.


4 Responses to “Led Zeppelin – The Fourth Album (aka Runes, Zoso or IV)”

  1. 1 Bobby
    May 30, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Absolutely right about figuring out the best Led Zeppelin album. It’s nearly impossible, considering the unbroken string of brilliance from Zeppelin-I through Physical Graffiti. In the opinion of multitudes of rock fans, this is the finest run of six straight albums ever made. They range from stunningly good to revolutionary masterpieces. I have to agree that LZ-IV is probably the most potent and powerful argument for Zeppelin being rock’s greatest band. Before this album appeared in 1971, Led Zeppelin, with virtually zero help from the media and critics, had already become the biggest band in the world, outselling and outdrawing The Stones (who got all the media attention) by a 5 to 1 margin. After this album, Zeppelin forever became a colossal untouchable and unique rock diety. To this day they consistently top more credible ‘greatest band of all time’ lists than even The Beatles. Led Zeppelin IV, at 23-million and still selling fast, now stands as the third top selling album in U.S. history. If you examine the list closely, you will notice that LZ-IV is actually the #1 selling TRUE ROCK ALBUM of all time. The top seller is a COMPILATION “Greatest Hits” album by The Eagles, and next is a POP album “Thriller” by Michael Jackson, then a true rock album, LZ-IV. Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” is also certified for 23-million in sales, but remember it’s a double album, so that is actually 11.5 million purchases of the album (still phenomenal and a great album). As great as IV is, my favorite Zeppelin album still fluctuates between I and Physical Graffiti. You just can’t go wrong with any of these recordings. Sorry for the length of this post….

  2. May 30, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    Well spoken sir…well spoken!

  3. 3 leftofdeth
    August 15, 2011 at 8:21 am

    IV was one of the greatest albums of all time. I’ve heard if you spill bong water on “In through the Out Door” it makes fills in the watercolor. Just a random Zep fact.

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