Ranking every Led Zeppelin studio album
Led Zeppelin’s drummer John Bonham passed away 40 years ago, so it seems timely to reflect on the legacy of these titans of British music and rank their studio output – no mean feat, the stretch of work put out by the foursome from 1969-1975 is immortalised in rock history and has influenced countless bands since.
8. In through the Out door (1979)
This is by no means a bad album by any stretch and actually has some really interesting experimentation from the group, however it perhaps suffers from a lack of direction and cohesion between the band members and was heavily led by John Paul Jones and Robert Plant. The songs still contain charisma and velocity just perhaps less so than previously, there are some really intriguing latin influences on tracks like South Bound Suarez, Fool in the Rain and Hot dog, showcasing the variety of genres the group could tap into, it just feels less vital and attached to the rest of the bands work.
7. Presence (1976)
This is a record I’ve never had the same affinity with as some of the more well -known early albums, I do enjoy a number of tracks but it has never grabbed me in quite the same way, “Hot’s on for nowhere” is a very groovy track and showcases Page’s guitar work and the duo of “Nobody’s fault but mine” and “Achilles Last Stand” are obvious highlights. One of the drawbacks of this album for me is perhaps it offers less variety than some of the very best Led Zeppelin work.
6. Physical Graffiti (1975)
Now this is where ranking the albums gets very difficult indeed as the top 6 could really go in a number of orders, there is so little between them. This record really is a fantastic job, especially considering it contains some tracks leftover from 1972’s IV, which are made to fit seamlessly, Kashmir is one of the groups signature tunes for a reason it is an 8 minute epic in every sense and is not the only one on this record, In my time of dying thunders through for its 11 minute runtime. It’s perhaps the lesser known tracks that elevate this record, the jazzy boogie with stu, “Down by the seaside” and “Ten years gone” provide some of the group’s best work and showcase the versatility of all 4 members.
5. Houses of the Holy (1973)
The first album to not feature a number or the group’s name in the title. The song remains the same kicks the album off in style, “the rain song” is one of Zeppelin’s softest tracks showing Page’s more acoustic side and “Over the fields and far away” is easily one of my favourite tracks. There are no real missteps and other tracks like “No quarter” and “D’yer maker” are fan favourites.
4. Led Zeppelin III (1970)
This one is very close to the top tier for me, it offers a really good balance of heavy and soft, kicking off in the best possible fashion with “Immigrant song” and being the best showcase of Page and Plant’s folk and Americana influences on tracks like “Bron Y’aur stomp” “Gallows Pole” and especially “That’s the way”, not revered in the same way as it’s two predecessors at the time of release for me this is one of the groups definitive albums and fully demonstrates the remarkable depth to their song-writing and musicianship.
3. IV (1971)
This is quite possibly the best known Zeppelin release, with so many recognisable tracks and not just Stairway to Heaven the album also contains monsters in “Black Dog”, “Rock and Roll” and “When the Levee Breaks”, each member gets their moment to shine, whether that’s Robert Plant’s Tolkien inspirations on “Misty Mountain Hop” or “the battle of evermore” or Jimmy Page’s, riff work throughout or the sheer power of John Bonham on When the levee breaks this is one of the most recognizable records in rock for a reason. This was Zeppelin at the peak of their powers and few could match them.
2. Led Zeppelin (1969)
The group’s debut instantly cemented them as one of the heaviest bands that the world had ever heard and made Page, Plant, Bonham and Jones household names. “Good times bad times” has to be up there as one of the greatest tracks to open any debut album, it is 2 and a half minutes of pure adrenaline and firepower . It breathes new life into blues classics such a “You shook me” and “I can’t quit you baby”. “Babe I’m gonna leave you and “Dazed and confused” really offer an insight into the range of Plant’s vocals and Page’s guitar wizardry.
1.Led Zeppelin II (1969)
This was a tough call but for me this record encapsulates all of what makes Led Zeppelin work so well, in addition to being a monster in places, it has its subtler moments and perhaps flows better than any of the other Zeppelin records, Whole Lotta Love is of course ironic and so is Ramble on but Heartbreaker for me is an absolute delight with Jimmy Pages incredible solo and What is an should never be is perhaps the most Led zeppelin sounding song, both punchy and raw and soft and gentle within seconds, Thank you is also perhaps the most beautiful of the tracks the group recorded, giving Plant a chance to really let his vocals sooth the audience.
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