I love to let the led out and I had a blast revisiting one of my favorite artists to make this list, so I hope you have your share of good times reading this post.
10. Boogie with Stu
Leave it to Led Zeppelin to take a completely typical blues progression and make it their own. John Bonham’s drums are repetitive yet infectious with that big echoey sound he was so well known for and guest pianist Ian Stewart wows with the same kind of honky tonk he often brought to Rolling Stones recordings. I also find it interesting that it’s one of the few recordings to feature Robert Plant on acoustic guitar while Jimmy plucks away on a mandolin, really makes ya wanna boogie!
9. Misty Mountain Hop
I think you’ll find more than a few of my picks contain some of Bonham’s biggest beats and this is no exception. Carried by a chunky rhythm and John Paul Jones’ effortlessly cool electric piano it moves along in it’s own unique and funky Zeppelin style. Naturally Plant impresses with his soaring shrieks and Lord of the Rings lyrics and Page… Well Page is Page, nuff said.
8. The Song Remains the Same
Somehow the first Zeppelin cd I owned was The Best of Zeppelin: Latter Days Vol. 2 and seeing that this marks the opening of that compilation it has a special place down in here (points to chest.) It was songs like this where I couldn’t even begin to wrap my mind around all the different ideas that must’ve been floating around in Page’s head. Here we have a song constantly changing tempo, different parts and instrumental breaks and propelled by an army of guitars all individually doing something unique and compelling. The band couldn’t be any tighter on a song that would be too complex for any non-prog rock band of the time, it’s really something.
7. Since I’ve Been Loving You
One of the most powerful blues recordings I can think of. All four members bring so much technical skill to the song but even more passion. Page delivers in my opinion one of his all-time best performances as he more or less solos through the whole seven minutes. Of course Plant delivers one of his iconic, possibly improvised vocal performances and I can’t get enough of it.
6. Bron-Y-Aur Stomp
Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that you cherish the most, at least that’s how I feel about Bonham’s bass drum. One of Bonham’s most basic percussion parts makes this song undeniably catchy. On the other side of the spectrum you have Page playing what sounds like a very intricate acoustic guitar part and Plant delivering a greatly executed melody, I just want to sing with them!
5. Trampled Under Foot
I remember when that horrible Finger Eleven song “Paralyzer” came out and I said “It’s just a ripoff of Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand.” Then I remember being reminded of Take Me Out’s similarity to Trampled Under Foot and then reading that Trampled Under Foot was inspired by a Robert Johnson song. All that aside I like to think it was the Zeppelin rendition that so firmly buried itself in the minds of others who just couldn’t help but rip it off cause well, it’s rock bliss. You can thank John Paul Jones for providing the funk with a clavinet performance that could make Stevie Wonder weep and the rest is pure Zeppelin… Finger Eleven really sucks though.
4. Immigrant Song
If the Norse gods ever come down from Valhalla to rock our world this will be their theme. With Plant’s catchy howls and lyrics about vikings this is an iconic Zeppelin tune built around one of their best riffs. It’s a song that marches along at a perfect rock pace and one of the songs that would best define the sheer power of the hammer of the gods.
3, Houses of the Holy
Maybe it says something about one’s affection for a song when they can say they’re hooked in the first three seconds. At least that’s how I’ve always felt about the riff that dominates the song “Houses of the Holy.” It’s so simple and yet so Zeppelin with the distinct sound of the guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. There’s not much to say, because there really isn’t much to it, it’s rock and roll pure and simple.
2. When the Levee Breaks
: I think it’s apparent at this point that a great Bonham beat is a sure fire way to hook me. In the way of “Bonham beats” this has to be one of his best and biggest. I think it’s Bonham’s strive for simple, raw, power over complexity that has made him my all-time favorite rock and roll drummer and this is one of my favorite Zeppelin tracks. In addition to this, “When the Levee Breaks” also contains some of the most badass harmonica that’s ever been captured, I mean it sounds like a god damn freight train! Page and Jones drone on with a western style guitar and bass and Plant brings the swagger, an excellent finale to possibly Zeppelin’s best album.
1. Over the Hills and Far Away
What can I say? It holds such a dear place in my heart after playing and recording it in The Defenestrators. It has that whimsical acoustic first half that eventually launches into a rocking great riff. I heard John Paul Jones interviewed on the radio once where he stated that this was his favorite Zeppelin song to play live and I can completely understand, it’s such a great example of the group’s ability to play off of each other. This maybe a Page driven song but it also highlights Zeppelin’s ability to work together as we all should as passengers of starship Earth.
It’s tough to dissect one of your favorite bands but I’m satisfied with my choices. The only song I felt bad about cutting is “Friends” one of my favorite examples of “Experimental Zeppelin”. If I had to name my favorite Zeppelin album I’d probably go for the surprising yet honest choice of Led Zeppelin III. It was the first Zeppelin cd I bought after their greatest hits and shows so many sides to the band. It has their acoustic side, their bluesy side, their rock side and everything in between, that’s the way I like my music.