LED ZEPPELIN released their untitled fourth studio album, generally titled Led Zeppelin IV, on November 8, 1971 through Atlantic Records. Produced by guitarist Jimmy Page, the album was recorded between December 1970 and March 1971.
Originally recorded at Island Records’ newly opened Basing Street Studios, London, around the same time Jethro Tull was recording the album Aqualung in December 1970. On the recommendation of Fleetwood Mac, the band then moved to Headley Grange, a Victorian era house in East Hampshire, English. Here they use the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio.
After the group’s 1970 album Led Zeppelin III received rave reviews from critics, Page decided their fourth album was officially untitled. Together with the design of the inside cover which contained 4 symbols representing each member of the band, this led to the album being variously titled, Four Symbols, The Fourth Album, Untitled, Runes, The Hermit, and ZoSo (after Page’s symbol). .
The singles from this album were “Black Dog”/”Misty Mountain Hop” (2 December 1971) and “Rock and Roll”/”Four Sticks” (21 February 1972). Three other songs from this session, Down by the Seaside, Night Flight and Boogie with Stu (featuring Rolling Stones founder/collaborator Ian Stewart on piano) were included 4 years later on the double album Physical Graffiti. The rusty 19th century oil painting on the album cover was purchased from an antique shop in Reading, Berkshire by Plant.
Led Zeppelin IV was a critically and commercially successful album, producing many of the band’s most well-known songs, including Black Dog, Rock and Roll, Misty Mountain Hop, Going to California, and the band’s greatest hit, Stairway to Heaven. The album is the single best-selling album with overall sales of 37 million copies, and received 23 x platinum certification by the RIAA, it is the fourth best-selling album in the US.
Led Zeppelin IV received very rave reviews from music critics. Allmusic, Blender, Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Mojo, Q magazine, MusicHound and The Rolling Stones Album Guide gave it 5 out of 5 stars. Christagau’s Record Guide, Entertainment Weekly gave it an A. Pitchfork Media gave it 9 out of 10 stars.
In 2000, Led Zeppelin IV was included on the No. 21 on Q magazine’s list of Greatest British Albums. Spin magazine called it the number 2 greatest metal album. 69 on RollingStones list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time”, which describes it as “the pinnacle of hard rock music of the 1970s”. Also named the seventh best album of the 1970s on a list by Pitchfork Media.
Track List: 1. Black Dog, 2. Rock and Roll, 3. The Battle of Evermore, 4. Stariway to Heaven, 5. Misty Mountain Hop, 6. Four Sticks, 7. Going to California, 8. When the Levee Breaks
Led Zeppelin personnel: • John Bonham – drums, • John Paul Jones – bass guitar, electric piano, mellotron, mandolin on “Going to California”, recorders, EMS VCS 3, acoustic guitar on “The Battle of Evermore”, • Jimmy Page – electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin on “The Battle of Evermore”, • Robert Plant – lead and overdubbed backing vocals, tambourine, harmonica on “When the Levee Breaks”
Additional musicians: • Sandy Denny – vocals on “The Battle of Evermore”, • Ian Stewart – piano on “Rock and Roll”. [sources/photo special]