Led Zeppelin on Deezer: 5 Essential Albums

Posted by | February 24, 2015 | arch-WHAT'S NEW

They’re the greatest heavy rock band of all time. Very few, if any, other bands can claim to have played such an important role in shaping modern rock music as Led Zeppelin. This week sees the release of the 40th anniversary edition of their 1975 classic album Physical Graffiti, entirely remastered by the band’s guitarist and producer Jimmy Page. To celebrate their catalogue being available on Deezer and now Deezer Elite in high definition, we’re taking a look at their five most essential albums, starting with…

5. Physical Graffiti The Unlikely Masterpiece

It’s something of a miracle that Led Zeppelin’s colossal sixth album ever got made. Despite Robert Plant’s claims that he wanted to create something “as notable as Beethoven’s Fifth,” the band weren’t in good health when the recording sessions came around. John Paul Jones wanted to quit, John Bonham’s drinking and drug use was taking its toll and Jimmy Page was becoming more and more involved in his “studies of mysticism” – and heroin. However, against the odds, the record was released in February 1975 and is now considered to be one of their finest pieces of work. A sprawling double album featuring numerous offcuts and outtakes from other sessions, it’s ambitious and overblown in a very mid-Seventies kind of way. This isn’t the easiest Zeppelin album to fall in love with, but it certainly rewards those who make the effort.

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4. Led Zeppelin I – The Debut Album

From the opening volley of guitar and drums on ‘Good Times Bad Times’, it’s pretty obvious that this isn’t any ordinary debut album. Upon its release in January 1969, Led Zeppelin’s debut was the heaviest record in the world. However, its real appeal lies in its use of light and shade, nowhere better demonstrated than on ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’, which veers from soft acoustic passages to sprawling, howling wigouts. ‘Dazed And Confused’, meanwhile, is the scaly swamp creature that would soon drag itself on semi-formed limbs out of the mire and evolve into heavy metal, while ‘Communication Breakdown’ is more akin to the protopunk of MC5 and The Stooges (both of whose debut albums came out later the same year) than to the likes of Cream, who had previously been the pioneers of British heavy rock. Not everybody saw the album’s potential though, with Rolling Stone magazine labelling Jimmy Page a “very limited producer and a writer of weak, unimaginative songs.” He would, of course, soon silence those critics.

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3. Houses Of The HolyThe Experimental Album

Following the fourth album was never going to be easy, but Led Zeppelin certainly weren’t going to be content to rest on their laurels. Although it doesn’t quite match the epic grandeur of IV, Houses Of The Holy finds the band flexing their musical muscles and exploring new territory, most notably on the reggae-tinged ‘D’yer Mak’er’ and ‘The Crunge’, which nods to James Brown with its tongue in cheek calls of “Has anybody seen the bridge? Where’s that confounded bridge?” The Mellotron strings of ‘The Rain Song’ are another example of the band’s instrumental experimentation – although album closer ‘The Ocean’ is back to classic Zepp, with Page knocking out one of his finest riffs.

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2. Led Zeppelin II The Heavy Metal Blueprint

Recorded on the hoof while on tour in the States, Led Zeppelin II was direct, urgent and revolutionary. It was one of the earliest albums to put the guitar front and centre, often using riffs not only to support the melody, but as the main hook itself. Partly due to time constraints, a lot of the material here is second-hand (the band were later sued by songwriter Willie Dixon for using his song ‘You Need Love’ as the blueprint for ‘Whole Lotta Love’), but there’s no doubting that the sound is very much their own – largely thanks to Jimmy Page’s production skills, which were becoming just as important as his guitar wizardry. As their later musical forays would prove, Led Zeppelin were never destined to be ‘just’ a blues band, but, for these 41 minutes, they were the most explosive, carnal and influential blues band ever.

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1. Led Zeppelin IVThe One With No Name

In just eight tracks, Led Zeppelin’s masterpiece brings together everything that the band did best. Muscular rock ’n’ roll, pastoral folk, swampy blues, lyrics steeped in mythology – all are present here. Built around the monumental cornerstone of ‘Stairway to Heaven’, which in itself touches on almost every sonic aspect of Zeppelin, this is a truly astonishing album – one that has arguably never been equalled. Keen to make a record that stood on its own and anxious not to give the music press any ammunition with which to shoot it down, Jimmy Page left the album unnamed, instead identifying it using four symbols, one designed by each band member. Despite this, it went on to become their most commercially successful album and to this day remains the essential Led Zeppelin record.

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Still not enough Zepp for you? Check out the playlist below to hear even more of their greatest hits:

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