By 1973, Led Zeppelin was firmly entrenched as the world's most successful band. Two years prior to this, they unleashed what was viewed by many as THE essential Led Zeppelin album (often referred to as Led Zeppelin IV or Zoso), and the pressure was on for a tremendous follow up. Jimmy Page (guitar), Robert Plant (vocals), John Paul Jones (bass,keyboard,mellotron), and John Bonham (drums/percussion) did not dissapoint.
About the album: The album redefined what Zeppelin was about. Previously, they had dealt almost exclusively with folk, blues, and hard rock. The band had matured as musicians, and decided to tackle other genres as well such as raggae and funk, with blues rock and folk thrown in for good measure.
1. The Song Remains the Same- A rich number with numerous guitar overdubs and phenomenal playing by all the band members. Shortly into the song, it goes to a half-time feel, before picking up the pace again for one of Jimmy's finest solos. John Paul and Bonzo keep the rythym going very well indeed, while adding some individual flair of their own. Originally meant to be instrumental. 4/5
2. The Rain Song- The most delicate (and lengthy) song on the album, this number starts of with a lovely chord progression for Jimmy, before Robert comes in for the first verse. By the time John Paul comes in with his gorgeous mellotron line, I was hooked. Bonham makes subtle appearances throughout, before the song turns in a crescendo of volcanic proportions.
3. Over the Hills and Far Away- The most popular track on the album, this song begins with a folky guitar riff before being joined by overdubs and John Paul. Shortly into the song, it erupts into an impressive rock song, before shifting keys for another splendid solo by Jimmy. A delight from beginning to end.
4. The Crunge- Perhaps the most experimental tracks on the album, this song is what Jimmy Page described as "A send-up to the godfather of soul, James Brown." Begins with an odd drum beat by Bonzo, then John Paul comes in with a funky bass line, later to be joined by Jimmy with an equally funktastic riff. I can't really decipher what the lyrics are about, a task made even more challenging with Robert's inquiry of "Have you seen the bridge?" A good song, but not the best.
5. Dancing Days- Begins with all the band members groovin' on a somewhat funky slide riff that continues throughout. Numerous overdubs by Jimmy add character and dynamics, and Bonham is at his subtle best. 4.5/5
6. D'yer Mak'er- pronounced "Jamaica", this is a very raggae-like song that gets rather heavier during the chorus, with splendid playing by all four members. Sometimes labeled as a cheap and unworthy imitation, I actually find it one of the finest songs on the album, with ear drum shattering vocals by Mr. Plant. 5/5
7. No Quarter- A dramatic song, this is the darkest song Zeppelin ever recorded. Everything about this tune exudes mystery and pain. Begins with a mellotron part courtesy of John Paul, Bonzo and Jimmy later join in with a haunting minor chord progression and soft yet forceful drum playing. Quickly changes to one of the most bad ass riffs ever put to tape. A very lyrical two guitar solo appears, but it's John Paul who dominates here with a solo of his own, and no one could have set the mood for this song better than Jonesy. 5/5
8. The Ocean- John Bonham recieved primary writing credits on this hard rocking tune, and it has a fantastic groove. The solo says so much in so little time and Plant is magnificent all throughout. The last minute of the song, the band erupts into a doo-wop feel, With Page keeping the groove going with a sharp, two chord progression, while John Paul's walking bass line provides a melody divine before the song makes it's fantastic end. Awe inspiring. 5/5
It may not be the best Zeppelin album to some, but no one can deny the supreme musicianship on display with this album. This was actually the first Zeppelin album to reach number one on the U.S. billboard charts, so it's safe to assume the band delivered the goods once again. Every bit as good (if not better) than Led Zeppelin IV, This album remains among the best albums ever pressed on to vinyl. 4.5/5