Last week, Robert Plant released his tenth solo album since the disbandment of Led Zeppelin. In honor of this we thought we would highlight the man’s career by listing out our favorite songs from our favorite era of his career. This list is probably one of our more controversial list we have ever done. Led Zeppelin is not only universally adored by almost all music lovers, but they also have no bad songs. It is hard to find a single track of theirs that isn’t loved by someone, or that couldn’t make a greatest hits compilation. Nonetheless, we pushed forward and tried our best. So here it is, our favorite songs from one of the greatest bands of all time:
10. “For Your Life”
“For Your Life” is the latest song in the LZ library to make the list. It is the highlight of the album Presence, and a snarky callout to the thriving cocaine abusers that, in Plant’s opinion after he had kicked it, were ruining the music scene in Los Angeles at the time (enter bands like Quiet Riot). Hence the snorting sound heard around 5:30 in the song. Clever girl, that Robert Plant.
A good friend once said, “Nostalgia is like remembering something that you experienced, that you never actually experienced.” And no, he was not high when he said that. That is how this song makes me feel. Also, like a lot of LZ songs, it feels incredibly raw and real. Partially because of the intentional mistake on the intro, and partially because of the mix. But especially because of the way the song just feels like a warm embrace with an old friend.
8. “Stairway To Heaven”
Arguably Led’s magnum opus. It has the best of both worlds with it’s soft and delicate intro that explodes into a fury of smashing drums, hard basslines, face-melting guitar riffs, and screaming, howling vocals. If you google image searched the words “rock and roll”, you find a lot of graphics from 50’s bee-bop style to death metal and skulls. What you should find, is this:
7. “Good Times Bad Times”
The bands debut track. It is the first song on their first album, Led Zeppelin. We have all heard it a million times, and it still never gets old. Initially despised by most critics (including the likes of Rolling Stone and Cream) it was a mixture of blues and rhythm and pop that was like nothing anyone had ever heard. It was the precursor to genres of music that nobody could have even imagined at the time, setting the stage for hard rock, glam rock, and metal, years before any of those genres had ever been dreamed of.
6. “Bron Y Aur Stomp”
It is easy to focus on the hard-hitting, maximum overdrive side of Led Zeppelin, but what really made them interesting was how good they were when they slowed down as well. Or better yet, just busted out the ole acoustic and would throw down a nice lil mountain music jam. This is a prime example of exactly that.
5. “Over The Hills and Far Away”
Again, we see the transition from soft and sweet, to all-out hard rock in this epic ditty. Instead of the light and airy intro that they pulled off in “Stairay”, here we have a nice little country style intro. The first few minutes of the song is enough to make you want to grab your darlin’ and do a lil dosey doe’n, and the latter half of the track will throw you into an all out mosh pit. The beauty of LZ.
4. “Misty Mountain Hop”
Probably Led’s most poppy rock song. Kicking off with the electric piano, followed by some signature guitar riffs and a peculiar even-keeled tempo. The real brilliance is in Plant’s vocals on this one, and how he really elevates the song to a whole new level by some boosts and screams.
3. “Whole Lotta Love”
Originally a product of Willie Dixon, maybe. Sued to hell for it, you bet. But is a phenomenal new take on it? Absolutely. We will take it.
2. “When the Levee Breaks”
One of the more iconic drum intros in all of music. The song was recorded in the grand entrance hall and mic’d from the top of a staircase in an old abandoned poorhouse. This song has more atmosphere and presence to it than any other song in music recording history in my opinion. Everything that follows the drums, from the guitar, harmonica, and vocals all make up for one of the best musical efforts of all time.
1. “Going to California”
A very simple song to have as number one, and some may say one that doesn’t properly encompass the dynamics of Led Zeppelin. We don’t really care. It is a beautiful track all around, and although it doesn’t have the maximum overdrive appeal as the rest of them, it has an appeal of its own, that we believe shines just as bright as anything else in their catalogue.
The “Just Missed Our List” list:
Todd – “Dazed and Confused”
“Dazed and Confused” was my first real introduction to Led, and I will never forget how entranced I was the first time I heard it. It blew me away how they could have sounded so original and gone from low to high in a way that I had never heard, ever after it had been twenty years since they had released the song. It is a journey all of its own.
Austin – “No Quarter”
A very intensely creepy, and seductive song all at once. Really fitting for Austin’s personality.
Wes – “The Battle of Evermore”
Another beauty of a track. Filled with strings of mandolins, this song slowly builds like a mystical tale from JRR Tolkien. Fitting, given the Hobbit references dropped in the lyrics.