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Dissected: Led Zeppelin

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dissected logo Dissected: Led ZeppelinWelcome to Dissected, where we disassemble a band’s catalog, a director’s filmography, or some other critical pop-culture collection in the abstract. It’s exact science by way of a few beers. This time, we sort through the best and worst of Bonzo, Percy, Led Wallet, and John Paul Jones.

Rock ‘n’ Roll 101: The Beatles are for elementary school. The Rolling Stones for middle school. Led Zeppelin for high school. The Doors for college. Reason being, you’ll learn the meaning of love by second grade, you’ll want to crumple up every piece of your homework around seventh grade, you’ll need to release your angst come sophomore year, and you’ll feel smart enough (and on plenty of drugs) to defend the lunacy of “The End”. Let’s go back to Zeppelin for a minute.

In high school, my friend and former writer of Consequence of Sound, Dave Moser, bought me a two-disc greatest hits collection of Led Zeppelin during our band’s secret Santa. (“Roffman will love this,” he told my drummer, who was then perplexed why he opted for that over some unnecessary Nirvana relic.) The thing never left my car, soundtracking every moment, from the time I peeled away from a few racist Davie boys to the night I drove over to my girlfriend’s house knowing I was going to lose my virginity that night.

Watch Cameron Crowe’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High. (Yes, I understand Amy Heckerling directed the film, but the writing’s all Crowe.) Mike Damone’s advice says it all: “When it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV.” Granted, I was always partial to the second half of Houses of the Holy in those situations, but it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that Led Zeppelin represents the rock ‘n’ roll you’re meant to believe in as a teenager. We’re naive to ignore the musical perfection and hungry enough to enjoy the feels.

For that reason, above all, I can’t dust off Physical Graffiti or III without thinking about long drives, easy nights, and PBJ days. Whether you’ve lived that, are going to, or are currently… the ride is always the same and definitively worth it.

–Michael Roffman
Editor-in-Chief

Led Zeppelin (1969)

LedZeppelin-One

“What Is” (What Works): The songs that showcased the band’s raw power. At their core, “Good Times Bad Times” and “Communication Breakdown” are pop songs, but for 1969, they were seriously heavy slabs of hard rock — a risky choice for a debut single, in retrospect. The music-consuming public was hardly ready for Robert Plant’s wail and John Bonham’s drumming, which were the muscle behind the pragmatic skill of Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones. The loud-soft buildups in “Dazed and Confused” and the brooding “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” are also notable, hinting at the band’s immense songwriting talents.

“And What Should Never Be” (Black Sheep of the Album): The call-and-response between Plant and Page on “You Shook Me” is iconic and would be a signature of live shows, but it’s repetitious on the record. And the other Willie Dixon cover here, “I Can’t Quit You Baby”, sounds almost exactly the same — a slight variation on the blues scale — though it is more concise and memorable. The only truly inessential track is the instrumental toss-off “Black Mountain Side”, which would have been a nice nugget on the recently released reissue but comes off as filler on an otherwise legendary tracklist.

Plagiarizing the blues? The token jab against Zeppelin is that they ripped off the old bluesmen like Dixon and Howlin’ Wolf, lifting riffs and arrangements. It would be more reasonable to consider them a progression of the form rather than copycats, but Plant and Page should’ve at least credited those from which they borrowed ideas (e.g., Jake Holmes not being on the LP’s original credits despite the obvious influence his original “Dazed and Confused” had on Zep’s version).

“I Can’t Quit You Baby” (Most Addicting Song): The opening chords and subsequent drum fill in “Good Times Bad Times” are the stuff of legend — a perfect way to launch the career of the greatest hard rock band ever. An instantly memorable, endlessly enjoyable gem.

“In My Time of Dying” (Best Funeral Song): “Your Time Is Gonna Come” builds to an uplifting climax of gospel harmonizing. It’s also the only song on the album that would sound appropriate at a funeral unless you want to be a cold bastard and play “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” for all your weeping relatives.

“We’re Gonna Groove” (Danciest Track): “How Many More Times” touts one helluva bass line, and its swing-inflected rhythms make it the obvious choice for a dance number.

Cover art ranking: No. 1. The immortal Hindenburg shot. The definitive Led Zeppelin sleeve and one of the greatest album covers of all time.

–Jon Hadusek

Led Zeppelin II (1969)

led zepp 2 Dissected: Led Zeppelin

“What Is”: Join us for a tour of the many moods of Led Zeppelin. First stop is the epic psychedelic blues chugger “Whole Lotta Love”, remarkable both for its iconic awesomeness and as a transition between the Delta blues inspiration-heavy Led Zeppelin I and the genre-redefining rock and metal of the albums that will follow. If “Whole Lotta Love” isn’t your speed, stick around for two of the sweetest (but still rocking) love songs … well, ever, with “What Is and What Should Never Be” and “Thank You”.

Not feeling sentimental? Slide on down to the gut punch, uppercut combo of “Heartbreaker”/”Living Loving Maid”, which is just guitar>guitar>epic guitar. The “Heartbreaker” legacy is cemented by the fully improvised Page solo (most album solos were carefully composed) that comprises the song’s second half. Once the rhythm section kicks back in and Page switches on the distortion pedal… hold on to your hats folks.

If all that wasn’t enough, Plant takes a track off (to reread The Two Towers, no doubt) and lets the rhythm section have a go with “Moby Dick”. Page sets the tone with a stately guitar riff that whets the palette for the fierce Bonham barrage around the corner.

“And What Should Never Be”: What keeps Led Zeppelin II from seriously contending for a place atop the Zeppelin canon are the distorted blues rip-offs of “The Lemon Song” and “Bring It on Home”. The latter is excusable as the album closer, easy to skip. But “The Lemon Song” is almost entirely devoid of value beyond the ripping bridge that demonstrates Bonham and John Paul Jones at their tightest. Other than that: “Squeeze my lemon until the juice runs down my leg”… no, just no.

“I Can’t Quit You Baby”: Led Zeppelin II has many excellent examples of loud/soft dynamics, but “Ramble On” is perhaps the finest. The sweetly strummed and softly sung opening bars just barely hint at the tremendous journey we are headed on (to the darkest depths of Mordor, in fact). By the song’s end we are in full-on shred mode, full of life and inspired to continue the chase. It is a journey that never ends, just fades slowly out. “Sometimes I grow so tired/ But I know about one thing I gotta do/ RAMBLE ON!”

“In My Time of Dying”: It is easy to imagine a true metal funeral — pony-tailed heads bent low, tattoos tastefully covered by black leather jackets — with nary a dry eye in the place as “What Is and What Should Never Be” plays over the loudspeakers. It’s soft, it’s sweet, but it never forgets to rock. Is there any sound more mournful than a slide guitar solo? Is there a sound more exultant than Robert Plant riffing out: “Everybody I know seems to know me well/ But does anyone know I’m gonna move like hell.” My friends, you’ve just experienced the five stages of grief and loss in just five rocking minutes.

“We’re Gonna Groove”: Within seconds of Plant intoning, “With a purple umbrella and fifty cent hat,” the listener is already caught in the web of “Living Loving Maid”, one of Zeppelin’s catchiest songs. The story is of a proud woman’s faded glory. But the riff, the hooks, Zep at their finest.

Cover art ranking: Fifth. Not as iconic as IV or Houses of the Holy, but up there. What’s not to love? It is essentially a how-to-guide for making cheesy metal cover art, but presented without irony. There’s an enormous Zeppelin and sepia-toned shot of WWI German aviators with the band’s faces superimposed over them. And who is that back there? Why it’s Miles Davis, Neil Armstrong, and some others. It’s the Sgt. Pepper’s cover gone mental. Metal.

–Kris Lenz

Led Zeppelin III (1970)

lz 3 Dissected: Led Zeppelin

“What Is”: The twistedness. III is no doubt the weirdest LP in the band’s catalog, taking queues from psychedelic folk rather than the blues (initial sales were lower than previous records as a result). Songs like “Friends” are urgent, frenetic, and slightly off — both lyrically and musically — as drug and alcohol use started to affect the band’s musical output. They also fire through scorchers “Celebration Day”, “Out on the Tiles”, and “Immigrant Song”, the latter having become a mainstay at sporting events. III came out of a weary stage for Zeppelin, but nothing falls apart or sounds half-assed. With one exception…

“And What Should Never Be”: “Hats Off to (Roy) Harper” is weird for the sake of weird, acid-fueled nonsense and not only the black sheep on this album, but the black sheep of their discography. Fortunately it closes the album, and you can just lift the needle after “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp”.

“I Can’t Quit You Baby”: “Tangerine” seeps into your soul. I remember having a burned copy of III and playing this song over and over on my CD player back in junior high. Everybody knew Led Zeppelin could shred, but this showed their softer, sincere side and hinted at the future brilliance of “Going to California” and “The Rain Song”.

“In My Time of Dying”: Not a lot of options here. “Gallows Pole” is about a funeral, in a sense.

“Rhymin & Stealin” (Zeppelin Sampled): Vanilla Ice performed a song called “Power” during his 1999 tour that borrowed from the opening of “Immigrant Song”. Few heard it.

Cover art ranking: Sixth. A wacky collage reflective of the album’s unhinged vibe. It can be better appreciated on the original gatefold LP with the spinwheel.

–Jon Hadusek

Led Zeppelin IV (1971)

lz 4 Dissected: Led Zeppelin

“What Is”: IV is one of the most confident albums ever. In barely two years, Led Zeppelin became the biggest band in the world, and it wouldn’t have happened without some big thinking. Few of the band’s contemporaries would’ve even dreamed about recording the three longest songs here (“Stairway to Heaven”, “The Battle of Evermore”, and stormy blues closer “When the Levee Breaks”). Still, IV is as on-the-screws in places as it is colossal elsewhere. Songs like “Black Dog”, “Rock and Roll”, and “Misty Mountain Hop” boast signature riffs and hooks as tight as those of earlier bursts like I‘s “Good Times Bad Times” and “Communication Breakdown”.

“And What Should Never Be”: “Four Sticks” isn’t exactly flaccid, it just isn’t as recognizable as the other heavy tracks here or as warm as the acoustics (“The Battle of Evermore”, “Going to California”). Some good came out of “Four Sticks”, though, including the titular trivia (Bonham played with two sets of sticks) and an improvised riff that wound up on “Rock and Roll”.

“I Can’t Quit You Baby”: “Rock and Roll” is rife with hooks that pile up on top of each other; you could wake up with a different part stuck in your head every day for a week. Bonham’s opening beat sets the listener up for a smooth, accessible listen, but more distinctive are Plant’s “ooh-yeah”s and that sidewinder main riff.

“In My Time of Dying”: “Going to California”, the acoustic breather between “Four Sticks” and “When the Levee Breaks”, compares to the sheer beauty of The Beatles’ “In My Life”.

“We’re Gonna Groove”: Plant sings the words “move,” “sweat,” “groove,” and “shake” in the first 12 seconds of “Black Dog”, so there’s no really competition in this department.

“Rhymin & Stealin”: “No ‘Stairway,'” pouts a disappointed Wayne Campbell in Wayne’s World, reading from a sign displayed at a local guitar shop. He should’ve known better. Only guitarists under the age of 12 — kids who are oblivious to cliches — are allowed to play riffs this familiar in public.

Cover art ranking: Fourth, coincidentally. The cover itself, which features a 19th century painting hung on a partly destroyed wall, is high on the list. However, the other visuals that accompanied the album — including the four symbols on the inner sleeve — helped cement Led Zeppelin as a band whose every move warranted discussion.

–Michael Madden

Houses of the Holy (1973)

houses of the holy Dissected: Led Zeppelin

“What Is”: Houses of the Holy is a pure riff fest, from the feisty spiraling intro of “The Song Remains the Same” to the slithering licks on “Dancing Days”. By now, Jimmy Page was a virtuoso on the guitar and beginning to meld his blues style with other genres such as reggae and classical. His unflinching brilliance holds together what is Zeppelin’s most diverse record. “No Quarter” would influence copious stoner metal and prog-rock bands, and “The Rain Song” is a melancholy, multi-movement masterpiece. Page grew more ambitious as a songwriter after IV, and the songs here feature a stronger focus on the intricacies in addition to brute strength, which was often flexed.

“What Should Never Be”: “The Crunge” fails from a production standpoint. Plant’s vocals are modulated weirdly and mixed to an overbearing volume over the instrumentation. Jones and Bonham hold down the rhythm section, providing a cool backbeat, but that doesn’t save this one.

“I Can’t Quit You Baby”: “D’yer Mak’er” is a timeless jam. It’s played incessantly on classic rock stations, yet it hasn’t grown boring or tired like some of the band’s other overplayed tracks. The aforementioned reggae inflections turn up in the verses, which build to melodic flourishes of “ohh ohh ohhs” and “ah ah ahhs.”

“In My Time of Dying”: “The Rain Song” has all the emotions: the darkness, “the coldness of my winter,” as Plant sings. This recedes as the song progresses from the minor chords to a triumphant closure. Choose this if you want to be uplifting in death.

“We’re Gonna Groove”: Closer “The Ocean” was written about the sea of people packing arenas to see Led Zeppelin, and its syncopated riffs and funk groove certainly keep those fans in mind as this track is a mover. A doo-wop coda kicks in for good measure.

The end of an era: Houses of the Holy would be the band’s final record on Atlantic. Future releases would be on their own label, Swan Song Records.

“Rhymin & Stealin”: De La Soul (“The Magic Number”), Fatboy Slim (“Going Out of My Head”), and Jurassic 5 (“Lesson 6”) have all sampled “The Crunge”. Bun B used aspects of “No Quarter” on his 2010 track “Gladiator”. Ever the Zeppelin fans, the Beastie Boys sampled “The Ocean” on 1986’s “She’s Crafty”. A sample of “Since I’ve Been Loving You” can be heard on Dream Theater’s “5 Days of a Lifetime”.

Cover art ranking: Numero dos. Naturally, a mural of nude, underage girls climbing rocks didn’t go over well in 1973, though this remains a classic cover and one of the band’s best.

–Jon Hadusek

Physical Graffiti (1975)

lz physical graffiti Dissected: Led Zeppelin

“What Is”: The two-disc, 82-minute Physical Graffiti is not a product of mid-’70s double LP bombast. It defined it. It is ultimately perhaps not Zeppelin’s most eclectic record (more on that later), but it is easily the group’s most sprawling and ambitious effort. And while not the flawless statement I believed it to be as a teenager (Disc Two falls wayside by the end) and so not quite IV’s majestic equal, it does depict the band at the height of its powers in every conceivable fashion. The first disc — which contains unfuckwithable tracks like “Kashmir”, “Trampled Under Foot”, and “The Rover” — is especially sublime, and I’d point to Graffiti as Zep’s second or third best record overall, even despite the odd filler track.

“And What Should Never Be”: There’s nothing offensively bad on here, but after “The Wanton Song” is where things start to blend together. If you can remember how “Black Country Woman” or “Sick Again” go, you’re a better Led Zep fan than I am.

Previous outtakes used on Graffiti: Led Zeppelin III (one track), Led Zeppelin IV (three tracks), and Houses of the Holy (three tracks). Dating back to 1970, the fleeting folk cut “Bron-Yr-Aur” is the oldest thing on here.

“I Can’t Quit You Baby”: Aside from “Trample Under Foot” (for which I’ve expressed my bountiful love below), “Houses of the Holy” is a driving rock track so relentless I’ve never understood how it could have been omitted from the album that shares its name.

“In My Time of Dying”: “In My Time of Dying”, clearly. At 11 minutes, it’s a hell of a third track and Physical Graffiti’s only early-style blues workout.

“We’re Gonna Groove”: With its stone-cold funk riff and furious Bonhamisms, “Trampled Under Foot” makes for some of the most godlike five minutes this band ever set to wax. Shout-out to Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious” for inspiring a song that tramples it underfoot like a daisy plot.

Song that most sounds like it could’ve been cribbed from Fleetwood Mac: “Down by the Seaside”, which is as breezy and lilting as its title suggests.

“Rhymin & Stealin”:  Hey, remember the 1998 Godzilla soundtrack? Remember when Puff Daddy and Jimmy Page teamed up for “Come with Me”, a hip-hop reinvention of “Kashmir”, complete with Tom Morello guitar parts? Oh, you don’t? You do now.

Cover art ranking: Third. One of the best. Lettering in a now iconic New York City tenement building spells out the album title, one letter at a time. For trivia purposes, the buildings in question are 96 and 98 St. Mark’s Place in the East Village; the Stones later found themselves posing at the same spot in the “Waiting on a Friend” video.

–Zach Schonfeld

Presence (1976)

Led-Zeppelin-Presence

“What Is”: Presence scales back the scope of Physical Graffiti into what is easily Zeppelin’s most homogenous record since their debut. It’s pretty much one song all the way through, but that’s okay! Despite its occasionally rotten critical reputation, it’s a very good song: galloping rock and a hard track that takes its cues from “Houses of the Holy” (the song) and some of Bonham’s most poundingly fierce rhythm work. The relentless opening epic, “Achilles Last Stand”, is of course the classic, but the Blind Willie Johnson-adapted “Nobody’s Fault but Mine” and the crawling blues workout “Tea for One” are worthy contenders as well. Presence is probably the most guitar-heavy record in Led Zeppelin’s canon, so it’s hardly surprising they followed it up with much the opposite.

“And What Should Never Be”: At worst, Presence can be faceless and non-distinctive in the Zeppelin canon — there are no genuinely iconic hits, no ballads, and not much in the way of variety. The rollicking, ’50s-style “Candy Store Rock” epitomizes these tendencies.

“I Can’t Quit You Baby”: Again: “Achilles Last Stand” — all 10 minutes of it, but especially those “I know the way, know the way, know the way” counter-harmonies — is worth the price of admission. This side of “Immigrant Song”, it’s the only Led Zeppelin song I can imagine riding into battle with.

“In My Time of Dying”: Try “Nobody’s Fault but Mine” — particularly Plant’s wordless singing in unison with the menacing opening lick.

Reasons for Presence’s diminished ambition and lukewarm reception: Robert Plant was recovering from a major car accident at the time of recording and found himself singing from a wheelchair; he felt claustrophobic and lonely in the basement studio in Germany, and a heroin-addled Jimmy Page wound up staying awake two nights in a row to tackle all of the guitar overdubs. The whole record was recorded in 18 days — a rush by Zeppelin standards — and it shows.

“We’re Gonna Groove”: “Royal Orleans” carries the hard-charging funk tradition along, following solidly on “Trampled Under Foot” and “The Crunge” from the last two records.

“Rhymin & Stealin”: Rapper MF Grimm made liberal use of “Achilles Last Stand” on “Adam & Eve”, from his 2006 triple album, American Hunger.

Cover art ranking: Tenth. As baffling as the music contained therein. A ’50s-style photograph of a family seated and smiling at a mysterious black obelisk with a boat show behind them. Obelisk was the favored album title of the designer, and Page has said it was inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey.

–Zach Schonfeld

In Through the Out Door (1979)

Led Zeppelin - In Through

“What Is”: Led Zeppelin didn’t survive more than a few months into the ’80s, but if you wonder what ’80s Zep would have sounded like, In Through the Out Door is a solid guess. Here, the band follows up an album where every song sounds basically the same with its most eclectic hodgepodge, which — despite a few spotty moments — is far better than I remember it sounding when I was 14, even if it is the band’s weakest studio effort. “Fool in the Rain” is damn near classic, “All My Love” is a touching tribute to Plant’s late child, and the heavy synthesizer wash marks a curious change from Presence’s relentless guitar, err, presence. Plant pretty astutely summed it up in a 1990 interview: “In Through the Out Door wasn’t the greatest thing in the world, but at least we were trying to vary what we were doing, for our own integrity’s sake.”

“And What Should Never Be”: A genuinely scattered bag, In Through the Out Door is largely a collection of black sheep tracks from start to finish. If you’re looking for a particularly failed experiment, witness “Hot Dog”, the group’s yee-haw attempt at a rockabilly hoedown. If ever you’ve wanted to hear Robert Plant exclaim, “I’ll never go to Texas anymore!” in an Elvis drawl, here’s your jam.

“I Can’t Quit You Baby”: Infectious and playful, with a deep, Latin shuffle that’s been confounding high school cover outfits ever since, “Fool in the Rain” is Out Door’s unlikely centerpiece. Its only flaw: John Bonham died before he had a chance to attempt it live.

“In My Time of Dying”: The three-part, 10-minute, synth-wild “Carouselambra” was being rehearsed on the day John Bonham drank himself to death and choked on his own vomit, if that counts. It never ended up being performed live, alas, but it lives on as Zeppelin’s only real negotiation with the disco era.

“We’re Gonna Groove”: If you can dance to a Latin-inspired “Purdie shuffle” in polyrhythmic 12/8 time (note: you can, you just don’t know it), then “Fool in the Rain” is your song. If not, stick with the synth-tastic “All My Love”.

Wussiest track, according to Jimmy Page: “All My Love”, duh. “I was a little worried about the chorus,” the guitarist told Guitar World. “I could just imagine people doing the wave and all of that. And I thought, ‘That is not us. That is not us.’”

“Rhymin & Stealin”: Space One’s “4 Peace 4 Unity” is a solidly surreal trip-hop bastardization of “All My Love”.

Cover art Ranking: Seventh. As far as ’70s album art gimmicks go, In Through the Out Door is neither the worst nor the best. Displaying a sepia-toned New Orleans bar scene, the sleeve came in what appeared to be a brown paper bag and contained an inner sleeve that, if lightly watered, would begin to show color.

–Zach Schonfeld

Coda (1982)

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“What Is”: It’s a collection of unused material, so what do you expect it to be? Considering it spans their 12-year career, it’s a rather disappointing collection of odds and sods, though there’s a sliver here and there that indicate while they weren’t always on the mark, they were forever near it. “Wearing and Tearing” was written during the sessions for In Through the Out Door as a sort of shoulder tap to the punk scene. It’s too refined for the likes of the late ’70s punkers, but still, it rattles about with the energy of early Zep, especially that chewy chorus.

“And What Should Never Be”: “Ozone Baby” sounds like the interlude tuneage for That 70’s Show. It doesn’t go anywhere exciting, and neither does Out Door outtake “Darlene”, which would have fared better in the hands of, say, Billy Joel. Also, III was weird and jangly enough without having to deal with “Poor Tom”.

“I Can’t Quit You Baby”: Did I mention how good “Wearing and Tearing” is? Up above there, didn’t I? Well, it’s just too contagious to ignore, from the way Page apes Townshend on the verses to the way he does this Chuck Berry by way of Eddie Van Halen thing in the chorus. Fun fact: They once considered releasing this as a commemorative single for their 1979 performance at Knebworth Festival. What a lousy mistake on their part.

“We’re Gonna Groove”: Duh? Said song, Zepphead, though only in a cadillac and specifically while wearing some tight-ass bell-bottoms with a joint dangling from my lips. I don’t reckon ever dancing to too much Zeppelin — well, save for rippin’ off my high school girlfriend’s clothes and doin’ the hippety dippety to “Good Times, Bad Times” — but “We’re Gonna Groove” does enough to bring back the pistol fingers.

“In My Time of Dying”: Eh, fuck it: “Wearing and Tearing”. Get everyone real smashed, bury me six feet under, and then have the ol’ lawyer come in and tell my pop that I preferred to be cremated. That’ll do ’em.

“Rhymin & Stealin” (Zeppelin Sampled): Surprise, surprise: those Beasties loved Led so much they dug into “Bonzo’s Montreux” for their 1994 track “Resolution Time”. Speaking of which, every reader out there who named Neil Peart “the greatest drummer of all time” probably missed out on this track. It’s not exceptional, but it’s a worthy solo for your studies.

Cover art ranking: Dead last at 10. Why would I ever try drawing that on my binder?

–Michael Roffman

The Song Remains the Same (1976)

Led Zeppelin - The Song Remains The Same

“What Is”: Especially for the School of Rock generation, the visual component of Led Zeppelin — which includes things like Plant’s air-humping, Page’s SG double neck and bow, and Bonham’s gong — is an integral part of their reputation. But The Song Remains the Same, the album that accompanied the concert film of the same name, is still a thrill. Thanks to the likes of Page’s “Dazed and Confused” solo — which takes up all of Side Two — the album epitomizes the band’s expansiveness. At least in retrospect, it’s more legendary than indulgent.

“And What Should Never Be”: Let’s face it: Drum solos are nowhere near as fun to hear as guitar solos, so while Bonham’s “Moby Dick” thundering is mesmerizing to watch, the finite nature of the skins makes for a samey listen.

“I Can’t Quit You Baby”: While the album’s sound isn’t jarring, “Celebration Day” backs up the band’s reputation as metal pioneers. The heaviness, the force of it, is enough to bring you back.

“In My Time of Dying”: N/A. Never staying quiet for long, The Song Remains the Same is kinda in conflict with the whole “rest in peace” idea.

“We’re Gonna Groove”: With Bonham’s propulsive playing, the version of “Rock and Roll” here is especially high-energy.

“Rhymin & Stealin”: “I Watched the Film The Song Remains the Same”, the conversational longest song on Sun Kil Moon’s album from February, Benji, is about Mark Kozelek’s formative viewing: “Jimmy Page stood tall on screen/ I was mesmerized by everything/ The Peter Grant and John Paul Jones dream sequence scenes/ The close-up of the mahogany double SG.”

Cover art ranking: Eighth. The band should’ve used black space like this more often, but the edifice on the Song Remains cover looks too everyday to inspire elaborate theories about its meaning.

–Michael Madden

Celebration Day (2012)

zepp celebration Dissected: Led Zeppelin

“What Is”: The legendary 2007 concert at London’s O2 Arena that 99% of Zeppelin’s fanbase never got to see. Oh, they had their chances, what with that ridiculous ticket raffle thingy (I tried for hours, like some mindless ape clicking the button again and again to no avail), but they would wind up waiting some five or six years to hear anything substantial. And really, it was worth it. Opening with “Good Times, Bad Times”… I can only imagine the face Dave Grohl was making in the crowd.

Speaking of which… No, he’s not on here and probably never will drum for them. Despite pledging his assistance for years, and later playing alongside John Paul Jones, Grohl was ignored in favor of John Bonham’s excellent son, Jason. Kudos on the choice, even if I’d love to see Grohl do his thing.

“And What Should Never Be”: How about skipping this song for starters? Maybe Plant couldn’t land the vocals anymore? Admittedly, he is a tad rough here and there, especially “Ramble On” — Christ, was that cut rough. He more than makes up for it with “Black Dog”… well, kind of. Those awesome squeals in the chorus are replaced with silence.

“I Can’t Quit You Baby”: There isn’t a track here that trumps the original recordings, or anything off The Song Remains the Same for that matter. However, Plant and Jones shine oh so bright on their cut of “Misty Mountain Hop”. Close your eyes and you almost forget Plant looks like this.

“In My Time of Dying”: A live track from a late-era reunion show with 3/4ths of the original band present and you’re asking me which one should be played at my funeral? …well, glad you asked: None.

So, when is this happening at Bonnaroo? If there’s one act Ashley Capps has valiantly tried to grab, I’m sure it’s this one. There isn’t a better setting in America than The Farm to host these boys, especially if they managed to squeeze out two and half hours. It wouldn’t just be something of legend, it would shatter the hopes of ever having another enviable headliner ever again.

What about Talking Heads, dude? I’m of the camp that already knows this will never happen.

Cover art ranking: Somewhere in the end, so, ninth? It’s a cute drawing and all, but it makes me hungry for an Arch Deluxe or something fried.

–Michael Roffman

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