Led Zeppelin’s fourth studio album celebrates its 50th anniversary

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ZEPPELIN LEDthe fourth studio album by, better known as “Led Zeppelin IV”, happened 50 years ago, on November 8, 1971.

“Led Zeppelin IV” remains one of the most creative and commercially successful albums in the history of music. As an artistic statement, the record struck a chord that continues to resonate worldwide among music fans while inspiring generations of musicians.

Commercially, “Led Zeppelin IV” is a juggernaut, sold over 37 million copies worldwide. In the United States, the album was recently certified 24 times platinum by the RIAA, ranking as the fifth best-selling album of all time as well as the best-selling album by a British artist (tied with “The Beatles” aka L’Album Blanc). Outside America, the album is certified diamond in Canada (x2); multi-platinum in Australia (9x), UK (6x) and France (2x); platinum in Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Norway, Poland and Spain; and gold in Germany (3x).

“Led Zeppelin IV” has also topped the album charts in the UK, Canada and the Netherlands, and peaked at No.2 in Australia, Denmark, France, Sweden, as well as the US, where it remains the best-selling album in the band’s catalog.

Prior to the success and accolades of 1971, the group initially spent the fall and winter of 1970 writing and recording. “Led Zeppelin IV”, with the first recording sessions starting in London at Island Studios in December 1970. A month later the band moved to Headley Grange, a country house in Hampshire, England. They turned the house into a recording studio and used THE ROLLING STONES‘mobile studio to record most of the album’s basic tracks with engineer Andy john, who also designed some of the “Led Zeppelin II” and “I”.

jimmy page, who also produced the album, says: “After the brief stay that Robert [Plant] and I had at the Bron-Yr-Aur chalet [while working on ‘Led Zeppelin III’], I could see a situation where we were all residing in Headley Grange and had a check-in truck. I was excited to use it as a place to work so that you could totally focus on the effort of making music, while still residing there. “

“It was a bit experimental”, Jean-Paul Jones said. “But this was the first time we stayed together. Before, we’d record in studios… and it was always a hotel, a studio, a hotel, a studio. We had never been in the same place and had there. check-in facilities. was really a new way of working for us, and I think it was a really good way. We just had this huge old room with a big fireplace with all the equipment in place. And you could just walk around and start things if no one was there, or if someone else showed up there would be some jam. There was music somehow all the time , which, as you can see from the result, worked quite well. “

This unconventional approach (for the time) gave the band more freedom to capture spontaneous performances and moments of inspiration. From the writing of “Stairway to Heaven”, Plant remembers: “I was sitting next to Jimmy in front of Headley Grange fire. He had written this chord sequence and was playing it for me. I was holding pencil and paper and all of a sudden my hand was writing the words ‘There is a lady who is sure that all that glitters is gold …’ I sat there, I looked at them. words and I almost jumped out of my seat. Looking back, I guess I sat down at the right time. “

The band also found ways to use Headley Grange’s acoustics to their advantage. The most famous, the drummer John bonham was recorded playing “When the levee breaks” in the formal entrance hall of the house using microphones hanging nearby on a staircase. Today, it is one of the most famous drum sounds in the world and has been sampled countless times by artists from several genres, including Beyonce, BEAST BOYS, MASSIVE ATTACK, J. Cole, Björk and Eminem.

After the basic tracks for the album were finished, the band returned to London to record. “Stairway to Heaven” and added overdubs to Headley’s material at Island Studios. A little after, Page traveled to Los Angeles to work on the album’s initial mix at Sunset sound studios before returning later to Island Studios for additional mixing. The final mix was then delayed until July to accommodate the group’s spring and summer tours.

One of the most memorable parts of the album cover were the four symbols used on the inside cover and album label to represent the four band members.

“There was a very nice little book of signs and symbols”, Jean-Paul Jones said. “So, we decided to choose our symbols in this book appropriate for each member. So, Bonzo [John Bonham] and I dutifully left, and we actually chose symbols that were a bit opposite to each other graphically, which was kind of weird. And then, of course, Robert and Jimmy designed theirs. They all had their own personal meanings. “

Famously, the untitled album was released without text on the front or back covers, including the band name or an album title – a radical idea at the time.

“After the release and the success of the third album, we still received negative reviews about the albums and the concerts in some trade magazines in America”, Page remember. “And even after the third album, we were said to be ‘a hype’ and one thing and another. It was slightly aggravating. It seemed like it would be an interesting proposition to release an album with no information on it at all. … And see how it would sell. ”

“The cover means whatever people want to read on it.” noted John bonham around the album release. “To me that means, ‘I’d rather live in an old house than a building.’ My personal take is that the album is the best thing we’ve ever done. I love it. It’s the fourth album and it’s the next step we were in at the time of recording. All the albums have been different and in my opinion this is the best and it’s not trying to be big head or flash. “

In 1968, Page form ZEPPELIN LED, one of the most influential, innovative and successful groups in modern music, having sold over 300 million albums worldwide. The group rises from the ashes of THE BIRDS, when Page brought Plant, Bonham and Jones take a tour as THE NEW GUARDIANS. In 1969, ZEPPELIN LED released their self-titled debut album. It marked the start of a 12-year reign, during which the group was widely regarded as the world’s largest and most innovative rock band.

ZEPPELIN LED continues to be honored for his pivotal role in the history of music. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, and a year later received the Polar Music Prize in Stockholm. Founders Page, Plant and Jones – in the same way Jason bonham, the son of John bonham – took to the stage at the O2 Arena in London in 2007 to host a tribute concert to Ahmet Ertegun, a dear friend and Atlantic Records‘founder. The group was honored for their lifelong contribution to American culture at Kennedy Center Honors in 2012. In January 2014, the group won its very first Grammy reward as “Celebration day”, who captured their live performance at Ertegun tribute concert, was named “Best Rock Album”.


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