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The List: Led Zeppelin

Zoso
image credit: Rolling Stone

A year or so ago I stumbled upon this “Collectors Edition” gem at the grocery store. I believe Rolling Stone originally issued it in 2013, but reissued it in 2019. The thought of paying 13 bucks for a magazine is damn criminal, but when it’s your all-time favorite band, it’s easier to talk yourself into. Besides, I probably spent more on little cigars that week. The magazine’s better for my health!

Anyway, as you can imagine, the edition was exceptional, and worth every penny. Some folks get a bit turned off by Rolling Stone when their topical material strays, but when the focus is on music it’s hard to argue with their quality.

One of the features among the many articles on the band was the proverbial “Top 40 All-time Songs” list. It’s a testament to Zeppelin’s catalog that you can have a list that expansive and still leave plenty songs off. I read their list, and though I agreed with many of their selections, I very much disagreed with much of their pecking order.

In fairness….here’s a link to Rolling Stone’s list:

“Top” lists of just about anything are downright terrible. They’re sort of like train wrecks and car accidents. They’re horrible, but you still stop and look. The problem is the subjectivity of it. No where is this more true than with art. We all have our own ideas about what makes a great song. For some, it’s particular instrumentation. For some it’s a particular genre or brand of music. For some it’s the lyrics. Hell, for many it’s not even the quality of the music or lyrics, but rather the memory. Songs remind us of particular times, places, and people. If we hold those memories fondly, odds are we love the songs that trigger those memories.

I tried, for the most part, to avoid blogging about “Top Whatever” lists in the past. However friends………quarantine time has a funny way bringing this sort of thing out in us!!!! With that said……….I present you “Rocktakes.com’s Best 40 of Led Zeppelin”.

Note: These are not the 40 most popular Zep tunes. They’re not even intended to be my 40 favorite. My goal was to present what I believe to be the 40 BEST songs Led Zeppelin ever recorded.

40. Misty Mountain Hop – Album: “IV”

39. All My Love – “In Through the Out Door”

38. Walter’s Walk – “Coda”

37. How Many More Times -“I”

36. Gallows Pole -“III”

35. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You – “I”

34. What is and What Should Never Be – “II”

33. I Can’t Quit You Baby – “I”

32. Out On The Tiles – “III”

31. In the Evening – “In Through the Out Door”

30. The Lemon Song – “II”

29. Celebration Day – “III”

28. Since I’ve Been Loving You – “III”

27. The Wanton Song – “Physical Graffiti”

26. Living Loving Maid – “II”

25. Heartbreaker – “II”

24. The Rain Song – “Houses of the Holy”

23. Over the Hills and Far Away – “Houses of the Holy”

22. Thank You – “II”

21. The Rover – “Physical Graffiti”

20. Good Times Bad Times – “I”

19. Bring It On Home – “II”

18. In The Light – “Physical Graffiti”

17. Achilles Last Stand – “Presence”

16. Immigrant Song – “III”

15. Custard Pie – “Physical Graffiti”

14. No Quarter – “Houses of the Holy”

13. Traveling Riverside Blues – “Coda ’92 Edition”

12. Black Dog – “IV”

11. Trampled Under Foot – “Physical Graffiti”

10. Communication Breakdown – “I”

9. Ramble On – “II”

8. In My Time of Dying – “Physical Graffiti”

7. Ten Years Gone – “Physical Graffiti”

6. Dazed and Confused – “I”

5. Whole Lotta Love – “II”

4. Kashmir – “Physical Graffiti”

3. Stairway to Heaven – “IV”

2. Rock And Roll – “IV”

1. When The Levee Breaks – “IV”

I realize my top choice likely raises eyebrows. (Rolling Stone ranked “Levee” 8th on their list by the way) My apologies, but I stand by it. I just don’t feel there’s any one song that sums up Zeppelin’s great blues-rock nature more than “When The Levee Breaks.” Everything about that song is the absolute core of Led Zeppelin. Besides, as someone who played a little drums in high school, I must tell you Bonzo’s drums on this track are heaven to a drummer’s ears.

Interestingly enough, even though my Top 3 songs all come from Led Zeppelin IV, I actually have always felt their best album is 1975’s Physical Graffiti. Here’s a breakdown of songs per album on my list:

Led Zeppelin II (1969): 8   (Every song except Bonham’s drum solo made my list. Though I favor Phys. Graf., the fact is Zep II is likely their best overall album)

Physical Graffiti (1975): 8

Led Zeppelin I (1969): 6

Led Zeppelin IV (1971): 5

Led Zeppelin III (1970): 5

Houses of the Holy (1973): 3

In Through the Out Door (1979): 2

Coda (1982/1992): 2

Presence (1976): 1

Well……..there you have it. Quarantine time = Top Lists! Yeah Robert Plant…. I see that look on your face. You’re thinking, “Why the hell did you bother doing all that?” Valid question Mr. Plant!

plant
image credit: Rolling Stone archives

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