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July 31, 2015 2:11 PM   Subscribe

All 74 Led Zeppelin Songs, Ranked, A definitive, uncontroversial list from the fine folks at Vulture.
posted by Cookiebastard (114 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Also, All 87 Led Zeppelin Songs, Ranked, from SPIN.
posted by Cookiebastard at 2:16 PM on July 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


All the frothing hatred of Presence is unconscionable.
posted by blucevalo at 2:18 PM on July 31, 2015 [10 favorites]


I was skeptical at first, but you're absolutely correct, this is definitive and shouldn't be controversial. I admit that at first I thought that 68 "Candy Store Rock" and 67 "For Your Life" were wrongly ordered, but I listened to them ten times each and realized no, they got it right. Glad that's been nailed down!
posted by languagehat at 2:20 PM on July 31, 2015 [10 favorites]


I almost stopped reading when I saw what was #74
posted by TwoWordReview at 2:25 PM on July 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


You know, when you get to 48 and read
One of the abiding questions of rock 'n' roll is why these four hirsute brutes, at least three of whom would probably have lived out sad and anonymous lives were it not for the mysterious goodwill of a benevolent god who created them at the one moment in history where their odd talents could make them rich, famous, and objects of shockingly inhibited sexual desire to a new generation of liberated women, spent so much time writing woman-hating lyrics. A lot of it was received nonsense, and of course they were products of their time. But their inability to see beyond that is a strong part of the case against the band.
you wonder why the author thought that the reader would care enough to even get that far. I don't disagree with the author, mind you, but it's a little weird to start such a project with this in your mind.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:30 PM on July 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


I scrolled directly to #1 to make sure that the correct song is there (and it is) to tell me whether the rest of the list is worth reading.
posted by wats at 2:33 PM on July 31, 2015 [8 favorites]


No Quarter
posted by atoxyl at 2:39 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, holy cats, they got the number one song right. Color me stunned.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:42 PM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


Look, the right answer is "In the Evening" (#15) or "When the Levee Breaks" (#13). There is nothing wrong with "Kashmir," but nah, b. Nah.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:43 PM on July 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


GenjiandProust, one thing I really like about this list is that the band is called out several times for their misogynist lyrics. I think it's a terrific way to deal with the problematic aspects of their music: review the songs on their artistic merits and also call attention to the misogyny and why that detracts.
posted by Cookiebastard at 2:43 PM on July 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


Sorry, it's "Stairway". Ask yourself: when somebody makes a list of The Greatest Rock and Roll Songs of All Time, which Zeppelin song ranks highest, often at #1? Hint: not "Kashmir".
posted by The Tensor at 2:47 PM on July 31, 2015


I actually really do love "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" too though - I didn't know other people agreed with me.

But I can do my top four in a second: No Quarter, Dazed and Confused, When the Levee Breaks, Immigrant Song. When I was younger and thought I was too cool for Led Zep I'd say I only like the songs about Vikings. At five it's suddenly tricky but I'm all right with Kashmir.
posted by atoxyl at 2:47 PM on July 31, 2015


Wake me when someone does one of these for Dread Zeppelin.

And if #1 isn't their mashup of "Heartbreaker" and "Heartbreak Hotel", I will be quite disappointed.
posted by SansPoint at 2:52 PM on July 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


Stairway isn't even the best song on that album.
posted by Cookiebastard at 2:54 PM on July 31, 2015 [6 favorites]


Gallows Pole at 69 ? WTF and not this one

And Hey Hey at 50 ?

I can only imagine these songs must sound terrible with his head that far up his own ass.

Good Times Bad Times at #2 ?

I don't want to live on this planet anymore.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:56 PM on July 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


I agreed with absolutely everything on this the list, except for the fact that they should have ranked all of the Ramones songs, instead.
posted by mondo dentro at 2:58 PM on July 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


Sorry, it's "Stairway". Ask yourself: when somebody makes a list of The Greatest Rock and Roll Songs of All Time, which Zeppelin song ranks highest,

Well, part of that is because it's the only Zeppelin song many people can name, and then only because it is apparently required, by international law, to be playing on some radio station at all times.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:03 PM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


>Wake me when someone does one of these for Dread Zeppelin.

#2 would have to be Immigrant song then. with the double cheese...

Anyhow, the problem with ranking them like this is that (as the preamble to the Vulture piece alludes,) you can't take the songs out of context, with old classic Zep, you have to listen to each album side. You can't just say oh, 'In The Light' is great, but man, 'Down By The Seaside' really blows, because any true zep fan is going to be like, hey, they both are a prelude to 'Ten Years Gone'. This applies to each of their albums up to Presence.

Also screw that Vulture list for ranking 'Moby Dick' so low.
posted by Catblack at 3:09 PM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


I almost stopped reading when I saw what was #74

#72 here. Hots On For Nowhere is a rarity for Zep in that it's pure fun from start to finish. Makes sense that Jimi Page would do it with the Black Crowes as it always struck me as something the Faces might have done.
posted by philip-random at 3:10 PM on July 31, 2015


If you listen to "Whole Lotta Love" on repeat for more than six hours, consult your doctor.
posted by a halcyon day at 3:11 PM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


I read this tin-eared list yesterday and two things came to mind. First, this guy really isn't that fond of Led Zeppelin. Not of the band members and certainly not of most of their catalog. Second, he has absolutely no idea what kind of a magician Bonzo was, just wants to tear into the admittedly terrible aspects to his personality. Just ask any drummer about what Bonham brought to the band's sound and each song - you'll get an earful. I kept wondering if Wyman was serious about this list, or just engaged in some sort of revisionist trolling.

The Spin list is far, far better.
posted by Ber at 3:14 PM on July 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


it is apparently required, by international law, to be playing on some radio station at all times.

It's not like that's some huge feat. It's 45 minutes long, and there are lots of radio stations in the world.
posted by axiom at 3:29 PM on July 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


Nah, I think "Stairway to Heaven" should have been on top. "Kashmir" was almost completely ruined for me when Diddy sampled it for one of his songs.
posted by fuse theorem at 3:30 PM on July 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


"When The Levee Breaks" is better than both of them, though, so.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 3:32 PM on July 31, 2015 [6 favorites]


Every song on this list is ranked. That's uncontroversial.
posted by Chuffy at 3:33 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


They got the album wrong on Kashmir, too. Everyone knows that's from side one of Led Zeppelin IV.
posted by Chuffy at 3:36 PM on July 31, 2015 [6 favorites]


Sorry, it's "Stairway". Ask yourself: when somebody makes a list of The Greatest Rock and Roll Songs of All Time,

... they're almost always wrong. I personally can barely abide it due to allergic overexposure by the time I was eighteen. I sure loved it when I was twelve though.

I'd rate Kashmir as their most genuinely powerful moment, a fusion of everything they'd ever listened to combined with something they were reaching for, never quite grasping ... until then. It was certainly the highlight of that reunion concert from a few years back.

But Kashmir at #1 is about the only thing this list gets right. Actually, let me correct that. Everything that's wrong with this list is glaringly obvious in its top ten.

10. All My Love. What!?!? Jimi Page hated it, probably still does. If he hadn't been so thwacked on heroin at the time, it would not have been on the album. And the correct title is All OF My Love.

9. Song Remains the Same. Nah, not even top fifty material. Has a few nice moments, but they don't really connect. Zeppelin are trying to be "Progressive" here but mainly succeed at pointing out that Yes (of 1972) were way better in that regard. Achilles Last Stand (buried at 63) is a way better track.

8. Immigrant Song. Hell yeah. Should be top five.

7. Babe I'm Gonna Leave You. No. Not even top 30.

6. Over the Hills ... A lot of people seem to love this. I merely like it. Top 30 maybe.

5. Dazed + Confused. Top three.

4. Stairway - I spoke already

3. Whole Lotta Love. It's a monster for sure, but has been known to trigger allergies.

2. Good Times, Bad Times. Great track that gets marked down for lack of ambition. Top 20.

1. Kashmir. I spoke already.

Final thoughts. When the Levee Breaks should be in the Top Five (maybe Top Three). Since I've Been Loving You (buried at 60) is an epic slow blues. Should be top ten.
posted by philip-random at 3:37 PM on July 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


I never was into Immigrant Song until I saw that video of it with cat vikings like 10 years ago. Now it's probably my favorite.
posted by peeedro at 3:39 PM on July 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


And Gallows Pole was robbed.
posted by peeedro at 3:39 PM on July 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


wats: "I scrolled directly to #1 to make sure that the correct song is there (and it is) to tell me whether the rest of the list is worth reading."

I scrolled directly to #1 to make sure that the correct song is there (and it isn't) to tell me whether the rest of the list is worth reading.
posted by double block and bleed at 3:41 PM on July 31, 2015


I mean, don't get me wrong, I totally understand the writerly urge to say, "Hmm, number one Zeppelin song...obviously I can't just say 'Stairway'...gotta make it interesting...maybe I'll put 'Stairway' down around number four and choose, I dunno, 'Kashmir' for number one?" But that doesn't change the fact. Choosing anything but "Stairway" for best Zeppelin song is like choosing anybody but Abba for greatest Swedish pop group. (And I say this as someone who is firmly in the Terrence Stamp camp on Abba.)
posted by The Tensor at 3:42 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Achilles Last Stand" at 63? Fie! FIE!
posted by The Michael The at 3:43 PM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


14. Fourteen. FOURTEEN???

More like a jillion kabillion.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:43 PM on July 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


When the Levee Breaks is the best one.
posted by double block and bleed at 3:43 PM on July 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


And "When The Levee Breaks" should be top 5 for sure.
posted by The Michael The at 3:44 PM on July 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


The ranking for All My Love needed about 27 zeros added after it. And bloody Hot Dog ahead of some 50 other songs by any band, let alone Led Zeppelin? Swap Down by the Seaside for either of those. Or both.

Also, not having Coda means leaving off Travelling Riverside Blues, and We're Gonna Groove is a lot of fun too, and why leave any of it anyways if you're ranking all Zep songs (yes, I read his reason - it's silly).
posted by Palindromedary at 3:52 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Where is Kashmir. *goes to look*

Aaaand we're good. There's no way that Gallow's Pole should be so low in the rankings, though.
posted by jokeefe at 4:01 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, holy cats, they got the number one song right. Color me stunned.

Pfft. Like that wasn't the obvious choice from a country mile. Everybody who knows a little bit of Zep knows it, if only from the nineties Godzilla film, it's not as declassse as Whole Lotta Love and a slightly more "controversial" choice than Good Times Bad Times.

Lists are pointless unless they make you want to relisten. This doesn't.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:02 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Too much Presence hate and not quite nearly enough "Tangerine" love on this list for my taste. Seriously, "Achilles" at #63?? And fucking "D'yer Mak'er" belongs in the bottom 20, not the top 20.
posted by Vek at 4:02 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


This guy clearly doesn't like drums. (Really, Moby Dick last? Because Bonham was kind of an asshole?) Other classic beats he underrated are "The Ocean", "The Crunge", "Fool in the Rain", and "When The Levee Breaks". I think he got 1 and 2 right though.
posted by Daily Alice at 4:02 PM on July 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm actually annoyed by how much I don't disagree with the majority of this list.
posted by poffin boffin at 4:04 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


GenjiandProust, one thing I really like about this list is that the band is called out several times for their misogynist lyrics. I think it's a terrific way to deal with the problematic aspects of their music: review the songs on their artistic merits and also call attention to the misogyny and why that detracts.

Completely agreed. I loved that passage regarding the "hirsute brutes"; and I remember watching, a trembling 14 year old, as Plant sang live in front on me one very memorable summer evening. I was still aware of, and troubled by, all that "Soul of a woman is created below" nonsense, but the guitar break after? Like a lightning strike; I could forgive a lot, back in the day, for such sonic glory. 40 years later, I'm happy to see the misogyny addressed. There were a lot of girls who listened Zeppelin too, and who had to do the usual acrobatic mental leaps in order to love them despite the fact that they seemed to hate us.
posted by jokeefe at 4:07 PM on July 31, 2015 [12 favorites]


@Pogo_Fuzzybutt snort-giggling thanks to you

Wyman sounds like a salty loathsome turd. I couldn't continue reading past #71, as I feared I would start punching my monitor in rage.

Without knowing (or Googling) him, I would guess that Wyman himself is, to quote his description of Peter Grant, an enormous blob of a man adorned with a thatch of grotesque facial hair that looked like it had been transplanted from the butt of a mangy hyena.
posted by shminta at 4:11 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


The ultimate version of Stairway to Heaven. Jimmy Page said, upon hearing this version, "Good! Maybe now it can finally be laid to rest!"
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:11 PM on July 31, 2015


This is zo, so relevant to my interests. Great way to start the weekend!
posted by Room 641-A at 4:13 PM on July 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


My personal tastes lean towards the mystic ballads in the middle phase from III on. The very first time that I heard Stairway when I was 12 years old I felt that it was the most profound thing in the universe.... but it hasn't dated really well, sigh. My brother's copy of Presence sounded kinda thin and was probably not mastered very well, so it biased me away from the later stuff.

You know what is really cool? Disc 2 of BBC Sessions, a decent live theatre recording from April 1971. It's really cool...
posted by ovvl at 4:16 PM on July 31, 2015


Speaking of Stairway covers, back in the day David Wisdom once produced a radio show which was only Stairway covers. The Australian Doors created a swell interpretation.
posted by ovvl at 4:20 PM on July 31, 2015




This is the only album you need.

Also, there's a version of Moby Dick on How the West Was Won that's nineteen minutes and 23 seconds long. Just sayin'.
posted by lagomorphius at 4:32 PM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


We can quibble all weekend on what is number one and it's a worthy discussion But being I am approaching AARP age with increasing velocity I was lucky enough to have seen the misogynistic monsters back in the day. Zeppelin audiences were notoriously rowdy, always on the verge of riot and ruin, stirred by those big dynamics and Bonham's slinky behind-the-beat funk (something again Wyman had no idea of). But after Kashmir, there was a second or two of silence, a pause to consider what the hell just happened up there at 110 db, a moment of transcendence that made the Ocean (Plant's metaphor for the audiences) recede just for a few seconds to consider the import, the flight they were just on. And then of course everyone lost their fucking minds screaming their lungs out.
posted by Ber at 4:34 PM on July 31, 2015 [6 favorites]


The Minnesota Vikings come onto the field for home games to "Immigrant Song." Everyone yells "ah-ah-ah ah!" My brother and I are lifetime long-distance fans and met up in Minneapolis to see our first-ever home game and it was an awesome pagan experience.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:39 PM on July 31, 2015


all that "Soul of a woman is created below" nonsense,

To be fair, though, nobody sings the blues when somebody done somebody right.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:40 PM on July 31, 2015 [9 favorites]


I agree that this guy is not really a Led Zeppelin fan. His rankings are ... stupid? Disclaimer: Zep is my favorite band, and my wife's favorite band. This despite my musical past playing various indie rock, alt.country (remember that), and death metal, and her long history with punk and about every other genre. I mean, imma let you finish but Zep is the greatest rock band of all time. I listened to Presence a couple of days ago, and I agree with the general low rankings (yes Royal Orleans blows), but Achilles' Last Stand? Yes, it's long, but I'm sorry dude ... take out your little gold earbuds and put down your yogurt drink ... you apparently did not make it LOUD ENOUGH. Although ... after the few songs I don't really care for, I guess they are *all* good. So the 50th best Led Zeppelin song is still pretty damn awesome ... maybe they are unrankable. If I'm in the mood I fucking love the Rain Song, Mellotron and all. And yes the Lemon Song is a mish-mash of stolen blues stuff but oh man ... that's some funky bass playing.

Any-hoo ... I didn't continue with the list after I realized he was playing the click-bait game. "A long, slow blues, delivered fairly straight aside for some screechy interludes ..." meh, whatever dude.

People definitely should read the old Rolling Stone reviews though. They are stupid as hell! From Zep 1:

""Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" alternates between prissy Robert Plant's howled vocals fronting an acoustic guitar and driving choruses of the band running down a four-chord progression while John Bonham smashes his cymbals on every beat. The song is very dull in places (especially on the vocal passages), very redundant, and certainly not worth the six-and-a-half minutes the Zeppelin gives it."

In other news, Dylan should never have gone electric and all I want to hear are white history professors singing some shit about the plight of the railroad worker ...
posted by freecellwizard at 4:41 PM on July 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


This guy clearly doesn't like drums. (Really, Moby Dick last? Because Bonham was kind of an asshole?)

Yeah, that was kind of troubling. I mean, by that logic we should dismiss Ginger Baker's brilliant oeuvre because he's a horrific human being.

peedro: I never was into Immigrant Song until I saw that video of it with cat vikings like 10 years ago. Now it's probably my favorite.

You, sir, were remiss in not posting a link to said video. Allow me to remedy that oversight. Also, thank you for letting me know this is a thing that exists.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:42 PM on July 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


I feel the Heart sort of Jeff Buckley'd "Battle of Evermore" away from Zep.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:43 PM on July 31, 2015


The Minnesota Vikings come onto the field for home games to "Immigrant Song."

Why do they have a big red Cobra flag?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:51 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]




*sigh* I've been car-free for a year or two and what I really miss is blasting Zeppelin and singing along at the top of my lungs. BAAAABY BAAAABY BAAAABY DOOO YOO LIIIIKE IT?

28. Hot Dog Misty Mountain Hop
29. Misty Mountain Hop Hot Dog

\m/ (ಠ_ಠ) \m/
posted by Room 641-A at 4:53 PM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


Erik Davis Led Zeppelin IV

It's a magic ritual wherein the Band evokes their rock god hood.
posted by bukvich at 4:56 PM on July 31, 2015


I think "Gallows Pole" is right where it belongs. Led Zeppelin as an entity is practically defined by how full of shit they are, and that's okay and part of why they're enjoyable, but in an abstract way it reminds of "The End" by the Doors in terms of how much it makes me want to say "oh fuck off" and throw my speakers out the window.
posted by invitapriore at 4:57 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would actually swap out that pestilent reggae thing with, say, Whitesnake's "Still of the Night".

But still move it down about 30 spots.
posted by kurumi at 5:03 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow, I had no idea "Kashmir" was so popular. Maybe it's because we were kids when the Puff Daddy thing happened but among my friends, I don't think anybody would put it top ten.
posted by saul wright at 5:09 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


this is the version that finally drove it home to me. It certainly seems to be the one that matters most to the band.
posted by philip-random at 5:15 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Anyway, I'd rank "That's the Way" much higher. I find it more "convincing" than "Tangerine" myself, in spite of its lesser timbral breadth, but I think it's a better song at its core, and Page's slide guitar noodling is even more poignant there.
posted by invitapriore at 5:25 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's kind of astounding how well Zeppelin's music has has held up compared to most of their contemporaries. I grew up in the seventies and hated them in high school mostly because of their meathead fans but really came to appreciate them as an adult.
posted by octothorpe at 5:27 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


The best ones are the ones they stole from Robert Johnson.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:34 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


I usually find that lists like these are best written by people who actually like the band in question, otherwise it's just sniveling snark.
posted by jonmc at 5:41 PM on July 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think "Gallows Pole" is right where it belongs. Led Zeppelin as an entity is practically defined by how full of shit they are

i don't know about that - you can blame them for doing the song, if you like, but it's a fairly ancient song with a lot of variants, (some of which i like better than lz's version), and don't blame them for the song itself

i tried to register under my name and screwed up the email, so i had to register as bonzo instead, and express my opinion that when the levee breaks is the greatest zeppelin song ever

presence is not that bad an album, although the first 6 albums are better

in through the out door was a bit of a travesty, except for in the evening, which is great - i'm afraid that if they'd carried on with a live bonham, we would have been disappointed - (at least they had the sense to know it was over when he died)

traveling riverside blues needed to be on that list, though
posted by pyramid termite at 5:46 PM on July 31, 2015


Lemon Song should be much higher. Yes, it's theft. But it's theft of a great tune.
posted by persona au gratin at 5:52 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


I remember this goofball nerdy friend of my college girlfriend frooging his ass off to "Hot Dog" when we were all hanging out at Fort Totten. Last I heard he was in a nuthouse for pulling a knife at a funeral.
posted by jonmc at 6:01 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yes, it's theft. But it's theft of a great tune.

Isn't that most of them though?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:08 PM on July 31, 2015


Going to California should have been in the Top 10 for the single perfect moment when Plant's voice breaks when he sings "la la la la la". I love that. Also, it's about Joni Mitchell. Game, set, match.
posted by jokeefe at 6:10 PM on July 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


I, oddly, have always had a soft spot for 'Down By The Seaside.'
posted by jonmc at 6:19 PM on July 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


I hate the idea of ranking songs. Even knowing that, these lists suck.
posted by doctor_negative at 6:29 PM on July 31, 2015


Am I the only one that loves What Is and What Should Never Be?
posted by Lutoslawski at 6:50 PM on July 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


Everyone here knows who Bill Wyman is, right?
posted by sy at 7:04 PM on July 31, 2015


I'm sorry: everybody but me knew before now that there are two Bill Wymans, right?
posted by sy at 7:06 PM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


When I got to The Lemon Song, I thought for sure the list was ranked in reverse order. It's stolen, sure, but JPJ's bass when the rest of the band takes it down? Damn!
posted by rocket88 at 7:20 PM on July 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just realized that the Zep catalog is all on Google music, listening to The Lemon Song now.

♫ Baby, baby, baby ... ♫
posted by octothorpe at 7:33 PM on July 31, 2015


>Because Bonham was kind of an asshole?

Least he wasn't kidnapping underage girls. (Lori Maddox was 14 in 1973, they 'dated' for 18 months.)
posted by Catblack at 7:39 PM on July 31, 2015


All I'm sayin' is - when I was in the music store earlier today with my sons, I did NOT have to tell them not to play Lemon Song.
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:47 PM on July 31, 2015


I was actually glad Gallows Pole was so low down the list; I'd actually put it down a bit lower. Their version of that song is just kinda demoralizing.
posted by holborne at 7:49 PM on July 31, 2015


Thirteen.

THIRTEEN.

I'm going to go take a walk.
posted by floweringjudas at 8:29 PM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


Custard. Fucking. Pie.

I could have that tune as my wake-up alarm every day for the rest of my life.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:28 PM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


The one I got really cranky about was "Your time is gonna come." Which, like, I get that it's about the least Led-Zeppelin-sounding thing they recorded, but come on, it's gorgeous.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:29 PM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


great song. Should be top twenty or thirty.

.
.
.

dare I suggest that when it comes to discussing cultural BIG DEALS like Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Stanley Kubrick, Tolkien, Jonny Quest etc, we need to get serious about the difference between BEST and FAVORITE.

BEST = some level of defensibility (aesthetic, philosophical, political, whatever)
FAVORITE = that's just my opinion, man
posted by philip-random at 11:37 PM on July 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


my favorite Jonny Quest episode
posted by philip-random at 11:43 PM on July 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Ocean, Moby Dick, Black Dog, all ranked too low. This guy doesn't actually like what makes Led Zeppelin special.
posted by smcameron at 12:35 AM on August 1, 2015


"Kashmir" is the only Led Zep song worth a damn, so I think the author got the list right.
posted by Fnarf at 1:03 AM on August 1, 2015


Led Zep's catalog runs the complete gamut: from plodding and screechy all the way to heavy-handed and shrill.
posted by dashDashDot at 2:26 AM on August 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's kind of astounding how well Zeppelin's music has has held up compared to most of their contemporaries.

Especially since Zeppelin throughout the eighties and much of the nineties was held up as the epitome of dinosaur rock with nothing to redeem it. If any band has benefited from the breakdown of the rock critic/indie music snob consensus it must be Led Zeppelin.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:03 AM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


The problem Zeppelin had for awhile wasn't the critics' fault as much as the shit that is classic rock radio. After everybody got mp3 players and classic rock radio became a total cultural irrelevance Zeppelin bounced right back to near the top of the mountain.
posted by bukvich at 5:38 AM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


What? "Kashmir", that department-store-background-music filler from the the most boring album they made up to that time is #1? And "What Is and What Should Never Be" is way down at #39? I rank this list at about position #239.
posted by telstar at 5:41 AM on August 1, 2015


incidentally, kashmir is mentioned in this short essay by brad mehldau, which goes in to it's techncal structure in a little detail

(mehldau is one of the top contemporary jazz pianists - i particularly like his elegiac cycle, but if you're coming from rock / popular music you may be more interested in mehliana)

(listening to those, i realised i picked two quite similar tracks - that's my personal taste and he's actually more varied than you would guess from the above).
posted by andrewcooke at 5:52 AM on August 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


Bill "Not The Bassist" Wyman has my respect for this Slate article which not only deflates the Keith Richards personality cult a bit but also creates a sympathetic Mick Jagger, but I don't think the world really needed another entry in the comprehensive ranking listicle clickbait subgenre. That having been said, I appreciated finding out that Jeff Buckley had covered "Night Flight" and Public Image Limited, of all the people, "Kashmir."
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:22 AM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is a great post. Much like the list itself, Zeppelin is one of those things that should be far stupider and less fun than they actually are. To this day, it blows my mind that there are people who earnestly are fans without giving due credit to the teenage idiocy behind much of the music. Why is this important? Because teenage idiocy created rock and roll and continues to drive it, and just because you have great chops and have read books, you don't make music like this that rises above teenage idiocy.

I enjoy Zeppelin for the most part, but I appreciate the criticism because it is all valid. I agree with the list generally, because, what is the fucking point of arguing seriously over the numerical order; it is just as silly as the band's existence itself to create a ranking list and I love that the author seems to understand this. I would have given Stairway an permanent exemption, because like Michael Jackson or Elvis, there is just no way to evaluate the song isolated from its cultural context. I also would have ranked Rock and Roll higher because it's probably the only Zeppelin song that I have come to appreciate more in the 25 years since I was in college smoking a lot of pot and learning to play Over the Hills on my cheap six string.

I am totally going to spend the day listening to Zeppelin and checking this thread. Then I probably won't listen to them again for another 3 years.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:31 AM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Zeppelin is one of those things that should be far stupider and less fun than they actually are.

This is exactly how I feel about Van Halen.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:52 AM on August 1, 2015


Up until this article, I had never heard of the word "plangent". What a great word -- If I wanted to describe something "having a loud reverberating sound" or "expressive and plaintive" (definitions per merriam-webster.com) I've always said something akin to "like John Bonham's drums on When the Levee Breaks".

So, thanks to the author for increasing my vocabulary. But, if you notice the use of the word plangent in his blurb on When the Levee Breaks (#13 on the list -- too low) he uses it to describe /the guitar break/ from the song -- he doesn't mentioned those drums specifically. Unforgivable.

For me those drums are as quintessentially Zeppelin as the intro to Stairway.
posted by Theophrastus Johnson at 9:40 AM on August 1, 2015


Especially since Zeppelin throughout the eighties and much of the nineties was held up as the epitome of dinosaur rock with nothing to redeem it.

Maybe I was ahead of the curl but for me the turning point for Zeppelin being cool again would have been around 1987-88, and I trace it directly to the advent of CDs. In my case, it was because people were suddenly dumping their vinyl, which meant all kinds of "classic" albums were showing up en masse in used bins. I'm pretty sure I bought Zeppelin 1+3 on the same day for maybe two bucks each, totally on a whim. Within a month, I probably had everything up to and including Presence. I still find it hard to rate In Through The Out Door as worth the trouble. A combination of massive overexposure at the time and just not being that good.
posted by philip-random at 10:46 AM on August 1, 2015


and Public Image Limited, of all the people, "Kashmir."

strangely, this track called Ease (from PIL's Album album) is probably the most hammer-of-the-gods Zeppelin sounding track I heard from anyone through the entire 80s. Helps having Ginger Baker murdering the drums, Steve Vai shredding the guitar and Bill Laswell laying down the bottom end.
posted by philip-random at 10:53 AM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


... takes about two minutes to really get going.
posted by philip-random at 11:01 AM on August 1, 2015


The Spin list is far, far better.

It is. The big difference between the two really seems to be that for whatever reason the people at Vulture really don't like III.

But both lists have problems. Neither seems to know that Stairway and Kashmir can't be #1 or even #2 because the songs are simply done. Even though Stairway is the fourth best track on IV, it's pretty much only possible to listen to without a fight-or-flight response unless you've got the whole album on. Also, it's really hard to take either list seriously—the authors know that Bron-Y-Aur is a typo and that it's named after where it was written, but none of them figured out that it's probably the sweetest tribute to somebody's pet that's ever been written?
posted by atbash at 12:14 PM on August 1, 2015


atbash, to be pedantic Bron-Yr-Aur is the typo-free instrumental from Physical Graffiti and Bron-Y-Aur Stomp from III is about Plant's dog. At the end of the later on How the West Was Won, Plant shouts out his dog's name and it is the most joyous thing. My wife has saddled us with two small and prima dona dogs. I swear the someday I am going to walk through the door with a big glorious retriever and his name shall be Strider.
posted by Ber at 12:26 PM on August 1, 2015


It's fun to say, in a crowded elevator amongst total strangers, when a Zep tune starts to play, "Ah, the New Yardbirds!".
posted by Chitownfats at 8:12 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am surprised that neither the list nor any comments here yet have mentioned Thank You, surely one of Zep's better ballads. Hmmmm...
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 8:21 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


...to be pedantic...

Yes, yes, my life is not without minor errors either. But still, two lists that don't appear to have listened to the music means two lists that are problematic.

There ain't no companion like a blue-eyed merle, or so I've heard.
posted by atbash at 9:29 PM on August 1, 2015


Creating (and being drawn to) ranking lists is one of the things that separates us from the animals. I'm sure some evolutionary scientist has a theory regarding some advantage that it gives humans.
posted by spock at 8:20 AM on August 2, 2015


I do a regular radio show that's often working some kind of long-winded multi-program countdown list. This solves two problems for me. A. allows me to group a bunch of songs together and plan my programs long term, B. if I've done it right, the music just keeps getting better.

One mitigation I've come to find very useful is what I call Allergy Factor. This means, no matter how popular a song may be, if I've been overexposed, it gets marked down, or disqualified altogether. I'm actually amazed how few Zeppelin tracks I'd disqualify but, as pointed out already, Stairway would definitely be one of them.
posted by philip-random at 9:16 AM on August 2, 2015


for me the turning point for Zeppelin being cool again would have been around 1987-88, and I trace it directly to the advent of CDs.

CDs were still an unimaginably luxury at that time in my neck of the woods: the same sort of thing only happened in the mid-nineties there.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:45 AM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


@spock: Pretty sure there's at least 7 theories, each of which will change the way you think about lists. Evolutionary Scientists hate her!
posted by nickzoic at 4:47 PM on August 2, 2015


That aforementioned Keith Richards/Mick Jagger thing Wyman did for Slate is one of my favorite pieces of music writing ever, but this list is crippled from the get-go by DQing everything from Coda. Sure, most of Coda's crap, but "Wearing and Tearing" rocks balls.

And "When the Levee Breaks" should have been #1.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 5:58 PM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


That having been said, I appreciated finding out that Jeff Buckley had covered "Night Flight" and Public Image Limited, of all the people, "Kashmir."

Except that he says that PiL "debuted" a decade after the Sex Pistols broke up, which is chronologically impossible. A lot of this snooty listicle irritated the hell out of me, including his sniffy, dismissive, and eminently rockist description of the great Kool and The Gang as a novelty act.
posted by blucevalo at 2:48 PM on August 3, 2015


When I see these lists I only check the worst 5 and best 10.

See also: No Apologies: All 102 Nirvana Songs Ranked.
posted by Theta States at 10:01 AM on August 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ted McCagg (previously on MeFi): All 10 Split Beaver Songs Ranked From Worst To Best

"To this day, none of the band members have any idea what the blues are."
posted by tonycpsu at 8:49 AM on August 14, 2015


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