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4.7 out of 5 stars414
4.7 out of 5 stars
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Incredible remastering job from Mr Page and team. This remastering is amongst the best I have heard this side of the King Crimson 40th Anniversary Steven Wilson releases.

No point in rehashing the contents so I will just concentrate on the sound quality. The separation of the instruments and voices is a relevation.

When The Battle of Evermore starts you can tell that this version is special. Robert Plant and Sandy Denny just sound amazing. It is possible to clearly hear each ones every note as distinctly separate voices, which I have to admit to not being able to do so before. Plant even does three part harmonies at times, again, not something that previous versions laid out so clearly. There is a great bit of Pages studio trickery towards the end of the song where he uses varying amounts of reverb to get the voices to sweep in and then move away as the harmony lines build up. Sandy Denny's voice is a wonderful foil to Plant throughout.

The steel strung acoustic guitar at the start of Stairway rings out panned hard to the left, then in come the recorders co of John Paul Jones, as he overdubs a couple of lines. You can hear the wood in the recorders here.

John Bonhams cymbals all sound properly metallic and there is a difference between them rather than just a splashy tizz, so common on all too many CDs.

The sound of Bonhams drums on Levee can now be heard coming back down from the roof after whipping up past the mics ;-)

This set has the least interesting set of outtakes though. They sound too close to the finished items to be of sustained interest. Exceptions would be the instrumental versions of The Battle of Evermore and Going To California, which sound sublime and allow us to hear just how good Jimmy and JPJ could play acoustic instruments.

As others have mentioned, the cover is missing the high rise flats and does the wonderful original design no favours at all. That 5 second photoshop reveresed colours front sleeve does nothing for me at all. Zeppelins covers were up there with the very best of the designs that came out during the glory years of vinyl. I was pleased to see the spinning wheel on the reissue of Zep 3 and am all the more perplexed as to why they should put that level of effort into it and not this. Just out of curiosity, does anyone out there remember the first version of the sleeve for 4? I am sure there was a poster on a wall below the high rise that was for Oxfam, which was deliberately fudged on subsequent releases. Perhaps I am imagining it.....

If you have any interest in this album this is a no brainer. Give a Black Dog a good home.
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on 2 November 2014
I was in a real dilemma as to how to rate this. Five stars to the original album, and one star for the bonus disc, which as a package is blatant cash-in. It's about time Mr Page gave us some really worthwhile offerings, such as Earls Court '75 instead of these money making retreads.
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VINE VOICEon 28 January 2016
After a more experimental third album, the band returned to their more forceful, blues driven rock sound, although now they had acquired many more song writing qualities, techniques, and had come to the studio with a greater knowledge of the world and her music. As if to prove they were the biggest band in the world, they didn’t even put their name on the album, instead provided cover art depicting an old man carrying a bunch of sticks. It went on to be one of the biggest selling albums ever. Of course, if the songs weren’t up to scratch the album would eventually have faded away; instead it thrives today as one of the best rock albums ever, with songs eternally played on radios and ipods all over the globe. Generally regarded as their best album, each of its eight songs is a classic and even if you don’t think you’ve heard them, most have parts which are instantly recognizable.

‘Black Dog’ opens with a swirling sound giving way to a classic Plant vocal blast, followed by one of Page’s most famous riffs. This start stop technique repeats a few times giving Bonham and Jones a chance to crash, bang, and wallop in the background. It’s pretty slow for one of the all time great rock songs and there is a post-coital languid feel to what goes on. There are some interludes with Plant singing ooh yeahs and pretty babies while Page bashes a wobbling solo out near the end, but this is all about a band of technical masters showing off how in tune they are with each other as well as how they have returned to a louder, forceful style.

‘Rock N Roll’ speeds proceedings up quite a few notches, a 12 bar blues progression sounding like they have gone back to the 50s and nuked the rock songs of those days. Like many songs in the band’s catalogue this came about during jam sessions and after twiddling with classic blues and rock standards- befitting then that the song should get such a plain title. Once again this highlights how tight the band were in terms up creativity and understanding- that one member would play a short piece which the others would immediately latch on to and take to completion. All four members get a songwriting credit here. Plant takes simple lyrics from a variety of earlier sources and mixes them enough to make them unique and we even get some bar hopping piano in the background.

‘Battle Of Evermore’ takes the album in a sudden different direction- a massive change of pace, tone, and theme. The song is primarily a folk duet with lyrics on mysticism and mythology, Sandy Denny adding the female vocals beautifully. Plant and Jones also duet with acoustic guitar and mandolin while Bonham presumably slugged some vodka and mouthed the words like a rampaging Viking. Amidst the folklore and LOTR words the melodies soar freely and each singer lets their vocals merge and clash without worry with the others. Thanks to the maturity of the vocals and playing, none of the silliness is allowed to become jarring.

‘Stairway To Heaven’ is, as you all understand, the greatest song of all time. Naturally I don’t have much to add that hasn’t been said a million times before but as I’m ‘reviewing’ the album I can’t pass it by. It’s the central point of the album and the band’s career- at this point they transcended everything they had done and became legendary, Gods, or whatever other superlative you wish to heap upon them. Every single second is perfect, every note, every word is exactly right and shows up where it should. Opening with quiet, folk style acoustics and woodwind instruments the song builds like a stairway in volume and intent, with all of Plant’s strange lyrical ideas eventually coming together. The song did start as a collection of guitar pieces and the band came together as a whole to try to gel them seamlessly. After a long set of similar verses Bonzo sends the song spinning with his introduction and after a few more verses the song comes to an apparent pause which in reality is a bridge between the soft and hard parts. With a sudden crash everyone is flying with a lethal Page solo and superb drumming before the 3 chord booming final section. And then it comes to an end and we press repeat.

‘Misty Mountain Hop’ keeps the high pace and standard going, although it is a more straight forward rock song led by a dual keyboard and guitar riff and kept in line by a blistering Bonham performance. Plant meanwhile sings seemingly of a meeting between groups of people and an eventual trip to the Misty Mountain of the title and from LOTR. Fans claim that this encounter is between the band and the police whilst high. Between all the jamming we get a manic solo from Page and a funky ‘chorus’ part.

‘Four Sticks’ opens like a callback to the second album thanks to a leading blues rock riff, the title coming from the fact that Bonham played here with 4 sticks instead of 2. There are eastern style strings and odd time signatures giving an other-worldly feel and giving a headache to budding cover artists. In stark contrast to how the song opens, it closes more like something from Physical Graffiti in the middle of fuzzing effects and strange sounds.

‘Going To California’ changes the direction of the album again and is one of the band’s softest songs, directly influenced by their love of Joni Mitchell. The lyrics and music meld beautifully to give an innocent, wistful feeling similar to that which many folk artists and hippy musicians of the time were trying to hold on to. The lyrics come across as both a dedication and infatuation, and though reading the words may make them seem twee they are a perfect snapshot of young, unashamed love and hope. It’s one of the most beautiful, tender tracks in the band’s catalogue and shows they were more than just clobbering rock giants.

‘When The Levee Breaks’ though does show the ground-shaking side of the band, opening with a stomping rhythm which does sound like a mammoth trampling underfoot all your cities. A cover of a blues classic about the Great Mississippi Flood, Zep turn around the lyrics and ideas to make it sounds more like social collapse in the 70s thanks to another massive Page riff and dwarfing booms from Bonham. Some interesting echo and reverb techniques are employed to give further dimensions and uniqueness to the performance and the recording was slowed from the original playing to give an added oddness. It ends in a mass of backwards fun, phasing, and noise all layered wonderfully and hinting at the direction the band would be taking next.

After 8 tracks of varying styles any listener will come to appreciate Led Zeppelin that bit more. Undeniably a classic in many artistic regards it stands the test of time as the band’s most famous release and one of the biggest and best albums ever. Of the many juxtapositions we get innocence and raw sexual tyranny, experimentation and supreme confidence, soft folk songs against heavy rock beasts and so on. The contrasting styles all feel complete in their merging and all of the trademarks of the band are here in all their glory. II may be a better place to start for the newbie but this is the seminal statement for the ages from the greatest rock band of them all.
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on 2 November 2014
This is one of those rare occasions when you are far better off getting this version than the so-called deluxe version, with a pointless second disc. The original album doesn't need anything else written about it. It's simply one of the greatest works in rock history, and you don't need a second disc you'll only ever play once.
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on 27 July 2009
The best Led Zeppelin album of them all. Some immediate punchy vocal drama with 'Black Dog', and then the shameless joy of 'Rock & Roll'. The sublime melodic pastoral journey that is 'The Battle of Evermore'. 'Stairway to Heaven' follows,setting the standard for the next 20 years. You cannot be a Rock fan and not own this. The last track, 'When the Levee Breaks' is one of the most complex LZ ever recorded. With its roots in a song from 1929 (!) it sweeps over you, rolling and surging. You will go back again and again to experience it. Get this album in your life you will not regret it.
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I remember walking up to Dolphin Discs in Talbot Street in Dublin in November 1971 and seeing the long-awaited album sleeve to Led Zeppelin's new album be given pride of place in their window display. Even at the tender age of thirteen and twelve - my sister Frances and I were devoted Zeppelites - so I drew closer to ogle. Someone in the shop had made a white cardboard star, drawn "LED ZEP IV! IT'S HERE!!" in the album's inner sleeve calligraphy and stuck the card star on the top right of the untitled matt sleeve. People were stopping to gawk - what's the big deal? But I remember thinking only one thing. Cheeky buggers - the Zeps are now so big they haven't even put a bleeding title on it! How very...well...Rock and Roll.

Fast-forward to 2014 and another reissue and yet another (far better) remaster. Here are the levees breaking, hops on misty mountains and the May Queen bustling in your hedgerow...

Released October 2014 - this review if for "Led Zeppelin 4" [aka "Four Symbols"] the 2CD DELUXE EDITION on Atlantic 812279446 (Barcode 081227964467) which breaks down as follows:

Disc (ORIGINAL ALBUM - 42:38 minutes):
1. Black Dog
2. Rock And Roll
3. The Battle Of Evermore
4. Stairway To Heaven
5. Misty Mountain Hop
6. Four Sticks
7. Going To California
8. When The Levee Breaks

Disc 2 (COMPANION AUDIO Unreleased Studio Outtakes - 40:35 minutes):
1. Black Dog (Basic Track With Guitar Overdubs)
2. Rock And Roll (Alternate Mix)
3. The Battle Of Evermore (Mandolin/Guitar Mix From Headley Grange)
4. Stairway To Heaven (Sunset Sound Mix)
5. Misty Mountain Hop (Alternate Mix)
6. Four Sticks (Alternate Mix)
7. Going To California (Mandolin/Guitar Mix)
8. When The Levee Breaks (Alternate U.K. Mix)

For a supposed DELUXE EDITION the 16-page booklet is adequate at best - colour live shots, the inner sleeve reproduced in the centre pages and a few basic reissue credits on the last few pages. For such an iconic band and prestigious catalogue - you think Atlantic could have pushed the boat out a bit more. It's noticeable also that the track list stick-on sheet that was pasted on to the rear sleeves of I, II and III is now on the outside of the shrinkwrap for you to place wherever you want. It's also irritating because you can barely read the writing on it. But to the really good news...

The much-lauded JIMMY PAGE remaster is excellent and a definite improvement on what we had before - especially on the beautiful acoustic tracks "The Battle Of Evermore" and "Going To California". But it's when we hit "Black Dog", "Rock And Roll" and especially the monster "When The Levee Breaks" that the real sonic punch kicks in. The harmonica on "Levee" threatens to run amuck in your living room while that acoustic break in "Four Sticks" after the guitar intro is absolutely huge. It has to be said that there's noticeable hiss on some of the quieter parts in "Stairway" but not enough to be intrusive or detract. The same applies to the John Paul Jones keys in "Misty Mountain Hop" and Bonzo's drums just so powerful. But for me the sonic jewel on here is the mandolin/guitar battles and vocals in the stunning "Battle Of Evermore" with SANDY DENNY guesting so sweetly.

The liner notes for the 'Companion Audio' give it some waffle about 'new material' recorded for the 'works in progress' - it's deliberately ambiguous because you can't feel that a lot of these 'outtakes' were done in the studio with Pro Tools in the last few years and bear little resemblance to 1971. Having said all of that - they are irritatingly brilliant! You'd be hard pressed to spot the differences in either the Basic Track of "Black Dog" or the Alternate Mix of "Rock And Roll" but the Headley Grange version of "The Battle Of Evermore" is fabulous stuff - guitar bits coming at you've never heard before. Having become so accustomed to the finished take of the album's goliath "Stairway To Heaven" - the Sunset Sound Mix feels oddly unsatisfying - even though that beautiful electric guitar break remains virtually intact (and still has the power to thrill). But I'm taken aback yet again by the sheer Zep power of "When The Levee Breaks" where there's more echoing on the guitars and harmonica to a point where it feels like its going to get out of hand (but it doesn't). And that little guitar flourish at the end is Production genius. Wow!

So what we have is a five-star album given five-star sound and four-star presentation (don't get me started on the rip-off Uber Deluxe Edition). I can remember the excitement their albums used to engender on arrival - and this morning - tingles returned - and that's good enough for me (name or no name). Onwards to "Physical Graffiti" in February 2015 (40th Anniversary) - yum yum...

PS: I also bought "Houses Of The Holy" this morning and it sounds infinitely better too...while the companion disc may the best so far...
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on 18 May 2006
This was a pioneering rock album by the band everyone aspired to be at the time, and are influenced by now. Unlike many other groundbreakers, this isn't particularly dated and still holds its own in a market that has moved on.

'Stairway to Heaven' deserves to be remembered as one of the all-time great tracks, but the others aren't fillers. More a case of 'Stairway' as the pinnacle of the album. Plant's vocals are forthright, bluesy and angst-ridden. Page's guitar lines are ideal in each situation and provide some great riffs. Bonham's drumming really is incredible rock drumming - hard, heavy, and not always as predicted. Somehow John-Paul Jones and his bass are by comparison, merely perfect.

There's a variety here - rocky numbers like 'Black Dog' and 'Rock n Roll', then slow blues like 'When the Levy Breaks'.

Since this album, the rock guitar has become louder and heavier through Motorhead, AC/DC, Anthrax, Slayer, through to the modern thrash. Despite that, this album still sounds fresh and has an edge of creative genius that many new bands just don't have as much of.

I write this not as someone who was there when it came out and is nostalgic (I'm too young!) but someone who found it after discovering the modern rock and metal world. And it's still, really, that good.
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on 6 December 2015
the album itself is a timeless masterpiece.
BUT here's a review of the bonus disc. the bonus disc includes instrumental tracks of "Going To California" and "The Battle Of Evermore". "Stairway To Heaven" has an echo affect with sound boosted drums and guitar, also, after the solo, the vocals used are the 1st track of Roberts double tracked vocals and extra guitar bits that were buried in the original mix can now be heard. "Black Dog" is roughly the same but with different vocals on the "Oh Yeah!" part. "Rock And Roll" to me, has not much or maybe no difference to the original, same goes with "Misty Mountain Hop" and "Four Sticks. finally, "When The Levee Breaks" has noticeably louder drums.
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on 12 November 2014
Zep 4 all remastered and sounding lovely. Legend is that p*ssed off trying to nail four sticks Bonzo started the intro to rock 'n' roll and 10 minutes later they had a song. This remaster suggests bonzo was still a little nutsed off with something when it came to recording the track as it's a pretty pugilistic performance, wonderfully captured. Before that jimmy page shows what effective lead guitar playing sounds like on the outro to Black Dog, unlike his live work, here he displays an economy and lazer sighted delivery, my personal favourite of his up tempo solos.
Stairway sounds beautiful, it's funny, after all the naff cover versions and the overblown self indulgent live releases to hear the source code version dragged from her hedgerow and given a rainwater wash down. This was what all the fuss was about. Misty mountain is magnificent, this is why the french can't do rock, you have to eat meat and potatoes to knock this kind of stuff out. I could waffle on but you probably know all about this stuff.
I guess what you want to know is, is it worth shelling out for the deluxe edition? For me this is the better of the 5 so far relased by virtue of the fact that 6 of the 8 tracks are at least virtually complete (no lead guitar on black dog) and therefore of some abiding interest to me at least. Most revelatory is maybe 4 sticks which seems to have better dynamics, I maybe prefer this to the released version, the others are pretty close to the originals and you can at least play spot the difference.
My whinge is as always with these remasters why not release complete alternative versions. Mr Page is always telling us how he "keeps everything" so why not an alternative lead track on Black dog, how about a Robert Plant guide track on battle of evermore instead of an instrumental, ditto going to california. I can't comprehend that such versions don't exist, in fact I know a lot of us have heard 'em on dodgy bootlegs.
Finally the booklet. I ask again, how old does Mr Page think we all are? How interested are we in seeing another 16 pages of photos of the boys in front of non descript crowds at mega gigs? He may be endlessy fascinated in this stuff, due no doubt in part to the fact there's not much else going on? but given a lot of us have been buying this stuff for 40 years does he not think we have enough? What would have been great would have been a good informative booklet, some memories anecdotes etc. Here we have after all, a genre defining, earth shaking, ground breaking album, considered by many as the greatest rock album ever, by some as one of the greatest albums ever. It's treatment (and that of the fans) here is shoddy compared to the back catalogue of much much lesser artists which is a real shame
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This 1971 album is considered by many to be Zeppelin's best, and almost everyone acknowledges `Stairway' to be their all-time greatest song.

`Zep 4' is however more than just `Stairway': it's a collection of fine numbers, with no flat spots. There's great rock music in `Rock & Roll' & `Misty Mountain Top' plus the interesting opener `Black Dog' with its 3-part structure & unconventional rhythms. There are some memorable acoustic-folkie songs: `The Battle of Evermore' dominated instrumentally by mandolin & one of the very rare occasions when the band used a female singer (Sandy Denny) to harmonise with Robert Plant, and the sublime `Goin' to California'. The dark & heavy `Four Sticks' has Bonzo playing with 4 drumsticks throughout the action, and the epic closer `When the Levee Breaks' rounds things off in great style.

When so much music from the intervening decades now sounds dated, this is still fresh and interesting. Is this the sign of a true classic?

The original cover art contained no words whatsoever, not even a title; the album's title was supposed to be four ancient Icelandic runes. But how are you supposed to pronounce that? The band didn't want this album referred to as `Led Zeppelin 4' but that's exactly what everyone calls it; from this point on, their albums had real names.
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