I try not to write *too* much about Zeppelin, considering they’re the biggest, greatest rock band in history, and there are about 1,000,000 other blogs out there dedicated to them. Then again, they are the BIGGEST, GREATEST rock band in history. It would be shameful of me not to give my favorite group a little love every once in a while.
“Stairway to Heaven” is one of the most played songs of all time. To this day, it’s on constant repeat on nearly all commercial rock radio stations. You’re sure to have heard the screeching “Immigrant Song” (even just from “School of Rock”) or the thundering “Kashmir.” Tracks like “Whole Lotta Love” and “Black Dog” fall in the same category: wildly popular and played millions of times.
But what about the songs in between their hits? To me, these are the tracks that made Led Zeppelin so great. From their early bluesy rock to soft acoustics, there are tons of gems throughout their discography that receive little recognition today. Here are some of my favorite that I just can’t let fall through the cracks:
1. How Many More Times – Led Zeppelin
This is the last track on their first album and my all-time favorite song. Ever. It takes so many twists and turns that it keeps you on your toes throughout the entire eight minutes.
2. Out On The Tiles – Led Zeppelin III
You’d never guess this song is off their “acoustic” album. Featuring a heavy, upbeat riff, it’s some of Jimmy Page’s best guitar work. Something I love about this song is how you can hear him saying “Stop!” in the background (1:23), which was accidentally left in during one of their takes.
3. The Rover – Physical Grafitti
The riff in this song is INSANE. It was a favorite concert performance for the band but didn’t get much recognition beyond that. The last minute of the track takes a crazy turn as Jimmy Page switches rhythms.
4. When The Levee Breaks – Untitled (Led Zeppelin IV)
For most fans of Zeppelin, this isn’t so much of a “deep cut” per se, but it definitely wasn’t performed live very often due to its highly produced nature. Using layering and the natural acoustics of the old house it was recorded in, it’s one of the most atmospheric tracks they’ve ever produced.
5. Trampled Under Foot – Physical Grafitti
This is one of the funkiest songs on their discography. Pulling inspiration from Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” bassist and organist John Paul Jones really shows off his skills on the Clavinet.
6. Boogie With Stu – Physical Grafitti
This song was recorded as a jam session with Rolling Stones road manager, Ian Stewart, who happened to stop by the country home Zeppelin was staying at to record their album. There was an old piano in the house, which Page tuned his guitar to while Stewart played.
7. Tea For One – Presence
“Presence” was one of Led Zeppelin’s least celebrated albums, but released at a very difficult and harrowing time for the band. The emotional intensity of the album really speaks to this, especially in “Tea For One.”
8. I Can’t Quit You Baby – Led Zeppelin
Back from their bluesier days, this cover of Willie Dixon’s “I Can’t Quit You, Baby” was included on their original performance lineup. It’s a fantastic song that highlights their ability to take the blues to new levels.
9. I’m Gonna Crawl – In Through the Out Door
“I’m Gonna Crawl” is the last song on their last album (excluding “CODA,” which was a collection of archived tracks released after the band broke up). It’s a melancholy yet beautiful track.
10. Travelling Riverside Blues (29/6/69 Top Gear) – BBC Sessions (Live)
If only there were more live albums like this. Though it was recorded in 1969, this song didn’t make it onto any studio albums until “CODA.” It’s a great, romantic little blues track 100% worth taking a listen to.
Image courtesy of Tony Morelli, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.