Jump to content

An Honest Look at My Top 10 Zeppelin Tunes...

Recommended Posts

Remember kids, this is all opinion, though I do honestly believe 90% of this is fact when it comes to the band.

Written 1 week ago amongst a bottle of Jameson, half a pack of Camels and a doob.

The List.

1. When the Levee Breaks

"Heavy Groove." If rock and roll was created to make a statement about rebellion, it was entitled to have a groove that separated it from everything else. But few songs actually had this element. By the late 1960s, rock and roll was going through several changes with the new psychedelic sound and musicians experimenting with feedback and distortion for the first time. All of a sudden, the term "heavy" became relevant to rock and roll.

By 1971, Led Zeppelin had redefined "heavy" in their own blues-fused fashion that was quickly dominating the charts and the concert venues. Their first two albums had been a re-awakening of sorts with blues rock and some say "heavy metal" was born with their second album. Always up for change, they recorded an album more diverse than anything they had done before and released it to much critical rejection. Dubbed, "Zeppelin Go Acoustic ala CSNY," it really shocked the band and further alienated them away from the media and critics. Almost as if to give a big 'fuck you' to the music scene, their next album became the staple for rock and roll albums for the next three decades. It had an intricate balance of heavy and light songs that would define the band as a serious force to reckon with. The last track on the album sums up, to me, what the band is and was all about. Taking a standard blues song and turning it into something from the heavens that quakes the ground beneath your feet every time you hear it being played. For me, the driving two forces behind the song are the harmonica and of course, the drums. The harp playing is wild and frantic and really holds the song together while the drums repeatedly drive into you like a giant stake for seven minutes. Also worth mentioning, Page doesn't have a signature solo of any kind in this song other than the interlude riff out of the bridge. I think it adds to the song and also adds to Page's credibility as a musician who didn't need a solo on every song he played. This song also represents the best mixing out of any of their songs and shows off Page's impressive studio abilities in capturing a unique sound that wasn't heard before on a track.

People have told me vast different pictures they get in their heads when they hear this song. For me, I picture being caught in the sweltering heat with sweat pouring down my face and having no where to go, and as a metaphor, its only a matter of time before the enviable happens.

I find this track also as a footnote to where the band was at in their career at the time. Before the fourth album, they were growing like a monster, becoming the best live band in the world. After 1971, the 'levee broke' and the rest is history.

2. Since I've Been Loving You

Could pass as their best song, but it doesn't have the same 'driving' force behind it as Levee. What this track most certainly does have is depth. From top to bottom, this song is explosive and dynamic. For a slow blues number, they nail it and show off their childhood roots with some of Plant/Page/Jones/Bonham's collective unit at their creative peaks. A favorite drum track to play, it is also a very intense guitar effort by Page who would just go bananas with it live. His playing was ferocious and fast and he couldn't resist his talent for speed when playing this live, only adding to the song's bittersweet flavor.

While Tea For One had more a 'smoke-filled bar' atmosphere to it, this number is much darker and sadder in its form. A staple for live shows until the band was no more, it was always a crowd favorite and was incredible to hear at the o2 Reunion Concert in December. Though not as fast or intense as he once played, Page has matured into an elder blues man who still has some tricks up his sleeve when you least expect it.

3. Dazed and Confused

That bass line. Those rolling triplets. That horrific guitar. Those ungodly howls. Without a doubt, Led Zeppelin's signature song. So much was done in and out of this song throughout the band's live history. Early on Plant and Page developed a live bond during this song where each would emulate one another through voice or guitar, something Page had sorely been missing in the song's early days as I'm Confused with the Yardbirds. It became a showcase for Page and his bow, a staple for most of their touring career. Soon, laser beams would join in and encase him during his calling to the spirits. The song also showed off their abilities to jam and spontaneously change beats and rhythms at the drop of a hat, something most bands would never attempt live in concert. By 1973, their swagger and comfort on stage with each other and the songs was so 'tight but loose,' even their bad shows were better than most bands' good shows, as Jonesy would later say. And he was right.

By 1980, the band was going into the new decade with new direction and decided to give some of their signature tunes a rest. This happened to be one of the songs they decided not to play on their European Tour in 1980. Although the tour was a high grossing affair, in more nights than not, the magic that had once been there during their live performances seemed a bit off and its almost hard to imagine Led Zeppelin as a bewildered live act, but they were. The musicianship between them wasn't as tight as it once had been. Granted, they hadn't seriously toured in three years, but it seemed as if something was off. Almost as if the band itself, without its signature tune, had become dazed and confused.

Edited by bigstickbonzo
Link to post
Share on other sites

4. Stairway to Heaven

The Most Requested Song in Radio History. The band new there was something special about this song upon its creation and it was obvious once it was played live, so did the fans. The song began taking on a life of its own in concert and the radio. Radio stations became overwhelmed with requests from callers who wanted to hear it. Some stations played the song 5 times a day just to ease to the badgering of requests pouring into them.

As for the song itself, it can be defined as easily as Page has always referred to it as, "elements of light and shade." The song takes you on the journey that possesses such an ability of feeling and thought in the listener, it seems to transform you into another place. I can still remember the first time I heard the song driving home from the Poconos in Pennsylvania and I can remember looking out over the vast Dutch countryside with the sun setting on the horizon and taking in every single element of the song. Of course, the guitar solo is probably the most played solo of all time and every up and comer who wants to be a guitar god tries to master it.

Sure, overtime the song has become a bit of a bourdon to some people, including Plant. Only rarely does it gain a full listen from me. But the reason why I give it months time is because there is something special inside this song. Having gone a few months without hearing it in its entirety and catching it from start to finish driving home through the country with the sun going down on the horizon is always as special for me as that first time many years ago. As Page said, "four musicians that created this fifth element." The element is here.

5. Kashmir

"Rock Gods." It perfectly suits them at this point in their career and with the release of this song. It just blew your mind. Originally entitled, "Driving to Kashmir," the song does indeed 'drive' you the entire way to the end with the help of a purely magic riff from Page and Bonham's simple yet dynamic beat. The lyrics invite you along for the ride and with the Jonesy's genius addition of orchestra, the song becomes this incredible whirlwind of sonic music.

Becoming a live staple for the next 5 years and a fan favorite, its oddly enough not a 'rocking' song by definition. There is no over-the-top guitar solo. Just a driving force that keeps the listener entangled with it until the very end. And this was Zeppelin's magic at its best. It was something created from the another world by these four individuals who could not be human.

Some rival this tune with Stairway, and I personally like this song more than Stairway. I think even the band acknowledges that as well as Page as often said about Kashmir, "It best encompassed all aspects of the band." I couldn't agree more.

It's also no surprise when they played it at the o2 Reunion Show in December, the crowd went nuts knowing what it was about to hear and the boys went on delivering their best tune of the night. They indeed still have the power to take us there.

6. Whole Lotta Love

If any song had to rival Dazed and Confused for signature Zeppelin tune, it would be this song, and rightfully so. It was played nearly at every concert they ever performed and was also a major highlight of the night for the crowd because the boys would insert their favorite tunes of the time and jam them out for the show.

The riff. Simplistic as it is heavy and powering. Not to mention, it kicks off Zeppelin II with a fucking boom that never lets up. Notably Plant's most imitated vocal performance with some of his best singing that was recorded in one take. The bass/drums connection is tight and solid the whole way through with Bonham doing thunderous tom rolls in all sorts of different time signatures throughout. Then there's the breakdown and the solo, next to Stairway, probably his most famous and widely known. Their first big radio hit, the song became an overseas sensation in Japan and Australia and helped the band garner in millions of new fans. To this day, still one of their most well known tunes and most requested. And seeing Plant in 2001, he could still hit the "LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVEEEE."

7. Achilles Last Stand

"Backs to the Wall," organized chaos in a song and on a record. We all know what happened in August 1975 which left Plant seriously crippled for the next few months and put the band's future in jeopardy. To prove to themselves more than anyone they could still get it together and perform, they went on to record a solid album in less than a month. While Presence went on to sell millions of copies, the album was universally stripped of what Zeppelin had done in the past. There were no vast difference in tracks, no acoustic numbers, no celtic folk or wailing sonic outbursts of sex. Instead, they tuned up their sound and became more laid back, going for more a rockabilly approach. This track, however, stands out from the rest of the album as something special. Along with 'Kashmir,' their other 'epic', this song best interprets the band having a 'driving' force behind their number. It just keeps you moving the whole time. The riff is explosive and complex with Page delivering a superb solo half way through while the drumming is arguably Bonham's greatest feat with the band. The lyrics are mystical and reflective of the singer's situation, but its obvious from the first boom of Bonzo's crash cymbal Led Zeppelin hadn't gone anywhere.

Edited by bigstickbonzo
Link to post
Share on other sites

8. Heartbreaker

"The Air Guitar Wonder." Put together from jams the band had created during live performances of How Many More Times and from other elements Page had been fooling around with at the time, perfectly situated as the middle track on Zeppelin II became the hard rock staple of the record and really established Page as a serious rock guitar player. But the song itself is not the famous element that everyone wants to hear, its that solo. Done on a whim by Page when recording the track, it turned into something that just made audiences' mouths drop when his fingers would reach high speeds up and down the fret board. He later incorporated elements of Bach into the solo, but Page was generally explosive with it. Although he had difficulty keeping the speed in later years that he'd been notorious for in his youth, the song rarely disappointed when played live. And without this tune, we may never have heard of Eddie Van Halen, who became inspired to work on his technique after seeing Page perform in LA in 1972.

9. That's the Way

This song is probably the most arguable on my list but I have it on for selfish reasons. It is my favorite track by the band and is also, IMO, their best acoustic number. While Going to California may get the most recognition on radio and by fans, this deep cut from their third album is something special on its own. The resonation from the guitar and the pedal steel are just hypnotizing, almost as if being on a gentle opium ride to no where. The song has great poetic meaning and is a great tune for an afternoon drive through the country.

My favorite part, the outro, still sends shivers down my spine. It gives off a warmth, a feeling of comfort and intrigue. It might be a very simple song, but there's also something simple in the enjoyment I get from the tune that has yet to go away.

10. Traveling Riverside Blues

It has been stated by numerous people that Zeppelin's B-Sides were better than most people's hits. This tune shows off the band's appetite for simple blues riffed rock and shows it off with more balls or lemons I should say, than any of their other simple to do blues efforts. While never released on an album, the song has always been a favorite among Zeppelin fans and the rock and roll public. That slide riff is just dripping with raw flavor while Jones/Bonham are locked in the whole time for a wallop of a good time. The lyrics can be forgettable at times, but Plant sure does put in the effort for no one to forget the last verse. Of course, the explosive solo is some of Page's sloppiest yet wholesome work he's done. It is a perfect snapshot to where his playing was at the time. Recorded around the time of Zeppelin II, its obvious his explosive impulse to run wild up and down the neck was constant and albeit not one of their best tunes, Riverside Blues does show the band at a blues frenzy that just seemed impossible for them to stop at. They needed to move past the blues and branch out, but not before destroying any song they wished to cover in the meantime.

I've put my two cents in, although there's a good chance the list could change over time. However, I tried to put aside my favorite songs for songs I felt belong on the list.

Edited by bigstickbonzo
Link to post
Share on other sites

Great List! Here's my Top 12 (sorry but I couldn't get it down to 10):

1. Achilles Last Stand

2. Trampled Underfoot

3. In My Time of Dying

4. When the Levee Breaks

5. In the Evening

6. All My Love

7. Battle of Evermore

8. Kashmir

9. Stairway to Heaven

10. The Rover

11. Tea For One

12. Immigrant Song

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow - I have to say this was well done! Hard to argue with anything you said, or the songs on your list. From my perspective - I agree with everything including the inclusion of Since I've Been Loving You and That's the Way.

For me, The Rain Song and The Rover would be hard to beat as well.

Edited by justinv416
Link to post
Share on other sites
Wow - I have to say this was well done! Hard to argue with anything you said, or the songs on your list. From my perspective - I agree with everything including the inclusion of Since I've Been Loving You and That's the Way.

For me, The Rain Song and The Rover would be hard to beat as well.

The Rain Song would have been #10 and might still be, but I wanted to include a good B Side that showed off how good it was. I was also considering Down By the Seaside, another one of my favorites.

The drummer for one of my old bands always used to say it was the best track on PG, and while I respectively disagreed, I could see his point.

Link to post
Share on other sites

More random thoughts.

That's the Way -- the best part of 'Almost Famous' to me was when they ran the gate after leaving the concert early, which cuts to the sun coming up with That's the Way playing in the background. I just love that song!

Rain Song -- coolest sounding acoustic guitar part to me - just a beautiful song. I had always wanted to learn that tune as a kid, but was spooked by the alternate tuning and never bothered, figuring it was too hard. Fast forward 15 years, and I looked up the tab and learned it in like 10 minutes :) Some things are better left to the imagination!

Down by the Seaside -- makes you think just how good the sessions for LZ IV were for them to have this one and Night Flight and not use either of them. Those 2 tracks would be the highlight of most any album!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Down by the Seaside -- makes you think just how good the sessions for LZ IV were for them to have this one and Night Flight and not use either of them. Those 2 tracks would be the highlight of most any album!

Perfectly stated my friend.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's hard for me to narrow it down to just 10, so I'm going to list 5 that are top on my list and add later.

1. The Rain Song

2. Kashmir

3. All My Love

4. The Crunge

5. Traveling Riverside Blues

Edit, edit, edit! I had a blond moment! Hehehe!

You are right on about Kashmir, that song always has taken me there. Truly magic and other worldly.

Edited by KashmirDevi
Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent analysis! "Kashmir," "Since I've Been Loving You," and "Stairway To Heaven" are favorites of mine too, so I paid close attention to what you said about them.

Unfortunately, I'm not musically fluent like you. So, if you find yourself with another bottle of Jameson, some Camels, and a fat one, I'd love to hear your analysis of "Bron Yr Aur Stomp" and "Immigrant Song."


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice ^^

My favorites would have to be

1) Stairway to heaven (didn't expect that did you)

2) The Rover

3) Rock and Roll

4) Black Dog

5) The Rain Song

6) Kashmir

7) Ten Years Gone

8) Babe I'm gonna leave you

9) Moby Dick

10) Since I've been loving you

Link to post
Share on other sites

Top 10 Led Zep Songs o' mine:

1. Achilles Last Stand

2. In the Evening

3. Immigrant Song

4. Travelling Riverside Blues

5. Custard Pie

6. When the Levee Breaks

7. The Ocean

8. For Your Life

9. In the Light

10. Hey Hey What Can I do

11. Wearing and Tearing

Now THAT'S a Mothership!

Link to post
Share on other sites

In no particular order and avoiding like f*** Stairway to Barnsley... I knew Robert and I would agree on something :D


Immigrant Song

Battle of Evermore

When the Levvy Breaks

Ramble On

What is and what should never be


Dazed & Confused

Moby Dick

Communication Breakdown

Rock and Roll

Babe I'm gonna leave you

Black Dog

Your time is gonna come

No Quarter

Sorry couldn't get it down to 10

Edited by Heavy Baloon
Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry i just couldn't whittle it down: :)

Good Times, Bad Times

Babe I'm Gonna Leave You

You Shook Me

Dazed and Confused

Your Time Is Gonna Come

Black Mountain Side

Communication Breakdown

I Can't Quit You Baby

How Many More Times

Whole Lotta Love

What Is and What Should Never Be

The Lemon Song

Thank You


Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)

Ramble On

Moby Dick

Bring It on Home

Immigrant Song


Celebration Day

Since I've Been Loving You

Out on the Tiles

Gallows Pole


That's the Way

Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp

Hats off to (Roy) Harper

Black Dog

Rock and Roll

The Battle of Evermore

Stairway to Heaven

Misty Mountain Hop

Four Sticks

Going to California

When the Levee Breaks

The Song Remains the Same

The Rain Song

Over the Hills and Far Away

The Crunge

Dancing Days

D'yer Mak'er

No Quarter

The Ocean

Custard Pie

The Rover

In My Time of Dying

Houses of the Holy

Trampled Under Foot


In the Light

Bron Yr-Aur

Down by the Seaside

Ten Years Gone

Night Flight

The Wanton Song

Boogie with Stu

Black Country Woman

Sick Again

Achilles Last Stand

For Your Life

Royal Orleans

Nobody's Fault but Mine

Candy Store Rock

Hots on for Nowhere

Tea for One

In the Evening

South Bound Saurez

Fool in the Rain

Hot Dog


All My Love

I'm Gonna Crawl

We're Gonna Groove

Poor Tom

Walter's Walk

Ozone Baby


Bonzo's Montreux

Wearing and Tearing

Link to post
Share on other sites

Difficult but .... My top 10 would be:

1. Immigrant Song

2. Heartbreaker

3. The Battle Of Evermore

4. Rock And Roll

5. Whole Lotta Love

6. Stairway To Heaven

7. Babe I'm Gonna Leave You

8. Kashmir

9. Trampled Under Foot

10. Poor Tom

Link to post
Share on other sites

My list :]

1. Stairway to Heaven (cliche, i know! but it's soooo perfect)

2. The Rain Song

3. Achilles Last Stand

4. Kashmir

5. The Rover

6. In The Light

7. In The Evening

8. Dazed And Confused

9. Whole Lotta Love

10. Good Times Bad Times

11. When The Levee Breaks

12. Carouselambra

13. The Ocean

Yeaah, 13. Sorry :rolleyes:

Link to post
Share on other sites
This list is for LOS. I am a true Zep fan.

Top Ten Favorites:

Babe I'm Gonna Leave You

In The Light

Ten Years Gone

Thank You

Tangerine (that's me since 1978)

I'm Gonna Crawl

Going To California

The Rover

The Song Remains The Same

Your Time Is Gonna Come

Aww, thanks. Don't worry, I've never doubted you were a fan. B)

I'll have to come back later with my list.

Link to post
Share on other sites

kashmir- my fave tune ever...definitive zep

no quarter- creepy, heavy, slow...somehow, i'm colder when i hear it

when the levee breaks- 1st song i learned on the drums

in my time of dying- newly added to the list...watched the earls court again after the o2 show...wow

how many more times-i just remember the beginning of the MTV rockumentary when robert intros the band and then they go into it..

fool in the rain- makes me wanna sing along every time

babe i'm gonna leave you- one of my fave ballads...love the version on the Zep DVD

out on the tiles- love the riff

sick again- love the riff... cool closer

the ocean- love the riff....cool closer

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...