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The Fourth Album: The True Economics Of Led Zeppelin

8 December 2006 1,767 views No Comment

I couple of weeks ago I took possession of a late birthday present – a new ION-USB vinyl record deck. You can’t beat the old vinyl for clarity of sound and plenty of the old faves have been out of their sleeves over the past weeks – none more impressive than Led Zep 4.

This re-awakening has been inspired by a trawl through Barney Hoskins new study of the Zep 4 album in the Rock Of Ages series via Rodale Books. A no frills straight ahead account of what went down all those years back at the Grange refreshingly presented by an excellent writer.
So out came my original of the album on Atlantic De Luxe 2401012 as purchased 35 years ago this month at the WH Smith store in Bedford’s High Street. Little did I know as I handed over the counter my paper round accumulated £2 pounds and 35 new pence that three years hence I’d actually be behind this same counter commencing a journey in music retail that is as we speak clocking up 33 consecutive Christmas’s.

So I played this vinyl original from start to finish, complete with a few clicks and hisses but rich in warmth. What struck me more than anything else is the sheer economy the four of them achieved on those eight tracks. Not an ounce of filler to be found. Not one note out of place. Not one production value over stated.

I have repeatedly sited Physical Graffiti as the starting place for any would-be Zeppelin fan. While that epic double set remains my personal favourite and is indeed an embarrassment of riches, on listening and reading about Zep 4 again there’s a strong case for this album to be the real benchmark in terms of a masterclass in everything they do well. The phenomenal enduring sales figures of the album would seem to support that theory.

All this Zep 4 activity reminded me of something Huge Jones that much respected ex editor of US Zepzine Proximity wrote in a re appraisal of the album for TBL 15.
”We are talking here about a near perfect piece of work by the greatest practioners of the genre at the height of the game and like any great work of creativity, it’ll live on as long as there are people around to hear it”.

I could not agree more.

Play it again yourself and be prepared to be enthralled all over again. And while you’re at it, buy it for someone this Christmas who deserves to be similarly enlightened.

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