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Classic rock catalog: Led Zeppelin discography

A musical legacy

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It all started in 1968 when everybody had left The Yardbirds except guitarist Jimmy Page. In the process, Page was granted the rights to use the band's name, in exchange for fulfilling their remaining tour commitments.

Page recruited Robert Plant, then the lead singer for the bands, Hobbstweedle and Band of Joy. At Plant's suggestion, Page also grabbed up Band of Joy drummer John "Bonzo"  Bonham and bass guitarist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, who had worked a recording session with Page a couple of years earlier.

Page, Plant, Bonham and Jones then completed The Yardbirds' tour commitments as The New Yardbirds. Afterward, they changed their name to Led Zeppelin and the rest is classic rock history.

1969 - 'Led Zeppelin'

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Atlantic Records

From the beginning, Led Zeppelin sought and was granted the authority to record whatever they wanted, however they wanted. All but two of the songs on their debut album, Led Zeppelin were written or co-written by one of more of the band members, and Page produced the album. Because they had to pay for their own studio time, they didn't waste any of it, completing the album in just 36 hours spread over several sessions.

They were on tour in the U.S. in January 1969 when the album was released, which no doubt contributed to the album's reaching #10 on the Billboard album chart. It reached #6 back home in the UK. 

Original LP Track List

Side 1

"Good Times Bad Times" 

"Babe I'm Gonna Leave You"

"You Shook Me"

"Dazed and Confused"

Side 2

"Your Time is Gonna Come"

"Black Mountain Side"

"Communication Breakdown"

"I Can't Quit You Baby"

"How Many More Times"  

1969 - 'Led Zeppelin II'

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Atlantic Records

Immediately after the debut album's release, work began on Led Zeppelin II. It was recorded in various studios throughout North America and U.K. even as they continued an aggressive tour schedule. Released in October 1969, the band's second album became their first #1 on both US and UK charts.

Page once again took on the role of producer. Songs like "Heartbreaker" "Whole Lotta Love" and "Bring it Home" brought the band credit for creating the model for heavy metal that would influence other bands for years to come.

Original LP Track List

Side 1

"Whole Lotta Love"

"What Is and What Should Never Be"

"The Lemon Song"

"Thank You"  

Side 2

"Heartbreaker"

"Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)"

"Ramble On"

"Moby Dick"

"Bring It On Home"   

1970 - 'Led Zeppelin III'

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Atlantic Records

After more than a year of non-stop touring and recording, it was time for a break. Page and Plant took up temporary residence in a secluded cottage in Wales to work on the band's third album. To say that Led Zeppelin III was anxiously awaited would be an understatement. There were almost a million advance orders even before the album was released, in October 1970.

Because it was much more of an acoustic album than the first two, the critics weren't as kind as they had been, because of the change in musical direction. Album buyers chose to view it as a compliment to the band's ability to use a wide range of styles, and rewarded them their second consecutive #1.

Original LP Track List

Side 1

"Immigrant Song"

"Friends"

"Celebration Day"

"Since I've Been Loving You"

"Out on the Tiles"

Side 2

"Gallows Pole"

"Tangerine"

"That's the Way"

"Bron-Y-Aur Stomp"

"Hats Off to (Roy) Harper" 

 

1971 - 'Led Zeppelin IV'

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Atlantic Records

There have been almost as many names for Led Zeppelin's fourth studio release as there were songs on the album. The album actually had no title, and no words printed on the front or back covers. At various times, the Atlantic Records catalog listed it as The Fourth Album and Four Symbols (a reference to the four runes that appeared on the paper sleeve that held the LP and on the album label, each representing one of the band's members.) It was also known as Zoso, because Page's rune looks sort of like those letters. Over time, it has come to be most commonly referred to as Led Zeppelin IV.

The band considered each track of each album to be parts of a greater whole, and thus were never in favor of the concept of singles from their album's being released. There is no small irony in the fact that "Stairway to Heaven" which debuted on this album, went on to become the most often played songs on the radio ever, even though it hadn't been released as a single. The album peaked at #2 in the U.S. and for the third time in a row, #1 on the U.K. chart.

Original LP Track List

Side 1

"Black Dog"

"Rock and Roll"

"The Battle of Evermore"

"Stairway to Heaven"

Side 2

"Misty Mountain Hop"

Four Sticks"

"Going to California"

"When the Levee Breaks"  

1973 - 'Houses of the Holy'

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Atlantic Records

Led Zeppelin's fifth studio album was their first to consist entirely of all original songs, with no covers. Houses of the Holy also contained some as yet untried styles, including reggae ("D'yer Mak'er"), doo-wop ("The Ocean") and funk ("The Crunge"). Jones added mellotron to his keyboard repertoire for the first time.

Several songs recorded for this album subsequently wound up on other albums, including what was to have been the title song, "Houses of the Holy", which would appear on the band's next studio release. 

Original LP Track List

Side 1

"The Song Remains the Same"

"The Rain Song"

"Over the Hills and Far Away"

"The Crunge"

Side 2

"Dancing Days"

"D'yer Mak'er"

"No Quarter"

"The Ocean"   

1975 - 'Physical Grafitti'

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Atlantic Records

Physical Graffiti was the first album the band recorded on its own label, Swan Song Records, created as part of their contract with Atlantic Records. It was also the band's first double-LP. It was their fifth consecutive #1 and became one of their best-selling albums.

Some of Led Zeppelin's longest songs are found on this release, as well as some of their shortest. The double album format gave them the opportunity to sample a large number of distinct styles, including blues rock ("In My Time of Dying"); progressive ("I'm the Light"); soft rock ("Down by the Seaside"); orchestral rock ("Kashmir"); acoustic rock ("Black Country Woman") and instrumental ("Bron-Yr-Aur"); about a half dozen hard rock tracks, including "The Wanton Song" and "Houses of the Holy".

Original LP Track List

Side 1

"Custard Pie"

"The Rover"

"In My Time of Dying"

Side 2

"Houses of the Holy"

"Trampled Under Foot"

"Kashmir"

Side 3

"In the Light"

"Bron-Yr-Aur"

"Down by the Seaside"

"Ten Years Gone"

Side4

"Night Flight"

"The Wanton Song"

"Boogie with Stu"

"Black Country Woman"

"Sick Again"  

 

 

1976 - 'Presence'

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Swan Song

When you think about Led Zeppelin's catalog, Presence is probably not one of the first ones that comes to mind. Even though Page has described it as the band's most important album, it was slow to catch on. The importance of the album was less because of the music than because of the circumstances that prompted it.

In the summer of 1975, Led Zeppelin were at the top of the heap. Things suddenly changed in August of that year when Plant was seriously injured in a car wreck, forcing the cancellation of a world tour scheduled to begin a couple of weeks later. Page thought it was important to soldier on, to prove that the band could and would survive no matter what.

Plant was in a wheelchair throughout the recording sessions. By his own account, he was weak, tired, and angry because he couldn't be with his wife and children for Thanksgiving. He was questioning whether being a rock star was worth the cost. 

Like all but their first release, Presence was a #1 seller, but for a shorter period of time, being overshadowed by the release a few month's later of the band's first live album.

Original LP Track List

Side 1

"Achilles Last Stand"

"For Your Life"

"Royal Orleans"  

Side 2

"Nobody's Fault but Mine"

"Candy Store Rock"

"Hots On for Nowhere"

"Tea for One"  

 

1976 - 'The Song Remains the Same' (live)

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Rhino Records

From the beginning, the band maintained a grueling tour schedule. More than once, they recorded studio albums while they were on the road, using whatever studio was available in whatever city they were in. But it was eight years (and seven studio albums) later that they released their first live album.

The Song Remains the Same was (with a few alterations) the soundtrack of their concert film recorded at Madison Square Garden in New York City during their 1973 North American tour. For once, Page and the critics agreed, at least on the point that the double-LP was not truly representative of the band's best live performances. Regardless, it was another in a continuing string of sales successes, peaking at #1 in the UK and #2 in the US.

Original LP Track List

Side 1

"Rock and Roll"

"Celebration Day"

"The Song Remains the Same"

"The Rain Song"

Side 2

"Dazed and Confused"

Side 3

"No Quarter"

"Stairway to Heaven"

Side 4

"Moby Dick"

"Whole Lotta Love"

1979 - 'In Through the Out Door'

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Atlantic Records

Three years passed before another studio album was released, the longest gap between releases since their debut 10 years earlier. Once again, it was an album recorded in the midst of turmoil and personal tragedy. Plant came very close to leaving the band after his five year old son, Karac died of a lung infection in 1977. It was also a time when Led Zeppelin weren't able to perform in the UK, having elected to move out of their home country to avoid its notoriously high tax on high income earners.

In Through the Out Door was the last studio album that was comprised of all new songs. Jones and Plant wrote most of the songs. In fact, it was the first and only Led Zeppelin album that contained original songs that Page did not have a hand in writing. Nobody knew that it would be the band's last #1 studio release, and their last album of all original material. Nobody knew that Led Zeppelin's final tragedy was just months away.

Original LP Track List

Side 1

"In the Evening"

"South Bound Saurez"

"Fool in the Rain"

"Hot Dog"

Side 2

"Carouselambra"

"All My Love"

"I'm Gonna Crawl"  

 

1982 - 'Coda'

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Atlantic Records

 Coda. The end. The final dance. The end of the song.

After drummer "Bonzo" Bonham died in September 1980 following a 24 hour drinking binge, the surviving band members issued a statement in which they made it clear that the end of Bonham's life was also the end of Led Zeppelin. "We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were."

Two years later came Coda , a mixture of original songs that had failed to make the cut on earlier albums and previously unreleased live performances recorded in 1970. Peaking at $6 in the U.S. and #4 in the U.K. the band's last studio album joined their first one as the only two Led Zeppelin studio albums that didn't make the #1 chart position in either the U.S., the U.K., or both..

Original LP Track List

Side 1

"We're Gonna Groove" (live)

"Poor Tom"

"I Can't Quit You Baby" (live)

"Walter's Walk"

Side 2

"Ozone Baby"

"Darlene"

"Bonzo's Montreux"

"Wearing and Tearing" 

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