Led Zeppelin IV: every song ranked from worst to best

A photograph of Led Zeppelin live on stage in 1972
Led Zeppelin in 1972
(Image: © Getty Images)

Of all their records, Led Zeppelin’s fourth album, released in late 1971, remains their most admired work. From Page’s unimpeachable riffs, through Jones musical invention and Plant’s clarity of vocal to that titanic John Bonham drum sound - Led Zeppelin IV still emits a freshness that belies its age. Here’s how we ranked its tracks from worst to best…

8) Four Sticks

7) Going To California

6) The Battle Of Evermore

5) Misty Mountain Hop

4) Rock And Roll

An instantly identifiable Zeppelin anthem. This track came out of a jam with Rolling Stones’ mentor Ian Stewart guesting on piano. Bonzo played the intro of Little Richard’s Keep A Knockin, and Page quickly added a suitable 1950s type riff. Fifteen minutes later, the nucleus of Rock And Roll was down on tape. A classic was born…

3) Black Dog

The almost impossible-to-copy rhythmic swing of the track (44 time set against 54) was a key indication of how far ahead of the rock game Zep were. Back in the day, bands such as Grand Funk Railroad were touted as being successors to Zep’s heavyweight crown, but their approach was devoid of the grace and timing of something like Black Dog.

2) When The Levee Breaks

This Memphis Minnie old blues stomper is led all the way by that much sampled, pummelling drum sound – created with one mic slung over the staircase in Headley Grange where it was recorded. Bonzo lets loose with a percussive ferocity which is matched by Page’s shimmering guitar work. Thunderous throughout.

1) Stairway To Heaven

Back in 1971 they knew this slow building opus was good, but they could never have dreamt the sheer commotion that this eight-minute epic would cause over the ensuing five decades. It’s been both loved and loathed in equal measures. Now of course after the LA court ruling in June, they can tell everyone that this is their song…

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