When the pines begin to cry: The best of Led Zeppelin

A lacuna too vast to fill with mix tapes. Classic rock meant nothing to me for years: Pink Floyd, Bad Company, those late sixties British guitar acts, Van Halen, feh. I didn’t own Zoso until I was twenty-three (I did own several Rush albums though!). Now that I own every album except the debut, they’re easier to appreciate: a Philip Johnson tower, Sinclair Lewis novels, both models of girth and ambition and man’s capacity to triumph over limitations. Insensate clamor inseparable from the will to power — that’s Zep. I admire Zep less when they purloin blues verities for which John Bonham’s plod had unqualified contempt, and certainly I balk at Robert Plant’s taking seriously his dippy valentines; like Peter Gabriel, the band’s dissolution freed him to pursue whatever daft ideas about synthesizing notes from foreign lands and often succeeding.

Some notes:

(a) Presence is a landmark in my collection: I never know what the hell the songs are even after I’ve listened to it three times.

(b) It took a decade for Jimmy Page to understand where to stick the most proto-pigfuck guitar skronk of his career: smack dab at the center of a careening synth-based number called “In the Evening.”

(c) When was the last time you watched the Bonham-free reunion at Live Aid?

1. In the Evening
2. The Song Remains the Same
3. Going to California
4. When the Levee Breaks
5. Tea For One
6. Houses of the Holy
7. Celebration Day
8. Trampled Underfoot
9. Over the Hills and Far Away
10. Boogie with Stu
11. Friends
12. Dancing Days
13. Down By the Seaside
14. The Ocean
15. Good Times, Bad Times
16. Fool in the Rain
17. Achilles’ Last Stand
18. Four Sticks
20. Tangerine
21. Ten Years Gone
22. Out on the Tiles
23. Nobody’s Fault But Mine
24. The Rain Song
25. Livin’ Lovin’ Maid

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