Today marks the 50th anniversary of Led Zeppelin IV, for many, the best “hard rock” album in the history of music.
The fourth untitled studio album by English rock band Led Zeppelin, commonly known as “Led Zeppelin IV”, was released on November 8, 1971, by Atlantic Records. It was produced by guitarist Jimmy Page and recorded between December 1970 and February 1971, mainly at Headley Grange country house. The album is notable for featuring “Stairway to Heaven,” one of the band’s signature songs.
Plant purchased the 19th-century rustic oil painting on the album cover from an antique store in Reading, Berkshire. The painting was then placed on the internal wallpapered wall of a partially demolished suburban house for the cover photo to be taken. The block of apartments seen on the back cover is Salisbury Tower in the Ladywood district of Birmingham.
After the lukewarm and dismissive reaction that Led Zeppelin III had received in late 1970, Page decided that the next Led Zeppelin album would not have a title. Instead, feature four hand-drawn symbols on the inside cover and record label, chosen by the band member it represents. The record company strongly opposed the idea, but the group stood firm and refused to release the master tapes until the label accepted their decision.
Page has also stated that the decision to release the album without any written information on the album cover was contrary to solid advice given to him by a press agent, who said that after a year’s absence from both albums and touring, the decision would be akin. to “professional suicide.” Releasing the album without an official title has made it challenging to identify consistently. Although more commonly called Led Zeppelin IV, Atlantic Records catalogs have used “Four Symbols” and “The Fourth Album.” It is also referred to as “ZoSo” (whose symbol Page appears to spell out), Untitled, and Runes. Page frequently refers to the album in interviews as “the fourth album” and “Led Zeppelin IV.”
The band had considered Mick Jagger’s house, Stargroves, as a recording location but decided it was too expensive. They subsequently moved the following month to Headley Grange, using the Rolling Stones mobile studio and engineer Andy Johns, with the help of the Stones’ Ian Stewart. The informal atmosphere at Headley Grange inspired the band and allowed them to try out different arrangements and create songs in various styles.
Once the basic tracks were recorded, the band added overdubs at Island Studios in February. Page then took the multi-track tapes to Sunset Sound in Los Angeles for mixing, on Johns’ recommendation, with a plan for an April 1971 release. However, the band didn’t like the results, so after touring during the spring and early summer, Page remixed the entire album in July. The album was again delayed over the choice of cover art and whether it should be a double album, suggesting that it could be released as a set of several EPs.
The album has been remastered several times. A new version was released on October 27, 2014, along with Houses of the Holy. The reissue comes in various formats: Standard CD edition, a two-CD deluxe edition, a standard LP version, a two-LP deluxe version, a two-CD plus two-LP super deluxe version with a hardcover book, and 24-bit/96k digital downloads.
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