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Info 101: Musicbits 75: IV the hard way

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"LED ZEPPELIN IV" Deluxe Edition CD on Atlantic Records will be released on Oct. 28, 2014. Six formats: single and double CD (re-mastered), single and double vinyl, CD/vinyl combo pack and Ultra-deluxe edition with book, posters and memorabilia. Available at amazon.com, the Electric Fetus, Cheapo Records, major chains (Target, Walmart, etc.).

Disc One: Original album re-mastered: "Black Dog", "Rock and Roll", "The Battle of Evermore" (with Sandy Denny), "Stairway to Heaven", "Misty Mountain Hop", "Four Sticks", "Going to California" and "When the Levee Breaks".

Disc Two: "Black Dog" (Basic track with guitar overdubs), "Rock and Roll" (Alternate mix), "The Battle of Evermore" (Mandolin/guitar mix from Headley Grange), "Stairway to Heaven" (Sunset Sound Mix), "Misty Mountain Hop" (Alternate mix), "Four Sticks" (Alternate mix), "Going to California" (Mandolin/guitar mix) and "When the Levee Breaks" (Alternate U.K. mix).

In a recent episode of Musicbits (#68), we discussed Led Zeppelin III and what was to come. What was to come was Led Zeppelin IV, one of the greatest albums in rock history. It's right up there with Sgt. Pepper by the Beatles, Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys, Exile on Main Street by The Rolling Stones, Machine Head by Deep Purple and To Our Children's Children's Children by The Moody Blues. Being honest, who among us didn't come home from work, grab a beer or several and play air guitar to this album until one's imaginary fingers bled? It was that good.

By the time of its release in November 1971, Page and his mates were so fed up with the lawsuits, accusations and negative reviews that Page decided the album would have no title, no printing on the cover (not even a catalog number) and no names on the record label. Even guest artist Sandy Denny selected her own symbol to represent herself. According to Page, it was "a way to avoid being pigeon-holed while still letting the audience be in touch with the music".

That music was incredibly good, sonically perfect, yielding four mainstays for their concert playlist. "Black Dog", "Rock and Roll", "Stairway to Heaven" and "Going to California" were strategically placed among their other concert numbers, creating a mood that satisfied every audience. Their show during that tour was over two hours long and still seemed too short. It was Led Zeppelin at their very best before the drugs, booze and partying began to take its toll.

Led Zeppelin would never again reach this level of intensity and perfection but what a ride they got and gave. They've sold over 37 million units of this title and it stayed on the UK charts for 77 weeks, reaching #1. In the U.S., it topped out at #2, becoming the best-selling album not to top the charts.


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