Led Zeppelin IV

On a rough wall hangs a painting of an elderly man in a field with a large bundle of sticks tied to his back.
Studio album by
Released8 November 1971[1]
  • December 1970 – February 1971
  • July 1971 (mixing)[1][2]
ProducerJimmy Page
Led Zeppelin chronology
Led Zeppelin III
Houses of the Holy
Singles from Untitled
  1. "Black Dog" / "Misty Mountain Hop"
    Released: 2 December 1971
  2. "Rock and Roll" / "Four Sticks"
    Released: 21 February 1972

The untitled fourth studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, commonly known as Led Zeppelin IV, was released on 8 November 1971 by Atlantic Records. It was produced by guitarist Jimmy Page and recorded between December 1970 and February 1971, mostly in the country house Headley Grange. The album contains one of the band's best known songs, "Stairway to Heaven".

The informal setting at Headley Grange inspired the band, and allowed them to try different arrangements of material and create songs in a variety of styles. After the band's previous album Led Zeppelin III received lukewarm reviews from critics, they decided their fourth album would officially be untitled, and would be represented instead by four symbols chosen by each band member, without featuring the name or any other details on the cover. Unlike the prior two albums, the band was joined by some guest musicians. Joining Robert Plant (vocals), Jimmy Page (guitar), John Paul Jones (bass, multi-instrumentalist), and John Bonham (drums) were Fairport Convention vocalist Sandy Denny on "The Battle of Evermore", and Rolling Stones pianist Ian Stewart on "Rock and Roll". As with prior albums, most of the material was written by the band, though there was one cover song, a hard rock re-interpretation of the Memphis Minnie blues song "When the Levee Breaks".

The album was a commercial and critical success and is Led Zeppelin's best-selling, shipping over 37 million copies worldwide. It is one of the best-selling albums in the US, while critics have regularly placed it highly on lists of the greatest albums of all time.

Writing and recording

Most of the album was recorded at Headley Grange in Hampshire.

Following the release of Led Zeppelin III in October 1970, the group took a break from live performances to concentrate on recording a follow-up. They turned down all touring offers, including a proposed New Year's Eve gig that would have been broadcast by television. They returned to Bron-Yr-Aur, a country house in Snowdonia, Wales, to write new material.[3]

Recording sessions for the album began at Island Records' Basing Street Studios, London in December 1970.[4] The group had considered Mick Jagger's home, Stargroves as a recording location, but decided it was too expensive.[5] They subsequently moved the following month to Headley Grange, a country house in Hampshire, England, using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio and engineer Andy Johns, with the Stones' Ian Stewart assisting. Johns had just worked on engineering Sticky Fingers and recommended the mobile studio.[5] Guitarist and producer Jimmy Page later recalled: "We needed the sort of facilities where we could have a cup of tea and wander around the garden and go in and do what we had to do."[6] This relaxed, atmospheric environment at Headley Grange also provided other advantages for the band, as they were able to capture spontaneous performances immediately, with some tracks arising from the communal jamming.[6] Bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones remembered there was no bar or leisure facilities, but this helped focus the group on the music without being distracted.[5]

Once the basic tracks had been recorded, the band added overdubs at Island Studios in February. Page then took the completed master tapes to Sunset Sound in Los Angeles for mixing, on Johns' recommendation, with a plan for an April 1971 release.[7][8] However, the band disliked the results, and so after touring through the spring and early summer, Page remixed the whole album in July. The album was delayed again over the choice of cover, whether it should be a double album, with a possible suggestion it could be issued as a set of EPs.[9]

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