One of the greatest rock bands of all time deserves only the heaviest, most epic of symphonic tributes and that’s precisely what Stairway To Heaven – Led Zeppelin Masters is, featuring 20 Zeppelin masterpieces, with 35 musicians and singers.
This July, 35 years after Led Zeppelin’s official demise with the death of legendary drummer John Bonham, Australian fans will witness the most fitting tribute possible to one rock and roll history’s most notable groundbreakers.
To celebrate this incredible and unique orchestral experience no true Zeppelin fan is going to want to say they missed out on, we’ve gone ahead and put together the six songs we think serve as the best guide to one of the greatest bands of all time.
Stairway To Heaven
Though it’s currently the point of contention in a Los Angeles court, ‘Stairway To Heaven’ is for many Led Zeppelin’s magnum opus and one of the greatest songs ever written. To others, it’s an overplayed rock radio staple that’s too long and too grandiose for its own good.
But anyone who says that probably isn’t a Zeppelin fan. All the elements that made Zeppelin great are here, from the Olympian vocals and esoteric lyrics to the masterful instrumentation, but ultimately ‘Stairway…’ is something that’s bigger than the sum of its parts.
Whole Lotta Love
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It’s all about that riff, but it’s also about those vocals, and those drums, and that bass. Yes, whilst it may be Jimmy Page’s timeless riff and maybe that immortal breakdown that most people take away from ‘Whole Lotta Love’, it takes all of Zeppelin’s combined powers to make this tune what it is.
It’s in songs like ‘Whole Lotta Love’, in fact an adaptation of an earlier blues standard that was in turn adapted by the Small Faces, that Zeppelin show why noted Zeppelin fan Dave Grohl once said, “Heavy metal would not exist without Led Zeppelin, and if it did, it would suck.”
Dazed and Confused
Another reworking by Page, Plant, Bonham, and Jones, but another number this quartet immortalised. Everyone got to shine on ‘Dazed and Confused’, particularly when the song was performed live, most often as the centrepiece of the band’s performances.
Live, the song served as a metaphor for the band as a whole, as they were always expanding it and experimenting with it, always seeing which bold new places it could go. Eventually, the might of ‘Dazed and Confused’ began to consume other songs whole and the band would segue in and out of ‘The Crunge’, ‘Walter’s Walk’, and others.
“We weren’t being pompous … We did come from the land of the ice and snow. We were guests of the Icelandic Government on a cultural mission,” Robert Plant ones explained. Yeah, and ‘Stairway To Heaven’ wasn’t really written at Bron-Yr-Aur during a pagan conjuring ceremony.
None of that matters, because Zeppelin were able to take anything and instil it with a staggering sense of grandeur, and they had plenty to play with on this cut from Zeppelin III. Vocals that make you want to run for the hills, lyrics that make you feel like you’re soaring, and a riff that makes you want to go to war.
Those not as familiar with the band might assume that Plant and Page hog most of the spotlight, but fans know that Led Zeppelin were musician’s musicians. Page is considered one of the all-time great guitarists, Plant one of the greatest vocalists, Jones a legend of the bass, and Bonham, well, an absolute icon of the drums.
‘Moby Dick’ was Bonham’s chance to shine and he takes up most of the instrumental’s 4 minute 20 second track length absolutely solo. Legend has it the version of ‘Moby Dick’ that ended up on Zeppelin II was in fact cut down from an even longer version. And he performed it all live, too.
Much like a debate rages amongst hard rock fans about who had a bigger impact on heavy metal – Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin? Debate rages amongst Zeppelin fans of just what the band’s crowning achievement is – ‘Stairway To Heaven’ or ‘Kashmir’?
Three years in the making, this cut off 1975’s Physical Graffiti is a shining jewel in the canon of the band’s ‘epic’ songs. Yeah, all of the band’s songs were ‘epic’, but ‘Kashmir’ isn’t a ‘Communication Breakdown’ or a ‘Rock and Roll’, it’s a testament to the band’s artistic depth and imagination.