Album: Led Zeppelin

Mothership (Atlantic)
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The Independent Culture

Few artists have tried as hard as Led Zeppelin to prevent easy access to their music. From the start, they were an "albums band", refusing to issue singles in the UK, appearing rarely – and reluctantly – on TV, and delaying the release of albums on the slightest aesthetic pretext. In some ways, it's a miracle anybody got to hear them – yet they became the biggest rock band of them all, establishing the notion of stadium rock, inventing hard rock in the form that still prevails today, and selling an estimated 300 million albums in their 12 years together. And, as this two-CD retrospective illustrates, their recordings have yet to be bested by any of their successors. The secret lay in their versatility and attention to detail: no other band had as good a grasp of folk, funk and world influences, or the willingness to apply them as Zep did on the likes of "Stairway to Heaven", "Trampled Underfoot" and "Kashmir". They weren't always spot on – the cumbersome "D'Yer Maker" is too stodgy to work as reggae, for instance, and the later albums are thin on top – but their strike rate here is extraordinary.

Download this: 'Whole Lotta Love', 'Rock and Roll', 'Black Dog', 'Stairway to Heaven', 'Trampled Underfoot', 'Kashmir'