Led Zeppelin is one of the most recognized names in music history. The band released hit after hit throughout the 1970s, but broke up in 1980 after the death of drummer John Bonham. The band has influenced countless musicians in the decades since and their songs are still rock radio staples.
Generally, their earlier albums are seen as their greatest work, and their later albums as their worst. At least, almost every ranking of Led Zeppelin albums I’ve seen has been this way. I think that Led Zeppelin had a great run and every album has its star moments.
Here is my ranking of their albums from worst to best, not including their live album, greatest hits, or the album Coda from 1982, which was made up of demos and drafts of unreleased songs.
8.) In Through the Out Door (1978)
This album was the last to be released by Led Zeppelin. I loved this album when I first heard it, but my love for it has slowly drained away. The album does include some of the band’s songs, such as “In the Evening,” “Fool in the Rain,” and “All My Love,” but it doesn’t have much else. The other songs on the album don’t sound like hard rock or like Led Zeppelin at all.
7.) Houses of the Holy (1973)
This album isn’t bad, it’s just very slow. Unlike In Through the Out Door, I can listen to this album without getting a headache or feeling the need to skip a song. The songs are well crafted and show the talent of the band members, but slow music isn’t usually for me.
The album does have some great songs that are very well known, such as “Over the Hills and Far Away,” “Dancing Days,” “D’yer Mak’er,” and “The Ocean.” Additionally, the album artwork is amazing.
6.) Led Zeppelin II (1969)
This album is usually a fan favorite and a favorite of critics. I don’t know why, but I’ve never looked too fondly on the album. It is a great album, but many of the songs are overplayed on the radio or in pop culture, and I guess that I’m burned out on it.
Still, I love the songs “Heartbreaker,” “Living Loving Maid,” and “Ramble On.”
5.) Led Zeppelin I (1969)
I put this album in the same boat as its successor, Led Zeppelin II. This album had an edge over the previous one in my list because it was more upbeat songs that I can sing along to than the other. Plus it includes the amazing “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.”
The songs “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” “Your Time is Gonna Come,” and “Communication Breakdown” are standouts for me, although most of the other songs are also hits.
4.) Presence (1976)
This album is chosen as the worst Led Zeppelin album 90% of the time. Why? It lacked any real hits and its sales were the lowest of any Led Zeppelin album with three million (other than Coda). The recording of the album was also rushed in just mere weeks and singer Robert Plant had to record vocals while in a wheelchair because of an injury.
The album gets more hate than it deserves. The songs are good, solid rockers that show that even in rough times Led Zeppelin can produce an album.
Songs such as “Achilles Last Stand,” “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” “Hots On For Nowhere,” and “For Your Life” are some of my favorites by the band.
3.) Led Zeppelin III (1970)
I love this album. It is mostly, if not all, acoustic and the songwriting seems to be edgier than Led Zeppelin’s other work. It may be one of their lowest selling albums, but it really is a gem.
My favorites from the album include the hard-rocking hit “Immigrant Song,” the fun “Gallows Pole” and “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp,” and the majestic “Tangerine,” which may be the greatest Led Zeppelin song ever recorded.
2.) Physical Graffiti (1975)
Not only is this double album the longest of Led Zeppelin’s career, but its one of the best albums of all time. There is so much good and so little bad.
The songs “Custard Pie,” “The Rover,” “Houses of the Holy,” “Trampled Under Foot,” “Kashmir,” “The Wanton Song,” and “Black Country Woman” are some of the best in their catalog.
1.) IV (1971)
Did anyone think that I would choose a different album for number one?
This album is the pinnacle of Led Zeppelin’s career. It sold 23 million copies just in the United States and almost every song is still played on rock radio today.
Who can resist the hard rockers “Rock & Roll,” “The Battle of Evermore,” “Misty Mountain Hop,” and “When the Levee Breaks”?
And what about the super-famous “Stairway to Heaven”? This album is like a spiritual/religious experience…without the religion.
What do you think of my list? What are your favorite Led Zeppelin albums?