After rumors spread last month that Led Zeppelin (Plant, Page, Jones and Jason Bonham) were regrouping to make an appearance at Desert Trip 2017, fans and followers were given the news that the massive event won’t happen after all this year. Still, that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope it won’t happen in the future. Indeed, after the amazing line-up of classic rockers it managed to attract last year — Paul McCartney, Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Roger Waters, the Who, Bob Dylan- the bar has been set incredibly high. It would make sense then that they coax Led Zep out to bat simply to equal those hallowed highs. After all, they only have themselves to blame for upping expectations.
Consequently, we’re raising our own expectations and hoping that Led Zeppelin agree to reconvene for what certainly will be the concert of a lifetime. And if that’s the case, here’s our wish list for songs to break out that were not played at their famous 2007 02 Arena London reunion show.
Songs Not Played at 02 Arena 12/10/07 We Want To Hear
“Going to California”
While Zeppelin are better known as being one of the forebears of hard rock, heavy metal, bombast and British blues, they always had a distinctly softer side to their template. Plant himself showed a certain kinship to folkies like Fairport Convention, having appeared at several of their reunion festivals and more recently, making an appearance on their latest album Fairport 50. (Fairport’s singer Sandy Denny also made a cameo appearance on IV, the album from which this song was culled.) Filled with ambiance and acoustic guitars, its lofty imagery about the woman with “flowers in her hair” was rumored to have been inspired by Plant’s infatuation with Joni Mitchell.
Another tune cast with traditional trappings, “Gallows Pole” is a hoary folk song that’s been covered by a number of folk artists over the years. Zep’s backbeat kicks it up several notches and gives Plant occasion to wail.
Zeppelin weren’t always given credit for their use of supple textures, but “Tangerine” is one of those songs that falls somewhere between balladry and a balls-out rocker. It’s certainly one of the more melodic tunes in their canon, a nice fit for the more subdued sound that dominated Led Zeppelin III. There’s a distinct country noir present in the track, although Jimmy Page claims to have written it for the Yardbirds. Supposedly inspired by his failed relationship with singer Jackie DeShannon, it originally carried the title “Knowing That I’m Losing You.”
“Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”
A heavy blues that typified the band’s seminal sound, “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” was based on a traditional standard that they effectively translated into their own distinctive style. While the track starts off supple and subdued, it suddenly shifts gears midway through and develops a full throttle wallop that finds Plant wailing with full fury and the rest of the band kicking into high velocity behind him.
Culled from Led Zeppelin II, “Thank You” was Plant’s homage to his then wife Maureen. As such, it found the singer writing the majority of a song’s lyrics for the first time. In the midst of the hard edged material surrounding it, it was surprisingly lovely, with Page’s acoustic guitar leads and Jones’ Hammond organ creating a delicate underpinning for Plant’s emotive vocals. It’s one of the few songs that can truly be said to underscore the band’s more sensitive side.
“Your Time Is Gonna Come”
Somewhat sinister, its title was meant as revenge on an unfaithful lover. While the theme of tangled love was a core conceit early on, John Paul Jones’ turn on church organ and Plant’s prowess on steel guitar gave the song a distinctive sound that allowed it to resonatet hroughout their career. Surprisingly, the band rarely performed it on tour after 1968, but it did hold the distinction of being the very first Zep song covered by an outside artist when British singer Sandie Shaw did a version on her 1969 album Reviewing the Situation.
“Houses of the Holy”
The title track of the band’s fifth album, this song is best defined by its hurky-jerky rhythm, which gives it a kind of quirky accessibility. Neither overwhelming nor overtly mellow (even by Zeppelin standards), it’s instantly engaging in an odd sort of way.
“Achilles Last Stand”
An autobiographical narrative of sorts, it references Page and Plant’s visit to Morocco as well as injuries Plant suffered during a stay in Greece. Rumor has it that the working title was actually called “Wheelchair’s Last Stand.” Ironically though, the song is a tour de force, the third lengthiest of the band’s canon. Highlighted by piercing layers of guitar and Bonham’s unrelenting drumming, this could be considering an epic of sorts, even amongst the other competition on Zeppelin’s catalog.
“When the Levee Breaks”
Another track based in traditional blues — it’s origins date back to 1929 in fact — “When the Levee Breaks” was hailed as one of the obvious triumphs of Led Zeppelin IV and still remains one of the band’s most indelible offerings. Ironically, several failed attempts to record the song were made before they finally managed to nail it. The final result yielded an unrelenting yet majestic spectacle of Herculian proportions.
“In The Evening”>Zep seemed to have mellowed considerably when they released their final album, In Through the Out Door. According to Wikipedia, it prompted Page to remark, “We (drummer John Bonham and I) both felt In Through the Out Door was a little soft. But not “In The Evening,” which has a kickstart beginning and never relents throughout its synth and guitar driven six plus minute opus.
“Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman)”A highlight from the album’s brilliant sophomore set — it segued out of the preceding track “Heartbreaker” — the song was reportedly about a groupie that followed the band early on. Page claims it was his least favorite Zeppelin song, one reason why the band never performed it on tour. On the other hand, the band was so legendary for attracting groupies, perhaps it was just a matter of not wanting to single out one devotee over the others.
One of the most recognizable Page riffs around and one of the most potent ever. Also, speaking of which, here’s another song that deals with a wanton woman. “Hey fellas, have you heard the news? You know that Annie’s back in town? It won’t take long just watch and see how the fellas lay their money down.” Could they be talking about a certain woman of the evening? You’d better believe it.
“Ten Years Gone”
This Physical Graffiti number contains one of the most cryptic yet soothing mashes of light and dark that is the epitome of mid to late 70’s Zeppelin.Page takes the climatic back half of this track to new levels as the six and a half minute epic proves no matter the length of the songs, there is very little filler to be played around with on a Page/Plant composition.