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Featured Album: Led Zeppelin's "IV"

Led Zeppelin’s fourth untitled studio album known colloquially as “IV” was released on November 8, 1971. Despite an overwhelmingly positive critical reception and it since going on to become one of the best-selling albums of all time, it remains to this day shrouded in mystery. There seems to be a rift amongst critics, the record label, and from within the band itself as to what the project is actually called. The album is sometimes referred to as “IV,” “Led Zeppelin IV,” and “the fourth album.” Not only was the album put out without any sort of indication whatsoever as to what it’s supposed to be or who recorded it, but the band members were adamant about affixing their names to the project only in the form of symbols. Eventually compromising with the record label, allowing them to print Led Zeppelin on the vinyl itself, four unique symbols appear above the group’s name as well as the inside of the album’s insert. Each symbol was selected by the band members to represent a particular belief they hoped to impart upon the listener. John Bonham and John Paul Jones both took their symbols from Rudolf Kock’s “Book of Signs.” John Paul’s symbol of the three interlocking Vesica Pisces is intended to represent confidence and competence. Bonham’s three rings is supposed to represent the family triad of mother, father, and child. Robert Plant and Jimmy Page took different approaches by hand drawing their monikers. Plant came up with a feather surrounded by a circle based on a symbol commonly associated with the lost mythical civilization of Mu. Page produced the most calligraphic design which at first glance, appears to spell out “zoso.” He’s repeatedly denied that the symbol shares any association with any written word or known sigil but refuses to elaborate further. The esoteric imagery of the album only increases the more it’s analyzed. Inside the sleeve is a depiction of a hermit character painted by Barrington Coleby that has been confirmed to be based on the Tarot card of the Rider-Waite deck. In the same fashion, the cover of the album has been speculated to be an interpretation of the Rider-Waite deck’s Ten of Wands. Robert Plant has put forth the story that the album’s artwork came from an antique shop in Reading, Berkshire of unknown origin. To create the cover, he positioned the 19th century rustic oil painting against the dilapidated wallpaper of a partially destroyed suburban house. Plant contends that the statement the cover is trying to make revolves around the dichotomy between the city and country life and serves as a reminder that people should look after the Earth. As with everything else on the album, the band also hints that all of the album’s symbolism is intended for other people to savor and is completely up for interpretation! Let your mind wonder across all the visual and auditory mysteries by streaming songs from the sixth highest certified album in history, including “Going to California,” the Memphis Minnie cover “When the Levee Breaks,” and the career defining “Stairway to Heaven” on the deluxe edition now available on Spotify!

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