Why Led Zeppelin chose the symbols of the work ‘IV’

We’ve all heard of Led Zeppelin’s critically acclaimed fourth album, the untitled record widely known as Led Zeppelin IV. The 1971 effort contains some of the band’s most beloved and influential works including “Black Dog”, “The Battle of Evermore” and yes, what we now call “the forbidden riff”, “Stairway to Heaven” . . Iconic music aside, however, there’s another reason the LP is one of the most enduring records of all time; The artwork.

The fact that the album had no title and the band chose to decorate the recording with four symbols, each relating to the character of each member of the band, imbued the album with an unmatched myth. both in the Led Zeppelin catalog and in music. the industry itself. But why did Led Zeppelin choose to leave the album untitled and use the symbols? Well, the determining factor was the negative critical and commercial reactions they had to their previous album, the 1970s. Led Zeppelin III. He was the band’s guitarist and producer of Led Zeppelin IV, Jimmy Page, who made the conceptual choice.

Ironically, the label, Atlantic, was totally against the idea, but the band were relentless in their position, and they even refused to relinquish ownership of the master bands until Atlantic backed their decision. Even Page’s press secretary was against the decision. He told Page in no uncertain terms that the move would be “professional suicide”, especially in the face of Led Zeppelin IIIhis detractors. Page still didn’t move. Looking back, he said: “We just happened to have a lot of confidence in what we were doing.”

Atlantic continued to insist that the band give the album a title, but Page maintained that he thought it would give in to critics. At the time, he felt that the media couldn’t criticize a Led Zeppelin album without comparing it to others, rather than as a singular unit.

When the album was released untitled, it encountered identification issues, and although it soon became known as Led Zeppelin IV, Atlantic document catalogs used the rather long title Four symbols and the fourth album. It was the debate over the name of the project that really added to the album’s mystique. Some even call it “ZoSo‘, in direct reference to the Page symbol.

But what about the group? The no-frills page always labeled it “the fourth album” or “Led Zeppelin IV“, and frontman Robert Plant said it was definitely the” fourth album, that’s it. “

At first, Page wanted the album cover to only have a singular symbol, but then decided that each member could choose their own, adding real personality to the artwork. The “ZoSo” symbol he designed himself and, given his well-known interest in everything esoteric, this has led some people to believe that it was a 16th century depiction of the planet Saturn.

Widely known as “ZoSo,” Page also argued that it wasn’t meant to be a word but remained shy about the actual inspiration behind it. You can read more about the meanings of the symbols here. Interestingly, the rest of the album cover has a story to tell as well. Famous, the focal point of the cover is a rustic oil painting of a farmer. It was bought from an antique dealer in Reading by Plant and hung on the wall of a partly demolished townhouse. The image was juxtaposed on its reverse side, the gray image of the Salisbury Tower apartment building in Birmingham.

The group explained that the cover art was meant to sum up the dichotomy between town and country, a theme the group first discussed on Led Zeppelin III. It was intended as a reminder to protect the planet, a topic more topical than ever today.

An important album with an exceptional cover, Led Zeppelin IV strongly claims to be the most complex album cover of the classic rock era. The decision to release it untitled and the addition of the symbols created a talking point that shows no signs of slowing down even 50 years after its release in what is an undoubted stroke of genius. In addition, the ecological themes show that the group was not only ahead of its time musically, a testament to its genius.

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(Credit: Wikimedia)

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