The 10 Weirdest Led Zeppelin Songs

Led Zeppelin was rarely predictable, from extended drum solos (“Moby Dick”) to multiple epics spanning 10 minutes (“Stairway to Heaven”, “Achilles Last Stand”) and psychedelic detours between songs (“Whole Lotta Love”).

As a testament to their understated weird side, none of these moments appear on the following list of 10 weirdest Led Zeppelin songs. Each of these tracks is a unique head-scratcher in the band’s catalog, from a foray into rockabilly to a late-career synth-heavy prog track.

Here are Led Zeppelin’s 10 weirdest songs.

10. “Hot Dog” (from the 1979s Enter through the Out Door)

Cooked up during Outdoor samples during the workshop Elvis Presley and Ricky Nelson covers, this retro rockabilly lark is more playful and low-stakes than almost anything else in the Zeppelin songbook. It may also be the most sloppy bid ever Jimmy Page, playing with the grace of a man tumbling down a flight of stairs during the intro and solo. “Hot Dog” may be fluff, but it especially has its charm Robert Plant‘s obvious Elvis cosplay on the chorus.

9. “Black Dog” (from the 1971s Led Zeppelin IV)

This gigantic hard rocker is the signature Led Zeppelin, oozing with a band of top power. But it’s also built on one of their strangest musical foundations, a call-and-response arrangement between Plant’s sexual bravado and a riff that continues to shock the small-town cover bands of the world. Bassist John Paul Jones wrote that guitar/bass pattern that pokes and prods against John Bonham‘s downright beat. “We struggled with the turnover,” Jones said later Cameron Crowe, “until Bonham found out that you just four times, as if there is no reversal. That was the secret.”

8. “In the Light” (from the 1975s Physical graffiti)

Arriving one track after the second eight-minute epic (“Kashmir”), “In the Light” opens. Physical graffiti‘s third page with one of the band’s most mysterious moments. The opening section is all atmospheric drone, dominated by Jones’ bent-note synthesizers and Plant’s hazy harmonies. (These vocals “always sounded like some choral music that I had heard from Music from Bulgaria“, Page told Rolling stones in 2015.) But the storm clouds part midway through, ushering in a bright, triumphant guitar lick that takes us home.

7. “Boogie With Stu” (from the 1975s Physical graffiti)

When Physical graffiti sessions produced too much material for an LP, Led Zeppelin had two choices: cut some quality stuff or throw in filler to fill out a double. They chose the latter route, salvaging sub-B-side rejects like “Boogie With Stu” left over from the sessions for their fourth album. The song itself is below them, an obvious boogie-woogie borrowing element from Ritchie Valens’ “Ooh My Head.” It is redeemed only by sheer novelty: the strange combination of Ian “Stu” Stewart’s rickety upright piano, Jones’ mandolin and the languid percussion sounds.

6. “Four Sticks” (from the 1971s Led Zeppelin IV)

Unlike “Black Dog”, which wrapped its weirdness around an irresistible plant hook, “Four Sticks” is just plain difficult — and probably, as a result, the most overlooked cut on the band’s fourth LP. The Eastern song, with its restlessly changing time signatures, was a challenge to record: They took a famous break and put out the much simpler “Rock and Roll”. But after seeing a public drumming between Ginger Baker and jazz icon Elvin Jones, Bonham returned to the studio renewed, grabbed two pairs of sticks and pounded out the track’s hypnotic rhythm. Everything else – the VCS3 synthesizer, the alternating acoustic and electric riffs – suddenly locked into place. (Still, it’s no surprise that rock radio went with “Stairway to Heaven”).

5. “Friends” (from the 1970s Led Zeppelin III)

As far as Page was concerned back in 1970, this droning folk tune was justifiably creepy. “It has a menacing atmosphere,” he said Melody maker. “A friend came into the studio during the recording and it was bloody loud and he had to leave. He said, ‘You’ve really done something bad!'” Surrounded by so much darkness—the Indian-style strings, the grinding shreds of open strings, splashes of Moog synthesizer — Plant’s images of loneliness and sorrow come across as warnings from some unknown beyond (“Every time someone needs you / Don’t let them down, even if it makes you sad”).

4. “Hats off to (Roy) Harper” (from the 1970s Led Zeppelin III)

Developed from a duo jam between Page and Plant, this brings folk-blues weirdness Led Zeppelin III to a skewed conclusion. The song itself is nothing more than a rattling slide guitar and a shouting vocal drenched in vibrato—a departure for the band, even within this album’s more stripped-down aesthetic. But “Harper,” named as a tribute to their folksinger friend, is mostly a toss-up. Its most notable element is a brief wash of echoing, distorted noise.

3. “The Crunge” (from the 1973s Houses of the Saints)

“Where’s the Confused Bridge? A rare Led Zep track co-written by all four members, this unabashed James Brown tribute spawned from an in-studio jam session led by Bonham’s percussion 9/8 attack: “Bonzo started the groove on ‘The Crunge,'” Page told Guitar world in 1993, “then [Jones] started playing the descending bass line and I just got into the groove.” Everything about the track is a little goofy, from Jones’ neon-tinged synthesizer leads to Plant’s nonsense lyrics (“She’s my lover, baby, and I love her so much” – how deep).

2. “Fool in the Rain” (from the 1979s Enter through the Out Door)

Over the course of six delightfully odd minutes, Led Zeppelin meanders from a booming half-time shuffle groove to polyrhythmic density to a random salsa interlude – then back to where they started. Plus, Page throws in one of his most underrated guitar solos: a sleek, little flurry of notes, laced with fuzz and octave effects. The lyrics themselves couldn’t be more ordinary (Plant’s jaded narrator is resurrected in the films), but he delivers the highest notes in a shouted, gritty style unusual for the era’s so-called “Golden God.” Hey, nobody’s 20s last forever.

1. “Carouselambra” (from the 1979s Enter through the Out Door)

Come on, Zeppelin fans – give this song it’s due! Many people fly past “Carouselambra” because of its uncharacteristically bouncy synths (Rolling stones famously dismissed them as “lame”), but that’s what makes it so unique. Jones’ playing dominates this 10-minute epic, but Page adds plenty of color with his stunning sustained flourishes – created in part by the Gizmotron, a guitar device invented by 10cc members Kevin Godley and Lol Creme.

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