82638-2 Zoso a/k/a Runes
Produced by Jimmy Page
Released on November 8, 1971
Find it at GEMM
82638-2 cover  

S o much has already been written about this album that I cringe at the thought of adding more. Alternating between tracks of unbearable tension and angelic calm, their unpronounceable fourth album (often called “Zoso” for the first of its mystic glyphs or simply “Runes”) is regarded by many as their magnum opus. I wouldn’t argue against that assessment, though I tend not to think of Zeppelin albums in terms of best or second-best. I will concede that John Bonham has never sounded so brilliant -- this is easily one of the best drum performances on any rock album ever. Pitting his intractable rhythms against Jimmy Page’s complex riffs pulls the music into opposite directions and yet impossibly works toward some greater, invisible achievement. The difference here isn’t what the band does but what they don’t do: space has seldom played so integral a part in a genre where solos and technical proficiency were placed at a premium. The rhythm section of John Paul Jones (who’s given damn little to do here) and Bonham has never sounded so simple, almost primal. And some of the acoustic tracks (“The Battle of Evermore,” “Going To California”) feature no rhythm section whatsoever. No wonder then that when Jones and Bonham return to the discussion the listener feels pummeled by the newfound force. Every song on here is considered a classic in its own right, with “Stairway To Heaven” resting comfortably in its aerie of legend as perhaps the greatest rock song ever written (not my opinion, btw). I’ll give the lion’s share of the honors to Bonham and Robert Plant, since both Page and Jones have performed to higher standards on numerous other Zep albums. That said, I hope hearing another hack writer take a stab at this album wasn’t too painful. Not nearly as pain-inducing as hearing “Rock and Roll” used to sell sport utility vehicles, at any rate. I guess as the baby boomers age I can look forward to adult diaper commercials featuring “When The Levee Breaks.”

SD 19129 outer gatefold SD 19129 inner sleeve
SD 19129 outer gatefold SD 19129 inner sleeve
SD 19129 inner gatefold
SD 19129 inner gatefold


  1. BLACK DOG    (Jimmy Page/Robert Plant/John Paul Jones)    4:54
  2. ROCK AND ROLL    (Jimmy Page/Robert Plant/John Paul Jones/John Bonham)    3:40
  3. THE BATTLE OF EVERMORE    (Jimmy Page/Robert Plant)    5:51 (*5:38)
  4. STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN    (Jimmy Page/Robert Plant)    8:00
  5. MISTY MOUNTAIN HOP    (Jimmy Page/Robert Plant/John Paul Jones)    4:38
  6. FOUR STICKS    (Jimmy Page/Robert Plant)    4:44
  7. GOING TO CALIFORNIA    (Jimmy Page/Robert Plant)    3:31
  8. WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS    (Jimmy Page/Robert Plant/John Paul Jones/John Bonham/Memphis Minnie)    7:07

    LP and CD reissue tracks differ by a few seconds except where noted (* indicates LP track time)


Sandy Denny -- vocals (3)
Peter Grant -- executive producer
Andy Johns -- engineer, mixing
George Chkiantz -- mixing
Barrington Colby Mom -- inside illustration ("The Hermit")
Graphreaks -- design coordination

return to LED ZEPPELIN discography

US November 8, 1971 Atlantic LP SD 7208  
JPN 1971 Atlantic LP P-10125 gatefold, inner sleeve, insert
UK/GER   Atlantic LP K50008 gatefold, inner sleeve
US 1980s Atlantic LP/CD/CS SD/CS 19129 gatefold, inner sleeve
US July 1994 Atlantic CD/CS 82638 digital remaster, picture sleeve



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