The 40 Greatest Led Zeppelin Songs of All Time

The definitive guide to Zeppelin’s finest recorded moments

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'When the Levee Breaks' (1971)
Photo by Jorgen Angel/Getty Images8/40

8. 'When the Levee Breaks' (1971)

This is Zeppelin as bad-trip blues band, with lyrics cribbed from Memphis Minnie about an epic flood and freaky, drowned-world production by Page, using heavy echo, backward harmonica and slo-mo playback. Bonzo's drums, recorded in a stairwell at Headley Grange, are so ginormous they became a classic sample (most famously opening the Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill). "The acoustics of the stairwell happened to be so balanced we didn't even need to mic the kick drum," Page recalled.

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