How many times have you asked your friends which Led Zeppelin albums were their favorites? I know that was a topic that my friends always talked about in high school back in the seventies. Even as we have gotten older, Led Zeppelin fans like ourselves still continue to discuss our favorite Led Zeppelin albums. In those days, you didn’t just play an album once or listen to a particular record every couple of weeks. Led Zeppelin fans played those albums every day. Some Led Zeppelin albums were played more than others. However, for the most part, you played them all.
Led Zeppelin does not have a large catalog of original studio albums. One cannot even really create a top 10 Led Zeppelin albums list because there were only nine original studio albums. It’s also amazing that the only live album they ever released during their initial run was a film soundtrack record. Yet, those were nine incredible rock and roll records that you simply just don’t get tired of. They are real works of art. I can still listen to them every day and enjoy them just as much as I did in the 1970s. I think I speak for a very large portion of Led Zeppelin fans when I say that.
The Legacy of Led Zeppelin has never been exploited by Atlantic Records. When Jimi Hendrix died, his record company kept releasing unreleased material outtakes, demos and live performances that Jimi Hendrix probably never would have wanted to have been released. There have been a lot of albums released of Jim Morrison material he probably never would have wanted out. We have seen that with many other bands.
After John Bonham died, the only Led Zeppelin release we saw was the album Coda. That album was not met with a great response by Led Zeppelin fans. Perhaps it was a signal to Atlantic Records to be careful. However, we think it really came down to Robert Plant wanting to preserve the legacy of his treasured band. We get that simply from all the statements he’s made and his pushback from any sort of Led Zeppelin reunion. Led Zeppelin ended when John Bonham died. Robert Plant has made that statement over and over again. And he’s right. After the release of Coda we saw nothing from Led Zeppelin for a long time.
Led Zeppelin’s BBC Sessions two CD set that was released in 1997 was the first great Led Zeppelin release fans were presented with since the demise of the band. It was a fantastic two CD set of BBC Radio sessions recorded in 1969 and a concert recorded in 1971. An expanded version of the album was released in 2016 as part of the Jimmy Page remastered series. In essence, this was the best Led Zeppelin release Atlantic Records ever issued outside of the original nine studio albums.
Six years after the release of the initial BBC Sessions, Led Zeppelin fans were greeted with another fantastic release. The triple CD set How The West Was Won chronicled two Led Zeppelin shows recorded in California in 1973. Of course, these shows had been bootlegged for years, but fans never had them in such great sounding quality.
In 2007, Led Zeppelin performed a show as part of a benefit for Atlantic Records executive Ahmet Ertegun. As all Led Zeppelin fans know, Jason Bonham filled the drum chair for his father. It was Led Zeppelin’s best performance since the 1970s. The entire concert was captured on film and finally released five years later in 2012 on CD, DVD and Blu-Ray. It was titled Celebration Day. It stands as the last official Led Zeppelin release outside of the remastered deluxe editions of the original albums.
We all have our favorite Led Zeppelin albums. However, there is an entire generation of young people who are not familiar with the band. As crazy as that may seem to many of us old geezers, ask a kid between the ages of 15 and 25 who was the lead singer of Led Zeppelin and at least half of them will have no idea. And that’s sad. Go ahead and try it. I guarantee you there are people even in their 30s and maybe even 40s who could not name a Led Zeppelin album.
We have a young base of readers at the site. We know that from statistics. So an article like this is designed to serve as a starting point for younger fans to pick which Led Zeppelin albums to choose first. Of course, it’s also fun for old Led Zeppelin fans to argue over the order of the list. We think most would agree with the top three, but then again we all have our favorites. There is a comment section to lay yours all out.
We decided to rank all official Led Zeppelin releases including the live albums. We are not including any of the compilations like Mothership or stuff like that. The Led Zeppelin DVD from 2003 is also not included because that was a video-only release. Although it’s one of our favorite Led Zeppelin pieces that Atlantic Records ever released. We did include Coda because it was an official Led Zeppelin album even though it was filled with outtakes or whatever you want to call them. All studio albums are ranked based on their original releases and not the recent Jimmy Page remastered series with all the bonus material.
Here is our Official Led Zeppelin albums ranked in order of preference with number one of course being our favorite. To make this even more interesting we included our favorite song from each album on the list.
# 13 – Coda
Released in 1982. Our favorite Led Zeppelin song from the album was “We’re Gonna Groove.” This was all we were left with for so many years after the passing of John Bonham. The original release of Coda was simply an outtakes album. Whatever was left over that had not been released was thrown onto this album. Led Zeppelin did not record a lot of outtakes, they used pretty much everything they did on their albums. The re-release of Coda on Cd in the 2010s offered much more, but the original was pretty weak.
# 12 – Celebration Day
Released in 2012. Our favorite Led Zeppelin song from the album was “Kashmir.” Wow was that a great show closer before the encores. If you have not seen this, stop everything and watch this! They were smoking by the end of the show. It was the most emotional I have ever seen Robert Plant perform since the original days of Led Zeppelin. Bonham would have made his father incredibly proud. Page was a God once again and John Paul Jones was masterful. I still can’t believe this happened in 2007. At about the six and a half minute mark it becomes a religious experience. The greatest rock band of all time!
# 11 – In Through The Out Door
Released in 1979. Our favorite Led Zeppelin song from the album was “Fool In The Rain.” Led Zeppelin’s In Through The Out Door remains the band’s final studio album. We all called it a John Paul Jones album when it was originally released, but over the years we have all come to appreciate it much more. Check out our in depth review of the album.
# 10 – The Song Remains The Same
Released in 1976. Our favorite Led Zeppelin song from the album was the live version of “Stairway to Heaven,” and the version of “The Ocean,” on the reissue. The band always argued that this was a soundtrack record and not an official live album. For some reason it seemed they were embarrassed by the album. My friends and I always loved it. We thought it was great. Still do.
# 9 – How The West Was Won
Released in 2003. Our favorite Led Zeppelin song from the album was “Dazed and Confused”Walter’s Walk” The Crunge” twenty five minute segment that will just blow your mind. This is a great live album looking back at some really special shows.
# 8 – BBC Sessions
Released in 1997. Our favorite Led Zeppelin song from the album was the long jam of “Whole Lotta’ Love” “Boogie Chillin'” “Fixin’ to Die” “That’s Alright Mama” “A Mess of Blues.” Plus we can’t forget Travelin Riverside Blues. It was nice that after so many years, Jimmy Page started releasing some great live Led Zeppelin.
# 7 – Presence
Released in 1976. Our favorite Led Zeppelin song from the album was “Achilles Last Stand,” with “Nobody’s Fault but Mine,” a close second. Presence was a great Led Zeppelin record that has always been a bit underrated. It’s dark, it’s powerful and it fueled a great tour in 1977 that this old writer got a chance to see. Best concert I have ever seen in my entire life and they opened with “Achilles Last Stand.”
# 6 – Led Zeppelin III
Released in 1970. Our favorite Led Zeppelin song from the album was “Since I’ve Been Loving You” with the “Immigrant Song,” and “Celebration Day,” second and third. Led Zeppelin III was a very different sounding record from their first two albums. There was a much more Celtic vibe that resonated through the album.
# 5 – Led Zeppelin I
Released in 1969. Our favorite Led Zeppelin song from the album was “Dazed and Confused,” with “Good Time Bad Times,” second. Led Zeppelin I remains a favorite among so many Led Zeppelin fans. In this article, we are just touching on some of these records just a bit because we have already reviewed them individually in depth in separate individual articles.
# 4 – Houses Of The Holy
Released in 1973 Our favorite Led Zeppelin song from the album was “The Ocean,” with “Dancing Days,” and “No Quarter,” second and third. This is one of our most played Led Zeppelin records. There is just something really special about this one from Dancing Days to The Ocean and all the great stuff in between. This was sort of the party Led Zeppelin album.
# 3 – Led Zeppelin II
Released in 1969. Our favorite Led Zeppelin song from the album was “Heartbreaker,” with “Whole Lotta Love,” second. Led Zeppelin II stands as one of the most legendary classic rock albums of all time. It’s one of the most influential records ever released and it helped shape the sounds of classic rock in the 1970s. Read our complete review on this landmark album.
# 2 – Led Zeppelin IV
Released in 1971. Our favorite Led Zeppelin song from the album was “Black Dog,” with “Rock and Roll,” and “Misty Mountain Hop,” a close second and third. This is easily Led Zeppelin’s most popular album among the masses because of the big hits. Yet, the hardcore Led Zeppelin fans will always pick the next one on our list as their favorite Led Zeppelin album. No question about it.
# 1 – Physical Graffiti
Released in 1975. Our favorite Led Zeppelin song from the album was Kashmir with The Rover and Ten Years Gone coming in right behind. This is not just Led Zeppelin greatest album, we would argue it’s the greatest rock and roll album of all time. In fact we already have in many other articles. This is Led Zeppelin at there creative peak firing on more cylinders than they ever realized they had. All four of them becoming the Rock Gods that we would forever worship them as.
John Bonham – Dina Regine / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)
Jimmy Page – Dina Regine / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)
John Paul Jones – https://www.flickr.com/photos/laraclifford/ Lara Clifford] / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)
Robert Plant – Phil King / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)
Updated May 25, 2023
Led Zeppelin Albums Ranked With Best Song Choices article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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