Led Zeppelin mocked the monster of sophistication in classic prog-rock fashion, and if it led them to the beaches of pretentiousness, then be it; where else would art be without pretentiousness? The group’s fourth unnamed studio LP, issued in 1971, established the stage for further complexity. The track “Four Sticks,” which Led Zeppelin found extremely challenging to perform live, was the album’s main attraction.
To the uninitiated ear, the song doesn’t appear to be especially complex compared to other Led Zep songs, but Bonham considered the exact drumming and a delicate transition between the 5/4 and 6/8 time signatures to be Mount Everest.
Bassist John Paul Jones claims:
“It took him ages to get ‘Four Sticks.’ I seemed to be the only one who could actually count things in. Page would play something, and [John would] say, ‘That’s great. Where’s the first beat? You know it, but you gotta tell us…’ He couldn’t actually count what he was playing. It would be a great phrase, but you couldn’t relate it to a count. If you think of ‘one’ being in the wrong place, you are completely screwed.”
With two sticks in each hand, Bonham was eventually able to record his drum sounds in the studio, giving the song its title. Before permanently giving up on it, they only made one live stage appearance of “Four Sticks,” during a concert in Copenhagen in 1971.
Led Zeppelin produced 19 songs, including “Houses of the Holy,” “Carouselambra,” “D’yer Mak’er,” and “The Rover,” that were never included in a single performance setlist, whether due to their intricacy or retroactive distaste.
On the other hand, Led Zeppelin had a ton of fan favorites that were seldom ever left offset lists. The song with the most live performances, according to the setlist.fm statistics was Led Zeppelin’s rendition of Jake Hughes’ 1967 song of the same name, “Dazed and Confused.”
The well-known classic, which was a part of Led Zeppelin’s debut album from 1969, was often played throughout the course of the following 11 years. By performing the song on 413 occasions, Led Zeppelin made the most of these opportunities. The second and third most played Led Zeppelin songs, “Whole Lotta Love” and “Moby Dick,” respectively, had play counts of 312 and 309.