The song is most well-known for having one of the group’s most victorious riffs that didn’t originate from Jimmy Page’s unpredictable mind. This is Led Zeppelin at their most enchanted, in our opinion. Jimmy Page interweaves a beautiful steel tapestry while John Paul Jones provides the rhythm, connecting them all. And that is only the opening 30 seconds of “Black Dog” from 1971.
Page is warming up his guitar, which he calls, as the song starts.
“Waking up the army of guitars.”
But John Paul Jones, not Page, was the big culprit for this greatness. Despite the fact that the guitarist was producing all during the song’s recording, it is Jones’ cerebral prowess that keeps us talking about it so much more than 50 years later. John Paul Jones apparently composed this riff after listening to the controversial Muddy Waters album Electric Mud from 1968.
However, Robert Plant sings vocal lines that would make a Monk wince while the electric guitar’s deliciousness continues. It’s in fact the type of persecution that caused an entire religion to turn against the group. The straightforward vocal approach has a risk and a passion that rock & roll just didn’t have before Led Zeppelin introduced it.
The initial lines are impossible to forget:
“Hey hey mama said the way you move/ Gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove.”
From that point on, Plant captures our attention as listeners and exudes the exact spirit of the song, ushering us into the dramatic riff and the throbbing background. But when we isolate these vocals, we are not only given a lesson in flawless rock singing, but also a reminder of why Plant ought to be regarded as the pinnacle of the genre.