You wouldn’t guess it from the galloping beat and banshee scream that open “Immigrant Song,” but Led Zeppelin was a blues band at its core — the most audacious of the generation of British rockers who devoured 40-year-old American music, cranked it up high and hard, welded titanium riffs onto it and brought it back home. But they were also fantasists, fascinated with sword-and-sorcery tales and misty old legends, and they single-handedly made Viking mythology sexier than it had been in a few hundred years.
Zep were famous for their extended, trippy jams and solos, but what’s miraculous about “Immigrant Song” is its concision and groove. Guitar god Jimmy Page restricts himself to a handful of airtight riffs and tone bursts, and drummer John Bonham wields his sticks like they’re hammers of gods. And then there’s that title: this is ultimately a song about the way culture gets from one place to another — sometimes by mutual attraction, sometimes by force.
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