The 50 Greatest Led Zeppelin Songs
Guitar World presents a critical analysis of Led Zeppelin's 50 best tracks.
37. “The Wanton Song” (Physical Graffiti)
Like “Immigrant Song,” this composition’s main riff demonstrates how alternating octaves combined with a strong, syncopated rhythm can create a compelling, heavy-sounding riff, and it’s safe to say that it probably inspired bands like Living Colour and Rage Against the Machine to pen their similarly styled riffs.
And like “Out on the Tiles” and “The Ocean,” the use of wide, recurring “holes of silence” in the guitar and bass parts while the drums and vocals continue, creates pronounced dynamic and textural contrasts, which add to the song’s appeal.
The instrumental interlude section that ensues after the second and fourth verses (at 0:59 and 2:03, respectively) provides a stark contrast to the raw power of the alternating-octaves riff and introduces a surprisingly jazzy chord progression within such a heavy rock song, with overdriven diminished seventh chords—something few other rock guitarists outside of Yes’ Steve Howe or Dean DeLeo from Stone Temple Pilots would have the vision and daring to use—employed as harmonic pivots to modulate to new keys.
Page’s Leslie-treated minor-seven chord riff that ensues brings to mind the Isley Brothers’ 1973 R&B hit “Who’s That Lady” and further demonstrates the breadth of Page’s stylistic influences.
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