Four Sticks

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Not to be confused with Four Kicks.
"Four Sticks"
Single by Led Zeppelin
from the album Led Zeppelin IV
A-side "Rock and Roll"
Released

8 November 1971

21 February 1972 (7" single release date)
Format 7" 45 RPM
Recorded December 1970 – March 1971
Genre Hard rock
Length 4:44
Label Atlantic
Writer(s) Page/Plant
Producer(s) Jimmy Page
Led Zeppelin singles chronology
"Black Dog" / "Misty Mountain Hop"
(1971)
"Rock and Roll" / "Four Sticks"
(1972)
"Over the Hills and Far Away" / "Dancing Days"
(1973)
Led Zeppelin IV track listing
  1. "Black Dog"
  2. "Rock and Roll"
  3. "The Battle of Evermore"
  4. "Stairway to Heaven"
  5. "Misty Mountain Hop"
  6. "Four Sticks"
  7. "Going to California"
  8. "When the Levee Breaks"
Music sample
30 second sample

"Four Sticks" is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin from their fourth album, released in 1971. The title came from the fact that drummer John Bonham played with two sets of two drumsticks, totalling four.[1] His decision to play the song with four sticks was a result of him being very frustrated with not being able to get the track down right during recording sessions at Island Studios. After he grabbed the second pair of sticks and beat the drums as hard as he could, he recorded the perfect take and that was the one they kept. This song was particularly difficult to record, and required more takes than usual.[1] John Paul Jones played a VCS3 synthesizer on the track.[1]

Guitarist Jimmy Page once said of the song: "It was supposed to be abstract." The abstract effect is further achieved by the unusual time signature of the song, featuring riffs in a mixture of 5/8 and 6/8 time signatures. After another failed take during the recording, Jimmy began to play an improvised guitar riff out of frustration. That riff was later on developed into the second track of the album, "Rock and Roll".

The song was re-recorded by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant with the Bombay Symphony Orchestra in 1972, during their trip to India, along with another track, "Friends" from Led Zeppelin III.[2] This version featured tabla drums and sitars. The recordings have never been released officially and are only available on Led Zeppelin bootleg recordings. The project is said to have run into problems because the orchestra didn't keep time in the Western style and some of them drank rather a lot.[3]

The band is only known to have played this song live once, at Copenhagen on their 1971 European tour, as has been preserved on some bootleg recordings.[1]

Also in 1994, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page had rejoined in musical collaboration as Page and Plant. On 25 August and 26, live performances were taped in London, Wales, and Morocco with Egyptian and Moroccan orchestration of several Led Zeppelin tunes - "Four Sticks" was one of them, and the arrangement features drummer Michael Lee playing with four sticks as well as multiple percussionists such as Hossam Ramzy. This new version of "Four Sticks" was also included on the album No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded, and live performances were so successful commercially and artistically that the ensemble coordinated a 1995/1996 world tour.

Robert Plant played a version of the song during his solo tour in 2005, as is included on the DVD release Soundstage: Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation, although drummer Clive Deamer only plays with two sticks.

Formats and tracklistings[edit]

See "Rock and Roll" single.

Personnel[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Lewis, Dave (2004) The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9
  • Welch, Chris (1998) Led Zeppelin: Dazed and Confused: The Stories Behind Every Song, ISBN 1-56025-818-7

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Dave Lewis (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.
  2. ^ Liner notes to Led Zeppelin Box Set, Vol. 2 by David Fricke
  3. ^ Australian Broadcasting Corporation - Triple J Music Specials - Led Zeppelin (first broadcast 2000-07-12)