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Album: Led Zeppelin 4Released: 1971
This song was named because drummer John Bonham played it with four drumsticks - two in each hand. He only recorded two takes of the song, because, as Jimmy Page says, "it was physically impossible for him to do another."
Like their song "Black Mountain Side
," this contains elements of Indian music. A year later, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant recorded a new version of the song (along with "Friends
") with local musicians when they traveled to Bombay. Page and Plant weren't happy with the recordings, and they were never officially released. They can be found on bootlegs called The Bombay Sessions
Jimmy Page and Robert Plant wrote this song before heading to the Headley Grange mansion in Hampshire, England to record it with the rest of the band. The song was very difficult to record, and the shifting beats were very unusual. The end result was an oddity. Said Page: "It was supposed to be abstract."
A lot of work was done on this song at Island Studios in London, where overdubs were added. The vocals were heavily processed and given an electronic sound, and a synthesizer solo was added to the second middle eight section.
Engineer Andy Johns put a compressor on the drums when he recorded them, which made mixing the track very difficult for him (you can't uncompress a track if the effect doesn't sound right). "It was a bastard to mix," he said.
Led Zeppelin played this live only once, in Denmark on their 1970 European tour.
When the band was developing this song at Headley Grange, John Bonham was getting quite frustrated with it, but this led to a breakthrough. After downing a beer, he blasted out a riff patterned after the intro to Little Richard's 1957 song "Keep a Knockin'," which featured acclaimed session drummer Earl Palmer on the skins. Jimmy Page quickly came up with a guitar riff, and they had a completely different song on their hands. They postponed work on "Four Sticks" and started working up this new song, which turned out to be "Rock And Roll