If I had to rank the best side one/track ones in the history of rock, Zep’s “Black Dog” would be right up there. Inspired by an actual black dog–a lab retriever–that was hanging around Hedley Grange, the scene of the recording of Zeppelin’s fourth album, the familiar version begins with a spooky guitar effect–almost random studio noise–before Robert Plant launches into his “Hey, hey momma” wail. That leads into a punishing wall of guitars, bass and drums that comes in successive waves, with each trough filled with more Plantian wails. Awesome.
Now with Jimmy Page remastered and re-releasing the entire Zep catalogue, we’re being treated to some interesting things from the archives. As part of the next batch of reissues (IV and Houses of the Holy will be out October 28), we get this alternate version of the song about that same black dog. At first, it sounds very familiar–but just wait.