007: Led Zeppelin IV [Atlantic; 1971]
We must be lying to ourselves: There is no way this album should not be #1. If my fellow PFM writers could go to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 's memory-erasure clinic and wipe out everything related to this record and band-- the radio overplay, the Spinal Tapjokes, Robert Plant asking, "Does anybody remember laughter ?"-- and hear IV again for the first time, it would be at the very top of this list. Because when the riff from "Black Dog" hits you for the first time, you come face to face with God. Nothing is bigger than Led Zeppelin IV. It tears your skin and grinds away your doubt and self-hatred, freeing the rage and lust and anger of cockblocked adolescence. Listening to this album is like fucking the Grand Canyon.
Some people call "When the Levee Breaks" the album's true epic, because it sounds like the blues while "Stairway to Heaven" sounds like druids. But that was the fucking point . Zeppelin understood that you spend your days under the weight of shit, so they show you the way out with a moronized stewpot of myth, Tolkien and California daydreaming, a place where you can pray for greatness from battles you'll never fight. Zeppelin spanned it all, because they knew sometimes you wield the Hammer of the Gods and sometimes you just get the shaft.