There are no sure things in life or rock and roll, but Led Zeppelin comes pretty close.

This venerable English hard rock institution comprised of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham ruled over the 1970s just as surely as John, Paul, George and Ringo had the ‘60s; and the finality of both bands’ breakup – when they came – actually strengthened and safeguarded the integrity of their respective discographies.

As a result, one ranks Led Zeppelin’s albums, not only based on inherent quality, but their significance and other intangibles because, at the end of the day, virtually every one of them is essential, painting a comprehensive picture of hard rock’s evolution across the 1970s.

Of course, none of this was preordained when studio session vets Page and Jones recruited relative newcomers Plant and Bonham for the temporarily named New Yardbirds and, with the help of imposing manager Peter Grant (a legend in his own right), rewrote the rock and roll handbook and effectively shut the book on the ‘60s with their first two long players.

Then, over the first half of the 1970s, Zeppelin’s albums continually set the bar for global success (and excess) as they became the world’s first true stadium-touring megastars, reaching heights so unprecedented that their gradual decline over the decade’s second half (amidst personal tragedy and willful self-destruction) was a cautionary example in its own way.

By the time the group shut down operations, following Bonham’s alcohol-related death, their catalog had attained almost mythical qualities, so forgive us if we drool uncontrollably while describing them in the gallery you see below.

After all, to reiterate, there are really no unimportant Led Zeppelin albums, so the best we can do steer younger listeners down the best path from start to finish (or finish to start, as it were) across this incredible discography.

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