Originally Posted by Strangelove
Interestingly, back in the 70's they weren't overplayed at all, at least not like the bubble gum pop bands (if I hear Angie one more time in my life I will puke). I do remember Stairway being played a few times on some "album rock" radio stations, but most generally shied from it because it is SO VERY LONG and totally opposite what the teenie pop idol's span of attention could handle. It seems that LZ got more single song radio play in the 1980's after Bonham died, than any other time I can remember. Now I can hardly listen to Black Dog, Rock and Roll, and Kashmir anymore.
Overrated? These guys were not like the Stones, Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, and other pop bands that did little more than write the proverbial catchy 3 minute, 3 chord, run of the mill cookie cutter songs that were designed for feeding the masses. Zep had an Avant-Gardedness about them that very few groups of the era displayed at all. The violin bow, the reverse echos, the calming acoustic intros leading to electrical explosions that led back to acoustical outros were just something nobody else was really doing back then. The melting of deep Delta Blues, old English and American Folk, Country Western steel guitar and banjo (Tangerine has always been one of my favorites), with Middle Eastern sounds - no, I don't think they should ever be classified as overrated, not in the least. I think they were an artistic masterpiece and may even be underrated or maybe under-appreciated for their artistic contribution - kind of like Zappa, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer or King Crimson. Still, I cannot listen to a few of their songs today because they have played the grooves out of them on classic rock radio stations.
Your comments are right on. The Deep Purple, Zeppelin debate seems to show up here every couple of months, but as you've pointed out, the deciding factor for me was the variety of styles Zeppelin played that DP never attempted.
Also with album sales of near 85 million, they're #3 in album sales--only beaten by the Beatles and Garth Brooks per a google search. In 07 they sold the digital publishing rights to their catalog to Warner for 60 million and they're now enjoying a resurgence that few bands will ever enjoy. They might even be more popular now then they ever were?
Of course as drummers we all know that nobody would have ever heard of them if it wasn't Bonham! 8^)
BTW, no song was overplayed more then Smoke on the Water!