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4.3 out of 5 stars
Presence
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2012
Format: Audio CD
I have just bought Presence again after numerous years, I loved it. I loved Jimmy Page's guitar work and Presence is 100 per cent guitar. One has to listen Presence and I mean really listen, in order to truly appreciate the subtlety. The best way to listen to the album is in a quiet room with a nice red or a fine scotch.

Guitar Greats: Whilst I enjoyed all the songs of Presence, I especially liked For Your Life and listened to it repeatedly. It is now one of my favorite Zeppelin numbers. The two standout tracks are - Achilles Last Stand and Nobody's Fault But Mine. Check out the latter on the 2003 DVD - Led Zeppelin - and the live footage from Knebworth is breathtaking. Once again, when I first purchased the Led Zeppelin DVD with live concert footage I watched the second disk repeatedly, especially the songs Achilles Last Stand and Nobody's Fault But Mine from their Knebworth performance.

Criticism
I have read articles that alleging that Zeppelin themselves were not happy with Presence and hence -
Achilles Last Stand and Nobody's Fault But Mine - were the only two songs they included in their live set in 1977. Led Zeppelin's live sets have mostly leant to the poor side. In fact, if Robert Plant had not injured his leg, Zeppelin in 1976, the band should have played For Your Life and the excellent rockabilly number, Candy Store Rock from Presence, in their '77 live sets. Instead Zeppelin opted for a lengthy acoustic set to rest Plant's leg.

Presence - is not an easy album to listen to (hence the dramatic drop off in sales at the time) and it is the album that separates the pretentious fans - those only into Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, Rock and Roll - from the fans who truly appreciate the bands sophistication. It is the latter fans that can appreciate the tracks on Presence. I was impressed with Page's work both as guitarist and producer on Presence. Pay attention to the rhythm especially the bass and drums on for Your Life, Hots on For Nowhere and Tea for One. Furthermore, I have never been a fan of Since I've Been Loving You and I blelieve that Tea for One leaves it for dead. Why did Page perservere with Since I've Been Loving You insted of the fresher, superior Tea for One remains a mystery.

Presence is Zeppelin's darkest album and the lyrics capture the momentum the band was caught up in at the time. Many allege that the events that surrounded the making of Presence are far more interesting the album itself. Some of these events include Plant's recuperation from a horrific car accident, the band not touring and at that time escalating drug problems in regards to John Bonham, Peter Grant and Jimmy Page.
NOTE: Three years later .... Page's problem is so prominent that whilst being physically present his musical input was limited and there were no guitar riffs on In Through the Out Door. Not a bad effort really for Zeppelin's last real studio effort and I happy to say that it is all guitar.

Last Real Album
Friends I know consider it Led Zeppelin's last real album as all the band members were alive and functioning. Plant on a 2009 interview admits that he enjoyed participating on In Through the Out Door, but aks out loud what we have all assumed since 1979 and that is "was it a Led Zeppelin album?' The answer is the same one that Depeche Mode's front man Gave Gahan gave in regards to their album, Exciter which was, quote "we felt like we were a cover band covering our own material." Plant makes the same inference in regards to In Through the Out Door.

Please, please listen to Presence and I meant really listen in order to hear what a hidden gem it truly is.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2013
Format: Audio CD
So..... Many slam this album for odd reasons. The band was on tax holiday, Robert had a broken leg, they rushed, etc... etc. Yes the band faced a fair amount of adversity during this time. Maybe their foundation was a little shaky. But they approached this album as a band. They intended to do it quickly from the start. They intended to keep it kinda stripped down. They knew they were having a hard time in various ways, as a band, and as individuals. So instead of going epic in scale, they respectfully decided to just pound out a straight ahead stripped down rock and roll album. There is not one thing wrong with that approach. The playing is killer, Robert is not a lifeless as some claim, the lack of keyboards is not a crime. They are just doing to the four piece rock band thing. Awesome in my opinion! I think it's great it's great to have this album representing this point in their career. They had reached so many inventive heights in the studio previously. Always besting themselves. And here they scale it all down. But you still end up with my favorite Led Zeppelin song....the epic Achilles Last Stand. And the nearly as epic, Nobody's Fault But Mine. For Your Life is a killer jam, as evidenced by it's first live unveiling at the reunion concert. Hots On For Nowhere is am fun little song that really showcases some nice Bonham licks and shows that things weren't all dismal for them. Royal Orleans kinda sums up the whole Munich basement studio vibe and has really good interplay between Bonham and Page. Tea For One is in my opinion their best blues effort ever. And Candy Store Rock might be the weakest track of the album, but is still very strong. The little groove changes in that song are really cool. And it has a very live feel to it.

So I don't quite walk away from it with the lackluster feeling that many have ascribed to this album. I have been a huge Zeppelin fan since I was a kid in the 70s. And I have enjoyed every bit of their music. But as I get older and frankly get a little worn out by the radio standards, I find myself digging into the last three albums. And of those last three albums I dig into Presence the most. I guess there are two types of Zeppelin fans. There are those who only get into things like Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, Kashmir, and the other radio staples. And there are those like myself who dig into each and every bit of it with the same enthusiasm. But if you are hesitant about this album, don't be. Buy it. Put on some good headphones (not ear buds), and lay back and really listen. It has truckloads of vibe to it. You can sense some of the difficulties the band was facing. And you can also see that they still had a huge sense of adventure musically.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
'Presence' was Zeppelin's 7th studio album, recorded in Munich in just two weeks in November 1975 and released on 31 March 1976. Initial sales were slow (for a Zeppelin album) and it's less well known than their earlier releases but nevertheless contains some outstanding music spiced with a couple of Zeppelin all-time classics.

This was fundamentally Jimmy Page's project, and it shows. The band had to cancel a major tour in August 1975 because Robert Plant suffered a serious car crash whilst on holiday with his family on the Greek island of Rhodes and was still wheelchair-bound at the time of recording in November. Page's compositional work dominates the action with multiply over-tracked, high-energy guitar patterns leading the action on many of the songs.

Two or three tracks stand out from the rest. The high-energy opener `Achilles last Stand' is acknowledged by just about everyone as the album's high-point and for some fans is their all-time favourite Zeppelin track. Here the band is on top form with a fast, syncopated rhythm anchoring the frenzied interweaving guitar patterns, Plant's vocal line sitting on top of the action to produce an effect almost other-worldly and transformational. No other rock song has ever sounded quite like this: if you've never heard it, play it loud on a quality sound system and you'll be left awe-struck and breathless. Other highlights are the delightful `Nobody's Fault but Mine' (wherein Plant returns to harmonica playing) and the closer, a long laconic blues number titled `Tea for One' which captures the life of loneliness Plant always felt on the road away from his family and has some of the most restrained and inventive blues guitar lines Page ever laid down.

There are no acoustic/folk numbers among the album's 7 tracks, but nevertheless the overall result feels finely balanced and `just right.'

Page originally thought to title the album `Thanksgiving' but decided instead on `Presence' because it expressed something the band felt attended them; that despite difficult times, they were an unbreakable unit and could still weave musical magic together. The artwork, though original in that quirky archaic style so characteristic of Zeppelin, has never been a hit with fans - though like the music, it's like nothing else created before or since.

In summary: perhaps not Zeppelin's `greatest' or `best' album but pretty good overall, with a couple of outstanding tracks and probably the most imaginative and creative guitar work Jimmy Page ever recorded.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Presence represents Zeppelin past their creative peak, but the group still manage to whip out a collection of songs that are quite solid and still contain alot of ambient power and majesty that recalls some of their former glory days. Opening with Achilles Last Stand, Jimmy Page's craft of overdubbing his guitar melodies is, once more, to the fore here and builds this number along with the powerful kit playing of Bonham, John Paul Jones' steady bass and Robert Plant's familiar vocal voicings which play off of Page further into the duration of the number. For Your Life is a mid-paced track that has a touch of blues and a slow boogie rhythm attached to its arrangement, but also provides space for Page to stretch out and the track benefits from his invigorous guitar lines. Royal Orleans is a bit more uptempo, but still retains a boogie feel and lyrically was inspired by John Paul Jones' trip to the cajun country infamous French Quarter in New Orleans; its slightly derivative, but is a bit of fun for the band as the feel is musically loose, but also driven by the power of Bonham's drumming.

Nobody's Fault But Mine retreads the familiar blues base of what made Zeppelin such an important rock institution while also showing off the core of the group's collective powers amongst Page's ambient guitars, Plant's intertwined voicings and Bonham duly accentuating the track's stop-start rhythm patterns. The track would feature along with Achilles' as more of the prominent features on the subsquent '77 and '79 touring shows and provides Zep with stronger latter day material to mix within the setlists. Candy Store Rock has a somewhat rockabilly rave-up quality about it and has a touch of filler within the song cycle of the record. Hots on for Nowhere echcoes a bit of the style of Royal Orleans, previously, and has a bouncy melodic vibe about it that makes for a refreshing listen and further drives the vibe of the record which, taken in overall, brings Presence as a simple and basic release that strips down the sometimes, overblown arrangements that adorned prior Zep albums like Houses of the Holy and Physical Graffiti. Tea for One is the record's closer, and once again, Zep conjures up a longer track that returns to the blues for inspiration and although it features more blistering leads from Page, it is also a track that is seemingly lost in the shuffle of quality Zeppelin material, oftentimes looked over, and when it is discovered, becomes a powerful unsung hero in the Zeppelin catalogue.

I find Presence as a satisfying release and while its clear that the band had peaked creatively on the hodge-podge double set Physical Graffiti, Presence shows the pure muscle and heart of the band even though the material may be berefit of quality songwriting to match the instrumentation involved. Still, Presence contains a slow, brimming power to it that can ultimately draw you into the simplistic, yet solid qualitiies of the aura of an aging, but still pioneering group of its time. 3 and a half stars.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2000
Format: Audio CD
So you own Zep's self-titles?... So Stairway to Heaven is forever ingrained as THE song, nothing can take it's place? So the Led Zep you know likes to play around with the occasional dabble into folk, jazziness, or even Reggae and Soul (Houses of the Holy)?... get a gander at this overlooked gem, Zep fans.
Achille's Last Stand. Everyone rants about this song, and with good reason. It's a neck and neck horse race as to whether this song or Stairway to Heaven is Zep's best, the only thing seperating it is how many people have heard Achille's. Starting off with a slow, paranoid guitar intro, it immediatley kicks into overdrive, Page overdubs so many guitar tracks you'd think you were listening to one big drawn out 'Free Bird' solo, plus 5 more guitarists, and John Bonham kicks the crap out of the drums (and subsequently, the song itself) for 10 minutes of hard-rocking heaven. You've come to expect this from Page, but Bonham is simply amazing on this track, and throughout the album.
For Your Life seems to be the overrated one of the bunch. It's a concise blues-rocker, yes, but nothing more. A slight let-down after Achilles, but then and again, you may have needed it.
Royal Orleans is short and sweet, and on lumbers another epic, Nobody's Fault but Mine. Featuring more good-old-fashioned complex as heck multi-sectioned riffing, and more of John Bonham turning drum skins into mush. Candy Store Rock is probably the only true 'filler' song here, but then and again, it's also the most stylisticly quirky of the album, and Zep always managed to throw one or two of these babies on there anyways. CsR is a quick romp through Page and Plant's fantasty of what Elvis would sound like had he started in the 70's... oh well, at least it works better than 'The Crunge'...
Tipping into Hots on For Nowhere, John Bonham somehow draws up some reserves of strength you may have thought were exhausted after Achilles and Co., and pounds the band through yet another lighthearted epic rocker. Then Presence drips sloooowly into Tea For One, a meandering, personal ode to estrangement, the song is downright eerie, and just when you're about to fall asleep, on comes Page with a blistering guitar solo.... this repeats for about 9 minutes.
Presence is Zep's 'No more BS' album. It rocks, making no pretenstions as to wanting anything else. If nothing else, buy the album for Achilles Last Stand, a song every Zep fan needs to hear. You'll wind up liking the rest of it sooner or later.
And that cover art has given me the creeps for months now. That 'Black Object' concept has to be the best album cover concept ever thought of. Another good reason to buy this underrated treasure.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2001
Format: Audio CD
"presence" gets no respect from all but the most devoted zeppelin fans. around here, only "nobody's fault but mine" gets any sort of airplay, while the other six tracks off the album languish in obscurity. me? i love this album. true, i do skip by "candy store rock" most of the time when "presence" goes in the cd player, but the rest of the album is great. the circumstances of the band's recording of this work have been well documented, and listening to it, it's hard not to hear the pain and frustration the band must have felt at the time. jimmy page's guitar is blistering on this lp, for the last time really, as "in through the out door" would attest to. "achilles last stand" is a rock epic, with pounding drums from bonham, focused yet possessed-sounding vocals from plant. my other favorite tracks are the blazing "nobody's fault but mine", "hots on for nowhere", and the bluesy "tea for one." the latter of the three sounds like a more somber "since i've been loving you." one listens to that song and waits for the explosive wail, but it never comes. the song just lopes to it's sad conclusion, ending the album and leaving the listener out of breath. it's not like the zeppelin of the early seventies, and perhaps that's why it didn't sell as well. but it's still classic in my opinion.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2013
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Led Zeppelin brings down the hammer of the gods HARD on this one! Fueled by the FEROCIUS drumming of the late, great John Bonham, this album ROCKS from beginning to end. Led Zeppelin proves once again that they are still the greatest Rock Band in history!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Presence (1976.), Led Zeppelin's seventh studio album

When people consider Led Zeppelin's great albums, the list more than often contains Led Zeppelin I, II and IV or Physical Graffiti. Presence, the 1976 offering from the band rarely gets a mention alongside these classics. Hastily recorded in the aftermath of the huge success of the double album, Physical Graffiti, Presence has become one of the band's more criticised and sometimes forgotten works. However, is this a fairly passed judgment on Led Zeppelin's Presence?

In my opinion, this is easily Led Zeppelin's most unfairly attacked album and it deserves far more praise than it has been given. It never ceases to amaze me why this album is given such a bad press by most people; they describe 'Presence' as the album were Led Zeppelin lost their touch or they just brandish it as incoherant rubbish. All I can gather from this is that these people haven't listened to the work enough or are just one of the old 'so called' Led Zeppelin fans. 'Presence' is a great hard rock record, displaying some of the band's best jams. It is unique in the respect that it features no keyboard or effects; all the sound you hear is vocal, bass, guitar and drums. However, I think this is no bad thing at all. The fact that the band took a calculated step back after Physical Graffiti and tried something not too overambitous is where Presence really succeeds. The song styles are simpler in many respects but at the same time they are driven by very powerful performances from the band members. Afterall, this is Jimmy Page's favourite Led Zeppelin record and you can clearly see why he enjoys this one; his guitar playing is dynamic and inspired throughout. Furthermore, this album features some killer tracks. 'Achilles Last Stand', perhaps the band's greatest epic, features on this album, as does the fan favourite 'Nobody's Fault But Mine'. The album may have been rushed together, recorded in limited time in Germany but to be honest, the music is first rate and deserves five stars all the way. Even more remarkable is Plant's vocal performance on the album; at the time of recording, he was recovering from a car accident and had to actually sing some parts laid down. His vocals are as compelling as ever though.

Led Zeppelin kick off their hard-rocking seventh album with one of their finest tracks. 'Achilles Last Stand' stands as one of the bands most powerful epics. In fact, this 10 minute track alone is worth the price of admission, led by its unwavering groove, a particularly haunting Plant vocal, and several show stopping give and take segments between Page and Bonham. During these thrilling exchanges, Bonham's volcanic drum fills interlock with Page's wailing guitar parts, seizing several moments of tension that build to the bursting point. This awesome opening track is followed by 'For Your Life'. This is classic Zeppelin, and for me another one of their best songs. I can never tire of this song; the strutting riffs from Page's guitar make this song memorable. Plant gives a vintage performance on the vocals, sounding out lyrics about drug taking. Next up though is perhaps the weakest song on the album; still 'Royal Orleans' ain't that bad a song. Plant gives a lyrical take on one night stands, a classic rock n' roll song theme however the melodic backing of the track and the riffs are a bit repetitive. However, at 3 minutes, this weaker track hardly detracts from the albums overall rating.

Then we come to the second half of the album. Robert Plant, whose voice has grown rougher over the years, gives a compelling, stuttered vocal performance on 'Nobody's Fault But Mine', an excellent, hard rocking song. This one is a fan favourite. The song also makes a welcome return of the harmonica to Led Zeppelin's music. 'Candy Store Rock' follows, with some catchy guitar play from Page that has a very 1950's rock n' roll sound to it. 'Hots On For Nowhere' follows and keeps the blood pumping on the album. Many have passed this song off as filler however, I think it's a great song. It's upbeat, has masterful stop-start riffs and some great harmonisation sections, with a 'la, la, la' chorus with funky backbeats. To finish the album is a welcome return to the blues by Led Zeppelin. 'Tea For One' is in a similar vein to 'Since I've Bin Loving You' from LZ III. A little long and drawn out, nevertheless, Plant gives a resounding vocal performance and Page's guitar virtuousity shines through.

All in all, 'Presence' measures up to be a damned good album. True, this album isn't revolutionary, it isn't experimental but the sheer quality of the hard rock songs on the album makes the work a winner. As a seasoned Led Zeppelin fan, 'Presence' has over time become one of the band's works that I listen to more; I would even on some days, place this album in the league of some of the band's earlier work. 'Presence' is a sadly underrated classic album from the great band and many seem to ignore it. My advice is to not start a Led Zeppelin collection with this album, but certainly to obtain it once you really start getting into the band's music. This is Led Zeppelin's last classic album and it deserves some RESPECT!

MY RATING: 9/10
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2014
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I love Zep. They've been my favorite band since I was 15. I think this is a really worthwhile album. I give this album a 5, even though I don't think all of the songs are a 5 (some are a 4!). But "Achilles' Last Stand" & "For Your LIfe" are so good that even if the rest of the songs were as bad as anything done by, say, Poison, I'd still give this album a 5. (And none of the songs are that bad, so have no fear.) Jimmy Page's guitar work on this album is so inventive & stupendous that even the songs I don't love as much as the first two are great to listen to. If you love Led Zeppelin, you will love this album.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Released in 1976, Led Zeppelin's 7th album has always been unfairly overlooked by fans and critics who'd expected another epic along the lines of their previous album "Physical Graffiti". And were seemingly disappointed by the even stranger than normal artwork (what was that black thing anyway?) and just seven songs. It was if the band had taken a "ho-hum" approach to their albums. They knew ANYTHING they released was guaranteed to sell a million copies in its first week. Seven songs? Who did they think they were, Steely Dan? Add to this the rise of punk rockers in England who regarded Zeppelin as boring old farts whose demise couldn't come fast enough. Relations within the band were tense as well. Robert Plant had been in a near fatal car wreck in Greece and practically recorded the entire album in a wheelchair. Jimmy Page and John Bonham's dalliances with heroin had turned into full-fledged addictions. And John Paul Jones felt his role in the band was merely taken for granted. So the band was in an unfamiliar position; backs to the wall and needing a strong album to prove they still had "it" in them. To do this, the band decamped to Munich's Musicland Studios and pushed themselves to deliver a new album in (for them) a record time of 2 weeks, as the Rolling Stones were due to arrive and start their next album. Legend has it that Page completed all the guitar overdubs in one night; then asked Mick Jagger for one extra day of studio time. Jagger agreed, and when he arrived Page proudly told him the album was finished;
Jagger: "Oh, you got the basic tracks done?"
Page: "No, the ENTIRE album is done."
This was at a time when the Stones needed two weeks to record ONE song.
"Presence" is a different album because of this. The proto-hippie acoustic tunes of the past are nowhere to be found here. This is a much tougher sounding and uncompromising album as a result starting with the opener. "Achilles Last Stand" is probably the longest song they've ever recorded at nearly 11 minutes of soaring vocals, galloping guitars, rock bottom bass and machine gun drums. "Nobody's Fault But Mine" is without a doubt one of the best songs they ever recorded with it's heavily phased guitar intro and Plant's wail of a deal he wants out of (Drugs or the Devil?) before it slams into a thunderous groove that only stops for a second as Plant quietly laments; "nobody's fault but mine". Though they were never a singles band, "Candy Store Rock" really could've been a hit single as the band do their best impression of a Sun Records rockabilly act. "Hots on for Nowhere" is Robert Plant strutting his stuff vocally while John Bonham lays down a shuffle straight out of the James Brown school of drumming. I have to say that the sound quality of "Tea for One" is remarkable and harkens back to the smooth drum sound the band had on its early albums before it drops into a slow melancholy blues that seems to say that the band was tired and that bad times were coming soon. Those bad times were the '77 tour that saw fan riots, hard drugs everywhere, and the death of Plant's son. Jimmy Page seems to have pulled out all the stops here and used every guitar trick he could think of. IMO, If Zeppelin had stopped here, their place in rock history would've been solid. If any album in the Zeppelin catalog could be called a letdown, it was "In Through the Out Door".
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