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Customer Review

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most underrated Zeppelin album, and their last great one, September 5, 2008
This review is from: Presence (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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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 2, 2014 5:09:37 PM PDT
Clint Beed says:
Man, you skipped over For Your Life. That's one of their best tunes.
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J. Miller
(REAL NAME)   

Location: East Hartford, CT United States

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,899,187