In Through the Out Door
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In Through The Out Door
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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, July 31, 2015
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The last proper Led Zep album, or "swan song" if you will, carried on the band's grand tradition with In the Evening; Hot Dog; All My Love; Fool in the Rain , and more. From 1979.
Though the band likely didn't know it at the time, this would prove to be the last studio record by one of the most famous rock & roll bands in the world. Drummer John Bonham died shortly after its release. Although nothing compares to early Led Zeppelin--and they lost many longtime fans in the late 1970s--this LP is nothing to be embarrassed by. They were quick to embrace and experiment with synthesizers, and while it wears a little thin by record's end (the synth-bloated "Carouselambra" and the slick AOR hit "All My Love"), it adds a certain majestic tone to the heavy-hitting opener, "In the Evening," and gives a rollicking good-time feel to "South Bound Suarez." Plant's howl and Page's bluesy guitars are in fine form on "I'm Gonna Crawl" and the lilting "Fool in the Rain" recalls the pretty numbers from their early career. --Lorry Fleming
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The album has an overall softer sound to it and seems to me to be more reflective. I don’t mind this one bit – Led Zeppelin always had a softer side to them, so it really was not that much a departure. I think the playing on the album is actually very good and Jimmy Page got some great tones out of the electric guitar. I also like the use of synthesizers too (mostly Yamaha GX-1) – it lends the album an atmospheric feel. The greater use of synthesizers likely reflects the fact that John Paul Jones (and Robert Plant) did most of the writing. At the time, Jimmy Page and John Bonham were struggling with substance abuse problems.
The only track on the album that did not sit well with me was the rockabilly of Hot Dog – although I appreciate the fact that the group was trying to shake things up a bit, this one tune did not work for me.
This remastered version is awesome and attempts to recreate the old LP. The "LP sleeve" comes in the original brown paper wrapper and there is a small booklet that has photos of the group. The sound quality is generally pretty good although it sounds as if the levels of various instruments have been fiddled with. For example, the (admittedly) cheesy synth sounds on Carouselambra have been pushed further down i the mix. Overall though, the general sound is as I remember it.
All in all, this is a decent album that has a least a few gems on it. It is a little quieter than other Led Zeppelin albums but has enough of the Led Zeppelin sound that it makes for a pretty enjoyable listen.
But this is no ordinary band. There is no rock band, ever, that matched the cohesion and individualized skill at each position, as this one. The Doors, the Allmans, the Jimi Hendrix Experience ... there's a lot of great things I could say about them, obviously, but for the total performance from each person in this band, I think it was the tightest and most cohesive. And they were strong enough to accommodate the forces moving against them.
For Plant's gravelly, weakened voices, there is strengthened insight and poetry. He can still notes, but it sounds strained, and I find myself rooting for him, One thread of Zep's songwriting always had JPJ coming up with principle ideas and Jimmy elaborating, e.g. Black Dog, No Quarter. So, it's a winning strategy, and it works here. For Page's loss of performing standards, he begins using a device called a B-Bender, which bends his B string and gives his performances a country-music flavor - which he'd always had, but now even more pronounced. JPJ's synthesizer work is majestic. So, the totality is something that in some way pales, and in other ways reigns supreme.
It's perhaps worth noting that over the years, I've come to value this more than its predecessor, Presence. I had once had Presence as my favorite, for its tight guitar playing and bluesy lyrics. It's still great of course, but In Through The Out Door is a richer listening experience for me now. In fact, ironically, there's nothing quite like it from them for feeling like the dumps, than this and .. their first album.