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Led Zeppelin - Presence CD (album) cover

PRESENCE

Led Zeppelin

 

Prog Related

3.38 | 430 ratings

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ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer
4 stars THE FUNKIEST ONE

This album will be released a few months after the severe car accident from Plant in Greece (July 1975). Plant both broke an elbow and an ankle. For a year and a half, doctors couldn't tell whether Plant would be able to walk again. The band had to cancel their tour after this dramatic episode. He will appear in a wheelchair for the recording sessions of "Presence".

Rehearsals will start in California where Plant was recovering. They will soon move to Munich to finalize the project. Page recalls : "The mechanism was perfectly oiled. We started steaming in rehearsals. We did a lot of old rock and roll numbers just to loosen up a bit. "For Your Life" was made up in the studio, right on the spot. The solos never had that coloring before. I was so happy about it... The fact is that this one, we lived all the way through... under circumstances that were extremely frustrating. We weren't sure about Robert, weren't sure what was going to happen. Everyone managed to pull it all in...it was great."

It is obvious that the funky mood of many songs from "Physical Graffiti" is here. For the very first time, no acoustic guitar number will be featured. Nor any keyboards used. The best one of the genre is "Nobody's Fault But Mine" : a strong and powerful number. Lots of rhythm variations. The song stops and starts again tirelessly. It turns even wild at times. Good harmonica break to bring a bit of blues here as well. It's my preferred funky song here. It will be one of the few of this album to make a life during concerts. Some of the lyrics as well as the hook are "borrowed" from Willie Johnson (another blues singer). He recorded it in 1927 but never claimed for copyright and it is therefore credited to the band.

"For Your Life" was released on single (reaching the 21st spot in the US - not released in the UK). It's not a bad number, but Led Zep has been using his fans to other stuff than that (same is valid for "Royal Orleans" and "Hots On For Nowhere"). The funny thing about "Royal Orleans" is that the lyrics referred to a true and strange story.

While touring in New Orleans the band usually stayed at the Royal Orleans Hotel. One night a member of Led Zep came back to the hotel with a transvestite. Both were stoned (marijuana) and fell asleep, the transvestite with a lit joint in his (her) hand.The room was set on fire but no one was hurt. It is mostly said that it occurred to be John Paul Jones. Lyrics refer to this "event" as such : "Be careful how you choose it", He kissed the whiskers, left and right, Poor whiskers set the room alight" It was a way for Plant to get revenge since Jones once commented that vocals were the least important part of the band !

"Candy Store Rock" is probably the worst song here (and one of the poorest of the band). Just over four minutes to suffer. Completely monotonous and boring. Skip it by all means.

Two fabulous songs (almost fifty percent of the album) : « Achilles Last Stand » and « Tea For One » will raise the quality-level of this album dramatically.

While recording "Achilles" Plant got so excited that he fell and re-injured his ankle again ! Page and Plant had spent three weeks in Morrocco the year before, where they discovered new musical genres and sounds. This influence as well as Greek music will lead to the release of this extremely powerful song. One of the longest one from the band and a real masterpiece.

The lyrics will be influenced by these moments : "Wandering & wandering, What place to rest the search, The mighty arms of Atlas, Hold the heavens from the earth". Bonham and Jones are performing incredibly well (not to speak about Page delivering an awesome guitar work throughout the song).

One can already fing some traces of the song during the long improv for "Dazed and Confused" as soon as in 1973. Page once mentioned that Achilles' Last Stand is his favourite Led Zep song.

The closing number "Tea for One" is antother great track. Even if it's a clone of "Since.". But I do not have any problem with that. Santana did it ten times with Samba Pa'Ti, and each time it was one of the number of the subsequent album. It is the case here as well. I really like this song a lot. It's completely melancholic and describes the lonliness one feels while touring (hence the title.) when you have to order "a tea for one" or whatever "for one" it is.

This album will not be greatly acclaimed by the press, but of course it will peak at both Nr. 1 in the US and in the UK.

The first rumors of a split arose after the release of the album. Plant was still recovering, Bonham and Page were doing "Bonzo's Montreux" and Jones did an attempt to become a gentleman's farmer. But not for long : a new tour was planned for 1977. Plant made his first appearance on stage during a Bad Company concert (they were signed at Swan Song, Led Zep's label). Led Zep will be elected the best band of the year (1977) although punk and new-wave were surging in the UK. I would rate it seven out of ten and upgrade it to four stars.

ZowieZiggy | 4/5 |

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