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Led Zeppelin - In Through The Out Door CD (album) cover


Led Zeppelin


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2.93 | 528 ratings

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5 stars Led Zeppelin

In Through The Out Door

So this is a departure? A band whose albums are all departures in many musical ways. So you get people moaning when Zeppelin used acoustic guitars on 111. Then they moaned because they had none on Presence. Folks were pleased at keyboards on Graffiti but not on Out Door. Why not? An intriguing idea to find Zeppelin music people apparently do not like.

I recall when I heard this album on the day after it was released, the day after Percy's birthday. It was not what I expected. Which I admit was guitar powered heavy rock. Interestingly it seemed as though the nascent NWOBHM movement really took off (ie the albums were released) after "metal leaders" Led Zeppelin released their path finding opus. Somebody should have told Zeppelin. I understand they like a good laugh.

Trouble was this album, at times heavy was not metal at all, pretty much like a lot of their music, heavy, blues oriented, but fusing other elements was more a Zeppelin maxim than metal which was more of a Purple and Sabbath origination than Zeppelin's. Their blues were different in intent as well as content to many others, just listen to I'm Gonna Crawl on here. But it is Led Zeppelin. A band who occupied and defined their own world unlike most other rock bands, Pink Floyd excepted. So we get after Physical Graffiti the most evidently Progressive Rock Led Zeppelin album.

In The Evening kicks off after some bowed guitar and introducing a heavy riff. But the guitars and the keyboards have merged here as Page uses his Roland synthesizer (on his way to the string bending features of the first Firm album) and is in the process of mutating his style once more. Bonham is fine with his signature deep sound and unbeatable sense of underlining melodies and riffs with rhythms that are his entirely. Such a shame songwriting credits only demand top line melodies and lyrics for credits but there we are. Bonham put the Led in Zeppelin.

South Bound Suarez (spelled incorrectly on the album) cooks along nicely. It's more a song in Little Feat territory; find me any other metal band worth its studs that can do that. It's not an obvious song as Zeppelin do not really do choruses, something I think that bugs many listeners who may wonder why they don't like this enormously popular and hugely successful band.

On we go to Fool In The Rain, a humourous song (Zeppelin have quite a few). They get accused of being humourless by some and lacking seriousness (as if that is a bad thing) when wit intervenes. But this is not metal; it is art rock fused with a samba instrumental. Again unique, not something a rock or metal audience might readily appreciate. I know it took me from the second listen but that's not a problem.

A Page Plant tune, the only one (sic) on this album. Hot Dog is a 24 bar country satire, written from the point of view of someone somewhat out of step with the times. Regarded as inessential it is not that but perhaps not the right choice for this album. It was one of the two live debut tracks from ITTOD in concert and All My Love was not the other, In The Evening was. Hot Dog is fun song though and the band sounds like they are having a ball. Jones bass playing is outstanding and his pals rollick through this country tune with precision and a grin. Not very metal at all dear oh dear.

Neither is Carouselambra. Progressive rock at it's finest, this 3 part masterwork with it's take of the fruit but guard the seed lyrical theme is certainly not deep and meaningless as Plant has shrugged it off at times. Jones' synthesizers drive this over a crushing drum rhythm.

One of the problems with synths, indeed most technology is that it can date badly (just watch a 60s movie with computers in it.) The more effected synth sounds used, the more dated they can be. The more colder or pure sounding, the less likely they are to sound dated. While this sound used can never be identified with the 1980s (a plus) the synthesizer sound may be a factor in keeping future listeners from hearing what a powerful structure this piece is. There are a lot of guitars on it as well but the keyboards lead.

All My Love. Here is Zeppelin doing a chorus, the usual thing that makes a rock song into a pop tune - it's not really. This is hardly neither disposable, nor shallow as most pop is. The synths are orchestral, melodic and dignified as Plant delivers a most affecting and effective eulogy to his dead son. Page I think is a bit undecided on what he should be playing here. He is not involved at all in the writing of this piece. If you hear one of the first CD issues of ITTOD and crank up the volume you will hear very out of tune acoustic guitar otherwise buried in the mix (this oddity is omitted from remastering). But a classical or acoustic guitar arrangement, or a 12 string rhythm may have been a better idea than the scratchy picking he does use. Page was having problems and concert performances of this piece highlights his unusual lack of decision for this arrangement. Perhaps Zeppelin may have been better off as a three piece performing this; a bit of a radically different idea for a rock band. Oddly I rather thought Steve Howe would have ben a perfect guest here but that's neither here nor there now. Also it would have been better had the full version of the track been used rather than an unusual (for Zeppelin) an early fade. All My Love wasn't a single like Stairway was not a single yet both were hits. All typical Led Zeppelin.

As ever Zeppelin end an album with a blues. This time the blues, I'm Gonna Crawl is quite an elegiac piece as they continue going where their fans fear them to tread. Page shines as do everyone and the minor key blues finishes on a note of determined optimism. Plant is humble, contrite, he will crawl. He will do whatever is necessary. Out of the darkness and into. the 1980s. Well for a while anyway.

So Zeppelin's last release as a band is a musically varied effort as is most of their albums. Repeating themselves is not in the Zeppelin canon and they were not going to start here. As ever the listener has to go with Zeppelin, the music demands it. As Floyd's DSOTM was a success because they pleased themselves first, so Zeppelin did so here. They were never a head banging band, they had groove and too much intellect to be drinking man's metal. Their blues was (Tea For One excepted) never self pitying; they had and have so much optimism, positive mental attitude and verve which underpinned the ever confident Zeppelin message.

With the release of the three spare tracks on Coda from the 1978 Stockholm sessions I like to have a little fun and see if I can make a slightly different album, possibly one more likely to appeal to Zeppelin fans who wanted the heavier side to be more prevalent. So an alternative track listing might read -

In The Evening Carouselambra Wearing And Tearing

Darlene Fool In The Rain All My Love (full version) I'm Gonna Crawl.

Who knows what the track listing might have been had this been recorded in the CD age.

But I conclude this is classic Zeppelin demanding their fans listen as ever to a changing band as they always were. Keep up, don't pin this band down. They are not nor ever were just another band you can pigeon hole. You have to make room for Led Zeppelin and not just on your shelves. But that's progressive rock for you.

It would get a 5 were it not for Page's slightly less than decided work here and there on All My Love. Four and a half then.

Oh yes, the artwork, beautiful sepia shots from the point of view of the occupants in a bar, southern USA I think. Perhaps the Suarez and Hot Dog and Fool In The Rain themes have some concept link here? The album has six different cove releases, not sure of all are on CD though. The original album had an inner bag that changed colour with liquid added and it was sold stuffed in a paper bag. Led Zeppelin were not really ones to overly advertise themselves on album release.

Incidentally all the Jones written material is in the key of C or its relative A minor. That way he did not have to play any of the black keys on his pianos. (That is a joke from me - and. probably not true). Most of this album is Jones' as most of Presence is Page's baby. I rather think Houses Of The Holy is Plant's and to a degree Graffiti belongs to John Bonham.

Thanks for reading, hope some thoughts are of help. Great album, thank you Zeppelin.

uduwudu | 5/5 |


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