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Led Zeppelin - Presence CD (album) cover


Led Zeppelin


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3.39 | 590 ratings

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5 stars I was 13 years old when this album came out and it blew me away then and nearly 40 years later continues to amaze me. It's the last great LZ record and the culmination of everything that Jimmy Page worked so many years to achieve(in various interviews he's been quoted as saying that Presence is his favorite LZ album). His dream of creating an electric guitar orchestra was finally realized in spades on this grand, 'plugged in' masterpiece. Les Pauls and 12 string SGs here, there and everywhere! The record should come with a label: "No acoustic guitars were harmed during the recording".

Presence is 'Cosmic Hard Rock' meets 'White Funk' with some blues and prog on the outer ends to hold everything together. Interestingly, this record came out one month before Rush's 2112. Needless to say, the summer of 1976 was a memorable time for this lad growing up in the shadows of the NYC skyline.

Some knock the record because of the many multi-tracked guitar pats. Who cares! Get over it. The recording studio, from the day that Sgt. Pepper's hit the market, has been and will continue to be used as an instrument. This record mandates headphone listening to truly get what Page was going for. The guitars are so clear, and well-spaced in the aural landscape, with enough distortion and overdrive to give the hardest rockers of the day a run for their money. And, as expected, the drumming is about as good as anything that has ever been done in the rock realm. Achilles Last Stand is without a doubt Zep's crowning 'prog' moment. A piece that transports the listener to a Tolkien world in a ten minute span.

An item of note is Jones' bass work(ie. Nobody's Fault But Mine). Presence is one of those records where the listener can be tricked into believing that on some passages the bass guitar is actually the bass drum. I don't know how Page was able to get such a thick, tight bass sound without it spilling over onto the other instruments(very careful compression, perhaps?). If you're into music production, then Presence should be somewhere near the top of your "must listen" list.

The instrumental highlight of the record is Page's rapid fire right hand rhythms during the closing minutes of Achilles Last Stand; funky, nasty, jazzy and HEAVY....all at once! His most masterful electric right hand work to date. His mastery of 12 string arpeggios and Les Paul sweep picking is showcased on the heavy, bass driven rocker "For Your Life". The multi-tracked guitar assault continues until the last note is played on the melancholic, blues masterpiece "Tea For One".

One down note: This is not a record that one seeks for lyrical enlightenment; after all, on one of the songs(Royal Orleans) Plant instructs the listener on how to avoid gonorrhea and transvestites while hooking up with prostitutes in New Orleans!

Lyrical shortcomings aside, Presence is a masterpiece in every sense of the term. The Zep reached an electric peak on this outing that was approached tentatively on other records, but never quite reaching the heights of this 1976 gem.

Forget what the naysayers will write and say. Get this record and listen to it loud...VERY LOUD....with a substantial woofer, if at all possible!

******************************** ***** F I V E - S T A R S ***** ********************************

wbiphoto | 5/5 |


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