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Led Zeppelin - Presence CD (album) cover


Led Zeppelin


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3.39 | 589 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The black phallus speaks volumes, does it not?

Yes, that Omni-present and oddly shaped obelisk certainly does give this album some character even before you hear it for the first time. The strange album cover certainly has a certain amount of appeal and repulsion alike to the album, but it's what got me interested first in the album. Throughout many of my early years I only knew Zeppelin through a collection of singles that were played to death on the radio, but when I got together with a certain musically obsessed girlfriend who happened to have every Led Zeppelin album in her collection it gave me the chance to hijack a good bunch of cds which I would, over the course of that autumn, become very familiar with on long, music filled evenings walking through the park. Getting back to the cover art, this would be the first album I really span a lot, thanks to its cover and a selection of certain songs. While after discovering the rest of the set this album would start to gather dust it's still worth some kicks every now and then.

Let's get one thing strait right off the bat, this album opens with one of Zep's best ever songs. Achilles Last Stand is one of the moments that brought late Led Zeppelin the closest it ever got to a pure symphonic prog epic, along with Carouselambra from the following album. Clocking at 10 and a half minutes, this is a pure powerhouse led by Page's ever killer guitar licks and Plant's stellar vocal segments, especially nearing the end of the tune. The rhythm section 'aint to shabby either, Bonham and John Paul Jones both rock on this track and provide a beatarific texture that forms the heart of the song.

The rest of the tunes on the album are mildly interesting, and many of them forgettable. At this point in their career Zep was starting to loose a bit of the aggressive edge that they started out with, even if they still had it on the first disc of their previous album, Physical Graffiti. Many of the songs are rather bland and uninspired, even if they have a bit of life in them, and even if the riffs ring true as Zeppelin while you're listening to them. The ultimate problem is that they're just forgettable in the end. For Your Life has a pleasant riff, but the rest just doesn't sound like it wants to go anywhere. People who are really big fans of Plant's later solo work will likely appreciate this tune though, along with some of the other tunes on the album, since they often sound like the singer's alumni work. Royal Orleans has an upbeat melody but no considerable hooks to keep people latched on. The percussion heavy Candy Store Rock and the rather bluesy Hots On For Nowhere are another couple songs which use the upbeat tone of things, but lack the energy from older Zep albums. The 9-minutes worth of mellow playing on Tea For One is reminiscent of earlier works from the band which featured extended noodling and shrieking vocal parts, but this time around it's not as exciting.

Luckily there's one more song to hold things together. Nobody's Fault But Mine is another classic Zeppelin tune with a heavy and memorable riff and Plant's vocals ripping into the audience. As with all good Zeppelin songs, the rhythm section is blistering right along with the leads and combine to form a formidable force. This song is a bit more bluesy and mid-paced than a lot of other Zeppelin tunes, even featuring a harmonica solo in the middle, but it's one of the few songs on the album that has enough considerable charm to work on its own, even outside the context of the album.

Ultimately, this is not Zeppelin's best effort, and anyone who doesn't consider themselves a fan could likely pass it up without worrying too much. Two classic songs mixed in with a bunch of meh makes for a fairly disappointing album for those looking for the legendary pioneers of hard rock. These days those songs can be found on compilations (and it will come as no surprise that on their Latter Days: The Best of Led Zeppelin Volume Two compilation they're they only two songs of the album features) so the rest of the album really does become for people who are really into the band. Not bad by any means, just no where the quality of some of the band's earlier albums. 2.5 Last Stands out of 5, Zep would only have one album left in them after this one before their unfortunate and abrupt end.

Queen By-Tor | 2/5 |


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