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Led Zeppelin - Presence CD (album) cover


Led Zeppelin


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3.38 | 658 ratings

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3 stars Presence 3/5

Presence is the sound of an creatively exhausted band. The sound of a band with their back against the ropes, with the inevitable fall to the mat soon to come. To be fair, Led Zeppelin had not produced any new material on Physical Graffiti that quite matched what they recorded from III-Houses of the Holy. There were some highlights on Physical Graffiti, but many of the new songs were dwarfed by the excellent material from prior sessions. This album presents them doing much of the same hard rock found on their last album. The reason for this is simple: they had nothing else left.

This would certainly be a more appropriate swan song than In Through the Out Door as Jimmy and co prove that they can still produce some excellent material and it is an obvious return to their electric blues roots. The difference between this album and something like II is the fact that this album is hard rock played to epic levels. Especially 'Achilles Last Stand', which essentially set the standard for the extended metal workouts in the late 70's and early 80's from the likes of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. This song in particular illustrates their mergence of the myticism found in their acoustic pieces and planted in a full 10 minute and 25 second siege.

Much of this album is overlooked as solely being 'Achilles' and 'Nobody's Fault But Mine'. Honestly, 'For Your Life' is an equally interesting piece, not as good but interesting. Aside from Plant's from-the- wheelchair-vocals, the song goes through a nice variety of riffs and tempo changes. Page's playing here has a definative edge, it may not be as prettier as it once was due to his recreational use of heroin but it is argurably more effective given the context.

'Royal Orleans' is a nice little number as well, nice performance by John Bonham on this track. Then there is 'Nobody's Fault But Mine', a prime example of the pure visceral attack the band had adopted. The harmonica break seems like pure fun and then Jimmy's solo is incredible, one his finest performances only to be rivaled by 'Tea For One'.

'Candy Store Rock' is a weak Elvis like rock and roll song. Plant always has to give his two cents. And 'Hots on For Nowhere', is much like 'For Your Life' in its varying tempos and riffs. Overall it isn't a bad song but nothing extraordinary aside from Bonham's dynamic drumming. The main highlight about these songs is how much better the unadulterated rock is in comparison to the newer material from Physical Graffiti.

And lastly, 'Tea For One'. This is Jimmy's last moment in the spotlight in the band he formed. Inspired playing from him and a great ending to an otherwise mixed bag. When it is good, Presence contains some excellent hard rock compositions, given the circumstance in which this album was made it is suprising there was any album at all (Plant's convalescence and everything done in 18 days because that was all the time they had to work with!). In the next three years Zep would be virtually inactive in the studio and the death of Plant's son during their 1977 US Tour would only exasperate this band even more.

mr.cub | 3/5 |


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