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Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti CD (album) cover

PHYSICAL GRAFFITI

Led Zeppelin

 

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4.03 | 598 ratings

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uduwudu
5 stars Led Zeppelin ? Physical Graffiti 1975. Sometimes we rock fans can be a little reactionary and conservative. What is the big deal about someone releasing material 2 or 5 years from when it may have been first conceived? Songs are created and Led Zeppelin used them as building blocks to create albums that had a sense of feel and purpose. Here they deploy their Everest moments with great sense of placement and purpose indeed. A two idea slide blues, change to heavy rock number In My Time Of Dying. Sort of 2 songs in one here. One must try to keep up with these forward thinking musicians. Kashmir is often thought of as a one riff idea. But it's not. Yes it has it's opening rhythm, followed by a descending refrain to contrast with it's ascending verse. The drums and guitar harmonies underpin the rhythms in a truly original manner. It is quite subtle, so much so when I first heard it all those years ago it did nothing for me. Then I realised I had to listen to it from a whole other point of view; it's the rhythms and harmonies in that order that tell the story here. Having said that Plant's journey lyrics and sublime vocal are superbly executed. In 1994 -1996 Page Plant actually improved this track with Egyptian, Moroccan and Lebanese musicians (oddly the inclusion of Black Dog quotes detracted slightly) but this is a nice compact version and one of the most influential pieces of music in rock at the time. The third epic is In The Light and follows from Kashmir. It's spacier, a little odd like so many Zeppelin numbers, the descending riff another blues scale and features subtle changes of mood courtesy Jones and Plants sense of vocal melody making the Zeppelin so original. The end of what was side three featured the last epic. Ten Years Gone may be one of the most complex and difficult Zeppelin pieces. Heaven knows (sic) that Page had at times great difficulty getting the brief but need to be perfect solo right on the 1977 tour as the ROIOs demonstrate. But here the tender vocal, the huge guitar structures, the dynamics all play in a magnum opus. So, four epics. All pretty much written for this album. Squeeze in Trampled Underfoot and Custard Pie and you would have one hell of an album. So the songs that remain. Custard Pie, the opener. Plant had surgery on his vocal chords and that explained that choked feel to his vocal. Blues based hard rock number. Quite atmospheric and undoubtedly due to the hear it in any circumstance approach by Page as producer. The Rover is next and this dark almost political number cruises quite steadily into the first epic In My Time. The sunny House Of The Holy (would have worked on that album) is quite fun. It's a blood relative of Page's mate Joe Walsh's later recording Life's Been Good riff and rhythm wise. Next the occasionally derided (it IS a dance song and Progressive rock is not dance music) we have Trampled Underfoot. The irony in the title and the purpose of this funk heavy rock number is Plant's humour and to me at least very welcome. To me a fabulous riff and rhythm this song is unstoppable. The concert versions varied from great to superb and the studio release is no exception. Oddly if you want to hear lesser versions then you have to go for some studio outtakes but here Tramp Led Underfoot (sic) is Led Zeppelin showing what is needed to make dance rock swing. Then comes the second epic Kashmir. After the third epic is that exquisite piece of acoustic guitar (nice to play as well as listen to) Bron-Yr-Aur. Then the mellow Down By The Seaside with it's up tempo tension filled bridge with Plant leading us back to bucolic seaside rest and recovery. The melancholy atmosphere of the last epic Ten Years Gone would finish any normal album. But we are not talking about a normal band here. What ever normal is it's not Zeppelin. Night Flight, The Wanton Song, Boogie With Stu, Black Country Woman, Sick Again are what are regarded as the filler tracks. Boogie With Stu came from the fourth album sessions and I'm damned if I can see how that would fit on that album. But it fits the expansive sunny nature of Graffiti well enough. The Wanton Song and Night Flight may have been headed for Houses Of the Holy. Wanton is great tense riff number and features the guitar through Leslie spinning speaker solo so it sounds Hammond-ish. Night Flight is a medium tempo rock number with Plant leading the way. Black Country Woman is the flip side to Ten Years Gone. Wry and reflective if not as heartbroken as it's epic partner it does have it's own sense of regret that Zeppelin manage to reinterpret so uniquely. Sick Again has no sense of regret, or not so immediately. It's a tune about the young groupies that would give themselves so wantonly to this band and many others as rock bands took over the imaginations (and more) of a generous youth from the scream at the pop bands of the 1960s. Plant's emerging regret is watching these girls get old before their time. Fairly sure he probably helped them on their way but no one forced these girls on young men being worshipped at the peak of their powers. Actually one of the things that annoys me about 1970s era rock bands is songs about the road and how annoyed they could get. It all sounded self indulgent and left me as a listener not at all concerned. Still Sick Again does have half a dozen guitar tracks populating its dense and heavy structure. Zeppelin normally finish an album with a blues, (on HOTH it's that 12 bar coda for example, 4 has Levee, ITTOD has a symphonic blues.) Here it's pure rock though and powerfully done. All in all this is a wide variety of music that runs quite a gamut of styles. Blues, folk, Middle and Near Eastern, symphonic, rock, country, funk and variations make up a cauldron of great potency. Frankly other than all their other albums it hardly gets more interesting than this release. As Page's initial vision for Zeppelin was completed by the conclusion of the fourth album the rest of the band seemed to open up more compositionally. Look, it's just an idea of mine but it seemed as Presence was Page's Zeppelin album, Out Door belongs to Jones, and HOTH is Plant's baby then this album belongs to John Bonham whose drive and rhythms that are so unique to him can serve so well in any context. I think many rock drummers would be tried and tested by the variety here. But Bonham makes it all happen effortlessly. Physical Graffiti is an incredible album from so many points of view. Great title from Jimmy as well. By the way, do try and get the CD release that's a replica of the LP cover. So much effort went into the LP release (musically, production wise and with its cover art) that to get the appalling '80s dump onto CD with its shoddy version of the art does no one any favours. Bad audio results with poor cover art from Atlantic who should have known better. Otherwise release this is superlative. Now it's relevance as a progressive rock album, apparently as opposed to a mere rock release. I refer you to the second to last paragraph. Essential. I've just remembered that today is exactly eleven years gone from the last time I saw Page and Plant at Wembley, London. Night Flight got an outing there as well.

Cheers.

uduwudu | 5/5 |

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