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PRESENCE

Led Zeppelin

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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars Well what a weird and ugly artwork. Based on the strange concept of a happy talisman, I believe that Plant should have kept it around his family in order to avoid all his personal family tragedies. Outside of that, this first real album since 73's HOTH (PG was not an album per se) is not exactly up to the usual standards of their early 70's album, because there are clearly a few tracks that were filling the space.

But does this album ever starts strongly: the amazing Achille's Last stand is a grandiose epic full of complex guitar lines and the Robert takes us in Greek Mythology as he had done so successfully years before. Little did we know that this would be Zep's last bravura track with Tea For One. Yes, the closing track is another superb epic, but not in the prog mode, but one of those great blues tracks that Page knows how to make fascinating. While TFO is not as fabulous as SIBLY on their third album, it is nonetheless an excellent outro.

What happens between the opening and the closing tracks, you ask? Well actually not much!!! Three (four) old RnR tracks with varying shades of provincial influences. RO is obviously Cajun tainted, CSR is rather boring and repetitive (it should've been half that length), and HOFN is unremarkably unnoticeable. Another RnR number, Nobody's Faulkt But Mine is however particularly superb (and even reminds me of their heyday in Black Dog and RnR on the Zoso album) Percy is in top form. Little wonder that they will recuperate this track in the 90's Unledded reformation albeit in a new form. And sadly but funnily as if to prove my point, I cannot remember from memory (as while write all of my Zep reviews) For Your Life >> nuff said, right??

Well three stars is rather well paid for an album that has only three songs (and just on prog one) worthy of notice, So I doubt I will make friends here, but a bit of honesty should normally not make much wrong.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#99996)
Posted Thursday, November 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars A good album, and the first and only Led Zeppelin album not to have keyboards or acoustic guitars on it. The album took only 17 days to record, and was sort of an experiment to see where they stood musicaly in comparison with their early days. Probably due to their deliberate narrow approach (focussing on heavy rock and heavy blues) and the rushed recording, the album sounds a bit repetitive at times. The cover art is a little joke on Kubrick's famous 2001 - A Space Oddessey movie, with a black obelisk at the centre of a happy looking family.

The album starts brilliantly with the mythic story of Achilles, galloping bass, great drums, and fabulous multi-layered guitar arrangements and Plant in great form. written while recovering from a car crash Plant suffered in Greece, where he broke his ankle, so there is little to no coincidense in the subject and story of Achilles Last Stand. Unfortunatly the great introduction song is followed by a rather bad song, clearly drawing from their early days style, but without the energy that made those songs stand well above average, this stands slightly below.

with the funky grooves of Royal Orleans the fun returns, some reminisence to The Crunge of Houses Of The Holy, or remember Sam & Dave's Soul Man, just in the Led Zeppelin style, alledgedly about John Paul Jones taking home a drag Queen. With Nobody's fault But Mine Robert Plant get's the change again to shine with his non-lyrical soulfull screams, and a compelling guitar riff from our hero Jimmy Page. Candy store rock is an attempt at rock and roll, quite nicely done, a bit too funky to my liking, some Presley references here and there. Hots on for Nowhere is rather bland, nice vocals, but the song never really get's above average.

The album ends with the beautifull Tea For One, a blues styled rock song, somewhat similar to Since I've Been Loving You in sound and structure. well actually it's just the reprise of it, lasting a good 9 minutes.

A decent album, and by anyone's standart this can be considered good, but compared to their previous albums, it's slightly dissapointing. Still a very firm thumbs up for Achilles Last Stand, and the good Nobody's Fault and Tea For One, but the rest is not up to par, compared to their first three albums they have come a long way in songwriting skills and complexity, but some of the magic had evaporated. Still a very nice album, but not the one to start with.

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Send comments to tuxon (BETA) | Report this review (#100190)
Posted Friday, November 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars By 1976 most of us Led Zeppelin fans had about given up hope for an album of high quality songs from front to back and had started to wish for at least a couple of great tracks. That's pretty much what we had gotten since LZ4 and we expected more of the same. And that's what we received with "Presence." It's as if the Mississippi River of creativity had turned into a creek for this foursome but they bravely continued onward yet not upward. "Achilles Last Stand" and "Nobody's Fault but mine" are classic Zep but, unfortunately, the rest of the songs don't do much at all. Like the strange little monolith featured on the cover, they just sit there and really don't mean anything. At that time the band was still one of the most popular in the entire world but this album merely reaffirmed to their admirers that they had already given us their best in order to reach that plateau and this was what was left.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#100848)
Posted Tuesday, November 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars This albums starts well, and ends well, but the middle drags. Tea for One is one of my favourite Zeppelin tracks. It's slow, bluesy feel is very, very good. Achiles was a good, fast rocker with great bass drum by Bonham. The middle is, most of the time, very boring and uninspired.This was a close 2/3 star rating, but I find no enthusiasm to listen to this album often. Or ever again...so I'm giving it a 2. Not one of Zeppelin's better releases. The early days were definately the best.

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Send comments to Shakespeare (BETA) | Report this review (#101030)
Posted Wednesday, November 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
1800iareyay
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Presence came from a dark time in Led Zeppelin's history. Robert Plant was involved in a serious car accident that left him in a wheelchair for the recording of this album and much of the subsequent tour. Due to Plant's injuries, Jimmy Page is the main creative force behind this album, which stands as Zeppelin's darkest. "Achilles' Last Stand" is one of the greatest Zep tunes with its incredible drumming and complex fretwork from the master. "For Your Life" is a decent tune, though not memorable at all. "Nobody's Fault But Mine" is a classic with Plant's scream in the forefront. Royal Orleans is a fun track that recalls the whimsy of Christmas past on tunes like The Lemon Song. "Candy Store Rock" and "Hots On For Nowhere" are lackluster tunes, but the album ends on every high note with the gorgeous Tea For One, featuring one of Page's most inspired solos.

Led Zeppelin has no bad album, but this is below the standard they set for themselves. Still, any fan of hard rock or heavy metal should own all of their studio albums as well as How the West Was Won and the eponymous DVD.

Grade: C

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Send comments to 1800iareyay (BETA) | Report this review (#101507)
Posted Sunday, December 03, 2006 | Review Permalink
Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "Presence" is for me definitely the weakest Zeppelin album in their catalogue. So, it is no surprising that even their longtime fans would probably remember this album and talk about it concerning more the "mysterious" and "Space Oddisey 2001" inspired Hipgnosis- designed cover art, than any particular song or music in general. Surely, the monumental epic "Achilles Last Stand" and probably "Nobody's Fault But Mine" are excellent pieces of prog hard rocking, but all that remains is a totally uninspired collection of dull songs that are hard to captivate attention of even most diligent listeners. Avoid this album, but try to get only "Achilles" instead.

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Send comments to Seyo (BETA) | Report this review (#102137)
Posted Friday, December 08, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Presence signified a big change in direction for Led Zeppelin. ' Achilles Last Stand' and ' Tea For One' are your atypical Zeppelin classics but the rest of the album illustrates that their focus or level of creativity as a band was beginning to wane. It has been mentioned that Presence was made over an extremely short period hence the rushed feel to whole composition.' For Your Life' is not a bad tune but nothing spectacular and ' Nobody's Fault But Mine' is another strong track but the other filler tracks like ' Royal Orleans', ' Candy Store Rock' and ' Hots on For Nowhere' were mediocre at best. Still a very good album and worth having in your collection.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#102711)
Posted Tuesday, December 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A 4-song album, the rest is poor

I think this album has the feel that it was rushed and that there was not much inspirations to write songs. The album sounds like if the band was tired. The keyboards are completely removed which is a shame because they really are an important element in the music of Led Zeppelin. The album is Hard Rock/Blues, more in the style of Led Zeppelin II.

Achilles Last Stand may be the best opening song in a Led Zeppelin album. Opening with distorted acoustic notes, the song turns into a monstrously heavy 10-minute long epic full of powerful guitar riffs, galloping rhythm (is this where Iron Maiden got their galloping rhythm from ?), and some of the best guitar solos I have ever heard which are made even better thanks to the skull-crushing percussion when they are playing. I think what makes this song heavier is the fact that Jimmy Page's riffs are made out of many guitar tracks. This is easily one of the best songs the band have made and it elevates this average album to 3 stars.

For Your Life is a good song, not great, but far better than the 3 bad songs of the album. It is a mid-tempo rock song that depends on the riffs of Jimmy Page, some of them being quite good.

Royal Orleans is a weak song for Led Zeppelin. The riffs are not interesting and the singing is not that memorable for once.

Nobody Fault But Mine is a pretty good song. It starts with a guitar riff with a phaser effect and Robert Plant singing catchy "ahhh ahhhs". Then the song starts, which is more than decent. The "ahhh ahhs" are repeated with great bass riffs and an energetic harmonica solo demands attention. The rest of the song is of the same style, with a guitar solo and the ahhh ahhhs concluding the piece.

Candy Store Rock: This is worse than Royal Orleans. The song always having the same uninteresting rhythm until a subtle change near the end with irritating "oooooo oooooos". I just do not like this composition.

Hots on For Nowhere is yet another weak song, with a bad and awkward guitar riff that leaves empty spaces. There are some nice vocal performances here and there, but the song is mediocre.

Luckily, Tea for One saves this album. The first twenty seconds may fool you that this will be a rock song, but then turns into a very nice blues song that recalls "Since I've Been Loving You". Yes, it's almost of that quality! Very inspired guitar playing, and there is an outstanding and highly emotional guitar solo in this piece!

I recommend this album for the opener and closer which are among Led Zeppelin's better songs. Despite some weak songs, this album is still good because Achilles Last Stand is a masterpiece and Tea for One is one of the best blues songs I have ever heard. However, it's not essential for someone who is not a fan of Led Zeppelin and looks for "prog"

highlights: Achilles Last Stand, Tea For One

Let Downs: Royal Orleans, Hots on for Nowhere, Candy Store Rock.

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#103016)
Posted Wednesday, December 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Somehow I deleted my review of this so here goes again....... Presence is one of Led Zeppelin's later albums, and features Robert Plant singing (really well, I must say) from a wheelchair as he was recovering from an automobile accident. The kick-off track 'Achilles Last Stand' is a storming composition of driving power and crunching 'chugg-chugga-chugg' rhythms. Killer riffs around every corner !! John Paul Jones' bass is crisp and invigorating, the drumming from John Bonham is solid as ever, and Jimmy Page tears it up his fretboard as usual. The overall production is a bit 'dry' and the album has a certain rawness to it. The other key track off this album is the extended slow blues number 'Tea For One'. No other band performs a slow-blues with as much magic as Zepp. For these 2 pieces alone, the album is worth tracking down, unfortunately, the songs in between are average fare hard-rock with little to excite most Proggers. Still worth a fair 3 stars.

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Send comments to Tom Ozric (BETA) | Report this review (#103041)
Posted Thursday, December 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chris H
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This, in my opinion, is the best Post IV Zep album. And also, it just happens to be the proggiest! The album starts out on a n intensely high note with "Achilles Last Stand", which is in my top 10 of greatest Zep songs. The trick to this album is staying awake through "For Your Life", and once you've done that then you are in the clear. "Royal Orleans" is a short, bluesy rocker that takes a comedic spin on things, while "Nobody's Fault But Mine" shows off great riffs and an excellent rythym section. "Candy Store Rock" is another sleeper, but "Hots On For Nowhere" is a decent track thatgets you all warmedup for the finale. "Tea For One" is just a masterpiece of riffs, drumming and intense rythym and musicianship all rolled into one nine and a half minute package.

Go Buy This Album!

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Send comments to Chris H (BETA) | Report this review (#103050)
Posted Thursday, December 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Maybe the most interesting thing in this album is that they didn`t use keyboards. It is maybe LZ`s heaviest album, with a lot of distorted electric guitars, and most of all, great drums by John Bonham, particularly in "Achilles Last Stand", which is my favourite song in this album. "For Your Life" is also good. "Royal Orleans" is the only song co-written by all members of the band (the other songs were only credited to Page / Plant), and it is also good, with good percussion arrangements. "Nobody`s Fault by Mine" is a "Heavy Blues" with harmonica. "Candy Store Rock" sounds like an early Rocker from the fifties, it was relased as a single, and maybe is the weakest song in this album. "Hots on for Nowhere" again has very good drums and good guitar riffs. "Tea for One" is a slow Blues, similar (as other reviewers wrote) to "Since I`ve Benn Loving You". Maybe it is strange, being this album not very liked by many people, but I like it because it sounds more "raw", more "heavy" and energetic in some songs. The 1994 remastered CD of this album sounds very good, IMO. The cover design is like a joke, IMO. An "object`s presence" in images with person dressed as if they were in the fifties, somewhat similar to the "visuals" used in the original version of YES` "9012Live" video.

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Send comments to Guillermo (BETA) | Report this review (#103391)
Posted Sunday, December 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Jimmy Page wanted to create, in his words, "a guitar army". He had been wanting to build this army since Led Zeppelin had risen from the ashes of the Yardbirds in 1968, and attemps at this life-long pursuit can be heard as early as their first four LPs with such powerhouses as 'Good Times, Bad Times', 'Whole Lotta Love', the urgency of 'Celebration Day' and sheer force of the fourth album. It culminated in the bellicose epics 'The Song Remains the Same' and 'No Quarter', evidence of Page's increasing desire to arm and ralley his troops with the most mammoth of sonic capabilities, and no one knew better how to layer, re-enforce and deploy his forces. 'Physical Graffiti' took this further in 1975 with 'Kashmir' and 'Ten Years Gone' but Page's military campaign truly arrived a year later for their next, the battle- hardened and turbulent 'Presence'. The clouds of war had been gathering for awhile and it was time to release the dogs.

This record, their seventh studio offering, is that vision. A stark, honest collection of absolute rock dynamite that pays no mind to either their fans or their critics, smashing aside all comers and unleashing perhaps the most beautifully raw album of the pre-punk era. The circumstances during the making of the record were tenuous; Plant was in a wheelchair after badly shattering his foot in a car accident and had to record hobbled and often sitting. Page and Bonham were both struggling with various ailments and addictions, and John Paul Jones found himself increasingly in charge of keeping things together in the studio. It was also a time when the band had commercially peaked, which makes 'Presence' that much more bold and startling a statement. Page's 'guitar army' is best heard on the opener, the magnificent 'Achilles Last Stand', an almost symphonic arrangement of heavy guitars, harmonies, thunderous bass from Jones, Plant's desperate lyric of mythic proportions, and a most spectacular drum track from the one and only John Bonham. It flows perfectly into the fun and off-kilter 'For Your Life'. The centerpiece, though, has to be the remarkable blues 'Nobody's Fault But Mine', with its odd timing and Robert Plant's heart-tugging reflections on paths taken and consequences suffered.

Probably Zeppelin's least popular work and scorned by many, 'Presence' stands as a singular glory and an example of true rock grit in the face of deep pain. Their most stunning and, in many ways, most elegant work, 'Presence' is Led Zeppelin at its most unadorned and pure. A great, great record.

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Send comments to Atavachron (BETA) | Report this review (#105225)
Posted Tuesday, January 02, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars THE FUNKIEST ONE

This album will be released a few months after the severe car accident from Plant in Greece (July 1975). Plant both broke an elbow and an ankle. For a year and a half, doctors couldn't tell whether Plant would be able to walk again. The band had to cancel their tour after this dramatic episode. He will appear in a wheelchair for the recording sessions of "Presence".

Rehearsals will start in California where Plant was recovering. They will soon move to Munich to finalize the project. Page recalls : "The mechanism was perfectly oiled. We started steaming in rehearsals. We did a lot of old rock and roll numbers just to loosen up a bit. "For Your Life" was made up in the studio, right on the spot. The solos never had that coloring before. I was so happy about it... The fact is that this one, we lived all the way through... under circumstances that were extremely frustrating. We weren't sure about Robert, weren't sure what was going to happen. Everyone managed to pull it all in...it was great."

It is obvious that the funky mood of many songs from "Physical Graffiti" is here. For the very first time, no acoustic guitar number will be featured. Nor any keyboards used. The best one of the genre is "Nobody's Fault But Mine" : a strong and powerful number. Lots of rhythm variations. The song stops and starts again tirelessly. It turns even wild at times. Good harmonica break to bring a bit of blues here as well. It's my preferred funky song here. It will be one of the few of this album to make a life during concerts. Some of the lyrics as well as the hook are "borrowed" from Willie Johnson (another blues singer). He recorded it in 1927 but never claimed for copyright and it is therefore credited to the band.

"For Your Life" was released on single (reaching the 21st spot in the US - not released in the UK). It's not a bad number, but Led Zep has been using his fans to other stuff than that (same is valid for "Royal Orleans" and "Hots On For Nowhere"). The funny thing about "Royal Orleans" is that the lyrics referred to a true and strange story.

While touring in New Orleans the band usually stayed at the Royal Orleans Hotel. One night a member of Led Zep came back to the hotel with a transvestite. Both were stoned (marijuana) and fell asleep, the transvestite with a lit joint in his (her) hand.The room was set on fire but no one was hurt. It is mostly said that it occurred to be John Paul Jones. Lyrics refer to this "event" as such : "Be careful how you choose it", He kissed the whiskers, left and right, Poor whiskers set the room alight" It was a way for Plant to get revenge since Jones once commented that vocals were the least important part of the band !

"Candy Store Rock" is probably the worst song here (and one of the poorest of the band). Just over four minutes to suffer. Completely monotonous and boring. Skip it by all means.

Two fabulous songs (almost fifty percent of the album) : « Achilles Last Stand » and « Tea For One » will raise the quality-level of this album dramatically.

While recording "Achilles" Plant got so excited that he fell and re-injured his ankle again ! Page and Plant had spent three weeks in Morrocco the year before, where they discovered new musical genres and sounds. This influence as well as Greek music will lead to the release of this extremely powerful song. One of the longest one from the band and a real masterpiece.

The lyrics will be influenced by these moments : "Wandering & wandering, What place to rest the search, The mighty arms of Atlas, Hold the heavens from the earth". Bonham and Jones are performing incredibly well (not to speak about Page delivering an awesome guitar work throughout the song).

One can already fing some traces of the song during the long improv for "Dazed and Confused" as soon as in 1973. Page once mentioned that Achilles' Last Stand is his favourite Led Zep song.

The closing number "Tea for One" is antother great track. Even if it's a clone of "Since.". But I do not have any problem with that. Santana did it ten times with Samba Pa'Ti, and each time it was one of the number of the subsequent album. It is the case here as well. I really like this song a lot. It's completely melancholic and describes the lonliness one feels while touring (hence the title.) when you have to order "a tea for one" or whatever "for one" it is.

This album will not be greatly acclaimed by the press, but of course it will peak at both Nr. 1 in the US and in the UK.

The first rumors of a split arose after the release of the album. Plant was still recovering, Bonham and Page were doing "Bonzo's Montreux" and Jones did an attempt to become a gentleman's farmer. But not for long : a new tour was planned for 1977. Plant made his first appearance on stage during a Bad Company concert (they were signed at Swan Song, Led Zep's label). Led Zep will be elected the best band of the year (1977) although punk and new-wave were surging in the UK. I would rate it seven out of ten and upgrade it to four stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#115185)
Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's a reviewing cliche to pick a great band's least appreciated album and tout it as misunderstood genius. But the blow to my credibility as a reviewer is warranted in the case of "Presence", which features some of the geratest and most original music by Zeppelin, probably the greatest band of their time.

Jimmy Page's favourite of his own albums, "Presence" is more rough-sounding than "Houses of the Holy," and much better-recorded. The album opens with "Achilles' Last Stand," which is one of those ten-minute tunes that never seems long enough. Bonham's drumming is so locked in and so tight that the tune could be twice that length and still approachable.

"For Your Life" and "Royal Orleans" are good but not great, but "Nobody's Fault But Mine" is a return to the blues rock that made Zeppelin famous. The tune has a similar stop-start pattern to "Black Dog." "Candy Store Rock" features Plant's Elvis impersonation, as Zeppelin becomes the world's heaviest rockabilly band. "Hots on For Nowhere" is better, and "Tea For One" closes out the album with a heavy-as-hell slow blues that mines the same territory that "Since I've Been Loving You" did.

Overall, the album doesn't feature as many catchy songs as other Zeppelin albums, and there are admittedly a few cringe-worthy moments. But "Achilles," "Fault" and "Tea" make up for this, and should earn "Presence" a place on any music fan's shelves.

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Send comments to SamW (BETA) | Report this review (#115218)
Posted Thursday, March 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Nobody's fault at all

If it is possible for a Led Zeppelin album to be under appreciated, then "Presence" is the one deserving of that description. The album was recorded in pretty adverse circumstances. Robert Plant was recovering from a serious car crash (which prevented the band from touring). Jimmy Page was starting to use drugs, and John Bonham was succumbing to alcohol. The album was written while Plant was recovering, and recorded in less than 3 weeks, Plant singing from a wheelchair.

While many of the band's albums have strong prog tendencies, "Presence" is arguably their most progressive, especially from a prog metal point of view. The opening "Achilles' last stand" is a 10 minute monster, with a thundering rhythm section and some of Page's finest guitar work. The track is heavy with a capital H, but supremely melodic, a sort of cross between "Kashmir" and "Trampled underfoot"!

"For your life" is "Custard pie" part 2, the staccato nature of the back beat having the same distinctive feel. "Royal Orleans" is the only band composition on the album, all the other songs being Plant/Page songs. The lyrics tell the sordid tale of an allegedly true incident in a hotel in a New Orleans hotel involving a transvestite. It is though the weakest song on the album.

Side two opens with the stunning orchestrated guitars of Page, introducing one of Led Zeppelin's finest blues covers. Much of the song is taken directly from Blind Willie Johnston's song of the same name, who in true Led Zeppelin tradition remains unaccredited. Once again, the guitar work is pure prog metal, with Plant's harmonica solo being reminiscent of "When the levee breaks". "Candy store rock" is "Custard Pie" part 3(!), the slightly echoed vocals and Elvis impersonation giving a retro feel to an otherwise disposable song.

"Hots on for nowhere" contains one of Plants most acidic lyrics, bizarrely set to a jaunty, offbeat theme. The closing "Tea for one" continues with Plant's rather depressive lyrics; entirely understandable given the circumstances. The song is a 9 minute, apparently original, blues with hints of "The lemon song" and "Since I've been loving you". Once again, it is Page's guitar work which is by far the most striking feature.

As you may have noticed, not one of the tracks here finds the band in their folk/acoustic mode, as I said this is a heavy album. For me, "Presence" sits easily at the top table of Led Zeppelin albums. Maybe what went before led to unrealistic expectations of the band, for this is one of their most powerful and enjoyable statements.

Unusually, the album title is taken from the sleeve illustration (not the other way round). The "Hipgnosis" designed photo of a normal family sitting round a table with an undefined object floating in the middle is both striking and original.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#115676)
Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Yes the album cover is bad, but the music inside is much better. I like this much more then the keyboard driven "In Through The Out Door". This album has some real highs on it but unfortunately it has it's share of lows.

"Achilies Last Stand" simply rocks ! The guitar is great to open and Plant's vocals are higher pitched than normal (almost Geddy like). The solo from Page 4 minutes in is truly glorious as it goes on and on. Bonham's machine gun like drumming comes and goes. "For Your Life" has a lot of bottom end to it during the instrumental sections. More great guitar from Page 4 minutes in. "Royal Orleans" is an ok song where Page plays the same melody on and off throughout the song.

"Nobody's Fault But Mine" is a great heavy tune where the vocals, drums and guitar work all shine brightly. The harmonica is awesome bringing to mind "When The Levee Breaks". Nice scorching guitar solo 5 minutes in. "Candy Store Rock" was the only single released from this album. "Hots On For Nowhere" is an ok, catchy song with a cool vocal melody. "Tea For One" features some nice guitar work in this slow, bluesy number.

For "Achilies Last Stand" and "Nobody's Fault But Mine" this comes recommended. These two songs would be right at home on some of their earlier albums.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#117729)
Posted Monday, April 09, 2007 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Last Stand" indeed.

As a teen I was obsessed with no one more than Zeppelin and with no disrespect to Townshend or Mick or Beatles, it was all Zep all the time back then. While I most enjoyed I-IV and Houses back in those days I have to say that Presence and Physical Graffiti are the Zep albums I most turn to these days. Presence seems the most fresh to me after all these years perhaps because it hasn't been wrecked for me by FM radio overkill.

Essentially, you have 5 fun bluesy rock tunes book-ended by two of Zeppelin's all time greatest tracks. "Achilles Last Stand" is the progressive Zep if there is such a thing with monster guitar riffs and Bonzo's most amazing drum work. "Tea for One" is perhaps Jimmy's most personal showcase this side of "Since I've Been Loving You" live version. Whatever anyone thinks about Jimmy as a person or even as a guitar player, his talents in producing and arranging the various guitar overdubs are simply astonishing.

This was really the end of the road for Zep for me because I consider "In Through the Out Door" to be such a complete waste of time. It was the last peak in a very fertile period for one of rock's greatest bands.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#120766)
Posted Friday, May 04, 2007 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This was an excellent follow-up to the band's previous masterpiece "Physical Graffiti". Through this album Led Zeppelin brings back the memories of blues-influenced music as their early albums. At time of release I was not quite attracted with the album especially when I looked at the cover artwork that did not seem to be an impressive one. But as the local radio aired "Tea For One" I then purchased the cassette. To my surprise, this is an excellent album by Led Zeppelin even though it's not at the same quality with previous album.

The opening track "Achilles Last Stand" (10:25) kills everything else in the album and this is the best track from this album. The music is dynamic with floating guitar solo at opening followed with fast tempo rhythm section with fast drum work especially during transition. Robert sings at his best with background of music in stable fast tempo style. At first part it seems the song has single texture but when I follow through from start to end, the band enriches the song textures as the time goes by until the end of track. The interlude part with Page guitar solo is stunning especially when it is combined with jaw dropping drum work by Bonzo. It's probably the best track to see how great Bonzo was as a drummer. What a fabulous composition!

"For Your Life" (6:20) provides a break for the fast tempo opening track with its bluesy influence. Even though the tempo is slowing down, the composition still showcases the energy through this song. "Nobody's Fault But Mine" (5:27) and "Candy Store Rock" (4:07) are another excellent tracks.

One suggestion (if you really like rock'n'roll - whenever you find many life problems or pressures at work or your business, don't get yourself suicide! Get this CD and spin the opening track "Achilles Last Stand" and it will heal you automatically. Trust me man! Keep on rockin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#120980)
Posted Monday, May 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
russellk
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The downward slope.

There are many reasons why this collection of songs does not work as an album, chief among them the compressed recording schedule. The resultant stripped sound (no keyboards or acoustic guitar, for example) is a far cry from the glorious lushness and bombast of their previous three albums. The compressed schedule also didn't allow them to arrange these songs into something better than the sum of its parts. But, fundamentally, this album fails because of the poor songwriting.

That said, the opener, 'Achilles Last Stand', is almost universally regarded among lovers of progressive rock as LED ZEPPELIN'S most progressive moment. It's a stormer of a track, albeit at a faster tempo than anything since 'Immigrant Song'. Those drum fills exhaust the listener rather than cause his/her blood to bubble. The track is a showcase for PAGE'S guitar work, and was their last to feature a mystical theme. 'For Your Life' sounds like a refugee from 'Physical Graffiti' with more than a whiff of 'The Rover' about it. And the remarkable 'Nobody's Fault But Mine' is as bluesy as you can get, with searing overdubbed guitars and Plant's almost indecipherable lyrics assuring you that LED ZEPPELIN are still able to rock it hard.

But the rest of the album is nondescript. I don't doubt they could have tidied up the rest of these songs had they spent more time in the studio, but I think they'd been there and done that too many times. 'Royal Orleans', in particular, like the excrable 'Hot Dog' off 'In Through the Out Door', could have been dispensed with or replaced by something worthy of being in their canon. And the other songs are simply tepid, the one thing a band like this simply couldn't afford.

The key to this album is to understand LED ZEPPELIN were on their way back to their roots. There are far fewer progressive sensibilities on this album. Still enough moments to consider it an excellent album, but in no way is this a masterpiece.

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Send comments to russellk (BETA) | Report this review (#134993)
Posted Sunday, August 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
horza
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars So the mighty Led Zep find their way onto the Prog Rock Archives - strange how things turn out. I'm delighted to have the chance to discuss the world's greatest band so I won't get into the reasons they were included - I'm just a tad surprised to see them here. Nevermind. Anyway. I recently purchased the complete re-mastered albums one by one. Presence is one of my personal favourites - which is not an opinion shared by many. The opening track Achilles Last Stand is PHE-NO-MEN-AL. It has power and energy and a personality that has stood the test of time. The drumming is outstanding and a testament to how good Bonham could be, the bass is relentless and driven and metronome-steady, the guitar is breathtaking and awe-inspiring and the vocals climb and soar and just pulverise (in a good way). Nobody's Fault But Mine is my second favourite track and always makes it way onto compilations I compose of Led Zep - it is blues and rock and has a majesty which elevates it. The rest of the album has tracks which I would call 'growers' - you will not quickly tire of this album and it will pay you back each time you listen. The album is as enigmatic as its cover artwork and you should go out and buy it now. Every day is a school day - lesson over.

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Send comments to horza (BETA) | Report this review (#137181)
Posted Saturday, September 08, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog-jester
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars LED ZEPPELIN “Presence” 2.5

Recorded in one week in Germany, practically in ROLLIG STONES’ studio time, “Presence” reflects all the hush and worries that have possessed the band. Robert sang from an invalid chair after that terrible Greek accident, Jimmy played with only three fingers (damn London subway!), as a result song are rather rough and simple, unfortunately not in that “cool” way suitable for early LZ’ roughness. The only two stand-out tracks here are “Achilles” (easily the best post-Graffiti song) and astonishing “Tea for One” blues. Hypnosis cover didn’t prevent an album from both critical and commercial collapse: it failed to chart in a good way, and even awesome movie released that year wasn’t able to save LZ’s past fame. Misfortunes reached their peak with Karak’s death. LZ were sent to rest which lasted for long three years – in fast 70s’ record industry it was equal to band’s split.

Best tracks: “Achilles Last Stand”, “Nobody’s Fault but Mine”, “Tea for One“

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Send comments to Prog-jester (BETA) | Report this review (#141375)
Posted Monday, October 01, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Tired and frustraded by particular problems and touring stress, LED ZEPPELIN recorded PRESENCE with Robert Plant in a wheelchair, Jimmy Page completed addicted on heroin and Bonzo filled by alcohol. Jones were quite frustraded on this mainstream, also feeling that LED ZEPPELIN were somewhat "dying". The band changed the creativity support into a generic maner of made a good cover of themselves. It´s not bad in time of crisis, but we must remember that a year before everything was a huge succes. PRESENCE is well produced, the sound is "big", some fat riffs, some dinossaur drumming, but the album lacks the energy of early 70´s ZEP. It´s impossible to feel the melancholy of Plant´s vocals in absolutely ALL tracks. Anyway, Page & co. still delivers some majestic tracks: to tell the truth, a TRIO - ACHILLES LAST STAND, NOBODY FAULTS BUT MINE & TEA FOR ONE. Very, very good stuff from the beggining to the end, blending all ZEP´S influences into a really mature production. These three tracks are the synthesis of this moment, and they´re enough material to make PRESENCE a classic ZEP album. You may feel that something is missing, you may find difficult do define what is missing: but it´s missing. Get it, anyway.

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Send comments to rguabiraba (BETA) | Report this review (#144365)
Posted Saturday, October 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars The most raw, rough Zeppeli album, which contains none acoustic tracks (the other releases contains each one an acoustic track, just like Bron-Yr-Aur or Ramble On for example). Recorded in (West) Germany with Robert Plant in a wheelchair after a violent car accident (both legs broken, his wife was more seriously hurt - but not to death, happily - and hospitalized in England), Presence is a very moody Zeppelin album, a dark one, a sad one.

A disillusioned one.

Tea For One is a kind of follow- up/suite to Since I've Been Loving You, blue in tone. For Your Life speaks about drug addiction. Achilles Last Stand is probably Led Zep's second best song after Stairway To Heaven, and is the most innovative and strange of all, with hard-to-understand lyrics. Royal Orleans is the one and only track to be kind of funny, good but minor (and short) song. Nobody's Fault But Mine is one of the two songs I don't really like on the album, but I agree it's a very good one, very bluesy, this song could have been released on the first or second albums. The other track I don't like is Candy Store Rock, maybe one of Zeppelin's worse ever. Simply awful. And there is Hots On For Nowhere, interesting but maybe too long song, nice, efficient, not a masterpiece, but nice anyway. Not a highlight at all.

In its globality, Presence is one of the most powerful and interesting Zeppelin albums. One of my faves. Jimmy Page's favorite Zeppelin album. Mostly underrated (see the rates here). I would like to give it 5 stars, but I prefer to give it 4. Because of these two songs I don't like, and because it probably NOT deserve 5 stars, in fact. It's not a masterpiece, it's a very good and underrated album.

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Send comments to Zardoz (BETA) | Report this review (#164059)
Posted Sunday, March 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars How many Rock band in times of difficulties have produced great Prog albums? Many. But how many have centered the goal? Few. This is what 'Presence' sent me. 'Achilles Last Stand' and 'Nobody's Fault But Mine' are certainly two excellent Prog songs. Maybe 'Presence' seems an easy rock album, almost AOR. But in my opinion 'Presence' is a great album in Prog field. Certainly Jimmy Page not played great guitar riffs but John Bonham and Robert Plant are perfect. The Bonham drums is a kill drums work and Plant use the voice in a great manner. Sure the production helped many but I think that also the music helped many. 'Presence', in fact, is poor for arrengements but the compositions need not only to read notes and play with their heart. And 'Presence' is this type of albums.

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Send comments to timeprog (BETA) | Report this review (#164476)
Posted Thursday, March 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Whistler
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Well, by 1976, the world didn't need no Led Zeppelin anymore. After all, they had...I dunno, the Ramones or some crap like that. Oh, and, no I haven't heard any Ramones, and, yes, I am biased. But, what can ya do? I don't listen to music after '75, house rules.

Now, I must admit, I like this album a bit more than when I first got it (and to think, this was my very first Zep purchase! No wonder I don't like 'em as much as I'm supposed to). Still, Presence is pretty much the lads deciding that even ole Physical Graffiti was too diverse for their tastes. So, what else can ya do, but take the "old" formula and strip it as bare as you can. No keyboards here, and no real deviations from the "classic" sound than tossing in some danceable rhythms. Now, I'm all for the formula, but could we at LEAST have some decent tunes to strap 'em too?

If you like your Led to be overlong, pseudo-mystical, and somewhat Sabbath-esuqe what with crunchy guitar and riff-festivities, then buddy, do I know the track for you! Because that statement pretty much sums up "Achilles Last Stand" (shouldn't that be "Achilles' Last Stand?" Oh well). Anyway, that interior riff is pretty sweet, and Page's soloing can be equally sweet, especially when it's backed by the start 'n stop martial drumming in the middle. Plant's pretty dorky though (but sit tight; love the coda).

Ah, "For Your Life," NOW we're talking. Fantastic descending blues riffs, Plant hangs up his elf hat for some meaningful howling. Perhaps the dips in the middle of the song are a bit much, but still. Used to be my favorite number on the album. Dig those guitar noises.

Wait, "Royal Orleans" is only three minutes long? Surely you are mistaken sir; that irritating start 'n stop riff must go on for an hour. But "Nobody's Fault But Mine's" opening riff is wonderfully acid sharp (riff, riff, riff...told ya this one was Sabbathy...or, at least, lacking interesting Page solos). And, hey, as if to prove my bracketed point, in addition to a decent Page solo, we get a harmonica solo too! Pretty solid one at that. Plant also manages to sound sufficiently crazed for the vocals.

Oh, but what's this? "Candy Store Rock" is just plain laughable. The band trying to funk out? Plant's twice as jerky as before, Page sounds like he has no idea what he's doing. Best latch onto Bonzo's percussion. Oh good...ANOTHER start 'n stop riff attached to a, overlong, so-so melody. "Hots on for Nowhere" just DRAGS along. Is it toe tappin'? At first. Is it memorable? Not really. Too bad too, as there's some interesting guitar in the middle.

Well, this album wouldn't get a solid three from me was it not for one thing: the closer. End the record on "Hots," and the album dies. But, despite the somewhat "dirty" intro, "Tea For One" evolves into the most emotional tune on the album, and the best song too. Does it sound like "Since I've Been Loving You?" Of course, but it IS another lingering slow paced blues. Besides, it's way better, much more musically and lyrically mature. Hell, it's practically epic. The lazy soloing fits the song perfectly, the dry instrumentation is fantastic (told ya they did blooz best!), and Plant is a human being! I actually CARE about him! Eerie, no?

So what's wrong with this album? It's not really length of a tune that seems to matter; "Tea For One," now that I've gotten used to it, sometimes doesn't seem long enough, while "Achilles Last Stand" often leaves me checking my watch after a while. I guess it's that "Tea" is epic, whereas "Achilles" pretends to be?

Still, it's not length that hurts the album; it's APPARENT length. This has got to be one of the most monotonous albums I've ever heard. And that's coming from Zep Leppelin, who used to be able to play the same mystical blooz song twelve times in a row and fool me into thinking I was hearing an entire record. The instrumentation doesn't help. Where's the experimentation? Hell, where's J. P. Jones? I'd settle for a bass that I can actually distinguish from all those dirty guitar tones (especially considering that when I CAN make it out, it's played pretty dern well).

Nope. Led Zep had lost it. P'raphs they'd lost it a while ago, but recent efforts had proved that trying to diversify weren't the most successful, and this one proves that falling back to basics didn't seem like the best of ideas either. Of course, who can blame 'em? The band was riddled with Page's addiction, Plant's wheelchair, Bonzo's failing liver, and Jones' NEED for synthesizers. God knows where they could have gone right at this point.

But any fan of progressive blues needs this album, if only for "Tea For One." Try to focus on the sweet before the sour (it's almost dead evenly laced), and you'll find an okay record.

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Send comments to The Whistler (BETA) | Report this review (#164679)
Posted Sunday, March 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
JLocke
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I adore this record. After LED ZEPPELIN IV, it seemed as if the guys couldn't sat afloat any longer and were truly becoming the very thing their title mocked. A crash-landing near, Led Zeppelin released their last great record in PRESENCE.

The artwork featured is great, in that this strange object's 'presence' is seen in each and every painting that would otherwise be something you would expect Normal Rockwell to paint. The eerie monolith-like structure gives off the impression of something odd or wrong amongst what otherwise seems like a happy-go-lucky sunday afternoon in Beaver Cleaver-ville. I always felt very disturbed by this slight distortion of everyday 50s life, a feeling of disprupted peace, as it were. Very effective, whether or not this was Plant's intention, I have no idea, all I can say is how it made me feel no a personal level.

The songs found within the unsettling packadging are equally odd and out of place, with the album as a whole not really going in one direction or the other, per say. Which I actually like. The piece feels inconsistent and uneven, so the feeling of balance that one had with ZEPPELIN IV is now all but non- existant with PRESENCE. What a different venture, but still very enjoyable.

The obvious winner on all levels here is ''Achilles Last Stand''. A Heavy Prog epic if I ever heard one. The soaring guitars, the epic lyrics, the hard-hitting vocals, pulse-pounding drums, spine-tingling bass, need I go on? This song is perfect in every way. I may even go so far as to say that it is a better song than ''Stairway to Heaven'', though I will probably be crucified for even uttering such a balsphemous opinion, yet it is still my opinion. Listen to the two back-to-back sometimes and see which one truly feels the most epic and progressive.

Other tracks of note would have to be ''Royal Orleans'', ''Nobody's Fault But Mine'', ''Hots on for Nowhere'' and ''Tea for One''. While the remaining two tracvks are also fine, we have heard incarnations of them befoere on previous Zepp records.

So there you have it: Five worthy tracks out of seven in total, with the two left overs still worthy of a listen. In short, this is a very solid effort from the boys. In long, PRESENCE is the last epic progessive rock album LZ ever recorded, and is my second favorite out of their entire catalogue, beaten only by the Zoso release. If you want something slightyl different and more hard-rocking than typical Led Zepp works, PRESENCE is absolutely for you. A Heavy Prog masterwork. Four out of Five stars.

Happy Listening.

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Send comments to JLocke (BETA) | Report this review (#166549)
Posted Sunday, April 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album frustrates me so much! Why would the band write their best song and throw it on an album with a handful of their worst!i!i!i!i!I!? "Achilles Last Stand" is the greatest thing the band has ever done.

Yes, "Achilles Last Stand" is Led Zeppelin's greatest musical triumph!

Of course, it doesn't seem too outlandish coming from a fan of progressive rock. I still don't feel like the song gets enough recognition, even in the recondite circles of Zeppelin fans. I see a lot of high praise, but no one else seems to think it's unmatched within the band's catalog. Everything about it is just so awesome. The guitar riffs and solos, the drumming frenzy, the bass lines, the vocal delivery. Goodness, I was floored by this song even when I listened to punk rock.

So anyway, that awesome-fest of an opener seems to have drained the band of their energy or something. Or maybe they just took so much time perfecting that song that they just had to throw the rest together to get the album out in a timely manner. The rest of the album stands in stark contrast with the goodness of the epic. Aside from the mildly enjoyable bluesy fun in the closer, "Tea for One," the remainder of the songs are just lacking something. They are boring, and entirely forgettable.

So, thanks to "Achilles Last Stand" and, to a lesser extent, "Tea for One" (luckily the two longest tracks on the album) Presence is noteworthy. Just think of this as a delicious double cheeseburger where the buns and the patties roles are reversed. It's difficult to hold onto, and the buns seem pointless where they are, but the patties are good, so you just eat them and leave the buns on your plate, or wrapper, depending on where the burger came from. It should also be noted that you didn't feel like having anything else on your burger

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Send comments to Moatilliatta (BETA) | Report this review (#172813)
Posted Sunday, June 01, 2008 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to Queen By-Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#188275)
Posted Saturday, November 08, 2008 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to mr.cub (BETA) | Report this review (#209599)
Posted Wednesday, April 01, 2009 | Review Permalink
Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Presence remains an underrated and often overlooked gem in the Zeppelin back catalogue. It was largely written between Robert Plant and Jimmy Page as Plant recovered from a car crash he and his wife had been involved in. While Presence may lack the diversification of previous albums it makes up for in sheer power of the band performance and some great songs. No acoustic numbers like Going to California, no keyboard driven epics like No Quarter are present. Presence is all about electric guitars..and lots of them with plenty of Page overdubs.

Achilles Last Stand is a killer opener and perhaps the last milestone track the band would produce. 10 minutes of driving rhythm from drummer John Bonham and bassist John Paul Jones. It moves along at a chugging, frantic pace as Page riffs over the top with a myriad of guitar parts. Plant also turns in an excellent vocal performance, no doubt from his temporary wheelchair confined state.

For Your Life is a grower with its mid pace stop/start riff. It's one of those tracks that take a few listens to get under the skin with not an obvious melody. Once it does however it's an excellent 6 minutes.

Royal Orleans is one of my favourites here and one of the bands lesser known tracks. It's got a great Bonham groove and another stop/start riff from Page and Jones.

Better known is Nobody's Fault But Mine, a psychedelic tinged (in places) blues romp. Opening with a phased Page guitar, Plant wailing over the top (a theme revisited throughout the track) it turns into a solid mid pace rocker which benefits from some fine harmonica work from Plant and a strong Page solo.

Candy Store Rock is Zeppelin playing rock 'n' roll with its 50's vibe and clean guitar sound and very good it is too.

Hots On For Nowhere is the least impressive offering here but still pretty good, once again a nice Bonham groove kicks things along nicely.

Album closer Tea For One is a slow blues piece in the tradition of since I've Been Loving You. While it doesn't scale the heights of that classic it is nevertheless a worthwhile track close to the 10 minute mark.

And there you have it, not their best album but still one of the top releases of 1976 and far superior to Houses Of The Holy, In Through The Out Door and Coda and a necessary purchase for any Zeppelin collection.

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Send comments to Nightfly (BETA) | Report this review (#210651)
Posted Tuesday, April 07, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Absence.

Led Zeppelin had been showing signs of wearyness lately(even so on the excellent Physical Graffiti),but this 1976' studio album is where it all becomes clear to our ears.Recorded at a very tormented time for the band,the fact that Presence is drastically inferior to anything Led Zep had presented to us up to that point is understandable.Even so,it remains a much inferior offering,showcasing the problems that would haunt the group up to it's rupture some years later.Nevertheless, taking in consideration it's rather dissapoiting follow up,this is still a solid and reasonably good rock album(more tha ever,giving hints of an eventual heavy metal approach).

It's worth poitning out that Presence opens with one of the wildest,and ultimately best,pieces of music the band ever wrote:the extremly heavy Achilles Last Stand.This song's imperfections are insignificant under the overshadowing mighty of Plant and Page's melodies,and the thundering drums of John Bonham.The pace is lead by a steady bass line,and the final result is a furious10-minute roaring that reflects what Led Zeppelin had turned into by the mid-70's.There isn't much out there to be found that matches the epic spirit of this masterpiece.A shot of life,really.

Much unfortunately,there's nothing else in the album with even the slightest chance to cause the same impression as the opening track.To be perfectly fair,there isn't much complain about the level of songwriting(being Zeppelin it is unlikely to expect otherwise),but it simply fails to captivate in the way all their previous albums had managed to do so far.For Your Life sound's as a poorman's Custard Pie,and Tea For One does no more than to bring me in mind of past glories,the freshness of their earliest blues set(I Can't Quit You Baby,You Shook Me or Since I've Been Loving You for instance).The second best thing on the album would be Nobody's Fault But Mine,a captivating,over-developed blues number with a stunning guitar riff.Even though the group missed the timing here,as the song eventually becomes rather repetitive,the final result is worthy of attention and suits as a relief.

Some may strangely claim this as the best album the band ever put out(including Jimmy Page himself) :although the final result never did much for me personally,the level of songrwiting was kept,leaving that to a simple matter of taste I guess.To my ears,the magic of Led Zeppelin is already missed in Presence,and unfortunately that unique,powerfull and majestic band's original sounding was gone forever .

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Send comments to Gustavo Froes (BETA) | Report this review (#228640)
Posted Monday, July 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Excellent addition by excellent musicians!

Presence is the 7th full-length album of Led Zeppelin... After the release of the double masterpiece Physical Graffiti, the band decides to perform a very different style in its music, never performed before. Presence, appears to be an experiment, especially for Page and Plant who are the main band's composers.

Everything sounds different. From Page's lightly-wrought guitar sound, to Plant's discovery voice, to Jone's amazing and excellent arranged keys, to Bonham's experimental playing. Achilles Last Stand is the album's masterpiece, without devaluating the other tracks, of course. The country style appears in Candy Store Rock, showing the wide composing ability of the band. Tea for One is the classic Zeppelin slow-blues track, being re-arranged by musicians such as Joe Bonamassa, that reminds to everyone the band's dominance over the blues.

It's clear that the band's sound has been changed and Zeppelin, also search out other musical paths. This might dissapoint the classic Zep fans, but this doesn't mean that Presence appears to be boring or a Zep's fail. The whole production is excellent (actually, better than every other album of the band) and that proves that Jimmy Page is an excellent producer for different music styles.

To me the album rules! 4 stars really..!!

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Send comments to FatalV (BETA) | Report this review (#235884)
Posted Sunday, August 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
thehallway
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Back to basics" seems the appropiate term here. And it works. This album has far more focus and direction than 'Phys Graf', even if it is a bit one-dimensional. There's more punch too.

'Achilles' is of course the favourite here. It's long, epic, progressive, intense, virtuosic, I could go on. The trouble with starting an album with the strongest song though, is that it can make anything that follows it seem inferior. 'Nobody's Fault...' is another peak though, and 'Tea for One', although pretty much a less focused cover version of 'Since I've Been Loving You', still works and forms a good ending to a hard album. These longer, more fleshed-out pieces are the highlights of 'Presence'. But given it's intended style and goal, there aren't really any poor songs. The one's I haven't mentioned are non-essential but worth a listen. And they're useful for feeding your ears if you're in a particularly "simple but hard" frame of mind.

There's not a lot of variation on 'Presence', but what is there counts. This is a rawer, punchier, stripped down Led Zeppelin with no fancy decorations or concepts; the music speaks for itself.

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Send comments to thehallway (BETA) | Report this review (#278565)
Posted Monday, April 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars Hmmm... the cover seems to evoke memories of Hipgnosis covers, but just doesn't quite click. And "doesn't quite click" is a good descriptive phrase for this album. For instance, I really love the music for Achilles Last Stand, but the vocal melody just doesn't sound finished, and renders the song less memorable than it could have been.

Much of the rest of the album sounds like leftovers, or rehashed ideas from other songs. Tea For One in particular sounds like a rehash of Since I've Been Loving You, and is nowhere near as good.

On the other hand, Nobody's Fault But Mine is not bad, and would fit well on most Led Zep albums. But all in all, this is just an okay album, nothing special.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#289488)
Posted Wednesday, July 07, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Presence" is a terribly underrated hard rock album. It is different compared to previous Led Zeppelin releases and has received mixed reviews. I think it is different in a good way.

Robert Plant was recuperating from serious injuries following a recent car accident at the time of recording.The work in the studio also had to be rushed. Plant stated that the sound reflected the total anxiety and emotion of that period. It was a cry from the depths and therefore has a sound unlike any other."Presence" showed a new level of complexity from the band, even though the arrangements aren't as intricate as on the band's other albums.

The bass and guitar formula create a potent energy and pack a hard punch on this album. I think Page's more simplified guitar riffs in particular have a great rawness to them. While on the point of rawnewss and punch, Bonham's drumming certainly stands out throughout, with many excellent examples for rock drummers to check out his style. "Achilles Last stand" has some superb touches and the variation on "Nobody's Fault But Mine" is something to listen out for too. That hard hitting, sense of recklessness behind the kit is very influential.

The shorter, speedier tracks have just as much edge to them and nicely break up the pace. I quite like "Candy Store Rock". It's rhythm section is quite inspiring. Many other reviewers have said that overall this release lacks diversity and is too unpolished. Jimmy Page stated that it was due to the sense of urgency resulting from the troubled circumstances in which it was recorded. It is not an easy album for a lot of people to listen to. Actually, "Presence" has passion. I feel strangely drawn to it every time.

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Send comments to Frankie Flowers (BETA) | Report this review (#382067)
Posted Tuesday, January 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Presence ? 1976 (3/5) 10 ? Best Song: Achilles Last Stand I may be the only human being alive to ever rate Presence higher than Physical Graffiti (even if it Is just one damn point). For one, it's half the duration, and, to me, that counts. Oddly enough, the biggest influence to this album is Rush. Don't believe me? Check the vocals this time around. Plant sounds so much like Geddy Lee it's not even funny (high pitched and nerdy). Isn't it fitting? I'd still take Led Zeppelin over Rush any day of the year, and it doesn't mean much any more than I just find it interesting. 'Achilles' Last Stand' is a rousing epic rocker, which has a nice thumping riff, but aside from the astral solos, it doesn't get too high off the ground in all its extended nature. Presence comes off as a work in progress more than anything else, and it is first album in their career that isn't heaped and heaped with massive doses of unrequited praise and adoration. I don't see why, though. What makes this so different from half of Physical Graffiti, or Houses of the Holy for that matter? Nothing but a set of pseudo-original riffs and highly formulaic thump-pound dingus jamming. They're having fun, which isn't a change, even if it was recorded at a tumultuous time in the history of the band, so says Wikipedia (and what do they know?) 'New Orleans' is New rubbish. I don't like it. The riff's got little substance, and once again I'm sitting through a song just to hear the competent, but simple solo (that ain't even there, hardly). Though if you ignore most of the songs, 'Nobody's Fault But Mine' comes off as being really exciting in its little way. Most everything else is filler.

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Send comments to Alitare (BETA) | Report this review (#441839)
Posted Monday, May 02, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 'Presence' - Led Zeppelin (5/10)

Without a doubt, the weakest official studio album in this band's career, although it still undoubtedly still has some great tracks to it. After a string of incredible albums of which some have gone on to being considered essential classics in rock music, it seems Led Zeppelin was finally on their hind legs with this one. 'Presence' was riding hot on the heels of the band's two disc epic 'Physical Graffiti', so one might be able to see why the band wasn't feeling quite as ambitious this time around. Instead, the band delivers a collection of bluesy tracks that mostly sound as if they could have been b-sides from the debut. Of course, this is still Led Zeppelin in essence, and although there is none of the same artistry or intricacy that the earlier records had here, there is enough good material here to be worth looking into, more or less.

Most interestingly about this album is the fact that Robert Plant recorded his vocals for 'Presence' in a wheelchair, still recovering from an accident. Ironically, his singing here is the strongest aspect of the band's sound this time around. With the exception of the two better known tracks here, the music here is straightforward bluesy hard rock with some groove thrown in. Much of the album is played admirably, but lacks the songwriting tact to really impress. The bottom line is that there is not much to 'Presence' that connotes that the band put the same level of attention or thought into it as they did with their masterpieces.

The two songs that stand out though are also the best known numbers; 'Achilles' Last Stand' and 'Nobody's Fault But Mine' are the only two tracks here that are really worth looking into. 'Achilles' Last Stand' opens the record on a remarkable note, and stands as being one of my favourite Zeppelin tracks. It is a mini epic that seems to approach proto-metal, and features a galloping rhythm guitar not unlike what Iron Maiden does. 'Nobody's Fault But Mine' is another well known track, and would have worked well as the single for this album, featuring the most catchy vocal melodies. The rest doesn't go much farther than mediocre groove rock.

'Presence' is easily the biggest disappointment I have had from Led Zeppelin, but luckily, it is their only record that I found was anything near weak, and 'Presence' isn't even a bad album. However, despite being a fairly listenable record by all standards and having a couple of great tracks, I am reluctant to recommend to the experience to anyone that isn't already familiar with the band's greater work.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#443282)
Posted Thursday, May 05, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album is worth it for 'Achilles Last Stand' alone. As has been well-documented, Presence was recorded in truly adverse conditions, but perhaps it was that very oppressiveness (or desperation?) that helped forge such a powerhouse of a song.

'Achilles Last Stand' shows Page's mastery in layering guitars. He just piles them on, overdubbing atmospheric touches onto a chugging rhythm (supported so well by JPJ & Bonham), along with soaring solos that seem to scrape the clouds at times. Robert's voice and lyrics compliment the music perfectly, one of his best performances hands down. This song usually sits comfortably in most Zep fans' favourite song lists and deserves to do so.

Next is 'For your Life' which took me years to warm to, and has a kind of languid feel that is probably a logical follow-up to such a rousing opener. 'Royal Orleans' pops up next and is the shortest track at just under three minutes, and along with 'Candy Store Rock' it's one of the more funk-influenced tracks. 'Nobody's Fault but Mine' is a rarely disputed Led Zeppelin classic, and while the rhythm-section shines here, and the harmonica is a nice touch, I always thought this song could have been trimmed back to five minutes.

'Hots On for Nowhere' is interesting at the least for the (slurred) swearing from Robert, a song expressing his frustration with Page and Grant, but again, for me, this track isn't a favourite. Closing the album is 'Tea for One.' While it perfectly conveys the feel of being trapped or stuck in time, with its largely unchanging tempo and sedate nature, it can stretch on. While Page is inspired as ever, I don't find his solos as delicate or fiery as in 'Since I've Been Loving You' (an oft-compared song) nor the arrangement of the track itself as dynamic.

This is probably 3.5 for me, simply due to 'Achilles' being so impressive.

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Send comments to dreadpirateroberts (BETA) | Report this review (#456167)
Posted Friday, June 03, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Don't get me wrong : an excellent album, from a top notch band near their peak period. It starts with Achilles (what about that my friends??, what a song) and has the unforgettable Nobody's fault but mine, and some other excellent songs and all this while the DISCO was catching teritory, when 75% of the great prog bands were gone? What a turn in the history of the music (the disco) (a bad one, of course...).

I read here that they were in personal problems (drugs, alcohol an frustration, BTW I don't know which is worst), so this makes the album even greater (in such time to publish such an album). Everybody suffered from the disco period, but a band in the business? I suffered emotionally(no new sophisticated nusic, but what about the bands??) So, overall this is a 5 stars album, but the odds were not favorable...

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Send comments to ridemyfacetochicago (BETA) | Report this review (#530547)
Posted Friday, September 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars Zeppelin's Last Stand

That cover always troubled me as it did not look like a Led Zeppelin album, and in many ways it did not sound the same either. A family staring at a black obelisk; a mysrery object and perhaps it symbolised a change. The band were turning a corner and becoming more like an AOR band, albeit with a progressive flavour in the mixture. Most of this album is full of songs that only the diehard ZepHeads would know.

Things like 'For Your Life', 'Candy Store Rock', 'Hots On For Nowhere', 'Tea For One' and 'Royal Orleans' rarely see the light of day on compilations or in live concerts of the band. Having stated this of course the reason why is obvious; they are simply not very good songs. The magic was disappearing, and in fact so was the mystique that the band worked so hard to create in the early days. Perhaps they were becoming too popular. With the release of their movie the same year it was apparent that it was becoming increasingly difficult to continue the way they were.

There was still some magic left though. 'Achilles Last Stand' is one of the most amazing songs in the Led Zeppelin canon, feeling like symphonic prog and it is one of the longest at over 10 minutes in length. Page and Plant are at the top of their game on this. Plant in fact sounds as good as ever, and trades off brilliantly with Page who is a man possessed on guitar with choppy chord changes and blues riffs.

The other song worth 5 stars is the utterly mesmirising riff heavy 'Nobody's Fault But Mine' which I wished would go on longer. It has a massive blues riff and Plant echoes the riff with exquisite vocals. The lead break is awesome and the song is unforgettable once heard.

So we have an album with 2 moments of brilliance and a lot of straight forward groove rock. How do you rate it in this case? I can squeeze 3 stars out for the aforementioned excellent material. But this definitely was the end of greatness for this band.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#533348)
Posted Monday, September 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Recorded at a breakneck pace following Robert Plant's legendary car accident - presumably to reassure fans and record company alike that Zeppelin were still a going concern - Presence is a slapdash muddle of an album that is still a notch above the overindulgent tedium of Physical Graffiti thanks to the presence of Achilles' Last Stand, one of the the band's best epics that features proto-speed metal rhythms some of the heaviest guitar playing Jimmy Page would display. But one decent song can't save an otherwise pedestrian album.

To be fair to the thing, it was rather the victim of poor timing and a misjudgement of artistic direction on the part of the band. In principle, shifting focus away from experimental material to heavier, rockier numbers was a sound plan; in practice, the rock numbers collected on Presence pale in comparison to the best of Zeppelin's earlier material. And, of course, mere weeks later Judas Priest would enter the studio to record Sad Wings of Destiny, setting a new bar for metal which Zeppelin couldn't simply compete with.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#547479)
Posted Monday, October 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Not the underrated classic/lost gem many make PRESENCE out to be. PRESENCE is never mentioned in the pantheon of the well-received Led Zeppelin albums, so I gave it a fair shot in hopes I would find a hidden gem. Instead, I only get one great track, a decent rocker and nothing else.

It's with complete predictability that ''Achilles Last Stand'' is the highlight track. Ten epic minutes, galloping rhythm, superb guitar solos, you get the idea. Why I am fond of it is this; the track isn't as over-hyped and over-played as ''Stairway'' or ''Kashmir''. Also, the track allows Page, Jones and Bonham to just cut loose on their instruments and really make the track develop. ''Nobody's Fault But Mine'' is a late-era sort-of-classic hard rock track that's worth its share of spin mostly due to the drumming, but Plant's vocals are phoned in at best and nauseating at worst.

There's nothing else left. The rest of the album is so mediocre that it pulls PRESENCE down to two stars. Had there been another decent or good track I'd fell guiltier about my rating, but with the endless plodding of both ''Tea for One'' and ''For Your Life'', the ridiculosity of ''Candy Store Rock'' and ''Royal Orleans'' and the forgetful ''Hots On For Nowhere'', it's hard to change my mind. Some of the tracks might sound better had Alice Cooper or Blue Oyster Cult penned them because those guys could make them sound so goofy that it would work. Humour doesn't translate well into a Led Zeppelin track.

In short, other than the two good tracks, PRESENCE is an example of a hard rock band that was once making classics (in the critical sense) that is at this stage fried mentally. ''Achilles'' is a monster and the closest Zep ever got to prog rock, but it's not worth seeking PRESENCE over.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#561851)
Posted Thursday, November 03, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Presence is an odd album; it is certainly one of their more prog efforts (if you could even consider that), but also has an interesting combination of killer tracks and filler.

The obvious attraction is the near 11-minute 'Achilles Last Stand,' which could be considered the band's magnum opus. It's adventurous to say the least, and the guitar work is phenomenal and filled with energy. Despite being based on a few single riffs, there is enough variation to avoid the overly repetitious nature of some of their past lengthy tracks such as 'Kashmir.' Another highlight is 'Nobody's Fault But Mine,' as fun, heavy riff-based song similar to one of their earlier albums.

Unfortunately the rest of the album consists of filler, or at best weaker songs. Though I suppose I praise them for being completely different from anything the band has done, for the most part.

At this point, Zeppelin is clearly heading downhill by losing what made them such a raw and interesting band with the self-titled albums, and the fine, melodic, and diverse nature Houses of the Holy and Physical Graffiti. They are just a shadow of the band they once were, but even still, this is far from a bad album.

3/10

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Send comments to Mr. Mustard (BETA) | Report this review (#771439)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permalink

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