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Led Zeppelin - Presence CD (album) cover


Led Zeppelin


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3.39 | 592 ratings

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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.

Atavachron | 5/5 |


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