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Led Zeppelin - In Through the Out Door CD (album) cover


Led Zeppelin


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2.94 | 640 ratings

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3 stars JOHN PAUL JONES' album. Trouble is, it forsakes much of what made LED ZEPPELIN the force of nature they had been.

Like 'Presence', 'In Through The Out Door' is a good album. It says a lot about 1979 to acknowledge this as one of the best hard rock releases of the year. But it is so much less than the sum of its parts, it simply serves to remind us of how far Apollo has fallen.

It seems to me that JONES was given his head here because PAGE had virtually disapeared into his drug habit: certainly, the great man's passionate guitar is missing in action here. Most of the time it's rhythm only, with a few desultory stabs at solos reminding us that the band is, in fact, a four-piece. BONHAM is allowed only a few moments to shine: his thunderous fills following the up-tempo section of 'Fool In The Rain' would barely have been noticeable on 'Physical Graffiti', but stand out here.

Often a gentler approach comes with sophistication and maturity. But what we have here, I fear, is much painting by numbers. (I wonder if this was what all that cover art nonsense was about?) Songs without the energy and sheer Norse God power early LED ZEPPELIN demonstrated. Latin American rhythms, keyboards and PLANT treating us to the complete Americanisation of his voice destroyed, for me, any sense of this being a valid, canonical LED ZEPPLELIN album.

But there are still excellent moments, taken for what they are. 'In the Evening' is a sinister song, a promising (and misleading) start to the album. 'Fool In The Rain' is a fun track, if a little lightweight. Though ruined by dated synths, 'Carouselambra' was almost a good track, and the most progressive thing on this album. 'Hot Dog,' on the other hand, summarises for me all that went wrong with latter-day LED ZEPPELIN: country-rock, banal American phrasing and lyrics, as though aimed at the 'good-ol-boy' market; so artificial, so desperately out of place, so unlike the mastery with which they managed their career in the early '70s. It truly has to be one of the worst songs ever committed to vinyl, given who wrote and performed it. Imagine an album of that stuff coming out in 1968. Would LED ZEPPELIN have become gods of rock with stuff like that?

As this album crawls to a close, one can't help thinking what they might have done had BONHAM lived into the 1980s. With this album as evidence, I half- suspect they might have ended up in Vegas.

russellk | 3/5 |


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