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Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti CD (album) cover


Led Zeppelin


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4.06 | 851 ratings

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1 stars When recording Physical Graffiti, Led Zeppelin came out of the sessions with slightly more material than they required for a single album. As a result, they decided to put out a double album, with the extra space consisting of songs recorded in previous sessions but which had never made the cut for earlier albums. Usually, when a band pulls a move like this, it makes me profoundly suspicious because it raises a simple but important question: why, when this material wasn't good enough to be put out on an earlier album, is it suddenly good enough to release now?

In the case of Physical Graffiti, the answer is all too apparent: because the new material is so unimaginative, creatively bankrupt and weak that it makes the old rejects look good by comparison. If you really must listen to one of the great proto-metal bands of their day snooze their way through sub-Rolling Stones country-blues-rock then it's a goldmine, but it lacks all of the verve and vitality and life that the Stones invested the likes of Exile On Main Street with. Occasionally the Zeps break out of this creative rut to do something a little different, but this usually amounts to rehashing another song from their repertoire only making it worse. Kashmir, for example, uses the same drum-led sound as When The Levee Breaks, but adds dull, cliched, and unimaginatively applied strings to the mix and removes the aggression and power and apocalyptic dread that enthused that great album closer.

The first disc is devoted to the longer songs on the set, on which the band take a single musical idea and repeat it without any interesting variation until the listener is completely sick of it. The second disc is devoted to shorter songs, which somehow manage to take the sprawling tedium of In My Time of Dying or Trampled Under Foot and squeeze it down into 3-to-4 minute packages. Oh, and it has Boogie With Stu, which has to be the most useless and pointless song the band ever committed to vinyl. I defy anyone to argue that either disc, taken separately or together, is even remotely of the standard of any of the band's first four albums - or, hell, even Rush's Zep-worshipping first album. Or Presence. Or In Through the Out Door. Or Houses of the Holy.

Taken as a whole, Physical Graffiti is good for one thing only, and that's as an explanation for why punk had to happen: so that complacent, self-indulgent rock aristocracy like Led Zeppelin would no longer be allowed to get away with foisting such a lacklustre, slipshod, slapdash product on the paying public. After punk, dinosaur bands like Zeppelin had to work hard and produce decent products to demonstrate that they weren't extinct yet; beforehand, they could put out flabby, wheezy double albums like this and get critically acclaimed for them. I, personally, am not fooled.

Warthur | 1/5 |


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