I listened to Led Zeppelin so much in my teens that I overplayed their classic albums – II, III and IV – to the extent that I know them too well. Instead, when I want to listen to Zeppelin these days I tend to go for Physical Graffiti, or this, their seventh and penultimate studio album.
For me, despite a few great songs on the otherwise forgettable In Through The Out Door, this really is Zeppelin’s last great album.
By this time, the band’s fondness for long songs had descended into something else entirely. Opener Achilles Last Stand runs to 10:25, but even at that length it doesn’t outstay its welcome. I can’t say the same for closer Tea For One though, which at 9:27 does get a little tiresome. Jimmy Page has just admitted in Rolling Stone that this song was simply the band’s attempt at having another stab at an extended blues in the same vein as Since I’ve Been Loving You (from Led Zeppelin III).
Musical timing is also an issue on Presence. Zeppelin were always such great musicians, that playing in weird time structures always sounded so natural. Take a song like Black Dog (from Led Zeppelin IV). The way that the drumbeat slips in front of, then behind, the guitars sounds hypnotic, but most importantly it doesn’t take anything away from the song. On Presence, the otherwise excellent Nobody’s Fault But Mine is almost destroyed by a couple of moments of intended musical cleverness that just sounds wrong in execution.
Hit: Achilles Last Stand
Hidden Gem: Royal Orleans