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In Through the Out Door

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★★★★☆
(274 Reviews)

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  • I was 14 when this album came out and turned the grooves to dust within a few months by ceaselessly playing it on a cheap Soundesign turntable. Then I got in on 8-track. In 1983, I bought the casette (newly installed in my car), and in 1998, I finally broke down and got it on CD. When you buy an album *four* times, you know it’s a keeper.This is a fitting denouement for the Greatest Rock Band Ever, though I wish John Bonham drank a little less and lived a little longer. His touch is all over these songs. His genius was that he made the drum riffs sound easy. It’s deceptive — you try some of those bits while never dropping the on-tempo beat from the high-hat. “In Through the Out Door” also showcases John Paul Jones’ layering-on of the keyboard and synthesizer parts over his driving bass. My favourite is his upbeat boogie-woogie piano on “South Bound Suarez.”Robert Plant still had most of his voice when this was recorded, and it really comes out best on this remastered CD version. The album’s opening tune, “In the Evening,” sends the listener back not to 1979 (when this record was released), but to 1973. The sound and leitmotifs are right out of “Houses of the Holy” songs “The Ocean” and “Dancing Days.” Jimmy Page’s guitar solo is quintessential Pagey; There’s no guitarist who can touch him. Hendrix, Clapton, Nugent, Van Halen, they come close, but you listen to Page, scratch your head and ask “how’d he do that?”"Fool in the Rain” is the best song on this record. It’s a song only Zeppelin could do: Part Reggae, part meringue, part Carnaval in Rio, laid over with Page’s Steely Dan-like solo, it’s still all Zeppelin. Plant’s voice soars on this one.”Hot Dog”: Country Western, sure. Rockabilly, yeah. What I really hear is Plant’s tribute to Elvis. When his voice wavers and quavers, the King comes through. Plant doesn’t say “hunka hunka,” but you can hear it between the lines.Yes, I forgive them for “Carouselambra.” Too much synth. However, excellent bass and guitar lines and it’s all over the map in its musical construction.”All My Love”: At the time, a fave at high school dances, but it was really Plant’s tribute to his son, who’d died tragically. How eerily it seems written for Bonzo as well…..”I’m Gonna Crawl.” This is Led Zep blues, right out of “In My Time of Dying” and “What Is and What Should Never Be.” It’s gut wrenching, slow, a dirge.”Zoso” is still their best, but this is the one I get all sentimental about. I listen to it, and I’m 14 again.

    Posted on November 28, 2009