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In Through the Out Door

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  • I may be going off on a limb, but I was thinking recently about how a comparison could be made between the recording careers of Led Zeppelin and the Beatles. To me, LZ were the Beatles of the ’70’s. In the ’70’s, LZ were the most popular band in the world. Their albums were huge commercial successes and were praised and copied by musicians around the world.If you look at the final recordings of both bands, I think you’ll see an interesting similarity. “Led Zeppelin IV,” which featured “Stairway to Heaven,” is looked upon by most fans and critics as their “masterpiece.” The same was said about the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper” album. After “Led Zeppelin IV” was released, the band put out four more studio albums. After “Sgt. Pepper” was released, the Beatles put out four more studio albums.It’s interesting to compare Led Zep’s final four albums with the Beatles’ final four. LZ’s “Houses of the Holy” was appreciated by fans, but was not as highly regarded as “Led Zeppelin IV.” “Magical Mystery Tour” was also appreciated by fans, but was not as highly regarded as “Sgt. Pepper.” After releasing such exceptional albums as “Led Zeppelin IV” and “Sgt. Pepper,” it would be incrredibly difficult for ANY band, even two as fantastic as LZ and the Beatles, to duplicate that overwhelming success with a follow-up release.LZ’s next album was “Physical Graffiti,” a two-record set. The Beatles’ next album was “The Beatles” (better known as the “White Album”) which also was a two-record set. Today, many fans of both bands regard these two-record sets as the best music either band either committed to vinyl. Critics gave these albums mixed reviews. Many critics believed these albums could’ve been edited down to single albums. The extraordinary breadth of musical influences, a quality shared by Led Zep and the Beatles, is revealed in great detail on these albums.The next LZ album was “Presence,” a quickly recorded LP with a very stark, live sound. The next Beatles’ album, in the order in which they were recorded, was the “Get Back” album An album which was recorded quickly and has a very stark, live sound- in its original incarnation, not in the overblown Phil Spector production called “Let It Be.” “Get Back” was considered a bit too stark and live (raw, if you will) and the project was put on the shelf. The final Led Zep recording was “In Through the Out Door,” a richly arranged, well-produced album which focused the band in new directions- the use of synthesizer being a highlight. “Abbey Road,” the Beatles’ final album, was also a richly arranged, well-produced album which focused the band in new directions- the use of synthesizer being a highlight (in 1969, when “Abbey Road” was released, the Moog Synthesizer had never been used extensively on a rock album.) It’s interesting to note that the release of “In Through the Out Door” came approximately ten years after the release of “Abbey Road.” Both albums were released in the final year of the decade in which each group was at the height of its influence and popularlity- “Abbey Road” (1969) and “In Through the Out Door” (1979). Who’s knows where either band would’ve gone afterwards? The final albums of each band illuminate new musical directions which other bands would have to chart for themselves.

    Posted on November 29, 2009