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Physical Graffiti

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★★★★½
(402 Reviews)

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  • By 1975, Led Zeppelin had established itself as the premier hard rock group in the world, which gave them the luxury to experiment and to release older tracks which normally wouldn’t see the light of day. Seven older tracks were added to eight new songs to create “Physical Graffiti”, and the result is Zeppelins finest studio output.”Kashmir”, although overplayed, still ranks alongside “Stairway to Heaven” and the latter “Achilles’ Last Stand” (from “Presence”) as one of the bands greatest “Zepics”. The real beauty of “Graffiti”, however, lies with the songs which don’t make the airwaves that often. “In My Time Of Dying” is one of Zeppelins underappreciated tracks. Similarly, “The Rover” , “Houses of the Holy”, “Custard Pie”, “The Wanton Song”, and “Sick Again” illustrate the band could still compose a compact rocker and play it with conviction. Jimmy Pages talent shines on “In the Light” and “Ten Years Gone”, proof that while he may not have been on the same technical level as his contemporary Jeff Beck, he was the most expressive and well rounded guitarist of his generation.The remaining songs show off Zeppelins diversity and fearlessness: traces of funk (“Trampled Underfoot”), country (“Down by the Seaside”), and soul (“Night Flight”) grace “Graffiti’s” grooves, along with acoustic blues (“Boogie With Stu”, “Black Country Woman”) and Pages shimmering acoustic solo “Bron-Y-Aur”.Performance-wise, it is not Robert Plants finest hour, as he does sound hoarse in several songs, but his bravado makes up for lack of technical excellence. John Paul Jones continues to stretch out as a performer and songwriter (check out the intro of “In the Light” and his brass/string score of “Kashmir”), while the late John Bonham maneuvers through the complex time changes of “In My Time of Dying” and “Kashmir” with ease, the former containing some of his most powerful work.The album is not an easy first listen, especially when compared to earlier work such as “Led Zeppelin II”, but it is the most powerful evidence that Led Zeppelin was at its creative peak.

    Posted on December 12, 2009