Presence is my favorite Led Zeppelin album, but like many other hard core Led Zeppelin fans, it did not start out like that. Many people choose the first albums like I, II, III, and IV. Also Physical Graffitti. But they grow to like the more unfamous Led Zeppelin material. In Presence, Led Zeppelin seems to me to have a bit of a different style. Achilles Last Stand is pretty much everyone’s favorite track, but not mine. Despite the great guitar and drums in that song, my favorite by far is Hots On For Nowhere. Many people listen to the first 30 seconds and don’t like it, but if you listen to the whole song i gauruntee you’ll love it. It’s a little bluesy with great vocals. Kind of a mean song of Robert Plant talking about his friends but Jimmy Page plays excellent guitar in it. Other songs like Tea For One and Nobody’s Fault But Mine are sure to make you happy. Presence is not sold in many stores and not a whole lot of people know about it unless they are huge Zeppelin fans. This angered me because I think that Presence is a great album and every song on it is electric and there are no keyboards. Not that i don’t like acoustic and keyboards but I think that this for Zeppelin was great. I would reccomend this album to anyone who likes any classic rock.
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Presence is the most underrated album in the Led Zeppelin catalog. Released after the sprawling double album that was Physical Graffiti, Presence contains only seven tracks. The album was recorded while Robert Plant was on the mend from an almost fatal car crash and the songs are heavier on the instrumentation side to compensate for Mr. Plant’s physical condition. The album offers a chance for Jimmy Page to really stretch the limits of his guitar playing and the album contains some his most intricate and interesting work. “Achilles’ Last Stand” opens the album and it is an absolutely amazing track. Stretching out over ten minutes, the song is an epic display of the band’s musical prowess. “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” has a ringing guitar and thunderous drum playing from John Bonham. “Candy Store Rock” has an old time rock and roll feel with Mr. Plant sneering on it like the King himself. “Hots On For Nowhere” is fun and loose song that rambles joyfully along. “Tea For One” is a slow blues dirge that ends the album on a sobering note. Presence was yet another number one album for the band.
It’s hard to be objective with Presence when comparing it to the releases that came before it. How does one top “IV,” “Houses of the Holy,” and the sprawling “Physical Graffiti?” Also, this disk was recorded at a time when the band was suffering a bit from its lifestyle and Robert Plant was recovering from a serious auto accident.What they do is take a back to basics approach, performing as a band with guitars, bass, drums and Plant’s vocals. No acoustic guitars or keyboards, just hard rocking Led Zeppelin. While this is effective, there is a noticeable lack of the dynamics of earlier releases and the eclectic variety that made Led Zeppelin be able to pull off a hard rock tune with mandolins.The two key tracks on Presence are “Achilles Last Stand” and “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.”"Achilles” has a galloping triplet bassline, some of Bonham’s best drumming, and layers of Page guitar lines. It’s an epic cross of “Immigrant Song” and “Song Remains the Song.”"Nobody’s Fault But Mine” begins with a classic Page guitar lick, drenched in effects and gradually building in volume, then mimicked by Plant’s vocals. The bass/drum rhythms are tricky here, with lots of stop/start mechanics. Plant’s performance is memorable, with such gems as “m-m-m-monkey on my back” or “no-no-no-no-no-nooooo…nobody’s fault but mine” plus the return of the harmonica.”For Your Life” is okay, but kind of a castoff from Physical Graffiti. “Royal Orleans” has some cool funk rhythms. “Candy Store Rock” was a single issue from this release, but I don’t think it stands up against their other, more superior work.”Tea For One” closes things out with a return to the blues.Some may have thought that Led Zeppelin was burned out, but they would make an excellent return with “In Through the Out Door” followed by their greatest band tragedy.
When Robert Plant and his family sustained serious injuries in a car accident on the Greek island of Rhoads in August 1975, the future of Led Zeppelin was immediately thrown into question. To further complicate matters, the band was spending a year of non-residency outside of Britain due to said countrys tax laws. Unable to tour, and unable to live with their families, the band decided to record a new album, “Presence”. Recorded and mixed in just 18 days in Munich, West Germany, the results are striking and easily Led Zeppelins most personal album.The epic “Achilles’ Last Stand” catches Zeppelin at their most powerful and desperate as Jimmy Page builds track upon track of harmonized guitars while the rest of the band thunder maniacally behind him and Plant. It is certainly a task to follow this piece, and sure enough, the other songs don’t quite measure up to “Achilles’”. The rest of the album is mid-tempo guitar rock inspired by Plants frame of mind post-accident. “For Your Life” is depressing song about drug abuse which contains another fine Page solo. “Royal Orleans” is a short, compact funk-rock piece which supposedly cronicles John Paul Jones’ misadventures with a drag queen in New Orleans 2 years previous. “Nobodys Fault But Mine” is a pounding blues-rock song with the Jones-John Bonham rhythm section caught in fine form, making the stop-start riffs sound easy. Pages lead is again worth mentioning. “Candy Store Rock” is a throw-away old-time Elvis-esque rock-and-roll piece which finds Page doing his best Jimmy Burton/Scotty Moore impersonation. “Hots On For Nowhere” is one of Zeppelins minor league masterpieces which has a swagger and a hacked off Robert Plant taking shots at his friends. Pages solo again is excellent, with plenty of Strat abuse as he pounds his whammy bar. “Tea For One”, which closes the album, is often compared to “Since I’ve Been Loving You”. It is a slow minor blues which has yet another classic Page solo and a desponant Plant lamenting his seperation from his wife and family.”Presence” is arguably Jimmy Pages best work as a guitarist. The quality of his rhythm and lead work easily surpasses his work on the rest of the Zeppelin canon. “Achilles’ Last Stand” alone is worth the price of the album, but the remaining six tracks also have plenty to offer. It is a personal album which may not immediately hit you hard, but over time will become a favorite.
Presence was the last, and my least favourite, of the great Led Zeppelin albums, viz. I’m not including Outdoor (more like Outhouse!) or CODA.
Presence was always inaccessible to me for some intangible reason and I rarely played it. I had read interviews with Page years later where he was bemused that no one liked Presence, as he personally liked it.
Following the recent 30th anniversary of the release of Presence, there were a number of music magazine articles I read saying the usual deal about what an under rated & over looked album Presence was.
Being a big fan of Led Zeppelin (especially Page’s guitar playing & production) and given they aren’t making any new Zeppelin albums, I decided I should “study” Presence more closely.
After revisting it and living with it for a few weeks I realised that a number of the filler tracks were quite good and Tea for One was a hidden gem of blues/rock guitar playing – a kind of latter day Since I’ve Been Loving You. I also came to the conclusion that the tracks were badly sequenced on the album contributing to its inaccessibility.
My solution has been to notionally resequence Presence, as below, and I personally play the album in that order. It’s become a completely different (new!) album to me and I have unlocked the sequence of its success!
4. Nobody’s Fault But Mine
6. Hots On For Nowhere
7. Tea For One
3. Royal Orleans
2. For Your Life
5. Candy Store Rock
1. Achilles Last Stand