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Presence

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★★★★☆
(232 Reviews)

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  • 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.

    Posted on February 25, 2010