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Presence

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★★★★☆
(232 Reviews)

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  • 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.

    Posted on February 25, 2010