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Monday, February 24, 1975

Led Zeppelin released Physical Graffiti: February 24, 1975

Originally posted February 24, 2012.

image from onlinesheetmusic.com


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Custard Pie / The Rover / In My Time of Dying / Houses of the Holy / Trampled Under Foot / Kashmir * / In the Light / Bron-Yr-Aur / Down by the Seaside / Ten Years Gone / Night Flight / The Wanton Song / Boogie with Stu / Black Country Woman / Sick Again

* break between disc 1 and 2

Sales (in millions): 8.0 US, 0.3 UK, 18.4 world

Peak: 16 US, 11 UK

Rating:


Review: “Led Zeppelin returned from a nearly two-year hiatus in 1975 with Physical Graffiti, a sprawling, ambitious double album” AMG which is also “daring…and enthusiastically eccentric.” GW It is “an artistic gamble, full of detours and moments of supreme triumph and quirky experimentation.” GW as they try out “funk, country, R&B and even Celtic folk hymns.” RV “Lnd like all successful double albums, it captures the unique personality of each band member” GW “rarely showcased elsewhere.” AMG “That nary of trace of caution can be found on the record is a testament to the band’s unwavering belief in its craft.” GW

The result of such reach is that, “to many, its synthesis of funk and Eastern music into the Hammer of the Gods Zeppelin thunder is a joy to behold, the sound of a band realizing there are no limits to its powers. To others, the album is dense and frustrating, stuffed with filler.” GW

Part of the inconsistency – or diversity – of the album, depending on the listener’s perspective, can be attributed to the history behind some of the tracks. “Although the bulk of Physical Graffiti resulted from recording sessions at Headley Grange in 1974,” GW some of the tracks were recorded during earlier album sessions, such as the instrumental Bron-Yr-Aur (Led Zeppelin III), an instrumental solo acoustic number on which Page “has never sounded sweeter;” NO and Night Flight and Boogie with Stu (Led Zeppelin IV). The latter was named for Ian Stewart, who had also played on IV’s “Rock and Roll.” GW

Both “Stu” and Black Country Woman are “utterly charming acoustic rock & roll.” AMG The latter, alongside “the monstrous epic The Rover, were recorded during the Houses of the Holy sessions. GW “Yes, some of this could be labeled as filler, but like any great double album, its appeal lies in its great sprawl.” AMG

Kashmir

“Zeppelin treat many of the songs on Physical Graffiti as forays into individual styles, only occasionally synthesizing sounds, notably on the tense…Kashmir,” AMG the album’s “signature track” GW and “one of Zeppelin’s greatest songs.” RV It is an “Eastern-influenced melange of a full orchestra,” RV that is “John Paul Jones’ ‘Arabian string symphony” GW and “thumping bass,” RV “Robert Plant’s wail, Page’s infectious guitar licks” RV and “tense, unyielding DADGAD chord pattern,” GW and “John Bonham’s hard-hitting drums” RV built on a “steady 4/4 beat against the 3/4 riff.” GW Plant wrote the “surrealistic lyrics…while driving through the Sahara Desert in Morocco, far from Kashmir, which is located between Central and South Asia.” GW It is “a spellbinding monolith” GW which, “in many ways…distills the essence of Led Zeppelin: dramatic, epic, bewitching and fiery till the end.” GW

“With John Paul Jones’ galloping keyboard, Trampled Underfoot ranks as their funkiest metallic grind, while Houses of the Holy is as effervescent as pre-Beatles pop and Down by the Seaside is the closest they’ve come to country. Even the heavier blues – the 11-minute In My Time of Dying,” AMG “some of the heaviest Delta-style blues Zeppelin ever laid down,” GW “the tightly wound Custard Pie…are subtly shaded, even if they’re thunderously loud.” AMG

Trampled Underfoot

“Most of these heavy rockers are isolated on the first album, with the second half of Physical Graffiti sounding a little like a scrap heap of experiments, jams, acoustic workouts, and neo-covers. This may not be as consistent as the first platter, but its quirks are entirely welcome, not just because they encompass the mean, decadent Sick Again, but the heartbreaking Ten Years GoneAMG on which “Plant shows a rare sensitive side.” RV The song “is built on a multi-layered foundation of Page’s guitars. Plants sings of the passing of time and lost love, delivering one of his most emotion-filled performances. RV

“Even at its worst, Physical Graffiti towers above its hard rock peers of the mid-‘70s.” AMG “Nothing before or after matched [its] sheer power and brilliance.” NO This “landmark album” NO “remains an essential part of any collection.” NO


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