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Led Zeppelin - Presence
Label: Atlantic Records
Release: 1976

Tracklisting:
Achilles' Last Stand
For Your Life
Royal Orleans
Nobody's Fault But Mine
Candy Store Rock
Hots on for Nowhere
Tea for One
Presence - Led Zeppelin
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Average Blamo User Rating: (5 votes)

Troubled times for the big rock-monster here. Everything was going wrong - Plant had his car accident, John Bonham had hisvast quantities of drink, and Page had his heroin. Not the ideal conditions for a new album - especially when Zeppelin always tended to work better when everyone had a clear head. All of this, and the year was 1976 - bands like the Clash werealready waiting in the wings, ready to send bands like Led Zeppelin to their commercial grave.

It's clear on this album that Led Zep are running on empty - although they still manage to pull out a couple of classics.Indeed, "Achilles' Last Stand" might just be the best Led Zeppelin song ever recorded - everyone manages to pull it together,and everything goes right - Plant's singing is solid, Page's guitar layers are fantastic, and the rhythm section is outstanding - a staggering, rumbling rhythm, combined with some perfectly placed smashes from Bonham. Utterly fantastic.

Not too far behind "Achilles'" is the staggering side 2 opener, "Nobody's Fault But Mine" (originally done by Blind WillieJohnson, although naturally credited to Page + Plant). A brilliant guitar lead-in - one of the best that Jimmyever played, before the band launch into a shattering self-confessional blues, filled with great harmonica and guitar solos. Another classic.

There's also the closing slow blues of "Tea For One". Again, the band manage to pull together and create a classic - evenif it's basically "Since I've Been Loving You" Part 2. Although, this time, Plant doesn't really sing his lines as muchas he murmurs them - and the effect is solid. Jimmy Page plays emotional blues guitar all over the place - some greatlines. And the subtle hits of the rhythm section are also required, and they add a lot.

However, the rest of the songs from this record do not even remotely reach these heights - they don't even come close. "For Your Life" is a dull, horrifyingly overlong rocker that could have easily fitted on Physical Graffiti, and "RoyalOrleans" is spectacularly offensive - one of their most ridiculous attempts at a funk/disco beat. That's something they should have stopped trying to do after creating their definitive funk/disco masterpiece in "Trampled Underfoot". The badthing about these songs is that they just don't have a riff. At all. For a Zeppelin rocker to survive, it needs a riff."For Your Life" simply relies on lazy, dull chord progressions - what on earth happened to the Jimmy Page who made such rockers as "Communication Breakdown" and "Heartbreaker", and filled them with classic life and swagger? Perhaps we shouldblame the syringe.

Following the classic "Nobody's Fault But Mine", we get another abysmal cut - "Candy Store Rock" manages to be an evenmore despicable piece of cock-rock than the previous albums' "Sick Again". Again, there's zero good guitar playing - it'sswamped down under Plant's vocals and the rhythm section. Although, looking at the little swishes of guitar we get on this track, perhaps that's for the better. Terrible. And it's followed by "Hots on for Nowhere", which is, yet again, poor,and is pretty much exactly the same as "For Your Life". Indeed, the title of this song is rather foreboding - the band were,at this point, going absolutely nowhere. Chances are, that even if John Bonham didn't die in 1980, the band would have almost certainly split up soon after "In Through The Out Door".

Overall, i'll give the album a 4 - despite three excellent numbers, the rest of them are awful. Not a good album, and notreally worth buying.

Reviewer Rating of CD :

a let down after physical graffi, but that goes without saying. this album features one of the band's most brilliant songs, achilles last stands.

words cannot describe how brilliant the guitar over dubbing is on this song. it's up there iwth my favorite zeppelin songs of all time. the band is playing well, robert's new vocal style suits the song well, and the lyrics aren't completely stupid. yay!

the rest of the songs barely merit mentioning though. really, there's not much going on here that the band didn't do on physical graffi. a couple of dorky funk jams and some blues songs.

oh wait! i forgot, the blues songs are brilliant. tea for one and nobodies fault but mine are great zeppelin blues songs. especially tea for one, which is brilliant at the mood it is creating.

the rest isn't even worth aerosmith. buy if a huge zep freak, or just download achilles last stand, tea for one, and nobodies fault but mine. do yourself a favor, save 20 bucks.

Reviewer Rating of CD :

 


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