Posts Tagged ‘ Kashmir ’

Album of the Week 22-2014: Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti

Explaining why ‘Physical Graffiti’ is my favorite out of all the amazing albums that Led Zeppelin recorded is quite easy. First of all, there’s the quantitative argument: it’s a double album, so there’s twice as much Zeppelin to enjoy. But even when you look at the quality of the material, it’s hard to love any Led Zeppelin album more than this one, though I can certainly see where the people who prefer ‘Led Zeppelin IV’ come from. On these two records, Zeppelin cultivates the wild experimentalism of ‘Houses Of The Holy’ without abandoning their heavy Blues roots.

Of course, everyone who knows their Rock music is familiar with the orchestral eastern mysticism of the downright amazing ‘Kashmir’, if only because it is quite likely the most imitated song in music history. The monolithic Blues of the 11-minute ‘In My Time Of Dying’ and the metallic Funk of ‘Trampled Under Foot’ quickly found their way into the regular live set of the British quartet, but there is so much more to enjoy here. Though the recording history of the album – where the band recorded more than an album’s worth of material and decided to include songs from earlier sessions – may suggest an odds and sods record, the consistency of the material is unbelievable.

While the first disc contains the most familiar material, taking a dive into the second one will prove just as rewarding. It’s where the obscure classics are hiding. For instance, not many people know ‘The Wanton Song’, but the contrast between Jimmy Page’s root note-octave riff, the awesome solo section and the melodic Leslie speaker driven riffs makes it irresistable. The epic ‘In The Light’, which is lead alternately by John Paul Jones’ synthesizer and Page’s enormous riff, brings together the best sections The Doors and Black Sabbath never dared to record and the beautifully complex ‘Ten Years Gone’ captures romanticism and melancholy in a way unheard of at the time.

Like many of the greatest bands in music history, Led Zeppelin was bigger than the sum of its parts. The thing is that even the sum of Zep’s members was already bigger than any other band at the time. The incomparable Robert Plant has the unique talent to conjure up more emotions than the words of the songs are stating and John Bonham’s only contender to the drumming throne at the time was Deep Purple’s Ian Paice. His power and performance in ‘Kashmir’ have yet to be matched. Page may have been a tad sloppy, but that gave his music its life. His ideas speak for themselves. Jones’ compositions on the album prove that he is the secret weapon to the group’s depth.

Though each and every one of the band’s first seven albums is as close to perfection as music can possibly get, ‘Physical Graffiti’ to me is just that little bit extra. It’s true that part of that is the album’s length, but that wouldn’t make much sense if the actual material didn’t back up the duration of the record. What Led Zeppelin gives the listener here is almost an hour and a half of the best material they could capture on vinyl a the time and every last minute of it is incredible. This is one of those albums that needs to be heard to be believed.

Recommended tracks: ‘Kashmir’, ‘Ten Years Gone’, ‘The Wanton Song’, ‘In My Time Of Dying’