on 27 February 2015
On Page 50 of the hardback book with this set there is a spread of Robert Plant's notebooks made at the time of the writing of this album. They seem hard wrung and the scribbles may tell of much revision as you pick out the lyrics of 'Ten Years Gone', 'Trampled Underfoot' and 'Kashmir'. Elsewhere, the photographs of the band seem to portray tiredness and exhaustion on aeroplanes and one, in particular, of Jimmy Page after yet another American show installed in a large woolly kimono type garment lookiing totally exhausted. This may tell of the excesses as this can be said to be their halcyon days.
Indeed, this is a great album, 'The Rover', 'In my time of dying', 'Kashmir', 'Bron-yr-aur' and 'Ten Years Gone' are to name a few some of the best of Led Zeppelin. But, it is the contrasts and diversity of the music here that may make this their most complete musical statement. It may be said that anyone coming to this band for the first time should listen to this album first.
The artwork is still some of the best of any of the '70's period and the whole set has an atmosphere of importance, gravitas and sheer class.
The only downside of the set is the Companion Discs that would appear to give nothing new. It is a pity that some of the Earls Court recordings from '75 could not have been included here.
This is definitely one to buy in whatever format suits you best!
on 26 March 2007
I first picked this album up in 1990, after hearing Jimmy Page play a tantalising snippet of the Kashmir riff on Arena's 'Heavy Metal' documentary.
At that time buying a double lp was quite an investment for a schoolkid on pocket money alone, but I was mesmerized by the mystery around *that* riff and the fact the album looked so unusual. What I couldn't have expected was to seemingly stumble on something so complete and fulfilling, that I would still be returning to it every week for the next 15 years or more.
Each time I listen, I discover a new angle to a song. Another riff, another rhythm track, another vocal line. Zeppelin were truly at the height of their majestic powers when this album was released in 1975.
This is partially a result of a patchwork chronology behind the songs. Some were outtakes from previous studio works ('Houses of the Holy', 'Black Country Woman', 'Boogie with Stu'). Others were adaptations of previous songs, once ditched and now ressurected and re-worked during 1974 ('The Rover', 'Down By the Seaside').
The longest songs are invariably the newest and it is clear that on this album Zeppelin's intention was to define the 'epic'. 'Kashmir' is monstrous, sounding like it has been hewn from the roots of the Earth. It's sister-piece, 'In the Light' adds a darker tone. Then there is the electric storm of 'In My Time of Dying', crackling with intensity, slide guitar, prayers to Jesus and the relentless thunder of Bonzo's drums.
My favourite song (at the moment) is 'Ten Years Gone', a lovesong no less. However this arrangement is probably the most complex and painstaking ever assembled by Page, and the effect is stunning. Multiple guitar overdubs make a plaintive call against Plant's wistful recollections of love once lost.
This is an album of moods - covering the entire spectrum. As well as the epics there is much light relief and plain 'ole rock 'n' roll. 'Custard Pie', 'Sick Again' and most notably 'Trampled Underfoot' with Jones' infectious clavier riff.
The most rewarding album I can think of.
*REMASTERED EDITION AND BONUS TRACKS - 2015 UPDATE*
I think it is fair to say the original CD masters of Physical Graffiti were not perfect. Apart perhaps from In My Time of Dying, the overall sound conveyed in these discs was 'dense' and 'muddy' compared, say, to Led Zep IV, which is bright, clear and airy. Both albums, however were recorded in Headley Grange, so should have had a similar quality. One difference I guess was the increased amount of overdubs used on Physical Graffiti - it created some indistinct overlaps in sound when translated to CD.
I would say these are largely a triumph. From the beginning: 'Custard Pie' has been give a fresh release. The drums are far punchier, the keyboards much more distinguishable from the mix. I am able to really feel the harmonica grind and breathe right at the end. It rocks - where before it might have plodded a bit. Generally this pattern is reflected elsewhere, deeper drum sounds and far better sonic separation. For the first time I can capture the amazing bass work at the end of 'In the Light'. Switch to 'Bron-Yr-Aur' and then 'Ten Years Gone' for delicate panning and complete clarity. Any downsides? Surprisingly, its 'Kashmir' it feels less powerful than its bonus disc companion.
The main event is really the remasters, but it is impossible to resist the temptation to dive straight into the new tracks. These are mainly different mixes of the versions we love, by that I mean different emphasis, rather than completely new takes (with a couple of exceptions). 'Houses of the Holy' is better than the album version: raw and unconstrained, much like how the live Zeppelin, invigorated 'The Ocean' during their stadium tours. Kashmir, brings the orchestra more the fore and uses a deeper drum sound, it is intriguing, perhaps a novelty for now. I love 'Brandy & Coke'. It's the same track, but broken down so you can really hear Jones' clavier and no overdubs. A true joyous revelation. 'Sick Again' is a completely new early working version, just Page and Bonham. Again you can really perceive the gaps into which Page later interweaves his 'guitar army' of overdubs, but at the same time marvel at the raw power of the unstripped song. 'Everybody Makes It Through' will be completely new to many. It's very interesting, but in my view not a patch on 'In the Light', which is a masterpiece of mood, tension and release. The bonuses are well worth the few extra quid.
on 10 May 2005
Congratulations! You have chosen well. Seven years on the road have paid off and the band lay down the tracks which will propel them into the stratosphere. Here, you get the lot: earthy blues, driving rock, intimate ballads, fun, laughter, all in all, 80-odd minutes of JOY!
The sheer weight of tracks like Custard Pie, Kashmir, The Rover would sit well in any band's entire canon but they are here on the first disc! Above all, it's the way the band nail every song in total sympathy with each other. True, Page lays down the guitar overdubs at times like he has to sell them tomorrow, but what a result.
And as an answer to the question 'where is the follow-up to 'Stairway to Heaven?' look no further than Kashmir and Ten Years Gone as worthy replacements.
Usually by side four, bands start to waver and it's true that Zep added some earlier also-rans but they stand up by themselves and only once drop into the realms of 'filler' on the singalong 'Boogie with Stu', but an album that can end on a great rock track after 80 minutes puts that into perspective and 'Sick again' is a worthy closer.
30 years on, it still hits all the right buttons.
Zeppelin's sixth studio album appeared in 1975, a generous 80 minutes of music spread over two 12" vinyl disks in those days known as a `double album'.
PG contains a mix of styles ranging from pounding hard rock numbers (`Trampled Underfoot' was inspired by Robert Johnson's `Terraplane Blues') through poignant reflective songs with great dynamics like `Ten Years Gone' and `Down by the Seaside'. Add in a boogie-woogie jam, a short acoustic guitar piece, a thunderous 11-minute re-work of the gospel classic `In my Time of Dying' and the seminal `Kashmir': an epic, majestic number of awesome power "like the last dinosaur on Earth walking up the path" by common consent one of Zeppelin's finest moments (if not THE finest) and you have a truly classic album. In fact, PG is so packed with great songs it's difficult to pick out highlights without going through the complete song list as many excellent reviews have done already.
If you're new to exploring the music of this talented British rock band from the 1970s, PG might be a good place to start because it has just about everything. Around half the songs were new compositions from 1973-75 and the remainder re-worked numbers - in some cases extensively re-worked - which hadn't made previous album releases, for example the title track from the `Houses of the Holy' album which didn't make the final cut of that 1973 release, but was revived for inclusion on PG. All four band members are here on top form, the contributions of John Paul Jones on `Trampled Underfoot', `In the Light' and `Kashmir' being particularly outstanding. The end-result is every bit as great as the `runes album' (LZ4) but more stretched-out and varied with greater scope; more the rounded collection than unified vision.
PG showcases Zeppelin at the height of their creative powers and belongs in any collection of classic rock music. It's still selling after 35 years, still sounds fabulous and has found new generations of young fans not even born when this music was created.
Some of this might get very nit picky and nerdy........but why review an album that so many others have and not add something new?
Firstly, the packaging is too yellow(let's get the negs out of the road before hitting the main course). It looks sickly in this tone. The care taken with other aspects, some done to perfection, could well have extended to printing it right. The die cut windows are wonderful, all of the inside artwork wonderfully reproduced to a tee. The sleeve inside which the cd's sit in their won printed bags, again doe to perfection. So, mostly top notch.
The booklet is an almost total disappointment. The contact sheets would look great in the 12" vinyl size, but here, in miniature, they are just an eye test. There is also a spelling mistake. B.P. fallon has become B.P. Fallen.......... I wonder if they are trying to suggest something.
Ok, gripes over. What about the contents? Well, this is all good news as far as the main discs go. The remastering has been a relevation in some cases and an improvement in all. A veil has been lifted right across the album and things can be heard that are on the original cd, but not as clearly.
On Boogie With Stu the slap back reverb really pings across the stereo soundstage. Pages acoustic guitar work at the start now sounds clear enough to hear the plectrum hitting the strings whereas before it was just the sound coming out of the body of the guitar. Interestingly, the channels have been reversed. Stu used to be in the left speaker, now he is in the right. Bonhams sticks hitting the frame around the drum shell at the end really come across as wood on metal, rather than clicks.
On In the Light the big plus is John Paul Jones bass playing. The remastering has really helped make his playing stand out, not louder, just clearer. Towards the end of this song he improvises over the repeating chords and adds all sorts of wonderful runs. At one point he plays a series of two note bass chords, which I had never noticed before. Amazing!
Pages remastering has made a great album an essential one, for lovers of rock.
The bonus cd is disappointing but not surprisingly so. I reckon Jimmy has got some sort of big live concert release idea going on. At least I hope so considering the amount of live gigs he has tucked away in the vaults. That would also explains the paucity of live bonus material since Zep 1.
Overall a winner. Essential for Zep fans. As for the bonus material, I could take it or leave it in this instance.
All the hoop-la surrounding the mothership of all reunions had me delving back into my vinyl collection try to recall the impact of the Zep behemoth on an impressionable teenager. Zep I and II set the template, Led Zep III took off in another direction to remind everyone that the band had too much imagination to be ghettoised under the label `heavy metal'. Zep IV then fused the hippie/folk/blues/metal elements into a rock masterclass that would render any attempt at emulation hopeless. Houses of the Holy followed up in the only way possible, by experimenting in new directions/arrangements.
So, by Physical Graffiti the band had scaled the heights and were already gazing down from the rock pantheon - where to go from there? This is where I came in. Of course I'd heard the Top of the Pops theme tune but back then, unless you had an older brother, it was quite possible to never hear or see Led Zeppelin - no singles meant no radio play (unless you knew about John Peel), videos hadn't been invented. So it was purely on seeing a strange but inspired film clip of some 1920s dancing girls flapping to some American singer (as I then thought) wailing away over the megariff of Trampled Under Foot (see YouTube) that prompted me to shell out on a double cassette without having heard of Led Zeppelin. Slapping it into my mono tapedeck, the sublime noise that was Custard Pie cast a spell that has lasted 30 years. The downside is - nothing is ever going to sound that good again. The combination of raw power and stunning musicianship was just irresistible. With twelve rock classics on one album this was the high water mark. Presence had a couple of tracks (Nobody's Fault and Achilles Last Stand) that would hold their own on a `best of', but never again would they be able to compete with a back catalogue that included Custard Pie, In My Time of Dying, Trampled Underfoot, Kashmir, Ten Years Gone. The range of Plant's vocals, Page's riffing, Bonham's murderous drumming and JPJ's bass/keyboard work on this album has no equal.
You'll never spend under a tenner more wisely.
on 27 February 2015
After having 4 albums released which are, for the most parts, in the same vein, Houses of the Holy came out and was something different, deviating from the heavy blues rock and folky songs, with more popmusic and even funky influences, plus the rather apart progrock on No Quarter. Ironically the title track from that 5th album was nowhere to be heard, till this monster double album was released. It contains songs from earlier recordingsessions and new written material, which suit each other excellent. From the hard rock to acoustic folk, progrock to country blues, Led Zeppeling masters it all. Sadly no place was found for the Immigrant Song single B-side Hey hey, What Can I do, nor for the HoftH outtake Walters Walk. Anyway, those can be found on the closing album Coda. Exactly 40 years after its release on 24 february 1975 this new package is unveilled with a companion CD with alternate takes. Contrary to II, III, IV and HoftH not from (almost) each song a different recording but only of 7 songs, nearly halve of the albumtotal. However, most don't make a big difference, Sick Again is much shorter. Everybody Makes it Through the Light is a much better song than the one on the original album, shortened to In The Light.. But no new songs are presented here. Press mentioned that tapes were found with unreleased songs, apart from different versions. Spoken was about Midnight Moonlight, a ten minute song (present on the first album by The Firm and credited to Page and Paul Rodgers, the singer of that band). So those extra songs don't shine new light on this album, which in it self is brilliant. Later albums Precence nor In Through the Out Door can compete with the overwhelming musical power of Physical Graffity. A joy to listen to, each time again.
'Physical Graffiti' finds Led Zeppelin at just about the peak of their considerable powers. It's a sprawling behemoth of an album that takes in just about everything that the band stood for. From the stomping blues- rock of 'Custard Pie', to the supercharged funk of 'Trampled Underfoot' and the quirky barrel -house rock n' roll of 'Boogie With Stu', there is a sufficiency of riches to keep even the most avid listener occupied for a long ,long time. Of course,no discussion of this album would be complete without mentioning 'Kashmir' or the monumental slide guitar fest of 'In My Time of Dying',classic examples of how the band could develop and extend basic ideas into feverishly exciting displays of musical power.And lets not forget the shimmering beauty of the solo guitar instrumental 'Bron -Yr-Aur' and the heartfelt 'Ten Years Gone' with its beautiful solo by Jimmy is nothing short of extraordinary.
Critics may argue that amid the gold there might be a hint of filler,and maybe (just, maybe)they might have a point.But even the less distinguished material ('Sick Again'/'Down By The Seaside'?)there is always some aspect of the performances to enjoy even if lyrical or musical inspiration occasionally flags.For me this is definitely a desert island set and whilst it may have flaws,it is about as consistently enjoyable and varied as rock albums ever get.
Sadly the Zep would seldom reach these heights again- although 'Presence' has it's moments and 'In Through The Out Door' has glimmers of the old genius, but at least they knew when to quit.'Physical Graffiti' is a fitting monument to a great band,that sounds as alive and dynamic today as it did all those years ago.
Zeppelin fans have been licking their lips for this one - and almost 40 years to the day (the original double-album was released 24 February 1975) - here it is on Monday 23 February 2015 - clambering up the ascending ledges of my stereo with the big balls of a well-hung King Kong primate sporting a naughty look in his brownstone-sized die-cut eyes (and that's just Side 1). This "40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" is not without its problems though in my opinion (packaging and questionable extras) - but it is still a thing of double-album beauty - it really is. Here are the forty years gone...
Worldwide released 23 February 2015 - "Physical Graffiti: 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" by LED ZEPPELIN on Atlantic/Swan Song 8122795794 (Barcode 081227957940) is a 3CD reissue set in Card Repro Art Packaging and breaks down as follows:
Disc 1 (Sides 1 and 2 of the original 2LP set) - 39:25 minutes:
1. Custard Pie
2. The Rover
3. In My Time Of Dying
4. Houses Of The Holy [Side 2]
5. Trampled Under Foot
Disc 2 (Sides 3 and 4 of the original 2LP set) - 43:34 minutes:
1. In The Light
3. Down By The Seaside
4. Ten Years Gone
5. Night Flight [Side 4]
6. The Wanton Song
7. Boogie With Stu
8. Black Country Woman
9. Sick Again
"Physical Graffiti" was released 24 February 1975 in the UK on Swan Song SSK 89400 and Swan Song SS 2-200 in the USA. It went to Number 1 in both countries and shipped over 8 million copies in the USA alone.
Disc 3 COMPANION AUDIO - 41:32 minutes:
1. Brandy & Coke (Trampled Under Foot) (Initial Rough Mix)
2. Sick Again (Early Version)
3. In My Time Of Dying (Initial Rough Mix)
4. Houses Of The Holy (Rough Mix With Overdubs)
5. Everybody Makes It Through (In The Light) (Early Version/In Transit)
6. Boogie With Stu (Sunset Sound Mix)
7. Driving Through Kashmir (Kashmir) (Rough Orchestra Mix)
The CD Repro packaging was always going to be a problem on this reissue and in my opinion they've gotten it only half right (at least it's an improvement on those awful Euro repros we had back in the Nineties with their piddly slips of paper on the inside). Let's be blunt about this - arguably "Physical Graffiti" had the most gorgeous LP packaging ever devised for a rock LP and the visceral impact of that for those of us who bought it in 1975 cannot be understated. That's why I find this latest offering so naff in comparison. Aligned with the other reissues - we get an awful blackened rear sleeve where someone has simply blocked out the artwork with blurred images and laughably called it alternate artwork. It's ruined the look of the rear - and the same crap has been done for CD3 on the inside. I also have to stick that peel-off track-list that was on the shrinkwrap onto the back of the cover and it just doesn't look right. The 16-page booklet of black and white and colour photos is over as soon as it starts with barely two pages of credits at the end - no appraisal, no liner notes and no history (you have to fork out huge money for the Super Deluxe Edition to get that). It does feel chunkier with the 3CDs inside and the booklet (I reversed the inner to get the white windows on the rear) but you can't help think that a reissue label of repute like Ace, Edsel, Beat Goes On, Repertoire or Esoteric would have gone to town on this prestigious release and finally given fans something they could really get their teeth into.
And what is this disclaimer bull that Page is putting in the booklets referring to the Companion Audio as being "new material recorded at the time" when its bleeding obvious that these are simply backing tracks with new guitar bits mixed in. Disc 3 has only two genuine outtakes - the short instrumental 1973 version of "Sick Again" and the February 1974 early version of "In The Light" which was originally called "Everybody Makes It Through". The others sound almost identical to me with very slight guitar changes - "In My Time Of Dying" being the worst offender where you have to wait almost the whole song to realise that the first guitar solo bit is the only change - and it's a lesser version. You can't help feel that much of Disc 3 is an elaborate con. There's also been complaints about the quality of the Download/Auto-Rip not being Hi-Res and the vinyl variant containing the same compromised artwork. But let's get to the remaster that is at least better than what went before...
The moment "Custard Pie" hits your speakers - the power of the band wallops you over the noggin - and the new Jimmy Page remaster helps. There's more clarity in the guitar and the whole thing swings better than it did before. "The Rover" has hiss in it that seems more accentuated but it also seems more muscular (what a powerhouse of a song). But then we get the big mother fuyer. "In My Time Of Dying" is a 1928 Blind Willie Johnson Spiritual called "Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed" on Columbia 14276-D (78") - but Zeppelin massively rearranged it - enough for the boys to naughtily claim it as their own (plundering the Blues and not for the first time either). There's even a few seconds of dialogue at the end - "That's The One!" Bonham exclaims knowing he's blasted that sucker as far as it can go. It's a truly awesome piece of Rock and when that guitar solo first kicks in - the drums, the guitar and the bass - at that moment the whole band were undeniably the best in the world. Side 2 opens with "Houses Of The Holy" and again that very subtle remaster difference is evident - and with the drums so forward and loud in the mix - I swear I can hear the squeaking of Bonham's pedals more than I did before (nice). John Paul Jones gets to make his presence known on the funky keyboard backdrop he gives "Trampled Under Foot" (especially in his wicked solo) - but what I can hear more is the overdubbed guitar parts and Plant's ballsy vocals. Bonzo's moment finishes Side 2 "Kashmir" and honestly it sounds much like the "Mothership" remaster to me - huge of course - but I can't honestly say it's any better.
I've always loved the Eastern vibe to "In The Light", the wafting treated acoustic guitars of "Bron-Yr-Aur" and the happy-go-lucky almost childish feel to "Down By The Seaside" - all of which sound much improved. But I'm thrilled to say that the best track on the album seems to have been improved the most - the stunning "Ten Years Gone" which ended Side 3. It's clean, present and powerful - that gorgeous guitar strumming and bass combined sounding so good. And when it goes into that huge riff - wow is the only appropriate response (surely this is Zeppelin at their very best). Can't say I hear a huge improvement in "The Wanton Song" but I'd swear it was produced that way - sounding ever so slightly muffled or contained so that the last passage sounds clearer - doesn't look like that can changed no much you remaster it. "Boogie With Stu" and "Black Country Woman" now sound huge and such fun...
So there you have it - like "Blonde On Blonde", "The Beatles", "Second Winter", "Exile On Main St.", "Manassas" and "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" - "Physical Graffiti" is one of those vinyl double albums that retains its cool, mystery and magic. And despite some personal misgivings about presentation on this 3CD 40th Anniversary Reissue - isn't it the business to see it back at Number 1 where it belongs...
on 25 February 2015
Can not fault the delivery or the packaging, arrived on the day of release.
A musically fabulous album blighted (in this case) by poor vinyl pressing. Opening track of side 3 is littered with buzzing and crackles. Can only assume that this is an isolated case in the pressing process. Would be interested if anyone else has experienced a similar problem.
In saying this, about 10% of the new vinyl received has to be returned due to poor pressing. Why is it you can buy 2nd hand vinyl that is maybe 30-40years old, put them through a cleaner and generally they play like new? Seems the art of pressing vinyl has been lost over time!