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Presence Original recording remastered
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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, 31 Jul 2015
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WSM.UK are proud to announce the release of all the led zeppelin albums with "vinyl replica" packaging, featuring original album artwork, gatefolds where applicable, inner sleeves and in the case of Led Zeppelin III, a revolving wheel as featured on the original LP release. Previously only available as very pricey imports, these albums are now available at mid price.
Presence is one of Led Zeppelin's more overlooked albums, languishing in the monstrous shadow of its predecessor, Physical Graffiti. It's more noted in Zeppelin mythology for the circumstances in which it was recorded, in double-quick time with vocalist Robert Plant's leg in plaster after a car accident. The lack of time does show--much of the album feels like generic heavy rock, bigger on volume than variety. It's worth the price of the album, however, for the ten and a half minute long "Achilles Last Stand", a crashing, galloping epic with John Bonham sounding like he's eschewed drumsticks in favour of tree trunks--and "Nobody's Fault But Mine", a Blind Willie Johnson blues standard regenerated with a 3000-watt boost by Jimmy Page. Led Zeppelin's contribution to rock was primarily physical--raising its heat and density levels, heightening its sensual force. --David Stubbs
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There has been much written about this penultimate Led Zeppelin album so the review is concentrating on ther sound quality.
This is an album I first bought back in 1980 and had always been blown away with the sheer energy and dynamism contained I’m very pleased to say there ain’t a single bad track on the album. Anyway, this was of course available on vinyl back in 1976, I had a so-so version in 1980 from WH Smith’s . Then of course it was released on CD with little consideration to the finished sound making it a near sonic disaster. Jimmy Page was not impressed and back in the 1990s it was remastered by the man himself with a huge jump in sound quality and a lot of the more subtle sound audible on the vinyl release being restored.
Still, technology marched on and there’s been some exceptional audiophile vinyl releases including a 45rpm Super Analogue Master which I’ve been informed is the ultimate version. However many of us mere mortals won’t have a 2 grand turntable based hifi system. Nor will we have days to track down this version with hundreds of pounds to spend on it. so we have to rely on a Cd.
But what a CD though.
This has easily got to be the ultimate remaster ever obtained via Mr Page or anyone else for that matter. The level of detail presentedis simply a quantum leap over and above anything available. I’ve listened to lots of different versions of various Led Zeppelin albums on CD, first CD’s ,remasteres, Japanese CD, Japanese SHM-CD and this version trumps the lot. If you want to hear Led Zeppelin at their very best on the CD format look no further.
Utterly recommended !
This was fundamentally Jimmy Page's project, and it shows. The band had to cancel a major tour in August 1975 because Robert Plant suffered a serious car crash whilst on holiday with his family on the Greek island of Rhodes and was still wheelchair-bound at the time of recording in November. Page's compositional work dominates the action with multiply over-tracked, high-energy guitar patterns leading the action on many of the songs.
Two or three tracks stand out from the rest. The high-energy opener `Achilles last Stand' is acknowledged by just about everyone as the album's high-point and for some fans is their all-time favourite Zeppelin track. Here the band is on top form with a fast, syncopated rhythm anchoring the frenzied interweaving guitar patterns, Plant's vocal line sitting on top of the action to produce an effect almost other-worldly and transformational. No other rock song has ever sounded quite like this: if you've never heard it, play it loud on a quality sound system and you'll be left awe-struck and breathless. Other highlights are the delightful `Nobody's Fault but Mine' (wherein Plant returns to harmonica playing) and the closer, a long laconic blues number titled `Tea for One' which captures the life of loneliness Plant always felt on the road away from his family and has some of the most restrained and inventive blues guitar lines Page ever laid down.
There are no acoustic/folk numbers among the album's 7 tracks, but nevertheless the overall result feels just right.
Page originally thought to title the album `Thanksgiving' but decided instead on `Presence' because it expressed something the band felt attended them; that despite difficult times, they were an unbreakable unit and could still weave musical magic together. The artwork, though original in that quirky archaic style so characteristic of Zeppelin, has never been a hit with fans - though like the music, it's like nothing else created before or since.
In summary: perhaps not Zeppelin's `greatest' or `best' album but pretty good overall, with a few outstanding tracks and probably the most imaginative and creative guitar work Jimmy Page ever recorded.
THE 2015 2-DISK DELUXE EDITION
The `bonus' material on the 2014-15 `deluxe' remixes of Zeppelin's back-catalogue has often been of questionable value, sometimes just studio run-throughs of songs on the main disk without a vocal track (the karaoke version of `Out on the Tiles' entitled `Bathroom Sound' on the LZ3 deluxe edition is one example of many).
Here the second disk offers us just five (easy?) pieces. `Two Ones are One' is a version of `Achilles' Last Stand' with Plant's vocal track further back in the mix and some variation in Page's multi-tracked guitar parts. The "Reference mixes" of `For our Life' and `Hots on for Nowhere' are very close to the album tracks, in each case maybe a little more laconic in tone.
However, a surprise instrumental jam with the extraordinary title `10 Ribs & All/Carrot Pod Pod (Pod)' is led by JPJ on piano (with a presumably overtracked and near perfect bass guitar line added) and would have been an excellent closer to the original album if worked-on a bit. Then there's an odd take of `Royal Orleans' which sounds like - I kid you not - it has the late Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart on vocals! He's not credited in the sleeve notes and neither is anyone else so, Jimmy, who the hell is it? It sure ain't Robert Plant.
The re-mastered main disk sounds fantastic, BTW. If you're looking for a version of `Presence' to add to your collection, this is the one to buy.
As for me, I love 'Presence' for its stripped-down uniformity of approach. It is a hard rock album pure and simple and has to enjoyed on those terms or not at all. This is Led Zeppelin without the frills but with power and drive aplenty. Songs like 'For Your Life', 'Hots On For Nowhere' and 'Tea For One' see Robert Plant starting to write lyrics that move away from cut and paste blues cliches or Tolkien pastoralism and actually reflect his own views on things. Hence, the effectiveness of his work on the forlorn 'Tea for One',for instance.The result is a more mature and affecting approach to songwriting that it is a shame he didn't have more time to develop whilst in the band.
The problem with 'Presence' is really that by the by the Zep's high standards it is a little bit of an anti-climax. For any other band of this vintage, 'Presence' would be seen as a truly creditable effort, but lovers of the band (as I am) can't help but feel that the whole thing was rather rushed and too reliant on musical firepower rather then ideas. The will was still there, but inspiration was running thin perhaps not surprising given the various issues that were besetting the group at the time.
'Presence' then is a hugely enjoyable set,that unfortunately fails to scale the heights of previous releases. Recommended, but not the place for new fans to start from, I think.
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