Sunday, 25 March 2012

In my time of dying: Physical Graffiti - Led Zeppelin (1975)

It feels rather cliched to write a review of a Led Zeppelin album as I feel I am retracing a well trodden path, but as I listen to the epic 'Kashmir' with its dirty violin riffs and heavy orchestration I feel that I cannot let Physical Graffiti go by without a Rubinstein review!

The band had no need to prove themselves by 1975, one of the biggest, brashest and most exciting rock band around, Led Zeppelin had conquered the world through their heavy brand of blues rock - many claim them as an early metal group… I would disagree, but that is a matter of opinion. Their first four albums are still rightly regarded as rock classics and are an indispensable addition to any collection. However my favourite has to be their last 'great' record, Physical Graffiti. In fact I like it so much that it will almost certainly receive a solid and rarer 10/10 by the end of this review (sorry for the spoiler) such is the sheer joy of listening to one of the coolest albums of all time.

In true 1970s style it is a double album with a number of drawn out, conceptual tracks yet maintaining the unique energy that Zeppelin brought to their music and the very tight production that made their tunes aural experiences. You can not help but be taken in by the rollicking opener 'Custard Pie' with its liberal use of the clavinet (listen to Stevie Wonder's Talking Book, for more information!), Plant's rasping vocals and Jimmy Page's frenetic playing. From the get go this is an album all about excess in some way shape or form. The hard edge is balanced by some funky work outs and some great keyboard use in tandem with Page's guitar, 'Trampled under foot' being a great example of this.

However for me the crowning point of the whole record would be the already referenced 'Kashmir', a faux-eastern tinged rock anthem with some of the best string arrangements from the period that rival even the efforts of Chic's Nile Rodgers & Bernard Edwards. Any fans of the cult classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High will remember when Eric 'The Rat' Ratner gets it so wrong by attempting to use this song to break the ice on a first date.

I won't elaborate too much more on the other fantastic tracks on the album as I fear I will just be repeating what a whole slew of album critics have said before me. Yes it might now be a ubiquitous, tiresome "Rock Classic" but I feel this is thoroughly deserved. you can take Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Exile on Main Street, give me this one any day! 10 out of 10, enough said.

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