Archive for September, 2015

Led_Zeppelin_-_Presence

Over the last year and a half, Jimmy Page has been busy reissuing the Led Zeppelin catalogue with bonus material.

The reissue campaign recently completed with the band’s final three albums, Presence, In Through the Out Door and Coda. With a young child and limited funds, I was only able to purchase the Presence and Coda reissues. (Will pick up In Through the Out Door later, but that one was always my least favorite anyway).

I’ve always felt Presence was unfairly maligned. It sold the least out of any album in Zeppelin’s heyday (not counting Coda, which was basically an outtakes collection issued after John Bonham died to fulfill contract obligations).

Quite simply, Presence rocks and rocks hard. It’s Jimmy Page’s album in every way. There’s no ballads to be had. Think there may be piano on one track. It’s a guitar album, and a damn good one. The album was recorded with Robert Plant confined to a wheelchair after a car accident, so his vocals aren’t as powerful as normal. But Plant at 50 percent is still awesome.

The album kicks off with a classic epic, Achilles Last Stand. A drifting guitar passage begins and ends the 10-minute track, but in between is plenty of guitar fury by Page. The second track For Your Life sways with bravado, and was a nice surprise when Zeppelin dusted this one off for the first-ever performance live during the one-off reunion concert in 2007.

Royal Orleans closes the original album Side One, a bit of fun in an otherwise intense album.

The second side (yes I’m still referring to LP sides in 2015) opens with one of my favorite Zep tracks, Nobody’s Fault But Mine. Just an awesome track in every way. Candy Store Rock offers a little bit of revved up rockabilly to the proceedings, while Hots Off to Nowhere is probably the weakest track on the album, but it’s not bad at all. The album closes with Tea for One, which opens with one of the coolest Page riffs, but it lasts for about 25 seconds before descending into a deep blues where Plant laments being away from his wife and family. More great guitar work from Page on this one.

The bonus disc on the reissue offers a few nice surprises, particularly the never-before-released instrumental with the odd title 10 Ribs and All/Carrot Pod (Pod) or something like that. I can see why it was left off the album, as it’s totally different from anything on it. A laid-pack piano jam led by John Paul Jones, it just wouldn’t have fit on this guitar-heavy album. But still interesting. The other cool bonus track is a rough mix of Royal Orleans where Plant sings in a deep gruff voice, almost like Dr. John. Pretty wacky stuff.

Led_Zeppelin_-_Coda

Coda was always an odds and sods collection, but I quite enjoyed the original incarnation of it, particularly the In Through the Out Door outtakes Ozone Baby and Wearing and Tearing. Those two rockers alone would have made that album much better, as that one had too much synthesizer and not enough Page guitar. Also included is the kick-ass rocker Walter’s Walk, an outtake from the Houses of the Holy sessions.

There are two bonus discs with the remastered and reissued Coda, and there are some great finds here. The early outtake Sugar Mama really rocks, while St. Tristan’s Sword is a cool little instrumental from the Led Zeppelin III sessions. The bonus discs also include great already released but harder to find tracks like Baby Come On Home, Travelling Riverside Blues and Hey Hey What Can I Do. My one complaint about these reissues is the inclusion of two many instrumentals of tracks we already have. I really don’t need to see Led Zeppelin tracks without Plant, unless they are never before released instrumentals like St. Tristan’s Sword. Also didn’t like the inclusion of outtakes that are barely different from the released counterpart. Would have rather they included live tracks. And one of the most well-known Zeppelin outtakes, the beautiful instrumental Swan Song, was nowhere to be found in this reissue campaign. Small criticisms, as even without any outtakes, this would have been a worthwhile venture, simply for the better sound quality. The remasters really make the music pop, and that is a great development for Zep fanatics. They just don’t make them like Zep anymore.

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