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THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE 2 CD DELUXE EDITION RELESED IN 2015.
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.
This was the last Led Zeppelin album worthy of the name. Musically this was dominated by Jimmy Page, in part, due to time pressures and limited studio time; they had to get out for the Stones to come in for sessions that produced Black and Blue. There is much less variation in pace on Presence, it is the most heavy album in their catalogue and, therefore, a bit less accessible on first listen. Sales of Presence were also hampered by the soundtrack album The Song Remains the Same coming out just seven months later, although it still sold respectable quantities and, like every studio album since Led Zeppelin II it reached No. 1 in the U.K. and U.S. album charts. In retrospect the assessment of this album have been much more favourable.
The album that followed this certainly puts any shortcomings here into perspective, In Through the Out Door starts out encouragingly with In the Evening but by the end of Side 1 it reaches the nadir of this, once great, band’s career with the sickeningly awful Hot Dog.
Presence has some great songs, although the lyrics are dark due to Robert Plant’s understandable post accident state of mind. The enduring song from this album is clearly Nobody’s Fault but Mine, however, there is not a weak song on the album; it holds together very well.
After this there was nothing left; the following album was dreadful and the posthumous collection of bits and pieces, Coda, was unworthy.
This remaster vinyl version is beautifully realised; the cover is solidly made, and although I had it on CD already there is something about handling a high quality vinyl L.P. with a good quality sleeve. All the Led Zeppelin vinyl reissues really deliver on quality.
Led Zeppelin were going through a traumatic time when this album was made - and if it hadn't been for a serious accident it might never have happened like this. Due to undertake a world tour, plans hurriedly changed when Robert Plant was involved in a serious road accident, forcing his recuperation. Or so he thought, as instead Jimmy Page arranged writing and recording sessions instead to fill the gap in the schedule. With Plant confined to a wheelchair throughout and just 18 days of studio time available in Germany it's Page who dominates here in perhaps the least varied album in the Zeppelin canon, with his guitar work preeminent. There's not a keyboard to be heard from John Paul Jones - a situation remedied by the next album. Stylistically the palette isn't that varied either, with the dial firmly cranked to 11 and pointing to "Heavy". Opening with the live classic Achilles Last Stand, John Bonham's drums get the life nearly beaten out of them. There aren't really any major Zeppelin classics present, but Royal Orleans and Nobody's Fault But Mine try to fill that niche. This isn't a bad album, far from it, but perhaps an underrated one. It suffers from the pedestal other works such as IV and Physical Graffiti are placed upon, but there's many a group who would be delighted to produce a work of this quality. One of their lesser works but relays repeated listening.
Incredible album with some belting blues hard rock bangers. The original album is sublime and the companion demo disc provides us Led Zeppelin fans with a little more from the mysterious music vaults to get out fingers into. As for the vinyl, it is faultless in my opinion with a sturdy weight - 180g is written but it feels heavier. The sound quality is also remarkable for both LP1 (original album) and LP2 (companion demos). The price is quite steep, however with any deluxe edition you do not know for how long these items will be available for. Avoid missing out now and then 2 years time finding it online 4 times the price because it is out-of-print!
One of the more worthwhile 'second discs' from this set of re-issues. And that's probably reflected in the cost, almost £20 compared to much less for others. However, I consider the double set worthwhile for two aspects in particular: firstly, the alternate version of Achilles Last Stand, known here as Two Ones are One and secondly the 10 ribs and all/Carrot pod pod which reminds me of Deep Purple's So of Aleric.
Led Zeppelin are one of those big bands whose albums transcend the music itself; so much so that on some levels it doesn't matter what's on the CD, if it says Led Zeppelin it must be good, right? Well oddly enough the music on this album is really good, so it isn't just a case of buying this album to complete your Led Zep collection and show off on your shelf because it will get played over and over again.
This album is Hard Rock straight out of the blues well. Everything has a rock solid edge to it and along with the treble infused chunk of the leads it all rides out on a wave of thumping beat which drives the heaviness along in fine fashion.
If there is one problem with this album it is that it is less diverse than some of the albums released previously and so in comparison this album can feel a bit vanilla. It more closely resembles their debut `I' in its straight ahead Hard Rock feel than the especially diverse `IV' which had Hard Rock numbers but which also wasn't afraid to go panoramic when needed.
Absolutely worth purchasing today, no doubt.
Track List: Achilles Last Stand For Your Life Royal Orleans Nobody's Fault but my own Candy Store Rock Hots on for Nowhere Tea for One
'Presence' was Zeppelin's 7th studio album, recorded in Munich in just two weeks in November 1975 and released on 31 March 1976. Initial sales were slow (for a Zeppelin album) and it's less well known than their earlier releases but nevertheless contains some outstanding music spiced with a couple of Zeppelin all-time classics.
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 finely balanced and `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 couple of outstanding tracks and probably the most imaginative and creative guitar work Jimmy Page ever recorded.