#97XRockClub Physical Graffiti
Physical Graffiti is the 6th Studio album from Led Zeppelin and the 1st on their Swan Song record label. This double album was released in 1975 and debuted at #1 on the US &UK album charts.
Rolling stone called it “Led Zeppelin’s bid for artistic respectability” and it makes perfect sense. They were really branching out and experimenting for better or for worse.
They paired up songs that were written during the previous album sessions Zeppelin III, IV and Houses of the Holy and that gave them an opportunity to give the fans what they knew & loved…but also expanding it to a double album let them experiment with their folksier side and introduce new sounds that would go on to define Led Zeppelin as a whole.
This was my 1st time listening to this album. So many of these songs were introduced to me on that Jimmy Page/Black Crowes Live at the Greek album…and that’s on the list for sure…like the first track Custard Pie and the final track Sick Again. Fill in the spaces with In My Time of Dying, Trampled Under Foot & Kashmir and you’ve got a solid album. Then I realize why I’m not a big Zeppelin fan. In The Light just goes on forever. Down By The Seaside sounds like the bad part of Woodstock. Night Flight sounds like the bad part of the 80’s.
We’re going to jump on Facebook Live and dig a little deeper…so if you have a recollection of Physical Graffiti jump on how and I’d love to get your take as well.
And listen tomorrow to Dwyer & Michaels because we’ll announce next weeks #97XRockClub Album of the Week.
I’ll be honest. This felt like homework. I’m not the biggest Led Zeppelin fan…and now I have to listen to a double freaking album? So, I put it off too long. I was busy this week…but if I was actually looking forward to listening to this…it would’ve been easier to sit down. So, I actually put it off until this morning. I’m not an amateur-crastinator…I’m a PROcrastinator!
I think I and II are great rock records and obviously I appreciate what Zeppelin did and what they bring to the Rock & Roll table…but this album just reminded me that they are a little too folksy, Robert Plant is not my favorite vocalist…but this also reminded me how kick ass John Bonham is. Just a monster and he deserves every ounce of praise he gets nowadays.
So let’s break it down and we’ll get to some listener reviews in a minute.
The opening track…”Custard Pie” a cool rock n roll number with John Paul Jones on organ. Sounds fresh here. The synth will tend to wear on my as the album plays out…but here it sounds really cool.
The Rover has a nice slide lick. I really like it when Jimmy Page leans into the blues and John Paul is kicking ass with some bass grooves.
In My Time of Dying a nice slide that lands right in that Zeppelin grove and let’s Robert Plant be his Robert Plantiest. Reverb. Screams and lyrics that go over my head. Bonzo is killing it! Double bass hits and everything. He saves this song from being too self indulgent and brings some really interesting feels.
Trampled Under Foot. Originally called Brandy & Coke which makes me wish I was kicking back and having a few while listening. The vocals are so low. It makes me wonder if that was mixed today what would sound like…or maybe it was my car speakers. Not 100% sure because the rest of the album sounded normal. They were experimenting with new sounds…so it’s possible it was intentional
The cool thing about sitting and listening to music is…I’ve heard this song 1,000 times. John Paul is doing something at the end on the Hammond. It’s like a hammer-on. I’ve never heard that before.
Kashmir. That god damn Puff Daddy. All I can hear is “uh huh, yeah”. But as that subsides, I realize it takes a good drummer to be able to pull off the boom click boom click. Choosing where to show his super powers…IS his super power.
It’s almost 9 minute long song. Why does it not feel like it? There’s not actually a whole lot going on as far as parts or riffs but for some reason it flows well enough and is intriguing enough that you don’t mind sitting through it.
In The Light on the other hand. Jesus. Is that a didgeridoo? It feels like this the beginning of the end for me. I’m about to get into some Zeppelin that is THAT Zeppelin that I dislike.
This one sounds like a Steve Miller song. Thank God pot is legal in Illinois now…and then I thought to myself “Oh good. An organ solo.” I’m officially bored but I fought off the urge to skip it. In the Light is a 9 minute song that feels like an hour and a half.
This has all the Zeppelin tropes that were used to. The breakdowns, the drum grooves, the Robert Plant howling but boy does it land wrong in my ears.
Bron y Aur Stomp- (Brony Hour?) The best part about this was knowing that there were no overdubs. This was back in the day when bands could actually play music and not rely on punching audio in and re-cutting parts to perfect them. Just a great little guitar interlude.
Down by the Seaside. Somebody found a flange. And somebody…pass me the drugs. “Can you hear with a little fishy say?” Is that what he said? How are we going so far backwards. It feels like were in the age of Aquarius. I like the change between the swinging part of the song into the rock part of the song and then they go a little bit country which is really strange…you know what? Let’s throw every genre into one song
10 Years Gone. Such a beautiful intro. A Zeppelin song I don’t think gets it’s due. Such a great rock tune. Then there’s that little Paul McCartney “Band on the Run” transition before the solo.
Night Flight. It sounds like where the 80s got its sound from. And will somebody unplug John Paul Jones’ synth please?
The Wanton Song. This is Dwyer & Michaels Bumper music to me. I can only hear Dwyer doing the weather update.
Boogie with Stu sounds like a Stones tune. Which turns out was a jam session with Rolling Stones pianist Ian Stewart who has a whole story behind him. Maybe we'll get into that when we do a Stones album. I like the low-fi mix on this. I think it fits the style.
Black Country Woman sticks with the low-fi blues feel. I realize…this albums is almost like a experimental sandwich. Straight ahead Zeppelin at first...weird folksy, 60's organ...and finish it out with some bluesy Zeppelin which hits my heart.
In the beginning the airplane noise was a mistake that they left in. Much like Sting sitting on the piano in the intro of Roxanne.
Sick Again...takes me back to Live at the Greek. A very cool driving rock/blues song with a killer slide and Bonzo pounding the crap out of his bass drum.
Richard Davis My mother brought me home a box of 8 tracks from an auction in 1983. Among other 8 tracks were two pink ones. Houses of the holy and physical graffiti. A few of the songs I'd heard in rotation on the X but many I had never listened to. I was amazed at the depth of the guitar solos and the song writing always brought chills. I was also amazed how these two albums sounded so far removed from the in your face rock of other albums yet a perfect blend of relaxed and sometimes acoustic and laid-back tracks. They defiantly let their instrumentals lead the way. I gained a renewed respect for them, as well as my kick ass mom. She was way cool.
Robert Dale RiendeauJr I had all Zeppelin albums until someone stole them when I moved.
Sharon Thompson What else ❤️❤️❤️ lol really thought an amazing album
Matthew Paul have it on vinyl. I always think about how JPJ is overlooked as the best musician in the band. (also, how you can sing "soul man" over top of "trampled underfoot").
Richard Speth Boogie With Stu, Love it!
Teresa J Hoogerwerf Amazing!
Cathy Stetson Fondaw My favorite! I think of my Dad, sister and uncle
Chris Walsh My life journey
Bob Griffin Over rated band
Alex Rhodes Fucking genius
I've actually listened to this before. Kashmir is my choice for best song on the album or their entire catalog, for that matter. There's an uncomfortable tension that I've never heard before or after. JPJ's organ work is strangely evil. I'll tell you more tomorrow.
The album is great, but too long. Kashmir is so good they could've just farted in the microphone for 45 more minutes and I'd give it an 8. Then you throw in Custard Pie, Houses of the Holy, Trampled Under Foot, The Wanton Song, and it's an 8.5.
It's a low score because it's not their best album. It would be any other bands greatest accomplishment, but not for Led Zeppelin.