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PHYSICAL GRAFFITI AT 38 /LED ZEPPELIN VOTED MOST INFLUENTIAL BAND OF ALL TIME

24 February 2013 839 views 12 Comments

Led Zeppelin voted the most influential rock band of all time

Listeners of the award winning radio station Planet Rock have named Led Zeppelin as the most influential rock band of all time.

Planet Rock asked listeners to vote for the artist or band that they thought were the most influential in the world of rock.

With thousands of votes cast over the first three weeks of February, Led Zeppelin topped the poll, taking a massive one fifth of all the votes. In second place was Queen, with Black Sabbath taking up third position.

Here’s the top ten:

1. Led Zeppelin
2. Queen
3. Black Sabbath
4. Pink Floyd
5. Deep Purple
6. Jimi Hendrix
7. The Rolling Stones
8. The Who
9. AC/DC
10. David Bowie

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Physical Graffiti at 38….some thoughts on the anniversary of the release of the iconic 1975 double album….

Physical Graffiti.

The very title indicated something mysterious and special when I first saw it announced in the NME in late ’74.

Then there was the waiting. Ah yes the waiting.

Initially it was set for November 29th 1974. That date passed and nothing. Then it was going to be January 10th 1975 and so it went on until finally on a grey February morning, I took receipt of the record boxes delivered that day at WH Smith where I worked. And there in a parcel marked WEA/CBS Distribution was a box full of that beautiful double album. Had it out of the box immediately –took it down the pub lunchtime to show Dec, Phil, Tom and co…oh yes this was the big one – a massive outpouring of new Zeppelin music.

It ushered in a memorable year that would peak with those five glorious days in May.

Since then Physical Graffiti has been a constant in my life.

Not long after its release, the WEA rep kindly gave me the original sleeve artwork mock up. This is the mock up sleeve with uncut windows and alternate illustrations and different script type for the title.  The Atlantic Records rep that called on the shop gave me this in early 1975 and remains one of my finest pieces of Zep memorabilia – see pic above.

On holiday in Spain that year I could not resist handing over a pocket full of pesetas for the Spanish pressing.

I have it on cassette and 8 track cartridge. When I first got a CD player in 1988 it was the first CD I purchased. The emergence of the Tangible Vandalism rehearsals bootleg in the early 80’s was a shot in the arm in a less than vibrant Zep period, and the first time I heard the 33 minutes of outtakes that surfaced in 1997 remains one of my most memorable listening experiences.

Then there have been the numerous live Graffiti moments:

Selections from Physical Graffiti played live over the years have also provided some of my all time fave gig going moments.

Ten Years Gone and Sick Again at Knebworth, Trampled Underfoot at Leicester University in ’88, Kashmir at MTV Unledded, The Wanton Song at Later With Jools, Night Flight at the ULU in ’98 , In My Time of Dying at the 02 Reunion.

Yesterday (Saturday), was the same sort of cold afternoon to that of 38 years back on Saturday February 22nd 1975.  That was the afternoon Alan Freeman previewed five tracks from the album on his Radio one show.  The previous night the Old Grey Whistle Test had aired  Houses Of The Holy and Trampled Underfoot. I had to tape those on cassette as I was out at the Rainbow that night grooving to Black Oak Arkansas at the time (that’s another story!)

On that Saturday back in 1975, Alan aired Custard Pie, Night Flight, The Wanton Song, Down By The Seaside and Sick Again in that sequence with no break. As Robert uttered the opening line ‘’I received a message from my brother across the water he sat laughing as he wrote the ends in sight’’ I remember exclaiming ‘’Oh that voice!’’ in excited wonderment.

Above: The young DL in the Physical Graffiti bedroom shrine – Dents Road, Bedford August 1976 -note also the Presence hanging mobile!

In today’s internet driven world of instantly accessible everything,  it’s easy to forget the impact a mere record could have.

A mere record? Physical Graffiti was and could never be a mere anything.

It’s a living breathing, masterpiece.

Given the luxury of the double format, Physical Graffiti mirrors every facet of the Zeppelin repertoire. The end result is a finely balanced embarrassment of riches. Through light and shade, from a whisper to a scream, this one has it all.

So happy 38th birthday Custard Pie, The Rover, In My Time Of Dying, Houses Of The Holy, Trampled Underfoot, Kashmir, In The Light, Bron Yr Aur, Down By The Seaside, Ten Years Gone, Night Flight, The Wanton Song, Boogie With Stu, Black Country Woman and Sick Again.

These 15 performances continue to enrich my life and millions of others across the globe. Long may they continue to do so.

38 years of Physical Graffiti  – 38 years of the greatest record ever made.

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REVIEWING THE GRAFFITI:

A couple of reviews of the album from 1975…

Led Zeppelin Pure Genius

NO OTHER top band in the world gets as much stick as Led Zeppelin.

Every time they bring out an album there’s six months of carping because it’s not full of re-makes of ” Whole Lotta Love “; followed by an­other six months of moaning because they haven’t played any live dates; finishing up with a final six months of complaints about the time it’s taken them to make the new album. Then, of course, it all starts over again.

Not this time, though, I suspect. By allowing themselves the luxury of a double album, they’ve managed to cram in a bit of everything and in enough quantity to keep that vocal minority of moan­ers at bay.

For once they will have to admit that the wait since ” Houses Of The Holy ” has been worthwhile; some may even be moved enough to recognise “Phy­sical Graffiti ” for what it is; a work of genius, a superbly performed mixture of styles and influences that encompasses not only all aspects of Led Zep’s record­ing career so far but also much of rock as a whole.

This is not just a collec­tion of great tracks, but a perfectly balanced selection of music that weighs heavy rock with acoustic, ballad with out-and-out rocker in such a way that you can play the album non-stop day and night without ever needing to pause for a bit of peace.

And for one of the world’s heaviest bands, that’s some achievement.

“Physical Graffiti” has not just been “worth the wait”, it had to take a long time to produce music of this calibre.

Unlike so many bands today, who hurl out albums like they were frisbees in Hyde Park, Led Zep can be bothered to take the time and trouble to make this one even better than the last one.

They are, if you like, one of the few “progressive” bands left — you remember them, the groups who were always going to move for­ward and keep exploring new

Zeppelin have, and still are doing just that. They estab­lished their base with heavy blues/rock on “Led Zeppelin 1″, and have constantly sought to build on that, investigating new fields; from the folky “Battle Of Ever­more” to the reggae in­fluenced “The Crunge”.

Now they’ve taken elec­tronic space rock for “In The Light”, one of the two most immediately striking cuts on “Physical Graffiti”. ,

It opens with eerie key­boards that sound like they belong to the Pink Floyd’s “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun”, before moving on to more familiar Zeppelin riffing.

What marks it as the work of true musical craftsmen, though, is the linking: those space sounds are not just a frill tagged on for the hell of it, but .properly joined to the core of the song, first led in by Robert Plant’s voice, then led out for a reprise in the middle by Jimmy Page’s acoustic guitar.

“Kashmir”, hits you just as immediately. It’s in a (Com­pletely different vein: heavily orchestrated, with a chopping string riff which builds up to a crescendo at the end of each verse. The nearest equivalent is the work of the classical composer Moondog, who uses the same richly- descriptive style.

So effectively is it used though on “Kashmir” that it actually sounds like you’re travelling on a caravanserai through the East.

And Plant is at his magnificent best, letting his voice be gradually enveloped in the rich orchestral text­ures and then suddenly soaring through,, like the sun coming out from behind a cloud.

Certainly this is one of the most imaginative and out­standing numbers Led Zeppelin have ever cut.

But the band’s strength does not always rest on the new. They take that old, old theme of the blues on “In My Time Of Dying” and came up with a fresh approach, by constantly changing the pace, veering from the breakneck to the dead slow.

The song is never frac­tured: Plant holds a note here, John Bonham continues a drum pattern there, and it joins together as tight as a clam.

And if it’s heavy rock you want, Zeppelin can drive a number along like no other band on earth. Listen to them roar through ” Custard Pie”, “Night Flight” and “Sick Again”, always giving that little bit extra that’s the sign of class — a bubbling keyboard here, a nifty riff there, an intricate pattern elsewhere.

They can be wistful (“Down By The Seaside”), fun (“Boogie With Stu”), acoustic (“Bron-Yr-Aur”), me­lodic (“The Rover”) — just about anything in fact. They can take as long as they, like with the next album: “Phy­sical Graffiti” will last 18 months or 18 years. And then some.

MICHAEL OLDFIELD/MELODY MAKER

NOW I SHOULD make clear in this context that I’m not by nature a fan of this band in the same way that I like Van Morrison or Love. My position is one of deep respect, mind you, and while I was heard to say some harsh things about Beck copyists, etc, when the first album came out, such notions no longer seem to apply. I feel that I would have to perform a masterpiece of justification if I wanted to put L.Z. down, and in all honesty, there’s no fuel for that particular fire.

I suspect that someone somewhere will go into that old thing about making one great album out of two flawed same, as used with the Beatles’ White Album and so on, but again, I can’t subscribe, and this is where the review really starts. There are fifteen tracks on display here, and three of them, accounting for about a third of the playing time, appeal to me so much that were they on one side of the record, I would find it difficult to play anything else until I knew them from every direction. Specifically, these are ‘In My Time Of Dying’, ‘Houses Of The Holy’, and best of all, in a class shared with only a dozen or so tracks in my entire musical existence, ‘In The Light’.

That’s not to write the rest off in a terse few words but for my part, the record would be breaking down fresh barriers if it was all as good. It’s a question of stand-outs, and if you can imagine putting ‘She Loves You’ on the first Beatles album, you’ll see what I mean. Without my three choice cuts, the album would be of very good quality. Perhaps a little routine, but certainly to be among the critics’ choices at the end of the year. With the tracks included, it gets a distinct lift off, and while it’s just as certain to figure similarly in critical and public polls, we’re all getting a bonus for which we should be grateful. I would say with certainty that prolonged playing will produce several more tracks which will become highly pleasing, but it all comes down to what makes the biggest initial impact. And that’s not to say that the three I’ve mentioned have a singalong chorus.

Beyond saying “Get it if you’re even vaguely into this type of confection,” there’s not much to add. Jimmy Page as producer has to be one of the most tasteful people there is, and he continually rejects the temptation to fall into Black Sabbath traps, He also plays the guitar with consummate brilliance, and perhaps that’s part of the key to Led Zeppelin. They are all musicians of the highest calibre, and the length of time taken to produce this package is a testimony to the fact that second best for them is as bad as nowhere. One for your lists.

JOHN TOBLER/ZIG ZAG

© John Tobler via rocksbackpages.com

…………………………….

TALKING ABOUT THE GRAFFITI

Here is yours truly waxing lyrical about the sheer genius of this double album in 2007…

……………………………..

WATCHING THE GRAFFITI:

And finally Led Zeppelin live on stage in 1975 – the look, the swagger, the arrogance , the brilliance… number one then….number one now…

Until next time…

Keep listening, keep reading…

Dave Lewis/Gary Foy

February 24th, 2013.

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12 Comments »

  • Sheldon Cole said:

    DL is spot on to call this an embarrassment of riches. Their magnum opus and the high water mark of their career. Breathtaking in its ambition and execution. The virtuosity of their performances staggers, moves and delights 38 years on.

  • Lee said:

    Great write up Dave, PG is a classic album for me its up there with Miles’s Kind of Blue

  • paul said:

    quite simply……pure genius

  • Jonny B said:

    Simply put-the greatest double album ever-light and shade-nuff said?

  • paul webber said:

    THE GREATEST ALBUM EVER MADE…….IT HAS NO EQUAL…….A MASTERPIECE…………..EVEN MOZART HAD WISHED HE HAD WROTE IT.

  • Walter Cooney said:

    Probably the greatest Zep album,but it is hard to pick one out,but as a 17 year old this was the first album of Zep I bought as released new,I then bought all the others albums,after this.
    My mates went to Earls Court,but I now regret I did not go!I also went to Ireland instead of going to Knebworth!

  • BFG said:

    Danny Baker added this to his all time greatest album list on TV recentlly saying it was the finest Rock album of all time. It has been my favourite too, side 1 is hands down the finest three tracks on one side of a record.

  • Kevin said:

    My Dad brought me Physical graffiti in all its original packaging from a mate at work for £1 in 1977,It was my introduction to Led Zeppelin as at the time i was in love with the punk era and so the likes of Zep were never allowed to be uttered in the same breath as the sex pistols and the clash etc. well, I played the album and was completely blown away, I couldn’t believe that music of this quality existed! I didn’t turn my back on punk but I did go out and buy all the other albums and became one of the few ‘punks’ that loved the ‘old’ bands as well!
    Physical Graffiti remains my all time favorite album by any band, a true classic!

  • Wolfgang Seidel said:

    Physical Graffity? Zep’s finest record ever, it’s got it all, moments of sheer brilliance, lots of different styles, a tune that I do not like (Boogie with Stu), power, genius, beauty. Not too many records can offer that, it is in a class of its own.

    There are 4 tracks in my personal Zeppelin Top 10, Kashmir, In The Light, Down By The Seaside and Ten Years Gone.

    Side 3 of the old Double LP is my favorite sequence of Zep songs, DBTS is probably the most overlooked and underrated song in the Zeppelin catalog, it might have something to do with the fact that I live very near the baltic coast and spent my summer holidays at the south coast in Dorset, but it is actually a beautiful and clever constructed song.

  • Andrew R said:

    Dave P.G.is the one album where it all came together,and you could arguably say it was so good it left them nowhere else to go afterwards,plus it has Kashmir,most bands would kill to have that one track in their repertoire today!That its nearly 40 years old is mind blowing!By the way where is that interview/review by your good self from?
    Dont recall seeing it before.Cheers

  • Chris Serratella said:

    Physical Graffiti was in the group of the 1st three or four LP’s I ever purchased. Approximately 20,000 records and CD’s and all these years later, it has yet to be topped. The Benchmark. ‘Nuf said.

  • paulo alm said:

    Thanks Dave, great post as always. Physical Graffiti is a timeless gift of music, it will always be as powerful as it ever was. There’s no dimming of its brilliance and impact.

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