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PHYSICAL GRAFFITI WEEK ON TBL/ DL THOUGHTS ON THE VINYL VERSION / JIMMY AT THE BRITS/DL DIARY UPDATE

26 February 2015 6,332 views 3 Comments

FEB 26 THREE

Physical Graffiti Covers City! New Led Zeppelin album released!

Physical Graffiti Week on TBL:

After all the build-up, it’s now time to celebrate the long awaited release of the reissue of Physical Graffiti…

DL thoughts:

The Reissued Graffiti: Physical Sequencing with no cherry picking required……

So this is it…the big one – an embarrassment of riches –

I played the vinyl version yesterday all in one sitting – as it should be and I have to say I was totally overwhelmed..… totally beyond expectation …so many moments of unparalleled greatness now heard in more clarity than ever before…absolutely incredible…they are, were and always be the best – this reissue of Physical Graffiti is yet further proof.

To backtrack 40 years: My Physical Graffiti:

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 which still takes pride of place in my collection. 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.

Last Saturday was the same sort of cold sunny afternoon to that of 40 years – for back on Saturday February 22nd 1975  Alan Freeman previewed five tracks from the album. The previous night I’d had the Old Grey Whistle Test taped on a cassette to hear the previews of Houses Of The Holy and Trampled Underfoot. I was out at the Rainbow grooving to Black Oak Arkansas at the time.

On that Saturday 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 laughin’ as he wrote the ends in sight’’ I remember exclaiming ‘’Oh that voice!’’ in excited wonderment.

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.

So happy 40th 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 thousands of others across the globe. Even more so in this new reissue…

To backtrack 40 years: Their Physical Graffiti:

FEB 26 FIVE

In the scheme of things the timing on the recording of this album was just so right.

There was nothing like the pressure they had in following Zep IV with Houses Of The Holy. The lukewarm press reaction to Houses would only spur the four  to greater on stage heights. The touring period from March in Europe through to the lengthy US jaunt in the summer of ’73 saw Led Zeppelin perform to overflowing audiences with increasing confidence.

There may have been a period of burn out following the US tour – the initial sixth album sessions were scrapped due to John Paul Jones illness/reticence – but it can be clear that the vigour and vitality they displayed during that US tour was more than in evidence when they came to park Ronnie Lane’s mobile studio outside Headley Grange in early 1974.

The decision to work at their own space with no pressure of a tour to prepare was a crucial one. Jimmy’s wry comment that ‘’1974 didn’t really happen’’ was a something of a smokescreen – as creatively it very much did happen and it would set the seal on a six month period in 1975 that would see them conquer America yet again and present five shows at London’s Earls Court that really did capture them at the peak of their powers.

All this and Physical Graffiti too. A double album idea that Page had been eying for some time  as he commented recently:‘’ I hoped it was going to be a double album because other people had put out double albums and I thought it would be good to do that. I knew that we already had material left over the material was coming out and it was clear that we were working towards a double. I did want to do a double album that would really show a working band at a really creative process”.

The eight recordings honed at Headley Grange were merged within seven older tracks held over from previous albums. We now know that had been the clear intention with Houses Of The Holy as Page recently revealed ‘’ It was left off the Houses Of The Holy album on purpose. It was saved for whatever the next album was going to be which turned out to be Physical Graffiti’’. The rest…they were never mere leftovers as such a thing did not exist. These were quality ideas ready to be unleashed

All that was required was a final mix and a song selection and sequencing. This is where Physical Graffiti really triumphs

You could just never envisage Physical Graffiti not being played in the sequence that Jimmy Page prepared back in 1974. .

It’s akin to a whole symphony greater than the sum of its parts – take any song away and it loses its thread.

So let’s be under no illusion, the arrival of this new remastered reissue is principally all about those 15 tracks – the Companion Disc is of course a very  welcomed dessert but the main course kicks right off with track one side with a chew of the Custard Pie and closes with the brutal last gasp salute of Sick Again.

And that my friends, is the way to listen to Physical Graffiti – there’s no cherry picking required. It’s the whole first course in one sitting and no messing. That is the way it should be.

This is no mere 40 year nostalgia trip. Physical Graffiti could be no mere anything. It’s a living breathing beautiful sounding testament to the sheer greatness of Led Zeppelin.

Every facet of the spectrum beautifully detailed – every moment wonderfully sequenced.

Now sounding better than ever via the dutiful care taken to represent this landmark album by Jimmy with John Davis at the helm. Weather you are listening to a top of the range Hi Fi lounge unit or on something a little more basic…the effect will be shattering…

Moments to marvel at on this new reissue:

Custard Pie

Just so much raunch to the riff and John Bonham’s jigging hi hat driving it all the way through… and the solo cuts in across the speakers with so much verve and swagger.

The Rover

Utterly fucking sensational. The drum sound – on first play it took my breath away simple as that.

In My Time Of Dying

The forcefulness of that opening drum part…it has to be heard to be believed. The clarity of the bottleneck parts – we are right there in that hall in Headley. The echo on the first solo…glorious.

Houses Of The Holy

So much brightness and colour in the lyrics and performance.

Trampled Under Foot

Jones’s clavinet all the way through – pure musical arranging brilliance.

Kashmir

The moment they come out of the middle sequence and that elongated Plant howl…oh yes!

In The Light

We now know how much work went itto n this with varying tempo changes. The closing two minutes with Page’s multi overdubbing cascading around Bonzo’s drumming might be the best two minutes of their recorded career – here it sounds utterly sensational. As does the opening drone.

Bron Yr Aur

Acoustic perfection…

 Down By The Seaside

Love the keyboard sound from JPJ, now even more accented.

 Ten Years Gone

The intro – totally stunning…

 Night Flight

”Oh mama well it must be time….”  what a vocal.

 The Wanton Song

The way they come back from the Leslied guitar effect solo back into the riff.. masterful.

 Boogie With Stu

The percussion at the beginning now more powerful than ever.

 Black Country Woman

The mandolin so precise.

Sick Again

The final onslaught from John Bonham ..oh yes!

The Companion Audio Disc:  

FEB 26 FOUR

Brandy & Coke (Trampled Under Foot – Initial Rough Mix) 5.39:

To me this has the feel of of a radio friendly single mix – and hearing Brandy & Coke aka Trampled Underfoot in this way makes  Zep sound like the greatest singles band ever. Imperious funk meets revved up riffing with refreshing clarity…

Sick Again (Early Version) 2.22:

There’s a also a delightful ‘’wooshing’’ effect on the riff at 0.55. Overall this flexing of the riff foundation brings out the melodic tendencies of Page’s plangent riffing. You really want this to go on for another ten minues. Wonderful work in progress riff exercise for a sometimes underrated part of the Graffiti wall..not anymore..

In My Time Of Dying (Initial Rough Mix) 10.48:

A cleaner intro – the vocal coming in with added clarity to the version we know. Double tracked at times. The delicacy of the bottleneck parts are more evident. Jonesy’s bass accentuated behind the bottleneck riff parts is also high in the mix. As it moves into it’s stride, Robert’s vocal are striking clear and crisper providing a real live in the studio atmosphere. Mesmerisingly spacey mix of a towering performance…

Houses Of The Holy (Rough Mix With Overdubs) 3.51:

What we have here is a rough mix with overdubs and it’s a fascinating listen – Robert’s initial vocals have less echo and are pleasingly upfront and clear. Bonzo’s cowbell is much more pronounced in this mix.  The backing vocal ”oooh oooh” is also higher in the mix and you can clearly hear a tambourine as additional percussion towards the close. Jimmy had yet to layer on his solo and it fades at 3.51. Bright and breezy mix of one of their most commercial outings…

Everybody Makes It Through (In The Light Early Version/In Transit) 6.29:

The complete alternate version that was previously bootlegged on the Physical Graffiti outtakes that surfaced in 1997.

A totally different work in progress arrangement with John Paul Jones’ Elizabethan harpsichord keyboard sequence being later replaced by the drone links.  The closing moments from 5.42 to 6.29  with John Bonham’s relentless drum fills are some of the very best applied to any Led Zeppelin track. Those that have heard it before already will know this is a phenomenal piece – those that haven’t… well the pleasure will be all yours -it’s just sensational. An unabashed joy from start to finish – this pleasingly inventive initial arrangement adds new colour to the canvas of one of their finest achievements …

Boogie With Stu (Sunset Sound Mix) 3.39:

The mandolin is well to the fore in this mix – you can hear the precise plucking right from the off while the piano and vocals are both further back in the mix. A barrelhouse of mandolin and piano led fun…

Driving Through Kashmir (Kashmir Rough Orchestra Mix) 8.41:

That intro is immediately grandiose -the vocal remains in the centre of the mix while in the riff parts and the  strings are more prominent. From 4.06 to .25 it sounds altogether crisper and chunkier and all beautifully dramatic and the closing orchestral overdubs are clearer going into the fade. Progressive rock in the true sense of the word and this mix is further confirmation of the fact that this composition remains the pride of Led Zeppelin…

Summary:

Put simply -the paintwork on this particular piece of graffiti remains as fresh as ever… now it’s been recoated to give it an even brighter sheen the end result is simply magnificent…

Dave Lewis – February 25th 2015

………………………..

Physical Graffiti stacking up the sales: 

This via the UK official Charts website:

Led Zeppelin are challenging Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran for Number 1 album honours this week, in the first Official Albums Chart to incorporate both audio streams and sales.

The Official Charts Company recently confirmed that the chart published this Sunday would be the first to reflect audio streaming of albums from the likes of services such as Spotify, Deezer, Google Play, Napster, O2 Tracks, Xbox Music, Rdio and Rara – and, at the half-way stage this week, the legendary rock act is leading the way ahead of new Brit superstars Sam and Ed, in second and third place.

http://www.officialcharts.com/chart-news/led-zeppelin-take-on-sam-smith-ed-sheeran-in-first-ever-albums-race-to-include-streaming__8200/

NB: After their success in last night’s Brit Awards it’s almost certain Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran will overtake the Zep release

……..

feb 26 brits again

Jimmy Page at the Brit Awards at the 02:

Talking of which, Jimmy Page was in attendance at last night’s Brit Awards at the )2 Arena in London – he  handed out the Best British Group award to Royal Blood. Returning the compliment of the band handing him his NME Award last week. Here’s Jimmy handing over the Best British Group Award to Mike Kerr of Royal Blood at last night’s Brit Awards. Pic by Krys Jantzen for TBL

…………………….

DL Diary Update:

After the euphoria of Physical Graffiti, it’s a clear case of Physical Ailments here, as a nasty head cold has taken hold and Janet is not so good as well…I’m going to delay opening my Super Deluxe box for a while until we are back on form….meanwhile the show goes on – and there is a lot to do and no time to be sick again…….

DL February 26 2015 

…………….

Until next time…

Keep listening, keep reading…

Dave Lewis/Gary Foy –  February 26, 2015 

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3 Comments »

  • paul webber said:

    physical graffiti the greatest album ever made it even inspired Mozart.

  • Del said:

    Absolutely fuckin awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!nothing else to say really

  • Steve said:

    Dave , you mentioned recently how essential it was to listen to this album start to finish in the one sitting to truly appreciate it . Well having done so I completely concur. Perhaps the iTunes format ( irrespective of other issues) is the first time this could be done. There is no flipping sides or changing discs which I think enhances the listening experience . When you do this you no longer think about how strong a particular side may be compared to another, you just see the whole thing as a seamless garment, in all its light and shade glory. Fantastic album. I was a bit unimpressed when I heard that JP was doing another remastering project but I was wrong it’s a winner.

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