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PHYSICAL GRAFFITI WEEK ON TBL /MORE FEEDBACK/TBL 75 SNAPSHOT RETRO REVIEW/ DL DIARY UPDATE

25 February 2015 1,717 views 4 Comments

feb 25 two

Physical Graffiti Covers City! New Led Zeppelin album released!

Physical Graffiti Week on TBL:

Initial Feedback: By Jack Porter

Led Zeppelin 40th Anniversary DELUXE EDITION vinyl PART TWO. AUDIO
Part two of my review of the 2015 Physical Graffiti Deluxe Vinyl reissue.

I decided with this review not to go through the whole original album because I think we all know what went down on tape there. (not that it ceases to amaze!). However after playing the album through whole I’ll be talking about various parts of the original record in order to give points of reference to make comments on the audio improvement on this pressing. I also this morning listened to “The Companion disc” however with that I am going to go through the whole thing, give a track by track guide to that and the notes of audio differences and similarities. So without further ado here comes the review. Rhyme not intended there ladys and gents!

To start off with here I think I’ll talk about the audio difference between this and the previous pressings. When I first played Side One of this great record I instantly noticed a general impovement in the clarity of the instruments being played. I know many astute vinyl listeners have been concerned by the procedure of digitally remastering rather than from the original analogue tapes. Let me explain two things here. I think this along with the sometimes unrealistic expectations of Companion Audio needs to be adressed. I have the original 1975 pressing UK pressing of Physical Graffiti. I have loved it and have played it for many years and will probably continue to play it along with this new reissue. I love the analogue sound and know what the ins and outs of digital vs analogue are. But I think we all need to realize it’s 2015. Things have moved on. The sheer objective of the remastering process is not to preserve a totally analogue sound, it is to improve the overall sound of these records to the best of what can be achieved in 2015. To use all opportunities available in order to get the best sound. Like it or not (and I sometimes dont), digitally remastering is the best way to achieve that at this point in time.

If the original producer of this great record Jimmy Page feels that’s the way to go, I think we all should trust him here. Another point to add is that some hifi sound sytems are becoming clearer and more modernised themselves these days. I’ve heard original pressings sound considerably further away from the analogue sound they had from they were first played. Would we criticize that situation too? Proabably not as much. Another point I think we need to bring up here is that the situation of Led Zeppelin on mp3. That includes mp3s coming out of bass heavy speakers which is in some cases not all, depending on your sound system, is fairly comparable to vinyl listening (therefore further justifying the remastering) depending on your sound system, is that the music has become very processed and over compressed. Things are missing. Overdubs are not heard well. The bass is almost non existent at times. Again with these remasters the objective to improve the overall audio quality can not be stressed enough here. Page has mentioned this many times in the last 10 months and rightfully so.

The evidence on whether digital remastering is worthy to be a suitable way to do this is immediately proved on the first track Custard Pie. It is clear that Page and Davis have utilized the digital technological opportunities and advances of the last 4 years here enough to improve the audio but not, (as often feared) ,disperse the space and room of a certain track meaning key elements are preserved and often improved. The audio is clearer but as is sometimes the case with digitalization, the bass has not been drowned out too much. It is alive and kicking (along with Bonham’s bass drum). Guitar overdubs are much clearer, The Rover is an example of this. It was a new listening expeirience for sure. Also Ten Years Gone is another example of that here. The overdubs along with the all important guitar solos are clearer than I’ve ever heard them before. The bass is not drowned out however, it is nicely spaced out and hard hitting. Sharper and even more harder hitting than before. This goes for all of the tracks, a fresh listening expeirience.

Robert’s voice is a lot clearer on this pressing too. You can hear the space and power of his voice fairly more on this vinyl record than you did on the previous pressings. His voice is a little more prominent at times on this pressing. Also to note on this pressing I have noticed things I haven’t heard before.The ending of the tracks are also more prominent on this, I hear the fading out of the instruments for a longer amount of time. It adds further joy to the overall listening expeirience. I always think the ending of a track is an important part of the listen, something I learnt to my distaste recently comparing a youtube mp3 file of Achilles Last Stand when it cut out early. Bonham’s drumming, at times the most important part of a Led Zeppelin composition in my opinion, is clearer and again I hear things a lot clearer and even things I don’t think I’d heard before. A lot more high hat at times on some numbers, In My Time of Dying is an example of this. The hi hat is a lot clearer at the times when it is used heavily.

The bass drum is clearer but hasn’t lost its booming resonance which it is renowned for.
Overall the clarity of the audio and important features of the tracks such as Bass and guitar overdubs are improved past the case of some 80s pressings and most definetly speaker lead mp3s, let alone from headphones or phone speakers. Overall I have enjoyed the overall improvement on the listening expeirience of the these pressings and would like to congratulate and thanks Jimmy Page and John Davis for doing a cracking job. Thanks fellas!

Now onto that all important companion disc.

feb 24 six

First up on Side One of the companion disc is the comically and well titled “Brandy and Coke (Trampled Under Foot ) (Initial Rough mix). Hearing this mix is probably a more raw listening expeirience than the final mix. Robert’s voice is double tracked here, his voice is fantastic here. The clavinet and bass probably lead the way here more than the guitar. The guitar overdubs are less common in this version and less prominent when they appear. It all fits together very well and is a real treat to listen to here and it was very interesting hearing this great layered and detailed composition stripped down further to its backbone with less production.

Sick Again (Early Version) is a great insight into the embryonic stages of one my favourite Led Zeppelin songs. I could be as bold as suspecting Sick Again may evolved from The Rover given the similarities of this version’s intro and the way it was officially credited as an intro for Sick Again later during the 1977 North American Tour. Whatever the case is this is a really interesting piece. There are a few overdubs and a phasered guitar giving it a distinctly different and more raw feel than the studio version, closer to is live performances that were to follow later on. All to note the phasered guitar gives another similarity to parts of The Rover. The drumming is different on certain parts and matches that which we heard on the rehearsal bootleg tapes. It fades away with Page’s power chord sequence and Bonham’s exemplary drumming and Page’s impressive bass lines, (yes Page played bass on this track). As Dave Lewis often says, this is what the words Tight But Loose stand for!

In My Time of Dying (Initial rough Mix) begins with a cleaner intro and Rob’s voice is a little clearer on this. Much of the guitar work and Robert’s voice is clearer on this generally. Robert’s voice is double tracked on here too also to note at times. John Paul Jones’ bass seems higher in this mix too and sits comfortably behind a crisper slide guitar line. When Bonham speeds the thing up Robert’s voice is very much clearer than on the the final mix. You can hear even more on this mix a real essence of the room this was recorded in. You can really hear the live performance. Spectacular stuff. I know some more reverb on ” I only wanna have some fun” and “Oh my jesus”. Robert’s voice gets clearer towards the end too as noted by other people. It ends with the final chord and doesn’t show Bonhams’s famous verbal exchange with engineer at the end. Page later said this was because it was companion audio. Overall this much more space and reverb on this mix yet with Page’s guitar and Robert’s voice being a lot clearer. I prefer it personally.

Houses of the Holy (Rough Mix With Overdubs) is one of the most interesting listens of this companion audio segment of Physical Graffiti. First up the opening guitar chords are produced with much less compression giving as if often the case with the companion audio situation so far, a much more raw and a different take of this great flower power, dreamy yet stomping tune. Robert’s voice is double tracked in this mix more than it is in the final, an example of this is 2:47. The parts where he sings “ooo ooo” are higher in the mix too I notice and a tambourine is very prominent giving it a noticeably different feel and overall sound. Also to note Page’s solo towards the end as it fades out has not been added yet at this point. Another initial thought of mine is that when the final mix was made, I think they thought this track would work better with a more stripped down and harder concept to it in order for it to be driven by its hard bass line and surging, sharp guitar. Overall this is a great alternative insight into a well loved anthem of early 70s flower power.

Everybody Makes It Though (In The Light Early Version/In Transit) is the complete version found on the 90s bootlegs of Physical Graffiti. Distincly different arrangement from the original and John Paul Jones’ harpsichord keyboard sequence opening up. This later replaced by softer drone links. Robert brings in different lyrics here such as “Sunshine brings laughter”. In this mix you can really here the feel of Headley Grange in the drumming. Very spacious and roomy, a real listening treat. Some aspects of this made it onto the final version too. I’d heard this great version before but not all too long ago actually despite being a fan for years. Maybe I’d heard it before but I don’t remember. It’s to hear it sounding a lot clearer than the 90s bootleg. A real fascinating insight into a much over looked Zeppelin masterpiece. Great stuff.

Boogie With Stu (Sunset Sound Mix) is again an interesting little peak into this number. The mandolin is more proinent in this mix where as the piano and Robert’s voice sits further back here. It fades out with no laugh as on the original.

Driving Through Kashmir (Kashmir Rouch Orchestra Mix) is a different look at Zeppelin’s eastern anthem Kashmir, The guitar and strings are more prominent here. At times it sounds clearer and bigger than the original and the closing orchestral overdubs are genrally clearer. A true demonstration of Kashmir’s power as one of the most definitive progressive rock anthems ever to have been put to tape.

My overall summary of this companion disc is it gives us a fresher and differently angled outlook on Zeppelin’s most definitive album. Some real gems to be celebrated here. To coincide with the release of Physical Graffiti I think it’s important for us to also take note and celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1975 shows, my favourite tour and a collection of some of the best shows band ever gave. Really looking forward to and already celebrating those great events.

I will be attending the Boot Led Zeppelin Earls Court 40th Anniversary show in on May 9 and also will be looking ever ahead to the next batch in June. Savour it all people. From today until June is a very good and exciting time period. A very special time to be a Led Zeppelin fan.

 Jack Porter via Facebook

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 One from long time TBL supporter and well known Leicester musician in his own right Kevin Hewick:

There is one track which for me encapsulates everything that is ‘Zeppelin’. It’s one of their less celebrated songs and ironically never even got a full live performance – yet it captures so much of their unique qualities. It feels like countless bands since them have tried to get the ‘Tight But Loose’ feel of ‘The Rover’ but nobody can get that elusive groove. Pages riff is downright filthy, his solo a phenomenal statement, weaving scales only he could think of, as sonically sure footed as a mountain goat. Plant is not the high pitched wailer of earlier albums, here he is the ‘man of the world’ who has lived and seen it all, asking us to “just join hands” across the globe. The new 2015 master version gives clarity to the nimble but understated bass of John Paul Jones, he is so often the power behind the glory. All this rests in the mighty arms of John Bonham,in this remastered take you can feel the workings of his very bones and his flexing of rhythmic muscle, the drum hardware yielding to it’s master. I felt like I was having an out of body experience, this stumbling, lumbering, funky 16 limbed thing called ‘The Rover’ feels like a mystical gateway to the whole Zeppelin myth.

Kevin Hewick

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Physical Graffiti Week on TBL: TBL ’75 Snapshot Retro Review 2:

Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti

John Tobler, ZigZag magazine March 1975.

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 via rocksbackpages.com

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DL Diary Update:

feb 25 early

The excitement of the past few days has caught up somewhat as I’m coughing and spluttering a bit with a cold (cue Bonzo’s cough…that’s gotta be the one hasn’t it!) as is the good lady Janet. After catching up yesterday, I am building up to a dedicated listen to the contents of the vinyl and CD reissue of Physical Graffiti over the next couple of days. As can be seen black coffee was required early this morning to get me wide awake for a grand unveiling…

To be continued…

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Until next time…

Keep listening, keep reading…

Dave Lewis/Gary Foy –  February 25, 2015 

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4 Comments »

  • Greg Frazho said:

    Physical Graffiti is the masterpiece of Led Zeppelin, and that’s pretty heady verbiage considering the rest of their catalogue.

    So far, the most intriguing outtake of PG (Remastered) is Everybody Makes It Through, the early version of In The Light, a very underrated tune to say the least. It’s very interesting hearing the gestation of this song and it’s riff is much like a haunted lullaby.

    You can hear the brilliance of the tune, even in this state, especially the cymbal crashes and fills by John Henry Bonham. What a great listening experience!

    Now the countdown commences to Presence Remastered!

    Bravo, lads!

  • Ed Bliss said:

    I’d just like to say how much I completely agree with Kevin Hewick’s comments regarding The Rover. The song is made all the more special due to the fact that it was never performed live and the only studio outtake is that frustratingly short acoustic fragment. And why didn’t Page and Plant dust it off back in the 90s?

  • paul aspey said:

    Just heard on the radio 2 news at 4pm that graffiti is the number one album in the UK as far as the midweek charts are concerned,, WE CAN’T ALL BE WRONG CAN WE??
    GET IN

  • andrew r said:

    nice, well thought out and articulate review from Jack Porter.Thanks.
    Some comment on the Superdeluxe packaging and differences therein
    would be welcome.Anybody?

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