Rock Review: Led Zeppelin-Physical Graffiti Deluxe Remaster

Release Date: February 24, 2015
Label: Atlantic Catalog Group

Led Zeppelin is arguably the greatest hard rock group of all-time. It is hard to downplay their influence on the rock and metal genres over the last five decades. Robert Plant (vocals), Jimmy Page (guitars), John Paul Jones (bass, piano), and John Bonham (drums) came together in 1968 and the music world has not been the same since. I once heard someone say that they “don’t trust someone who doesn’t like Led Zeppelin” and I found myself nodding in agreement. 

Their legacy is unbreakable and will most likely continue to grow as time goes on. Their mark can be heard all over pop culture. I could list probably a dozen or so recognizable songs and still not get to their third album. It is just the type of iconic music that legends are made of. Physical Graffiti is the band’s sixth album of their nine and their only double album. Released forty years ago, it still sounds just as amazing today as it did when it first came out.

Not only does Physical Graffiti sound fantastic, but it is also musically creative and diverse by featuring hard rock, progressive, acoustic, country, funk, and blues styles. “Custard Pie” is a sizzling hard rock song that really knows how to groove. From the meaty riffs and precise drumming to Plant’s signature soulful vocals, this is one energetic song that leaves a lasting impression. If you are in need of some satisfying music, then “Custard Pie” is just what you need. Staying in the hard rock style, “The Rover” has a slower and heavier feel with a unique riff that makes it memorable.

A blues rock version of the Blind Willie Johnson gospel blues song, “In My Time of Dying” is Zeppelin’s longest studio song and is near dull or wears out its welcome. It really gets jumping about four minutes in when the drums and guitar go wild after a slow build-up. It is that type of song where they are just jamming and clearly enjoying themselves. Once “Houses of the Holy” is heard, it is never unheard. I think that it is one of the most distinctive sounding of all of Led Zeppelin’s songs. The guitar riff is infectious, the bass is gorgeous, and the vocals are just so smooth. One of the definitive songs about giving into temptation, “Trampled Under Foot” is one funky rock jam that is hard not to groove to. 

“Kashmir” is without a doubt one of Led Zeppelin’s most iconic and recognizable songs. Its sound, inspired by Indian and Middle Eastern musical styles, is as majestic and as vast as the desert landscape that Plant is singing about with one of the most easily familiar opening riffs in rock. There is an undeniable power and beauty that elevates this song into one of their all-time greats.

The second part of this double album is more musically diverse with progressive, country, and acoustic rock styles making appearances. Veering into progressive rock territory, “In the Light” captivates with Jones’s mesmerizing synthesizer opening, backed by Page getting creative with a violin bow on the guitar. A truly beautiful sounding acoustic song, “Bron-Yr-Aur” is a pleasant and relaxing short instrumental. In a country rock style, “Down by the Seaside” is a dynamic song that keeps the listener on their toes by alternating between soft and hard rock sections, keeping things interesting.

For the most part, “Ten Years Gone” is a pretty mellow song, even when the drums kick in. The guitar really sets the somber tone for this song about a past love. Light and springy from the very beginning, “Night Flight” is nice and compact rock song and “The Wanton Song” dazzles with its forceful and hypnotic riff and funky sound. One of things that just happened, “Boogie with Stu” is rock and roll jam session with their road manager, Ian Stewart, pitching in on piano. It is has a laidback and plucky sound thanks to the acoustic guitar. Another acoustic song, “Black Country Woman” has the distinction of being the only song on the album that was recorded outside with an airplane flying overhead able to be heard at the beginning. The drums are crisp and the vocals are playful. “Sick Again” is a searing hard rock song with Plant’s sultry vocals out in full force and Bonham’s heavy drumming leading the charge. It is brilliant way to end the album.

This deluxe edition also features a third album that contains rough and early versions of some of the songs from Physical Graffiti. “Brandy & Coke” is a rough version of “Trampled Under Foot.” There is an earlier, shorter, and lyric less version of “Sick Again” and rough mixes of “In My Time of Dying” and “Houses of the Holy.”  “Everybody Makes It Through” is an early version of “In the Light” with different lyrics and structure. There is also an alternative mix of “Boogie with Stu” and the rough mix of “Kashmir,” “Driving Through Kashmir.” It is a nice addition, overall. It is interesting to hear some of the songs in the early stages and be able to witness the creative process by comparing them with the final version, and it just goes to show that even the best need more than one take.

Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti (Deluxe CD Edition) is absolutely phenomenal. It is one of the best double albums of all-time and longtime fans should go out and get their hands on it. For people new to Zeppelin, it also makes for a great introduction to their music because of the diverse sounds that are present on the album. I think that Physical Graffiti gets a tad over shadowed by their early releases and should get more recognition for its brilliance from a wider audience. This album makes for a great introduction to their work, because the music’s timeless quality. Physical Graffiti was great decades ago, it is still great today, and will still be great decades on. 

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Custard Pie, Houses of the Holy, Kashmir, In the Light, Bron-Yr-Aur, Sick Again

Disc 1:

1.Custard Pie
2.The Rover
3.In My Time of Dying
4.Houses of the Holy
5.Trampled Under Foot

Disc 2:

 1.In the Light
3.Down by the Seaside
4.Ten Years Gone
5.Night Flight
6.The Wanton Song
7.Boogie With Stu
8.Black Country Woman
9.Sick Again

Disc 3:

1.Brandy & Coke
2.Sick Again
3.In My Time of Dying
4.Houses of the Holy
5.Everybody Makes It Through
6.Boogie with Stu
7.Driving Through Kashmir

Brian McKinnon - Write A Music Review Sr. Staff
April 10, 2015
Review Provided By Write A Music Review

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