In case you missed it, here's my take on Led Zeppelin I, Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin III, Led Zeppelin IV, and Houses of the Holy.
It's time for a little Physical Graffiti. A collection of songs from years of recording, this features some of the most diverse tracks from the band.
1. "Custard Pie"--From the opening riff, we know we're dealing with a grittier, white trashier feeling album. Everything from the distorted guitars, to the harmonica, to the prominent drum beat contribute to this sex metaphor of a song. Not a favorite, but indicative of the rest of the album.
2. "The Rover"--This song reminds me of ZZ Top and the tacky sexuality that goes with it. Except Led Zeppelin isn't two creepy bearded guys*. The drum beat is insane and the guitar riff is slide-y (go with it). Again, not my favorite style, but kind of fun.
3. "In My Time of Dying"--Much like "When the Levee Breaks," this song blends old-school blues with modern rock. Page works the slide guitar and John Bonham shines on the drums yet again. I think I have a percussion-crush on this guy. The only downside to this song is that it's over 11 minutes long. I only have the patience for the whole song if I'm doing something active.
4. "Houses of the Holy"--Originally intended for the album of the same name, this song fits in better with the hard rock blues of this album. It almost sounds like they're performing live thanks to the simple and straightforward mix with the exception of Page's solos at the beginning and end.
5. "Trampled Under Foot"--John Paul Jones rocks the clavinet with a funky rhythm he attributed to Stevie Wonder. Bonham also contributes to the crazy and infectious rhythm, making this a fun song to walk around to**.
6. "Kashmir"--Positively epic: a Jimmy Page guitar riff, simple and hard drums from John Bonham, keyboard from John Paul Jones, real strings and horns, middle eastern instruments, and soaring vocals from Robert Plant mix together for a gorgeous mix of musical genres. Just gorgeous.
1. "In the Light"--John Paul Jones' mad synth skills are on deep display in the first section of the song. While I still prefer more "natural" instruments, the synthesizer works here. The second section features an orchestral riff from Page and loud drums from Bonham gives it a large sound. The third section features an almost harpsichord sounding synthesizer and simple guitar line that counters the synth. The three sections repeat again for a lengthy, but satisfying rock song. Did I mention there's some sweet guitar with a violin bow action?
2. "Bron-Yr-Aur"--By far, one of the mellowest Zeppelin songs, it's acoustically gorgeous.
3. "Down by the Seaside"--Obviously inspired by Neil Young, it's a fairly mellow, electric rock song. The tone of the song goes from driving in the car to accusatory rock (go with it). Also, Jones plays some lovely electric piano.
4. "Ten Years Gone"--This is song with lyrics dedicated to a girl Robert Plant once loved. It sounds nostalgic, layered with guitar harmonies. The switch from acoustic to electric guitar feels like the difference between simply remembering and reliving an experience. The song then goes into an "accusatory rock" section with Plant pointedly talking to the audience (that girl?). I instantly fell in love with this song: soft with an edge.
5. "Night Flight"--Also sounds a little nostalgic with an interlude that sounds similar to one in The Who's "Baba O'Reilly." But it's also simply a rocking tune. We have Jones at the organ, and Robert Plant owning the song with his performance.
6. "The Wanton Song"--Featuring an aggressive riff from Page reminiscent of "Immigrant Song" and strained Plant vocals in the verses, this sounds more like an earlier Zeppelin song, although recorded for this album. I absolutely love the smooth, funky, organlicious bridge.
7. "Boogie with Stu"--This song is jam inspired by Ritchie Valen's "Ooh, my Head" and you can tell. It's a fun throwback to 1950s rhythm and blues with fun clap-sounding precussion, rollicking (!?) piano, and simple guitar solos.
8. "Black Country Woman"--An acoustic but drum heavy song like "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp," it has just heavy to keep me interested. It's an interesting mix of folk sound and typical blues chord progression. And really, the lyrics are a laugh.
9. "Sick Again"--This feels like the beginning of the album again. With more slide guitar from page and ridiculous drum rhythm from Jones, it's a funny and kind of trashy sound.
Overall assessment: This is an album that grew on me. The more I listen, the more I hear how each member of the band contributed and the intricacies of the music. It's diverse, epic, and comfortable to listen to.
*This is an example of when beards fail.
**Might just be me.