Led Zeppelin
Physical Graffiti


5.0
classic

Review

by DesolationRow USER (80 Reviews)
September 7th, 2005 | 152 replies


Release Date: 1975 | Tracklist


"Led Zeppelin's mediocre was better than anyone else's best."
~ Jimmy Page


A rather audacious statement on Jimmy Page's part, I'd say, but to some extent, that statement is not false. Diversity is something that many rock and metal artists know little about. Many bands view it as a bold, intrepid move that could either propel their fame to new heights, or manifest their music as sloppy, uncoordinated without rhyme or reason. Needless to say, the reason that so much music is one dimensional and close-minded, is because the bands deathly fear the second outcome. Nobody wants to be a sellout, or even worse, not liked by people. Gasp. That would be preposterous. But Led Zeppelin really didn't give a shit whether their music looked satirical to people. They made music that they wanted to make, regardless of people's opinions on it. And that's the attitude that got them as far as they did, even if it is a tad aggressive. After their huge hit album Houses of the Holy sold big in both the United Kingdom and America, Led Zeppelin headed to Headley Grange, an old mansion in northern England whose mystique and haunting vibe made Led Zeppelin use Grange as their recording studio since their fourth album, the untitled epic whose eight songs boosted the band into stardom. And what they cooked up in Headley Grange with producer Ron Nevison (also of The Who's Quadrophenia) during the making of Physical Graffiti was far more diverse, juxtaposed, and different than any other {double} album any artist has ever made. Compared to the likes of the Beatles' white album and The Who's Quadrophenia, Physical Graffiti is a masterpiece of different genres, styles and playing techniques scooped up into one spontaneous combustion that would make any other rock band cry. It may be biased that this is my favorite album of all time, but as Zeppelin's best, it couldn't be closer to my heart. Thank god Jimmy Page and Robert Plant were demanding, because Physical Graffiti would've probably sacrificed a lot of material had they not been stressing.

You could say so many different varieties of music combined into a solitary idea would be substandard and poor quality in the hands of lesser talents, but in the hands of Plant, Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham, it became a magnum opus, Led Zeppelin's masterwork, and raw genius. Many of the songs on here came from Robert Plant and Jimmy Page's personal experiences, and trips. The entire first disc of Physical Graffiti is alone worth your money. And needless to say, the similarities between the songs are vaguely present, but their own personas and sounds are one of a kind. "Kashmir", being Jimmy Page's first song written for Physical Graffiti, was written about a trip he and Robert Plant took to Morocco, where the song's eerie, Arabian trance originated. The broodingly dark, psychedelic riff intertwined the guitar and Mellotron into a single wall of middle eastern-esque culture. Shabang! Bonham's powerful beat and Robert's trippy lyrics make the eight minute epic a Zep fan's wet dream.

From the album's opening hard rock blows on "Custard Pie", you can tell Physical Graffiti is unlike any other record. "Custard Pie" is a hard rock anthem, with a heavy guitar riff and in addition to a bouncy bassline, John Paul Jones provides a funky Clavinet part, whose offbeat timing accentuates the dancing rhythm. And its successor, "The Rover" is anything but weak. It may sound lame, but I hold it to be my favorite song. It adds a mystical supremacy over its antecedent, and more flavor. Page's raucous blues riff during the verses, and beautiful chord progression on the chorus, combined with Plant's lyrical mystique and Bonham's dirty drumming, it is easily the best song on the first disc. The juxtaposition of musical styles does not necessarily limit to Arabian, psychedelic, and rock music. In fact, if you could make a list that includes every aspect of every damn genre, in someway, one song on Physical Graffiti could correlate to something. The spicy delta blues and slide guitar of "In My Time of Dying", the bubbly James Brown-esque funk on "Trampled Underfoot", the dancing swing of "Houses of the Holy" and "Boogie with Stu" (which is actually a piece whose inspiration came from a jam with the Rolling Stones" keyboardist), and even the folk/country of "Down By the Seaside" and "Bron-Yr- Aur", there is no limitations for the members of Led Zeppelin, and they definitely show what they are capable of throughout the record.

The content of these songs, like their styles, may be completely different, but feed off each other, and Zeppelin makes each different genre or technique and molds it into their own. "Bron Yr Aur", Jimmy Page's folky tune, is unlike anything on the album, just because it's Page's only acoustic guitar solo work on the record. And it's not like it's simple, either. In fact, the solo is more complex than most other acoustic guitar work I've heard, and to say that Jimmy Page fingerpicked the solo makes it more intimidating. And the other country and folk inspired songs on here do not pale in comparison. "Down By the Seaside" is a sweet, southern belle which shows how much a pretty ditty can compete with heavier, beefier rock music. And "Black Country Woman" emphasizes the same exact thing. But what is even more appealing to most Zeppelin fans is how Zeppelin still manage to incorporate their hard rock sound into the album. They still fit in those furious, sleazy rockers in once in a while. "Wanton Song", "Sick Again", and "Night Flight" are all powerful hard rockers with a furious drum beat to them. And one song, in particular, is a rocker, but not heavy. In fact, "Ten Years Gone" it borrows its sound heavily from classical music and does it in the most climactic, beautiful way possible. Definitely one of Zeppelin's greatest songs.

Every member contributes their own unique pieces into every song on the album. For instance, John Paul Jones, who actually contributes more on keyboards rather than bass, is sometimes the member who carries the songs the most. Kashmir, Trampled Underfoot, and Custard Pie (coincidentally, all three are on clavinet and mellotron) owe their dues to John Paul Jones for their existence. Page undoubtedly always was the center of the band, and his guitar riffs and solos are orgasmic to the tenth degree. His playing is magnificent, as is his vocal counterpart, Plant. No one can touch the Plant. His voice soars throughout the entire album, and his lyrics further his mystique and charisma. And John Bonham's drumming is yet again powerhouse. With every song on here being what it is, it's really hard to call it contemptible. As much as I'd hate to admit it, however, there are some songs which I view as weak. Meh. "In The Light" is probably my least favorite song on the album, and the Elvis parody on "Boogie With Stu" could have been done with out. But I'm happy to say that most of the songs on Physical Graffiti are revolutionary and amazing pieces of music.

Physical Graffiti just might be the secret ingredient to Led Zeppelin's power. Whether it be funk, folk, rock, psychedelic, Arabian, country, swing, bop or any combination of them, Led Zeppelin weld and juxtapose lots of different influences and genres to make Physical Graffiti. Better yet, nothing on this double album sounds the slightest bit out of place or awkward. It's very hard to not like this album, and both discs are superior works of art. This was undoubtedly the band's tour de force, and even if some songs are superior to others, it is a force to be reckoned with.



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user ratings (2058)
Chart.
4.3
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
NEDM
September 7th 2005


1113 Comments


Great effing review Drew!

I have this but I've never listened to it in completion.

Rudd13
September 7th 2005


952 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well job.This Message Edited On 07.04.06

Jawaharal
September 7th 2005


1832 Comments


good review. Finally someone gave kasmir a good rating

DesolationRow
September 7th 2005


833 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Meh. I really worked hard on this. I thought it would get more feedback. :upset:



Rudd13
September 7th 2005


952 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Meh.This Message Edited On 07.04.06

masada
September 7th 2005


2733 Comments


I honestly didn't like the review very much. The track by tracks just seem to be unorganized and messy.

Rudd13
September 7th 2005


952 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well, shit.This Message Edited On 07.04.06

DesolationRow
September 7th 2005


833 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

:upset:

Was it just my track by track or all of them in general?

Iai
Emeritus
September 7th 2005


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Hah, this time, I agree with all of the ratings bar Kashmir.

Edit: Wait, it wasn't you who did Californication. :confused: Oh well. This Message Edited On 09.07.05

Rudd13
September 7th 2005


952 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

[quote=Iai]Wait, it wasn't you who did Californication. Oh well. [/quote]

.............................................Am I even getting noticed for my reviews??? :upset:

Killtacular
September 7th 2005


1314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Greatest Zeppelin album of the three I've heard.

Big Perm
September 7th 2005


10 Comments


this is my favourite album of all time period and just to start some controvery not only in my opinion but everyones opinion atleast it should be - if only it had the rain song, ah well.

Med57
Moderator
September 8th 2005


1001 Comments


I was going to review this today, although now I won't do. Good review, and I'd say this is Zeppelin's best album.

TheBurntOrange
September 10th 2005


24 Comments


disc 1 alone makes this zep's best album

Artemician
September 28th 2005


26 Comments


I must get this album sometime. I love Kashmir and am curious about Houses of the Holy and In My Time of Dying.

whitetrashcoldwar
October 16th 2005


18 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

great review, definately one of the finest albums available to buy...I personally love disc 2 but disc one is fantastic as well.

zabbit82
November 10th 2005


62 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Phys. Graf. is definatly thier best album. Custard Pie, Boogie With Stu, In The Light, and Sick Again are very underrated songs

Rudd13
November 10th 2005


952 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I dont think Sick Again is very underrated. In fact, it's one of the big highlights on the album for a lot of fans. But Boogie With Stu sure is, man, I gotta listen to the album now.

zabbit82
November 10th 2005


62 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yeah, Sick Again is one of my absolute favorites on the album. hell... maybe a fav in thier whole catalogue. i dont know many fans who consider it a highlight, or like it.

DesolationRow
November 11th 2005


833 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The Rover, Ten Years Gone, and In My Time of Dying are easily the best songs on the album.



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