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HOUSES OF THE HOLY
IN THROUGH THE DOOR
Rolling Stone described Led Zeppelin as "the heaviest band of all times". In the UK, they had 8 No1 albums, they sold 300 million records worldwide and were accepted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of fame in 1995. These legendary albums need no introduction, and now things just got better as they have all been remastered by Jimmy Page.
Physical Graffiti is the sixth studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin. It was released as a double album on 24 February 1975 by the group's new record label, Swan Song Records.
The band wrote and recorded eight new songs for the album in early 1974 at Headley Grange, a country house in Hampshire, which gave them ample time to improvise arrangements and experiment with recording. The total playing time covered just under three sides of an LP, so they decided to expand it into a double by including previously unreleased tracks from the sessions for the earlier albums Les Zeppelin III, Led Zeppelin IV, and Houses of the Holy. The album covered a range of styles including hard rock, progressive rock, rock 'n' roll, and folk. The album was then mixed over summer 1974 and planned for an end-of year release; however, its release was delayed because the Peter Corriston designed die-cut album cover proved difficult to manufacture.
Physical Graffiti is the sixth studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin. It was released as a double album on 24 February 1975 by the group's new record label, Swan Song Records.
The band wrote and recorded eight new songs for the album in early 1974 at Headley Grange, a country house in Hampshire, which gave them ample time to improvise arrangements and experiment with recording. The total playing time covered just under three sides of an LP, so they decided to expand it into a double by including previously unreleased tracks from the sessions for the earlier albums Led Zeppelin III, Led Zeppelin IV and Houses of the Holy. The album covered a range of styles including hard rock, progressive rock, rock 'n' roll and folk. The album was then mixed over summer 1974 and planned for an end-of year release; however, its release was delayed because the Peter Corriston-designed die-cut album cover proved difficult to manufacture.
Physical Graffiti was commercially and critically successful upon its release and debuted at number one on album charts in the UK and number three in the US. It was promoted by a successful US tour and a five-night residency at Earl's Court, London, and has since been viewed as one of the group's strongest albums and the artistic peak of their career. The album has been reissued on CD several times, including an expansive 40th anniversary edition in 2015. Physical Graffiti was later certified 16x platinum in the United States by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 2006, signifying shipments of over eight million copies.
The first attempt by Led Zeppelin to record songs for Physical Graffiti took place in November 1973 at Headley Grange in Hampshire, England, where they had previously recorded their untitled fourth album. The recording equipment consisted of Ronnie Lane's Mobile Studio. Guitarist and producer Jimmy Page and drummer John Bonham recorded an instrumental which was later reworked as "Kashmir" during this visit. However, these sessions came to a halt quickly and the studio time was turned over to Bad Company, who used it to record songs for their eponymous debut album. The press reported that bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones was ill and unable to record. However, he became disillusioned with the group and fed up with touring and told manager Peter Grant he was considering quitting. Grant asked him to reconsider and take the rest of the year off to recuperate.
The group reconvened at Headley Grange in January and February 1974, where they recorded eight tracks engineered by Ron Nevison. Lead singer Robert Plant later referred to these eight tracks as "the belters", including "off-the-wall stuff that turned out really nice". As with previous sessions at Headley Grange, the informal atmosphere allowed the group to improvise and develop material while recording. Sometimes the group would rehearse or record a track several times, discuss what went wrong or what could be improved and then realised they had worked out an alternative arrangement for it which was better. Bonham was a driving force at the sessions, regularly suggesting ideas or the best ways in which a complicated arrangement could be played successfully. This led to him getting a lead songwriting credit on several tracks.
The eight songs extended beyond the length of a conventional album, almost spanning three sides of an LP, so the group decided to create a double album, adding material they had recorded for previous albums but never issued. This included various jam sessions such as "Boogie With Stu", which Page thought would be unsuitable as a track on a single album. Additional overdubs were laid down, and the final mixing of the album was performed in July 1974 by Keith Harwood at Olympic Studios, London. The title "Physical Graffiti" was coined by Page to illustrate the whole physical and written energy that had gone into producing the set.
The album spanned several years of recording and covered a range of musical styles, including hard rock ("Custard Pie", "The Rover", "The Wanton Song", "Sick Again", "Houses of the Holy"), eastern-influenced orchestral rock ("Kashmir"), progressive rock ("In the Light"), driving funk ("Trampled Under Foot"), acoustic rock and roll ("Boogie with Stu", "Black Country Woman"), love ballad ("Ten Years Gone"), blues rock ("In My Time of Dying"), soft rock ("Down by the Seaside"), country rock romp ("Night Flight"), and acoustic guitar instrumental ("Bron-Yr-Aur").
Several tracks from the album became live staples at Led Zeppelin concerts. In particular, "In My Time of Dying", "Trampled Under Foot", "Kashmir", "Ten Years Gone", "Black Country Woman", and "Sick Again" became regular components of the band's live concert set lists following the release of the album.
"Custard Pie" was recorded at Headley Grange in early 1974. The first take was played at a faster tempo than the finished version, with various improvised vocals. After a basic run-through, the group then discussed possibilities for rearranging it. Page played the guitar solo through an ARP synthesiser, while Jones overdubbed a Hohner Clavinet part and Plant played harmonica.
"The Rover" was written in 1970 at Bron-Yr-Aur, a cottage near Machynlleth, Wales. It was first recorded at Headley Grange in May 1970 as an acoustic number for Led Zeppelin III. It was reworked as an electric number in 1972 for Houses of the Holy, which formed the basis for the backing track. Page subsequently added guitar overdubs in 1974 with Keith Harwood engineering.
"In My Time of Dying" is based on a traditional song that Bob Dylan recorded on his debut album in 1962. The track was recorded live, with Page later adding further slide guitar overdubs. The arranging and structuring was led by Bonham, who worked out where the various stop / start sections in the track should be, and how the group would know where to come back in. The very end of the song features his off-mic cough, causing the rest of the group to break down at that point. Bonham subsequently shouted, "That's got to be the one, hasn't it?", feeling it was the best take. It was left on the album to show fans that Led Zeppelin were a working band that took care in their recordings.
"Houses of the Holy" was recorded as the title track for the album of the same name in June 1972 at Electric Lady Studios with Eddie Kramer engineering. It was left off that album because of its similarity to other tracks such as "Dancing Days", which were felt to be better. Unlike some of the other older material on Physical Graffiti, it required no further overdubbing or remixing.
"Trampled Under Foot" developed from a jam session driven by Jones at the Clavinet. The song went through several arrangement changes before arriving at the version heard on the album, with the group rehearsing various different ideas and arguing about the overall style. Bonham decided the track was too "souly" and rearranged it into a funk style, suggesting that Page should play a guitar riff throughout in place of chords. The lyrics are a series of double entendres around driving and cars. The song quickly became a popular live piece that was played at every live show from 1975 onwards and was later revived by Plant for his solo tours. It was released as a single in the US on 2 April (with "Black Country Woman" as the B-side) and was a top 40 hit.
"Kashmir" was an idea from Page and Bonham and was first attempted as an instrumental demo in late 1973. Plant wrote the lyrics while on holiday in Morocco. Jones played Mellotron on the track and arranged strings and brass parts that were played by session musicians. The song was one of the most critically acclaimed on the album and was played at every gig from 1975 onwards. Page and Plant played it on their 1994 tour, and it was reworked in 1998 by Sean "Puffy" Combs for his single "Come With Me" which featured Page on guitar.
"In the Light" was recorded at Headley Grange in early 1974. It was initially called "In the Morning" and went through several rehearsals and takes to work out a basic structure. A drone / chant introduction was later added to the piece.
"Bron-Yr-Aur" was a solo acoustic piece by Page, named after the cottage where he had composed and arranged much of Led Zeppelin III with Plant. It was recorded at Island Studios in mid-1970. The track was later used as background music in the group's film The Song Remains the Same.
"Down by the Seaside" was originally written as an acoustic track at Bron-Yr-Aur in 1970 and was influenced by Neil Young. It was reworked as an electric track during sessions for the fourth album the following year. Page and Bonham led the arranging, changing tempo from the slow to fast section and then back again.
"Ten Years Gone" was mostly composed by Plant about an old love affair, and was combined with an instrumental piece from Page, featuring overdubbed electric and acoustic guitar parts. When the track was performed live, Jones played a triple-neck guitar featuring mandolin, six and twelve-string guitars, in order to try to reproduce the various guitar overdubs on the studio recording.
"Night Flight" was recorded at Headley Grange in 1971 for the fourth album. Jones plays Hammond organ on the track, and Page plays guitar through a Leslie speaker. Plant wrote the lyrics after reading a news headline entitled "Nuclear Damage Test Threat" and wondered why there seemed to be little peace and love in the world.
"The Wanton Song" was built around a Page guitar riff. Unlike some of the other tracks recorded at the 1974 Headley Grange sessions, it was straightforward to arrange, with the group building the song around the riffs.
"Boogie with Stu" was a jam session with Rolling Stones pianist Ian Stewart based around the Ritchie Valens song "Ooh My Head". It was recorded in 1971 at Headley Grange during the same session that produced "Rock and Roll" for the fourth album. It did not credit Valens or Bob Keane, instead crediting Valens' mother. Eventually, a lawsuit was filed by Keane, and half of the award went to Valens' mother, although she was not part of the suit.
"Black Country Woman" was recorded in the garden at Stargroves in 1972 for Houses of the Holy, as part of the group's desire to work in "off the wall" locations outside a traditional studio environment. The track was nearly abandoned when an aeroplane cruised overhead, but it was left on the final recording for effect.
"Sick Again" was written by Page and Plant about the 1973 tour and their experience with meeting groupies. The track was driven by Bonham's drumming and Page's guitar riffs. The arrangement had been worked out before recording and was straightforward to put down on tape.
As Physical Graffiti collected various out-takes from earlier albums, little was left over from the recording sessions that was not eventually released. An early arrangement of "Custard Pie", different from the final version, was reworked as "Hots on For Nowhere" on the following album, Presence. A number of other outtakes from earlier album sessions that had not been put on Physical Graffiti were later included on the 1982 album Coda.
The album was originally released with a die-cut sleeve design depicting a New York City tenement block, through whose windows various cultural icons could be interchangeably viewed. The album designer, Peter Corriston, was looking for a building that was symmetrical with interesting details, that was not obstructed by other objects and would fit the square album cover. He subsequently came up with the rest of the cover based on people moving in and out of the tenement, with various sleeves that could be placed under the main cover and filling the windows with various pieces of information. Incidentally, the same front doorway and stoop at 96 E. 8th Street/St. Marks Place is also the location used by The Rolling Stones for their music video promoting their single "Waiting On A Friend" from their 1981 album Tattoo You.
The two five-storey buildings photographed for the album cover are located at 96 and 98 St. Mark's Place in New York City. The original photograph underwent a number of tweaks to arrive at the final image. The fourth floor of the building had to be cropped out to fit the square album cover format.
Eschewing the usual gatefold design in favour of a special die-cut cover, the original album jacket included four covers made up of two inners (for each disc), a middle insert cover and an outer cover. The middle insert cover is white and details all the album track listings and recording information. The outer cover has die-cut windows on the building, so when the middle cover is wrapped around the inner covers and slid into the outer cover, the title of the album is shown on the front cover, spelling out the name "Physical Graffiti". Images in the windows touched upon a set of American icons and a range of Hollywood ephemera. Pictures of W. C. Fields and Buzz Aldrin alternated with the snapshots of Led Zeppelin. Photographs of Lee Harvey Oswald, Marcel Duchamp and Pope Leo XIII are also featured. Per the liner notes, package concept and design was by AGI/Mike Doud (London) and Peter Corriston (New York). Photography was by Elliott Erwitt, B. P. Fallon, and Roy Harper. "Tinting Extraordinaire:" Maurice Tate, and window illustration by Dave Heffernan. In 1976 the album was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of best album package.
Physical Graffiti was Led Zeppelin's first release on their own Swan Song Records label, which had been launched in May 1974. Until this point, all of Led Zeppelin's albums had been released on Atlantic Records, who would distribute Swan Song. The album was first announced to the press on 6 November with a planned release date of 29 November and an accompanying US tour (the band's tenth) starting in January. Delays in the production of the album's sleeve design prevented its release prior to the commencement of the tour. It was finally released on 24 February 1975.
The album was a commercial and critical success, having built up a huge advance order following the delayed release date, and when eventually issued it reached No. 1 in the UK charts. In the US, it debuted at No. 3 on Billboard's Pop Albums chart, rising to No. 1 the following week and staying there for six weeks. Physical Graffiti has since proven to be one of the most popular releases by the group, shipping 8 million copies in the United States. It was the first album to go platinum on advance orders alone. Shortly after its release, all previous Led Zeppelin albums simultaneously re-entered the top-200 album chart.
The group debuted several songs from Physical Graffiti live for the first time at a warm-up gig in Rotterdam, Netherlands on 11 January, a week before the US tour, which lasted until 27 March. The tour was also successful, and was followed up by a series of shows at Earl's Court, London. Tickets for the shows sold out within four hours, described by promoter Mel Bush as "unprecedented demand in the history of rock music", so a further two dates were added. The shows attracted rave reviews, and critics noted the band enjoyed playing the new material on Physical Graffiti more than the older songs.
NME's Nick Kent reviewed the album three months before it was released. He speculated it could be the group's best work to date, saying "the album's tonal density is absolutely the toughest, most downright brutal I've heard all year". In March 1975, Billboard magazine's reviewer wrote: "[Physical Graffiti] is a tour de force through a number of musical styles, from straight rock to blues to folky acoustic to orchestral sounds." Similarly, Jim Miller stated in Rolling Stone that the double album was "the band's Tommy, Beggar's Banquet and Sgt. Pepper rolled into one: Physical Graffiti is Led Zeppelin's bid for artistic respectability". Village Voice critic Robert Christgau was less impressed, writing that except for side two, the material often wanders into "wide tracks, misconceived opi, and so forth", and "after a while Robert Plant begins to grate".
In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked it at number 70 on the magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time." It was re-ranked at number 73 in a 2012 revised list and re-ranked at number 144 in 2020.
Plant later felt that Physical Graffiti represented the band at its creative peak and has since said that it is his favourite Led Zeppelin album. Page has also said the album was a "high-water mark" for the group, and the creative energy from jamming and gradually working out song structures together led to some strong material. Reviewing the album for BBC Music in 2007, Chris Jones described it as "a towering monument to the glory of Zeppelin in their high-flying heyday". ClassicRockHistory.com ranked Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti as the number one rock album release of 1975
HOUSES OF THE HOLY
Houses of the Holy is the fifth studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin. It was released on 28 March 1973 by Atlantic Records . The album benefited from two band members installing studios at home, which allowed them to develop more sophisticated songs and arrangements, and expand their musical style.
Presence is the seventh studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, released by Swan Song Records on 31 March 1976. It was written and recorded during a tumultuous time in the band's history, as singer Robert Plant was recuperating from serious injuries he had sustained in a recent car accident. The album received mixed reviews from critics and is also the slowest-selling studio album by the band, only managing to achieve triple-platinum certification in the United States. Nonetheless, guitarist Jimmy Page describes Presence as the band's "most important" album, proving they would continue despite their turmoil.
Presence is the seventh studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, released by Swan Song Records on 31 March 1976. While the record was a commercial success, reaching the top of both the British and American album charts, and achieving a triple-platinum certification in the United States, it received mixed reviews from critics and was the lowest-selling studio album by the band while they were still active.
The album was written and recorded in the last months of 1975, during a difficult time in the band's history. Singer Robert Plant was recuperating from serious injuries he had sustained earlier that year in a car accident; this led to tours being cancelled and the band booking studio time to record Presence instead. The entire album was completed in a few weeks, with guitarist and producer Jimmy Page putting in several long shifts to complete recording and mixing. The title came from the strong presence the group felt as they worked together. The LP's artwork from Hipgnosis featured several photographs centred round a mysterious black object, called "The Object".
Presence is dominated by compositions by Page and Plant, with only one track credited to the entire group; unlike other Zeppelin albums, it features no keyboards and little acoustic guitar. Because Plant was still recuperating, the band could not tour to capitalise on the release, and only two tracks, including the ten-minute opener "Achilles Last Stand", were performed live. However, the album has been re-appraised in retrospective reviews for its hard rock dynamics and simplicity compared to the group's other work.
After touring in support of their previous album, Physical Graffiti released in early 1975, Led Zeppelin took a brief break from touring that summer, intending to start a major US tour on 23 August. Critics had said they were at the height of their popularity at this time. However, singer Robert Plant sustained serious injuries from a car accident on the Greek island of Rhodes on 4 August, which forced the band to cancel the tour and reschedule their activities.
Because of their status as tax exiles, Plant was forced to recuperate abroad, initially in Jersey in the Channel Islands, then in Malibu, California, and wrote several sets of lyrics that reflected on his personal situation and wondering about the future. Guitarist Jimmy Page joined him in Malibu in September and the pair began to think about plans to make an album instead. The two prepared enough material to be able to present to the rest of the band. The other two members, drummer John Bonham and bassist John Paul Jones, joined them at Hollywood's SIR Studio where they rehearsed the material throughout October 1975.
Once they had worked out arrangements, the group were eager to record. Page favoured going to Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany, which he felt had state-of-the-art recording facilities. Plant was still recovering from the accident during recording and sang his vocals in a wheelchair, which led to Page assuming most of the responsibilities at the sessions. The album was recorded and mixed with long-time group associate and engineer Keith Harwood, and completed in just eighteen days, with the final mixes finished on 27 November. This was the fastest recording turnaround time achieved by the band since their debut album.
The rushed recording sessions were in part a result of Led Zeppelin having booked the studio immediately prior to the Rolling Stones, who were shortly to record songs for their album Black and Blue (released, like Presence, in the spring of 1976). Page negotiated with the Stones to borrow two days from their recording session time, during which he completed all the guitar overdubs in one lengthy session. Page and Harwood then worked on the mixes virtually non-stop until they fell asleep; whoever woke up first went back to the desk to carry on. Page later stated he worked around 18–20 hours every day during the sessions.
The recording sessions for Presence were also particularly challenging for Plant. The studio was in a basement of an old hotel, and the singer felt claustrophobic. He also experienced physical difficulties as a result of his car accident and missed his family. He later said he was upset about Page and manager Peter Grant booking the Presence sessions and began to re-evaluate the priorities in his life.
The album was completed on the day before Thanksgiving. Plant suggested to the record company the album should be called Thanksgiving. This idea was quickly dropped, in favour of a title that was thought would represent the powerful force and presence that the band members felt surrounded the group.
Six of the seven songs on the album are Page and Plant compositions; the remaining song, "Royal Orleans", is credited to all four band members. This is because the majority of the songs were formulated at Malibu, where Page (but not Bonham and Jones) had initially joined a recuperating Plant. With Plant at less than full fitness, Page took responsibility for the album's completion, and his playing dominates the album's tracks.
Both Page and Plant had planned this album's recording session as a return to hard rock, much like their debut album, except at a new level of complexity. It marked a change in the Led Zeppelin sound towards more straightforward, guitar-based jams. Whereas their previous albums up to and including the previous year's Physical Graffiti contain electric hard rock anthems balanced with acoustic ballads and intricate arrangements, Presence was seen to include more simplified riffs, and is Led Zeppelin's only studio album that features no keyboards, and with the exception of a rhythm track on "Candy Store Rock", no acoustic guitar. The changed stylistic emphasis on this album was a direct result of the troubled circumstances experienced by the band around the time of its recording. Page later said the music came from this spontaneity. Plant later described it as "a cry of survival" and speculated the group would not make another album like it.
The ten-minute opening song, "Achilles Last Stand", was first recorded on 12 November, when the basic backing track was laid down. Jones played an Alembic 8 string bass on the track, giving it a distinctive tone. Plant wrote the lyrics based on travelling across Africa in mid-1975 with Page. Page added six guitars in the marathon overdubbing session at the end of the recording period.
"For Your Life" was mostly arranged in the studio. Page played a Fender Stratocaster on the track, the first time he had used that guitar model for recording with the band. "Royal Orleans" was written about life on the road; the title refers to the Royal Orleans Hotel in New Orleans while the lyrics refer to soul singer Barry White. It was the only track on the album credited to the entire band.
"Nobody's Fault but Mine" was based around a stop / start riff from Page. Plant played harmonica on the song, and wrote the lyrics based on an old Blind Willie Johnson blues song called "It's Nobody's Fault but Mine", first recorded in 1928 and covered by Nina Simone in 1969. "Candy Store Rock" was inspired by 1950s rock 'n' roll. "Hots On For Nowhere" was written about Plant's time in Malibu, while Page played the Stratocaster on the track. The closing number, "Tea For One", was a slow blues written by Plant about the problems he faced being separated from his family, and was an attempt to update their earlier "Since I've Been Loving You" from Led Zeppelin III.
In contrast to earlier albums that contained several tracks that the band chose to play live at Led Zeppelin concerts, only two tracks from Presence were played in full on stage while the band was active. "Achilles Last Stand" and "Nobody's Fault but Mine" were added to the setlist for the 1977 tour of the United States and stayed on it through the band's final concerts in 1980. "Tea For One" was performed live on the Page and Plant tour of Japan in 1996, where the main group was backed by an orchestra. "For Your Life" was played in full by Led Zeppelin for the first (and only) time at the Ahmet Ertegün Tribute Concert on 10 December 2007.
The cover and inside sleeve, created by Hipgnosis with George Hardie, features images of people interacting with a black obelisk-shaped object. Inside the sleeve, the item is referred to simply as "The Object". It was intended to represent Zeppelin's "force and presence". Hipgnosis co-founder Storm Thorgerson wrote that the obelisk represented the power of Led Zeppelin, saying they were "so powerful, they didn't need to be there". Both Page and Plant have said that the presence of the object in the photographs made people stop and think about what is real, which reflected the music.
The background in the cover photograph is an artificial marina, installed in London's Earl's Court arena for the annual Boat Show, in the winter of 1974–75. The band played a series of concerts at this venue in May 1975, a few months after the boat show. The inner sleeve photographs came from various archive stock pictures and was designed to resemble a feature in National Geographic. The girl on the back cover photo is the same one that appeared on Houses of the Holy. Hipgnosis and Hardie were nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Album Package in 1977.
The album was released on 31 March 1976, having been delayed by the completion of the album sleeve. In Britain it attained one of the highest ever advance orders, shipping gold on the day of release. It entered at No. 2 and peaked the following week at No. 1 on the US Billboard Pop Albums chart. However, this album is the lowest selling of their careers as it was overshadowed by the release of the band's movie and soundtrack The Song Remains the Same. "Candy Store Rock" was released as a single in the US, but it failed to chart.
In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone, Stephen Davis said Presence established Led Zeppelin as the premier heavy metal act and featured some exceptional rock music, highlighting the "clean and purifying" guitar riffs. In spite of a few dull blues rock songs, the album was "another monster in what by now is a continuing tradition of battles won by this band of survivors", in Davis' opinion. Robert Christgau was less enthusiastic in The Village Voice, citing "Hots on for Nowhere" as a "commanding cut" while finding much of the rest consistent but unnecessary in comparison with earlier recordings.
Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph claimed it was "Zeppelin at their most blunted", awarding it two stars out of five. Pitchfork's Mark Richardson dubbed Presence as one of Zeppelin's worst albums, however, he added "none of these songs sound like they could have come from another record." In a retrospective review, a Q critic who gave the album three out of five stars wrote, "Presence sounds as rushed as it was."
According to Dave Lewis, "The direct, hard-hitting nature of the seven recordings failed to connect with a fan base more accustomed to the diversity and experimental edge of their previous work. Page later acknowledged that, because the album conveys a sense of urgency resulting from the troubled circumstances in which it was recorded, "it's not an easy album for a lot of people to access ... it's not an easy album for a lot of people to listen to." Lewis nonetheless believed that Presence was underrated, as its music "packs a considerable punch", highlighting Page's playing and the production on the album. Fellow journalist Mick Wall said it "pulled Led Zeppelin back from the brink of crisis"
IN THROUGH THE OUT DOOR
In Through the Out Door is the eighth and final studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin. It was recorded over a three-week period in November and December 1978 at ABBA's Polar Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, and released by Swan Song Records on 15 August 1979.
This is the final album released during the lifetime of drummer John Bonham, which was shortly followed by the dissolution of the band in 1980.
The release became a huge commercial success, particularly in the United States (sitting at the No. 1 slot on Billboard's chart in just its second week on the chart). In Through the Out Door was the band's eighth and final studio release to reach the top of the charts in America.
In Through the Out Door is the eighth and final studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin. It was recorded over a three-week period in November and December 1978 at ABBA's Polar Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, and released by Swan Song Records on 15 August 1979. This is the final album released prior to the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980, shortly after which the band decided to dissolve.
The album was a huge commercial success, particularly in the United States where it reached the No. 1 slot on Billboard's chart in just its second week on the chart, as well as hitting No. 1 in the UK, Canada and New Zealand, and the Top 10 or 15 in several other countries. In Through the Out Door was the band's final studio release to reach the top of the charts in America.
The album was named by the group to describe its recent struggles amidst the death of Robert Plant's son Karac in 1977, and the taxation exile the band took from the UK. The exile resulted in the band being unable to tour on British soil for over two years and trying to get back into the public mind was therefore like "trying to get in through the 'out' door".
The group began rehearsing material in September 1978, and after six weeks they were ready to record material. The group travelled to Polar Studios in Stockholm, Sweden to begin recording. In contrast to previous Led Zeppelin albums, In Through the Out Door features much greater influence on the part of bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones and vocalist Robert Plant, and relatively less from drummer John Bonham and guitarist Jimmy Page. This diminished input by Page and Bonham is attributed to the two band members often not showing up on time at the recording studio, with Bonham struggling with alcoholism and Page battling heroin addiction. Jones later said, "there were two distinct camps by then, and we [Plant and I] were in the relatively clean one." Many of the songs were consequently put together by Plant and Jones during the day, with Page and Bonham adding their parts late at night. Jones had also been inspired to create new material after purchasing a Yamaha GX-1 synthesizer prior to the album's recording, and he was "working closely with Robert, which was something that had not happened before"
Following the recording sessions at Polar, the album was mixed at Page's personal studio at his home in Plumpton. "Wearing and Tearing", "Ozone Baby" and "Darlene" were recorded during sessions for this album, but were dropped because of space constraints. All later appeared on Coda.
The music on In Through the Out Door is dominated by Jones. Two songs from the album—"South Bound Saurez" and "All My Love"—were the only two original Led Zeppelin songs that Page had no part in writing. Aside from "Darlene", a boogie-woogie based song credited to all band members (which was eventually released on the 1982 album, Coda), Bonham did not receive writing credits for any of the songs.
"In the Evening" was planned as the opening track for the album as "a full-blown epic", in order to show that Led Zeppelin could still make good music. In an interview, Page explained that he used a violin bow and a Gizmotron effect on his guitar to create the droning sound in the opening section of the song. The track features a contrast between the powerful riffs in the main part of the track, against a relatively quiet middle section.
"South Bound Saurez" is a straightforward rocker. Jones played piano on the track. Credited to Jones and Robert Plant, it is one of only three officially-released original songs by the band not to bear a Jimmy Page composition credit (along with this album's All My Love, also credited to Jones and Plant, and Bonzo's Montreux from Coda, whose composition is credited only to John Bonham).
"Fool in the Rain" was an attempt to combine a samba rhythm with a basic rock tune, resulting in a polyrhythm part way through the song. The idea was inspired by Plant explaining that the group must explore new musical territory in order to remain current.
"Hot Dog" is a rockabilly inspired track, that came out of initial rehearsals, where the group warmed up by playing a series of old Elvis Presley and Ricky Nelson covers.
"Carouselambra" is a ten-minute track, dominated by Jones' keyboards and covering a variety of musical styles. Page played his Gibson EDS-1275 double neck guitar, which was normally only used for live performances. The group had intended to play the song live for the planned 1980 US tour, which was cancelled after Bonham's death.
"All My Love" is a love song composed by Plant and Jones when they were the first to arrive at the studio. Jones played a classically inspired synthesizer solo in the middle of the track.
"I'm Gonna Crawl" is a relaxed blues track. Plant arranged the track to be in the style of mid-1960s soul music such as Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. Jones contributed a string synthesizer arrangement.
The original album featured an unusual gimmick: the album had an outer sleeve which was made to look like a plain brown paper bag (reminiscent of similarly packaged bootleg album sleeves with the title rubber-stamped on it), and the inner sleeve featured black and white line artwork which, if washed with water, would become permanently fully coloured. There were also six different sleeves featuring a different pair of photos (one on each side), and the external brown paper sleeve meant that it was impossible for record buyers to tell which sleeve they were getting. The pictures all depicted the same scene in a bar (in which a man burns a Dear John letter), and each photo was taken from the separate point of view of someone who appeared in the other photos. The walls are covered with thousands of yellowed business cards and dollar bills. The photo session in a London studio was meant to look like a re-creation of the Old Absinthe House, in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The album artwork was designed by Hipgnosis' Storm Thorgerson. In 1980, Hipgnosis was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Album Package for In Through the Out Door.
The album was intended to be released before the band's twin concerts at Knebworth in 1979, but production delays meant that it was released shortly after their performances at this event, on 15 August 1979. Plant jokingly referred to the delays at times during the performance on 4 August 1979.
The album went to No. 1 on Billboard's chart in its second week on the chart, reportedly selling 1.7 million copies within days of release. On this album's release, Led Zeppelin's entire catalogue made the Billboard 200 between the weeks of 23 October and 3 November 1979, an unprecedented feat, topping their own record in 1975, when all their albums up to Physical Graffiti were on the chart. The album remained on the US top spot for seven weeks and sold three million copies by the end of September 1979. It was credited with helping to revive the US record industry, which had begun to struggle. In January 1980, "Fool in the Rain" was released as a single to further promote the album, but it narrowly missed the top 20 of the singles chart.
In Through the Out Door is the Led Zeppelin album that has spent the most weeks on the top of the charts (tied with Led Zeppelin II). To date, the album has sold six million copies in the US.
In Through the Out Door divided contemporary critics and Led Zeppelin fans; some found its synthesizer-influenced music inevitable but forward-thinking while others felt the band had forsaken their heavy, fast sound. According to Jimmy Page biographer Martin Power, "predictably, in the wake of punk, In Through the Out Door received a rough ride from some critics, with Zep's veteran status in the music business now used as a stick with which to beat them."
Reviewing the album in Rolling Stone, Charles M. Young said Page's diminishing creativity resulted in little good material to work with for Plant, whose lyrics Young found inane, and Bonham, whose drumming was viewed as heavy handed. This brought to the forefront the keyboard playing of Jones, who Young said "functions best behind Page, not in front of him". Chris Bohn from Melody Maker said "the impressionable first play" of the record "had everyone in the office rolling around laughing", while accusing the band of being "totally out of touch" and "displaying the first intimations of mortality". By contrast, NME journalist Nick Kent argued that the album was "no epitaph", believing its "potential points of departure" deserved further listening. Robert Christgau also wrote positively of the record in The Village Voice, observing the usual "lax in the lyrics department", but regarding the album as the group's best since Houses of the Holy (1973). He said, "the tuneful synthesizer pomp on side two confirms my long-held belief that this is a real good art-rock band", while "the lollapalooza hooks on the first side confirms the world's long-held belief that this is a real good hard rock band". At the end of the year, In Through the Out Door was nominated for the 1980 American Music Awards, in the category of "Favorite Pop/Rock Album".
Following the album's release, Plant, Page and Bonham all expressed reservations about the record. Plant later said that he enjoyed the variation in styles from previous albums, though he appreciated the album was "a bit sanitised". Page said in 2004, "we wanted, after In Through the Out Door, to make something hard-hitting and riff-based again. Of course, we never got to make that album." He is also quoted as saying, "It wasn't the most comfortable album. I think it was very transitional ... a springboard for what could have been." In Through the Out Door was Led Zeppelin's final album to be released while all the original members were still living. Drummer John Bonham died the next year on 25 September 1980.
In The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), Gaylord Fields said the album was "maligned upon its release a retreat from heaviness" but "now stands as an art-rock oddity with some alluring tangents". Colin Larkin appraised it in his Encyclopedia of Popular Music (2006) as "lacking the definition" of the band's previous records, yet "a strong collection on which John Paul Jones emerged as the unifying factor". Neil McCormick, however, reinforced past complaints about the album, ranking it as the band's worst album in a 2014 retrospective on the band in The Daily Telegraph: "Muddy production, perky synths, jaunty pop rhythms and an orchestral ballad make these songs barely recognisable as the heaviest band in history."
A remastered version of In Through the Out Door, along with Presence and Coda were reissued on 31 July 2015. The reissue comes in six formats: a standard CD edition, a deluxe two-CD edition, a standard LP version, a deluxe two-LP version, a super deluxe two-CD plus two-LP version with a hardback book, and as high resolution 24-bit/96k digital downloads. The deluxe and super deluxe editions feature bonus material containing alternative takes and alternatively titled tracks, "Southbound Piano", "The Epic", "The Hook", and "Blot". The reissue was released with a black and white version of the original album's artwork as its bonus disc's cover. A replica of the brown bag and the colourable line drawing are included in this edition.
The reissue was met with generally positive reviews. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 73, based on eight reviews. Q magazine said, "it's aged remarkably well and 'All My Love' is breathtakingly beautiful", while Tim Batcup from Classic Rock observed in the bonus material "a scruffier, rambunctious 'Hot Dog' and a sparser 'In the Evening', the drone intro truncated and Jones's synths high in the mix". PopMatters reviewer Andrew Doscas was more critical, especially of the bonus disc: "While In Through the Out Door does have some merit, it's cruel of Led Zeppelin to think that anyone, even a dedicated fan, could muster the strength to listen to the album twice in a row."