Records That Made History

Led Zeppelin – Presence

todayFebruary 24, 2024 12

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Presence is the seventh studio album by Led Zeppelin, released in March 1976 on the Swan Song label.

On August 5, 1975, Robert Plant was involved in a serious car accident on the island of Rhodes, leaving him with an ankle problem and unable to tour. This led the band to begin recording their next album, with most of the songs being written in Malibu, California by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. The band previewed the new tracks at “SIR Studio”, to be followed by their recording a month later, at “Musicland Studios” in Munich.

The new album was recorded in 18 days, with the band aiming for a strong return to the hard rock elements that characterize their first records, with a greater degree of complexity this time. Characteristic of this is that this is the band’s only album to not feature an acoustic track, with keyboards only appearing on the album’s single, “Candy Store Rock”.

The songs on the record reflect the psychological state in which the members of Led Zeppelin, and especially Plant, were. He has stated that there is a large dose of spontaneity in this particular album, since nothing was ready or pre-planned. A feature of this record is that only the tracks “Achilles Last Stand” and “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” became part of the band’s live performances for their American tour which began on April 1, 1977, when Plant had now fully recovered.

The cover and cover art of “Presence” are designed by the company “Hipgnosis” and feature various images of people observing a black obelisk-shaped object. For these creations, “Hipgnosis” won the “Grammy” award in the category of “best engineered album”.

The record was released on March 31, 1976, topping the UK and US charts, but to this day is the only studio album released by the band until their breakup in 1980, which has sold less than five million copies in the United States. States, having been certified triple platinum.

The tour to promote the record began in Dallas, United States on April 1, 1977, when Robert Plant had now recovered from his accident, but also from the laryngitis problem that afflicted him in February of that year. The tour lasted nearly four months with the band playing 44 concerts in North America, which averaged 72,000 tickets.

Despite all its success, the tour was beset by several problems. On April 6, 1977, during the band’s first of four shows in Chicago, Jimmy Page contracted food poisoning and the show ended in just one hour. On April 19th in Cincinnati, Ohio, over 70 spectators were arrested trying to enter the Riverfront Coliseum stadium without a ticket. On June 3 in Tampa, Florida, 19 people were arrested and 50 injured after riots broke out among the audience after the concert was stopped when torrential rain broke out. On July 23, during the “Days On the Green” festival in Oakland, California, drummer John Bonham, manager Peter Grant, and the band’s security officer, John Binton, were arrested after an altercation with a band member by producer Bill Graham. Their performance the next day was Led Zeppelin’s last on American soil, after Robert Plant was informed of the death of his five-year-old son from a stomach virus, which led to the cancellation of the remaining seven concerts. tour.

The record opens with “Achilles Last Stand” a song whose lyrics were written by Plant during his trip to Morocco, Greece and Spain and inspired by poetry he was reading at the time. This particular track belongs to the group’s epic songs category and is one of their longest tracks, exceeding ten minutes. The lyrics of “For Your Life” talk about a friend of Plant’s who was addicted to drugs, and on this track Jimmy Page used a 1962 Fender Stratocaster for the first time.

Next up is “Royal Orleans,” whose title comes from a New Orleans hotel the band stayed at several times. Its lyrics are about a man who makes contact with a prostitute, only to find out the next morning that he is a man. “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” was inspired by blues singer Blind Willie Johnson and during the band’s live performance at Knebworth in 1979, Plant kept repeating the phrase “Oh Jimmy”.

“Candy Store Rock” was the album’s lead single, being inspired by 50s rock and roll songs and is one of the band’s singer’s favorite songs. The lyrics of “Hots On For Nowhere” reflect Plant’s state of mind at the time. The album closes with “Tea For One”, a ten-minute blues song, whose lyrics speak of the loneliness he felt when the band was on tour. The track’s music, according to guitarist Jimmy Page, is similar to that of “Since I’ve Been Loving You” from Led Zeppelin III. The only live performance of this particular song was in 1996 during Page’s tour with Plant in Japan, accompanied by an orchestra.

Through this historic album I select the track “Achilles Last Stand”.

Tracklist

  1. Achilles Last Stand 10:26
  2. For Your Life 6:21
  3. Royal Orleans 2:58
  4. Nobody’s Fault But Mine 6:15
  5. Candy Store Rock 4:10
  6. Hots On For Nowhere 4:42
  7. Tea For One 9:27

Written by: Dimitris Sigalos

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