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LED ZEPPELIN - Presence cover
3.59 | 70 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1976

Filed under Hard Rock


1. Achilles Last Stand (10:27)
2. For Your Life (6:23)
3. Royal Orleans (2:59)
4. Nobody's Fault But Mine (6:13)
5. Candy Store Rock (4:11)
6. Hots On For Nowhere (4:42)
7. Tea For One (9:22)

Total Time 44:20


- John Bonham / drums, percussion
- John Paul Jones / bass guitar
- Jimmy Page / guitars
- Robert Plant / vocals, harmonica

About this release

Release date: March 31, 1976
Label: Swan Song Records

Thanks to Stooge, Time Signature, Pekka, Lynx33, diamondblack, Unitron for the updates


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Recorded at a breakneck pace following Robert Plant's legendary car accident - presumably to reassure fans and record company alike that Zeppelin were still a going concern - Presence is a slapdash muddle of an album that is still a notch above the overindulgent tedium of Physical Graffiti thanks to the presence of Achilles' Last Stand, one of the the band's best epics that features proto-speed metal rhythms some of the heaviest guitar playing Jimmy Page would display. But one decent song can't save an otherwise pedestrian album.

To be fair to the thing, it was rather the victim of poor timing and a misjudgement of artistic direction on the part of the band. In principle, shifting focus away from experimental material to heavier, rockier numbers was a sound plan; in practice, the rock numbers collected on Presence pale in comparison to the best of Zeppelin's earlier material. And, of course, mere weeks later Judas Priest would enter the studio to record Sad Wings of Destiny, setting a new bar for metal which Zeppelin couldn't simply compete with.
Zeppelin's Last Stand

That cover always troubled me as it did not look like a Led Zeppelin album, and in many ways it did not sound the same either. A family staring at a black obelisk; a mysrery object and perhaps it symbolised a change. The band were turning a corner and becoming more like an AOR band, albeit with a progressive flavour in the mixture. Most of this album is full of songs that only the diehard ZepHeads would know.

Things like 'For Your Life', 'Candy Store Rock', 'Hots On For Nowhere', 'Tea For One' and 'Royal Orleans' rarely see the light of day on compilations or in live concerts of the band. Having stated this of course the reason why is obvious; they are simply not very good songs. The magic was disappearing, and in fact so was the mystique that the band worked so hard to create in the early days. Perhaps they were becoming too popular. With the release of their movie the same year it was apparent that it was becoming increasingly difficult to continue the way they were.

There was still some magic left though. 'Achilles Last Stand' is one of the most amazing songs in the Led Zeppelin canon, feeling like symphonic prog and it is one of the longest at over 10 minutes in length. Page and Plant are at the top of their game on this. Plant in fact sounds as good as ever, and trades off brilliantly with Page who is a man possessed on guitar with choppy chord changes and blues riffs.

The other song worth 5 stars is the utterly mesmirising riff heavy 'Nobody's Fault But Mine' which I wished would go on longer. It has a massive blues riff and Plant echoes the riff with exquisite vocals. The lead break is awesome and the song is unforgettable once heard.

So we have an album with 2 moments of brilliance and a lot of straight forward groove rock. How do you rate it in this case? I can squeeze 3 stars out for the aforementioned excellent material. But this definitely was the end of greatness for this band.

Presence remains an underrated and often overlooked gem in the Zeppelin back catalogue. It was largely written between Robert Plant and Jimmy Page as Plant recovered from a car crash he and his wife had been involved in. While Presence may lack the diversification of previous albums it makes up for in sheer power of the band performance and some great songs. No acoustic numbers like Going to California, no keyboard driven epics like No Quarter are present. Presence is all about electric guitars..and lots of them with plenty of Page overdubs.

Achilles Last Stand is a killer opener and perhaps the last milestone track the band would produce. 10 minutes of driving rhythm from drummer John Bonham and bassist John Paul Jones. It moves along at a chugging, frantic pace as Page riffs over the top with a myriad of guitar parts. Plant also turns in an excellent vocal performance, no doubt from his temporary wheelchair confined state.

For Your Life is a grower with its mid pace stop/start riff. It's one of those tracks that take a few listens to get under the skin with not an obvious melody. Once it does however it's an excellent 6 minutes.

Royal Orleans is one of my favourites here and one of the bands lesser known tracks. It's got a great Bonham groove and another stop/start riff from Page and Jones.

Better known is Nobody's Fault But Mine, a psychedelic tinged (in places) blues romp. Opening with a phased Page guitar, Plant wailing over the top (a theme revisited throughout the track) it turns into a solid mid pace rocker which benefits from some fine harmonica work from Plant and a strong Page solo.

Candy Store Rock is Zeppelin playing rock 'n' roll with its 50's vibe and clean guitar sound and very good it is too.

Hots On For Nowhere is the least impressive offering here but still pretty good, once again a nice Bonham groove kicks things along nicely.

Album closer Tea For One is a slow blues piece in the tradition of since I've Been Loving You. While it doesn't scale the heights of that classic it is nevertheless a worthwhile track close to the 10 minute mark.

And there you have it, not their best album but still one of the top releases of 1976 and far superior to Houses Of The Holy, In Through The Out Door and Coda and a necessary purchase for any Zeppelin collection.

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