LED ZEPPELIN — Physical Graffiti (review)

LED ZEPPELIN — Physical Graffiti album cover Album · 1975 · Hard Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
Losimba
Important: I originally posted this review on progarchives, so it is a bit focussed on the progressive side of the album, though it doesn't matter as far as the rating is concerned.

Physical Graffiti is recognized as one of the strongest Led Zeppelin albums, some even say that it is the most "proggy" one. While I definitely agree with the first statement, I'm not too sure about the second one. True, the album runs over a total of nearly 83 minutes. True, 3 of the 15 songs exceed the 8 minute mark. But is that enough?

There is one main point against defining Physical Graffiti as a prog album: There's little variety in the style of the songs. Only Boogie With Stu, which is the boogie the title hints at, acoustic Bron-Yr-Aur and the ballads In The Light and Black Country Woman are different from the rest. All other songs are dominated by strong and heavy guitar riffs, though most of them are more complex than the average hard rock riff of the time. Ok, the intro parts of those songs show some variety, too. And there is of course Kashmir with its string arrangement and complex patterns which certainly qualifies as a prog song.

But of course, and especially on a Heavy Metal site, an album doesn't necessarily have to be prog to get a high rating from me. It only has to be of high quality which is certainly true for Physical Graffity. I already mentioned Jimmy Page's strong guitar work, but the other musicians' performances follow up closely and occasionally surpass him. Especially drummer John Bonham has never performed finer and more energetical than on this album. The same can be said about John Paul Jones on bass and keys and vocalist Robert Plant. He may never qualify as an opera singer, but he did exactly what the song needed in all 15 cases.

I might edit the rating up to a 5 after I've had another quiet hour with Led Zep IV (which will most certainly retain its provisional 5 star rating) to find out whether I feel a difference in quality (and liking) between the two albums. But for now, I go for solid 4.5 stars.
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