And the odds-and-ends feel of Physical Graffiti is one of its strengths, showing every side of Led Zeppelin in a single sprawling package. The extended format means the band can indulge every whim and include experiments that might have been harder to justify on a single disc. In these brilliant and widely loved songs as much as in the lesser-known gems that surround them, Physical Graffiti proves that as the second half of the '70s dawned, Zep were still making more killer music than they knew what to do with.
Sign In. Listen Now Browse Radio Search. Physical Graffiti Remastered Led Zeppelin. Custard Pie. The Rover. Alternate mixes showing what could have happened are literally infinite; all these mixes are said to have been created while the album was being mixed, and there is no reason to doubt that, but the truth is Page could just as easily make an "alternate mix" of any one of these songs this morning and no one would know the difference.
The fact that a mandolin was briefly considered to be slightly louder for a given sound is basically a stray fact and nothing more. All it provides is a chance to hear familiar performances in familiar songs in a way that sounds slightly unfamiliar.
It's Led Zeppelin's White Album , the one they made when they were at their creative peak and had a million ideas, but were also under a tremendous amount of strain and saw the end starting to come into focus. It's also, to my ears, their best album, even if it's not as unified or complete as some of what had come before.
Why their best? First of all, there's more of it. The previous two albums were awesome, but each had just eight songs; Physical Graffiti has It's math—when you are talking about songs from this period of the band, that makes it roughly twice as good.
But Physical Graffiti is Zeppelin's best album ultimately because it felt like a culmination. In some senses it was literally so, since its tracks had been recorded over the course of the previous few years and, in some cases, were leftovers from the previous few records. The best of the new material was still too much for a single record, so they went back to unreleased songs and decided to flesh out a full 2xLP. The songs are all over the place, but the band makes it all work together.
Iconic riffs abound—"Custard Pie", "The Wanton Song", and "Houses of the Holy" alone have more hooks than most rock bands manage in a career—but here they are just the beginning of the story. Pastoral instrumentals had been in the mix for Zeppelin since the first album's "Black Mountainside", but Page never managed another one as beautiful as "Bron-Yr-Aur", a crushingly brief two minutes of guitar bliss that every rock kid who picked up an acoustic guitar in the next 10 years dreamed of playing.
And their non-Western dabbling crested with "Kashmir". The world, and its attendant pleasures, was theirs for the taking. At this point most modern bands would take 5 years off and forget each others' names. Produced a double album that some still hold to be their best of all time. But what really shines out is the sheer genre-defying eclecticism of it all. And it all came wrapped in one of those fabulously intricate die-cut sleeves that make all people of a certain age long for a return to the glory days of vinyl.
He was right. The Who. If nothing else, Physical Graffiti is a tour de force. It was Page who formed Led Zeppelin in , after the model of such guitar-oriented blues-rock units as Cream, the Jeff Beck Group and the Yardbirds, where Page, a former sessionman, had first come to prominence. His primary concern, both as producer and guitarist, is sound.
Unlike many of his peers, he rarely overplays, especially on record and Led Zeppelin has never indulged itself with a live LP. Most of his playing instead evidences the restraint and rounded style of his avowed influences: the brooding, involuted blues lines of Otis Rush, the finely filigreed acoustic form of Bert Jansch, the echoed, subliminally driving accompaniments of Scotty Moore behind Elvis Presley and James Burton behind Ricky Nelson on early rockabilly records.
A facile soloist, Page excels at fills, obbligatos and tags. Playing off stock riffs, he modulates sonorities, developing momentum by modifying instrumental colors. But his signature remains distortion. Jones, another studio veteran, contributes keyboards as well as bass and is responsible, via his use of synthesizer, for bringing fullness as well as funk to the band.