Artist: Led Zeppelin
Album: Physical Graffiti
Label: Atlantic/Swan Song
Release Date: 02/24/2015
It is truly incredible to think that it has been 40 years since the original release of Led Zeppelin’s monumental record Physical Graffiti. The album is one of the most important releases of the ‘70s from the group that helped define the decade. To commemorate this occasion, Atlantic has released a 3-disc set featuring an additional disc of bonus tracks. While the bonus material will satisfy casual and die-hard fans alike, it does not get much better than the original album.
Before going further it is important to note the context in which this album was originally released. Beginning with the blues-driven Led Zeppelin I, the group continued to progress on every release. On Led Zeppelin II, the band sounds far more polished and concise while including ballads that showed that the group was exceptionally multifaceted. Led Zeppelin III was notably eclectic in nature, and of course Led Zeppelin IV went on to define the band with much of their best-known work including “Stairway to Heaven” and “Black Dog.” It had been nearly two years since the critically and commercially successful Houses of the Holy and the group was following a string (five) of massively effective records.
While Zeppelin had almost always transitioned between hard-rocking tracks and affectionate ballads, Physical Graffiti does so in a uniquely potent fashion. Many of the tracks are both lengthy and grandiose in nature, and the group seemed to be in no rush to appease anyone but themselves. The Led Zeppelin on this record is a far cry from the ‘60s blues-rock band belting “Dazed and Confused.” This is the Led Zeppelin that sold-out stadiums around the world, and many of these songs remain powerful and thunderous enough to fill an arena to this day.
Physical Graffiti is unlike any other record in Zeppelin’s catalogue. It clocks in at almost an hour and a half which gives the group enough leeway to venture through nearly every fathomable emotion. The album seamlessly transitions between the gut-wrenching funk of “Trampled Under Foot” to the magnificently epic “Kashmir” without thinking twice. The record also has a few beautifully warm moments including the powerful “Ten Years Gone.”
While this may not be the best that Zeppelin has to offer (I would have to give that title to Led Zeppelin II), after 40 years, Physical Graffiti remains not only a classic, but a striking example of human achievement and artistry.
– Landon Gampel