Tuesday, February 24, 2015

physical graffiti

Led Zeppelin sailed across the sea of years to unfold a vagabond vandalism of brownstone boogie, progressive rock, wanton blues, and lilting acoustic grace into this masterful mélange.  

With five uncompromising albums (Led Zeppelin,  Led Zeppelin IILed Zeppelin IIILed Zeppelin IV, and Houses of the Holy) and nine tours behind them, the band began work on their next album in November of 1973 at Headley Grange in East Hampshire, England with Ronnie Lane's Mobile Studio; however, these sessions soon dissolved as exhaustion had taken its toll.  

Producer and guitarist Jimmy Page would reveal:  "It took a long time for this album mainly because when we originally went in to record it, John Paul Jones wasn't well and we had to cancel the time ... everything got messed up. It took three months to sort the situation out...I love playing. If it was down to just that, it would be utopia. But it's not. It's airplanes, hotel rooms, limousines and armed guards standing outside rooms. I don't get off on that part of it at all. But it's the price I'm willing to pay to get out and play. I was very restless over the last 18 months where we laid off and worked on the album."

Recording resumed in January of 1974 at Headley Grange, and by February they had several new songs fleshed out.  Robert Plant recalled:   "We got eight tracks off... and a lot of them were really raunchy. We did some real belters with live vocals, off-the-wall stuff that turned out really nice...Some of the tracks we assembled in our own fashioned way of running through a track and realising before we knew it that we had stumbled on something completely different."

With the wealth of new material, the project began to expand.  Page relates:   "Well, as usual, we had more material than the required 40-odd minutes for one album. We had enough material for one and a half LPs, so we figured let's put out a double and use some of the material we had done previously but never released. It seemed like a good time to do that sort of thing, release tracks like "Boogie With Stu" which we normally wouldn't be able to do..."Black Country Woman" and "The Rover" were both done at the same time we did "D'yer Mak'er." "Bron-Yr-Aur" was done for the third record. "Down By The Seaside," "Night Flight," and "Boogie With Stu" were all from the sessions for the fourth album. We had an album and a half of new material, and this time we figured it was better to stretch out than to leave off. I really fancied putting out a song called "Houses of the Holy" on the album."

'Physical Graffiti' features John Bonham on drums and percussion;   John Paul Jones on bass guitar, organ, acoustic and electric piano, mellotron, guitar, mandolin, VCS3 synthesiser, Hohner clavinet, Hammond organ, and string arrangement;   Jimmy Page on electric, acoustic, lap steel and slide guitar, mandolin, and production;   and Robert Plant on lead vocals, harmonica, and acoustic guitar on "Boogie with Stu";    with Ian Stewart adding piano on "Boogie with Stu";   and   George Chkiantz, Andy Johns, and Ron Nevison on engineering;   Keith Harwood and Eddie Kramer on engineering and mixing;  Peter Corriston and Mike Doud on artwork, design, and cover design;  and executive producer Peter Grant. 

In May of 1974, the band launched their own record label, Swan Song.  Page relates:  "We'd been thinking about it for a while and we knew if we formed a label there wouldn't be the kind of fuss and bother we'd been going through over album covers and things like that. Having gone through, ourselves, what appeared to be an interference, or at least an aggravation, on the artistic side by record companies, we wanted to form a label where the artists would be able to fulfill themselves without all of that hassle."

'Physical Graffiti' became the first release on Swan Song Records.  It was the first album to go platinum on advance orders alone, going to number seventeen in Italy; thirteen in Japan;  four in Norway;  three in New Zealand;  two in Australia, Austria, France, and Spain;   and number one in the UK and the US.  'Physical Graffiti'  would win a Grammy Award for Best Recording Package.   It has sold more than eight million copies in the US alone, making it one of the best selling albums of all time.  

Page would admit:   "I may not believe in myself, but I believe in what I'm doing. I know where I'm going musically. I can see my pattern and I'm going much slower than I thought I'd be going. I can tell how far I ought to be going, I know how to get there, all I've got to do is keep playing. That might sound a bit weird because of all the John McLaughlins who sound like they're in outer space or something. Maybe it's the tortoise and the hare...I'm not a guitarist as far as a technician goes, I just pick it up and play it. Technique doesn't come into it. I deal in emotions. It's the harmonic side that's important. That's the side I expected to be much further along on than I am now. That just means to say that I've got to keep at it...There's such a wealth of arts and styles within the instrument ... flamenco, jazz, rock, blues ... you name it, it's there. In the early days my dream was to fuse all those styles. Now composing has become just as important. Hand-in-hand with that, I think it's time to travel, start gathering some real right-in-there experiences with street musicians around the world. Moroccan musicians, Indian musicians ... it could be a good time to travel around now. This year. I don't know how everyone else is gonna take that, but that's the direction I'm heading in right now. This week, I'm a gypsy. Maybe next week it'll be glitter rock."



Oh let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dream
I am a traveler of both time and space, to be where I have been
To sit with elders of the gentle race, this world has seldom seen
They talk of days for which they sit and wait and all will be revealed

Talk and song from tongues of lilting grace, whose sounds caress my ear
But not a word I heard could I relate, the story was quite clear
Oh, oh.

Oh, I been flying... mama, there ain't no denyin'
I've been flying, ain't no denyin', no denyin'

All I see turns to brown, as the sun burns the ground
And my eyes fill with sand, as I scan this wasted land
Trying to find, trying to find where I've been.

Oh, pilot of the storm who leaves no trace, like thoughts inside a dream
Heed the path that led me to that place, yellow desert stream
My Shangri-La beneath the summer moon, I will return again
Sure as the dust that floats high in June, when movin' through Kashmir.

Oh, father of the four winds, fill my sails, across the sea of years
With no provision but an open face, along the straits of fear

When I'm on, when I'm on my way, yeah
When I see, when I see the way, you stay-yeah

Ooh, yeah-yeah, ooh, yeah-yeah, when I'm down...
Ooh, yeah-yeah, ooh, yeah-yeah, well I'm down, so down
Ooh, my baby, oooh, my baby, let me take you there

Let me take you there. Let me take you there 

"In the Light"

Led Zeppelin-In the Light by sadlimbic


"Down by the Seaside" 

"Boogie with Stu"

'Physical Graffiti' 
full album: 

All songs written and composed by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, except where noted. 

Side one
1. "Custard Pie"   January–February 1974 4:13
2. "The Rover"   May 1972 5:37
3. "In My Time of Dying" (John Bonham, John Paul Jones, Page, and Plant) January–February 1974 11:04
Side two
4. "Houses of the Holy"   May 1972 4:02
5. "Trampled Under Foot" (Jones, Page, and Plant) January–February 1974 5:37
6. "Kashmir" (Bonham, Page, and Plant) January–February 1974 8:32
Side three
7. "In the Light" (Jones, Page, and Plant) January–February 1974 8:46
8. "Bron-Yr-Aur" (Page) July 1970 2:06
9. "Down by the Seaside"   February 1971 5:13
10. "Ten Years Gone"   January–February 1974 6:32
Side four
11. "Night Flight" (Jones, Page, and Plant) December 1970 – January 1971 3:36
12. "The Wanton Song"   January–February 1974 4:10
13. "Boogie with Stu" (Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant, Ian Stewart) December 1970 – January 1971 3:53
14. "Black Country Woman"   May 1972 4:24
15. "Sick Again"   January–February 1974 4:42

cover art

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