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Physical Graffiti

por Led Zeppelin

Séries: Rolling Stone 500 (73)

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Led Zeppelin’s sixth studio album Physical Graffiti, against all odds (being a double album) was one of the most successful Led Zeppelin albums ever. The album was released in 1975 and it has gone 16 x platinum in the United States alone! The name for the album was inspired by a second hand clothing store located in the basement of 96 St. Mark’s Place – the store was called “Physical Graffiti”.

Physical Graffiti’s cover photo, designed by Peter Corriston features a stylised photograph of a New York City tenement block of two five-storey buildings located at 96 and 98 St. Mark’s Place in New York City. Corriston shot the five-story buildings as they were, but in order to fit them properly for the cover art he had to crop out the entire fourth floor; so eventually the album cover shows four stories instead of five. Corriston also did some notable work on some famous Rolling Stones album covers such as Some Girls, Emotional Rescue and Tattoo You, for which he won a Grammy Award in the category of ‘The Best Album Package’.
  jlafarga001 | Jul 21, 2020 |
Led Zeppelin

Physical Graffiti

CD 1:

1. Custard Pie (4:13)
2. The Rover (5:36)*
3. In My Time of Dying (11:04)
4. Houses of the Holy (4:01)*
5. Trampled under Foot (5:35)
6. Kashmir (8:31)

CD 2:
1. In the Light (8:44)
2. Bron-Yr-Aur (2:06)**
3. Down by the Seaside (5:14)***
4. Ten Years Gone (6:31)
5. Night Flight (3:36)***
6. The Wanton Song (4:06)
7. Boogie with Stu (3:51)***
8. Black Country Woman (4:24)*
9. Sick Again (4:43)

*Houses of the Holy (1973) outtakes
**Led Zeppelin III (1970) outtakes
***Led Zeppelin IV (1971) outtakes

Robert Plant – lead vocals, harmonica, acoustic guitar (CD 2: 7)
Jimmy Page – electric, acoustic, lap steel and slide guitar, mandolin
John Paul Jones – bass guitar, organ, acoustic and electric piano, mellotron, guitar, mandolin, VCS3 synthesiser, Hohner clavinet, Hammond organ, string and brass arrangements
John Bonham – drums, percussion

Recorded at Headley Grange, Hampshire, with Ronnie Lane’s Mobile Studio and at Olympic Studios, London, January–February 1974, except:
- CD 1: 2; May 1972, at Stargroves, England, with The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio and at Olympic Studios, London;
- CD 1: 4; May 1972, at Olympic Studios, London;
- CD 2: 2; July 1970, at Island Studios, London;
- CD 2: 3; February 1971, at Island Studios, London;
- CD 2: 5; December 1970 & January 1971, at Headley Grange, Hampshire, with The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio and at Island Studios, London;
- CD 2: 7; December 1970 & January 1971, at Headley Grange, Hampshire, with The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio;
- CD 2: 8; May 1972, at Stargroves, England, with The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio.
Originally released as Swan Song 2-200, 24 February 1975.

Swan Song, n.d. 2 CD. [TT 39:06+43:40] No lyrics. Digitally remastered from the original master tapes by Jimmy Page and George Marino at Sterling Sound.


This is Led Zeppelin’s longest and most diverse album. Reportedly when the band realised their new material wouldn’t fit on one LP, they decided to include outtakes from their previous three albums and turn Physical Graffiti into a full-length double affair. But I have a feeling, outrageously unsupported by any hard evidence of course, that Zeppelin felt they were on the brink of their decline and wanted to release everything from their archives they considered worth preserving. I happen to think that their next album, the austere and much less diverse Presence (1976), is pretty outstanding, but I guess I’m in the minority there.

Some Zeppelinomans consider Physical Graffiti, not the Fourth album (1971), to be Led Zeppelin’s crowning achievement. I would not disagree. There is everything here. This is not really an album. It’s not even a world in itself. It’s a universe. With the possible exception of reggae, which they did try in Houses of the Holy (1973), this album contains a complete picture of Zeppelin’s dizzying diversity.

“Custard Pie” and “Sick Again”, the first and last track respectively, are as heavy as the band ever sounded. Lighter rock stuff covers the classical elegance of “The Rover”, the flirtatious keyboards of “Night Flight”, the cheeky charm of “Houses of the Holy” and a rather sinister study of desire in “The Wanton Song”. “Black Country Woman” is also rock, but entirely acoustic, including Plant on harmonica. “In My Time of Dying”, eleven minutes of distorted guitars and crashing drums, is a stunning adaptation of the well-known gospel that makes all other versions simply dull. The ballad department is presented with “Down by the Seaside” and “Ten Years Gone”, both unquestionably among Led Zep’s finest songs. “Trampled Underfoot” proves that they can do funk as well, but also that Roger Taylor from Queen was not the only one in love with his car. “Bron-Yr-Aur” is a lovely instrumental with Jimmy in fine form on acoustic guitar. “Boogie with Stu” is just that, “Stu” being the pianist Ian Stewart. It’s actually a cover of Richie Valens’ “Ooh! My Head!” credited to his mother so that the poor woman should get some royalties, but it only became the reason for yet another official charge of plagiarism. The exotic grandeur of “Kashmir” and the subtle spookiness of “In the Light” defy description altogether.

The only problem with this album is a slight technical one. On some songs, “Custard Pie” and “In My Time of Dying” for example, Plant’s vocals tend to get lost in the music. This is just a quibble, but I do wonder why it hasn’t been fixed on recent editions. By way of compensation, several examples of delightful studio chatter are left. In the beginning of “Black Country Woman”, an intruding airplane is heard which Eddie Cramer (the recording engineer) doesn’t want to have on the recording, but Jimmy breezily replies “Naw, leave it, yeah”. In the end of “In My Time of Dying”, a fit of coughing is heard and Plant quips by improvising one “Cough”. And at the end of “Boogie with Stu” there is an absolutely hilarious giggle. Zeppelin evidently had a lot of fun in the recording studio.

I conclude with a special selection from the lyrics. Like the music, they present the band at their poetic peak. Zeppelin’s texts are seldom given the credit they deserve – it is astonishing how many editions of their albums don’t contain any lyrics! – but there is more in them than amusing naughtiness (some of which is very clever). Judge for yourself from this broad selection:

[“The Rover”]

Oh how I wonder, oh how I worry and I would dearly like to know
I've all this wonder of earthly plunder will it leave us anything to show

And our time is flyin' see the candle burnin' low
Is the new world rising, from the shambles of the old

If we could just join hands.

[“Trampled Underfoot”]

Greasy slicked down body, groovy leather trim
I like the way you hold the road, mama, it ain't no sin

Talkin' 'bout love

Trouble-free transmission, helps your oil's flow
Mama, let me pump your gas, mama, let me do it all

Talkin' 'bout love


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

[“Down by the Seaside”]

Down in the city streets, see all the folk go racin', racin'
No time left, to pass the time of day

The people turned away. The people turned away
So far away, so far away

[“Night Flight”]
And packed my hopes inside a matchbox
'Cause I know it's time to fly

[“The Wanton Song”]

Silent woman in the night, you came,
Took my seed from my shaking frame.
Same old fire, another flame,
And the wheel rolls on.

With blazing eyes you see my trembling hand.
When we know the time has come
Lose my senses, lose command
Feel your healing rivers run

[“Black Country Woman”]

Hey, hey, baby, why you treat me mean
You didn't have to crucify me like you did
You didn't have to tell me I was just your kid
Hey, hey, mama, why'd you treat me mean
You didn't have say you'd always be by my side
Y' didn't have to tell me you'd be my blushin' bride
Hey, hey, mama, why you treat me mean
But that's alright, I know your sisters, too

You didn't have to tell me that you love me so
You didn't have to leave me, mama, let me go
Hey, hey, mama, what is wrong with you
You didn't have to leave me like a total disgrace
You didn't have to leave me with that beer on my face
Hey, hey, mama, what is wrong with you
But that's alright, I'd be the same way, too

[“Sick Again”]

From the window of your rented limousine,
I saw your pretty blue eyes
One day soon you're gonna reach sixteen,
Painted lady in the city of lies.

Oh, do you know my name?
Do I look the same
You know I'm the one you want
I must be the one you need, yeah

Clutching pages from your teenage dream
In the lobby of the Hotel Paradise
Through the circus of the L.A. queens
How fast your learn the downhill side
( )
3 vote Waldstein | Mar 10, 2016 |
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