Record of the day: Led Zeppelin, "Physical Graffiti"

Record of the day: Led Zeppelin, “Physical Graffiti”

Led Zeppelin
Physical Graffiti (Cd Swan Song/Atlantic WPCR-1 1616-7)

Double albums, within the historiography of rock, almost always have a culminating function, they draw a boundary line beyond which the history (and often the existence) of the groups that made them changes radically.
Famous examples are those of the Beatles' “White Album”, a relentless testimony of the different centrifugal forces that would lead to the disintegration of the group, “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” by Genesis which preludes the passing of Peter Gabriel, or the so-called “rock operas” » like The Who's “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia” pushing along the walls of the song form to attempt to expand the possibilities of rock within larger musical structures; the Rollings

The Stones concentrated the maximum of their energy in the double “Exile on Main Street” and despite producing excellent albums in the following years they never rediscovered the state of grace present in that work.

The same can be said of “Physical Graffiti” by Led Zeppelin (1975), an authentic summation of all the extraordinary energy that this band was able to release even within the recording studios.
Not many fans of the group will agree with this opinion and perhaps they will prefer previous records such as “Led Zeppelin III” or the famous “ZoSo”: “Physical Graffiti” contains older material that should have been released earlier, but this does not mean that we are faced with a botched job or a collection of waste but rather with a highly compact work that emanates energy like a meteorite falling to the earth.

Robert Plant's voice is in top form, expertly alternating numerous registers ranging from the unbridled scream of “Custard Pie” and “Rover” to the oriental nuances of “Kashmir” or the heartbreaking blues of “In My Time of Dying” , returning to earth to rock out on “The Wanton Song” and “Sick Again.”

Of course Led Zeppelin wouldn't be what they are without the devastating drums of John Bonham, the authentic protagonist who pushes relentlessly throughout the album together with the essential bass of John Paul Jones; Jimmy Page's guitars provide a thousand colours, mixing orchestral textures, stabbing solos and titanium riffs with a capacity for stylistic transformation worthy of Proteus and yet at the same time endowed with its own iron coherence.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.