Release Date: Jul 31, 2015
Record label: Atlantic
Led Zeppelin’s red-carpet reissue series comes to a messy, intriguing climax with Presence, In Through the Out Door and Coda. This latter-day triumvirate documents a period clouded by clashing creativity, debilitating injury, substance abuse and, ultimately, the tragic death of drummer John Bonham—drama that tends to overwhelm the music itself. Sure, by the mid-‘70s, Zeppelin were past their spellbinding Zoso prime, but they never experimented with as much vigor as they did on these three underrated LPs.
In the first six years of Led Zeppelin's existence, they released seven albums' worth of music, and nearly all of it was brilliant. During that time, everything seemed to go their way: they had a bottomless well of songs built on the blues, early rock, British and American folk, psychedelia, and R&B; they had the greatest riff machine the world had ever known in Jimmy Page, and they had hard rock's quintessential drummer in John Bonham. But given their penchant for excess and the hyper-intense life they lived as the world's biggest rock band in the '70s, there was no way it could last.
Amongst the innovative Led Zeppelin II, the eclectic House of the Holy, and the perfect Physical Graffiti, it’s hard to believe that Led Zeppelin had something akin to a forgotten album. However, because of the (since unparalleled) critical and commercial garnered by the band’s first six albums, their 1976 opus, Presence, often goes ignored and underappreciated by both critics and fans alike. Like most albums that are misjudged as being “bad albums”, Presence is often criticized for what it’s not, instead of what it accomplishes.
Fabled lost tracks. Wholly new versions of classics. Final trio of reissues unearths the diamonds. And so to the third act, the denouement; the last tranche of reissues wherein the mothership’s fins had started to loosen, and a slow, drawn-out decline ensued. At least that’s how the ….
Though widely and justifiably regarded as Led Zeppelin's three least satisfying albums, these re-mastered, re-packaged and re-released editions of Presence, In Through The Outdoor and Coda actually contain some of the most interesting moments of the band's recent re-issue campaign. Indeed, who'd have thought that Coda, a ragtag collection of outtakes released posthumously in 1982, would yield such a treasure trove of previously unreleased gems? But let's not get ahead of ourselves here. Listening once again to Presence and In Through The Outdoor is to be familiarised with a band losing its way in the way face of the pearls it had previously released.