Zep Reissues: In Through the Out Door!

And so, it comes to be that the wannabe biological researcher has remastered and reissued the last batch of Led Zeppelin albums, Presence, this, and Coda after a prolonged wait. I went and bought the ‘plain’ ol’ single-disc remaster, because paying an extra fiver for another disc of studio tomfoolery seems pointless, as I have learnt over the course the slow collection of Zeppelin’s (relatively) short studio catalogue.

As diehards never cease to remind us, even a sub-standard album by the greatest rock and roll band of ‘all time’ is still a good album. I have a problem with this outlook, going so far as saying that most albums put out by Led Zeppelin are bars of pure gold, or at least, in the case of this album and Coda, an extra-shiny nugget.

One of the most understandable reasons that In Through the Out Door is so maligned, is its focus on synthesizers, as John Paul Jones had just procured a new piece of kit, and used it liberally in order to cater for (or take advantage of, depending who you ask) Jimmy Page’s heroin dependency and consequent relative songwriting and arranging absence, leading many fans to dismiss the album as too commercial and quite weird. Heck, it was recorded in ABBA’s studios! However, seen on its own, ignoring the fact that it had the responsibility of following up two seminal LPs, Physical Graffiti and Presence, the former arguably the band’s greatest artistic achievement, In Through the Out Door stands as a thoroughly enjoyable and accessible soft album while still maintaining some of the band’s knack for creating interesting arrangements, yet simply fails to reach the artistic heights and eclecticism (or the unique Led Zeppelin heaviness) that made earlier albums so memorable and important. Among the best tracks are the funky South Bound Saurez, one of the few moments on the album that Jones and Page feel equal, and Fool in the Rain, a catchy tune built around one of John Bonham’s most unforgettable grooves. An example of the heavily synthesizer-based sound is Carouselambra, with Page being lower in the mix than almost ever before, where the keyboard from hell tends to pervade. Keith Emerson gave this proto-eighties piece of junk to J.P. Jones after being heavily used on that album that simply shan’t be named (takes potent vomit-inducing concoction from pocket). The single-disc remaster even replicates the original vinyl presentation, in a brown paper bag, with the original inner photos, a badge of authenticity, if you ask me. Even if the band members view In Through the Out Door in a contemptuous light, I still quite like it. But those strings! The saddest thing is, the Zeppelin mystery and intrigue is completely out the window with this one. That’s part of what makes everything else so incredibly special.

Best Track: In the Eeeeeeeevening, I guess.

Goof: Hot Dog. Why, oh why. Also, Darlene should have been on this album.

7 Yamaha GX-1s out of 10

”It’s alright everyone! I’ve got my trusty blue Stratocaster!”

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