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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Led Zeppelin

In Through the Out Door

Review by Gary Hill

This was the final studio album produced by Led Zeppelin before John Bonham’s death. As such it is truly their swan song. Is it up to the legacy? I suppose you could say “no” pretty easily. It finds the band using a lot more keyboards and experimenting with more rockabilly and other sounds. Page uses guitar synthesizers very heavily here. And yet, I find myself always enjoying the album (with one possible exception). If you look at the history of Zeppelin objectively they were a very experimental band, trying out new sounds seemingly with each new album and in many ways this is a logical progression. It has three songs I’d consider classics. So, I’d say it’s worthy of the catalog and legacy that is Led Zeppelin. Had they known it would be their last real album (well, there is Coda, but that’s another story), this might not have been the disc they would have released, but that significance wasn’t intentional.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
In The Evening
Trippy atmospherics open this and hold it for close to a minute before Robert Plant's vocals bring in the song title. The cut works out from there with guitar synth sounds and the rhythm section driving it in cool ways. I've always loved this tune. It has some cool changes, but all work in service to the song. There is an insistent groove to the cut. There is a weird bit that shows up on this song that almost sounds like the guitar being caught by the strings in mid-fall. Strange as it sounds, it works really well. The dropped back movement is a nice touch bringing some classic Zep to the proceedings, too.
South Bound Saurez
I’m not a big fan of bouncy, old time rock and roll. For that reason this song shouldn’t be something I’d really like. The thing is, these guys do such a great job of it that it works, despite my negative inclination to the musical style.
Fool In The Rain
Another bouncy little number, this one isn’t exceptionally heavy weight, but it works. Plant’s vocals really steal the show and are the reason this one succeeds. It’s definitely more keyboard and pop oriented than a lot of Zeppelin fans would prefer, but it is a good track nonetheless. The cool bridge (driven at first by piano) is tasty and a great touch. 
Hot Dog
I have never really gotten the whole Elvis Presley thing. I don’t understand the allure at all. So, I really don’t get this song as it seems like a tribute to Mr. Presley. It’s Zeppelin so I like it, but it’s really the weakest track on show here in my book. It’s very much a rockabilly cut.
Carouselambra
Another of the highlights of the set, this hard rocker is one that reminds me a lot of Presence or Houses of the Holy. It’s energetic and exceptionally tasty. At over ten and a half minutes in length, it’s also the longest cut on show here. They through in a lot of changes and twists in this and at times it moves into territory that could be called progressive rock. There’s also some tasty bluesy music at points in this jam. This one is another contender for best cut here – and my choice would vary depending on the day.
All My Love
I know, it’s a mellow love ballad. It’s pretty and sedate. It’s also a great song. Yes, I realize it’s been overplayed like crazy all over the place, but it still holds up despite the over exposure. That really says a lot.
I'm Gonna Crawl
No doubt the symphonic build up to a lounge lizard type of approach that starts this off scared a lot of Zep fans first time around. The truth is, though, this is very much in keeping with the killer ultra bluesy music that the band did from their very first album. It’s got some added elements in the arrangement, but overall is another highlight of the set. This is the third contender for best track on the set and again, depending on the day I might just pick it for that title.
 
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