Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Led Zeppelin In Through The Out Door (1979)

cover_5639181182009From amazon.com

Review During a time when record labels thought it would be prudent to cash in on the punk phenomenon of the late 1970s and almost went under in the process, this album brought kids into record stores and saved the industry. That said, the album is not viewed favorably amongst the buying public because it lacks a “How Many More Times”-esque head-banger.

Jimmy Page, reeling in the depths of addiction, is not as prominent on “In Through The Out Door”. John Paul Jones, on the other hand, is all over the place, be it on piano or synthesizer, and has 6 writing credits on the album. “In the Evening” is a fine opener (although Robert Plant does sound like he guzzled a bottle of Liquid Plummer) and a song which benefits mightily from Jones’ contributions. “Fool In The Rain” and “All My Love”, the two most played songs off the album on FM radio, are excellent examples of the skills of all four members. Page and John Bonham, in particular, are outstanding on “Fool”, creating a sophisticated, layered sound which does not rely on million-mile-an-hour guitar leads and over-the-top drum bombast.

The 10 minute “Carouselambra” continues the fine tradition of Zeppelin epics (“Kashmir”, “Achilles’ Last Stand”) with some excellent keyboard and bass work from Jones and understated yet tasty double-neck guitar and guitar-synth work from Page. Plants lyrics are indecipherable, however, without a lyric sheet. But he is crystal clear on “I’m Gonna Crawl”. Page belts out one of his pristine blues solos here, easily the best lead on the album, while Jones has a synth-orchestra opening the track.

That leaves two other songs: “South Bound Saurez” and “Hot Dog” are the true definition of filler. Page does not sound at all sober in his “Hot Dog” lead, stumbling through pentatonic scales and sounding as if his right hand is permanently attached to the B-string bender on his Telecaster because he uses it so much. “South Bound” is one of the songs which you can listen to on the radio if nothing else is on. It is not the quality of “Fool In the Rain”.

Overall, this album is good but confusing. It does have sparkling musicianship but some filler material as well. The production is not up to Page standards, either; given his health cicra 1978-79, it is not all surprising. But what is strong is very strong indeed. “Carouselambra” alone is worth the price of the album. It is also an interesting experience to listen to Zeppelin as they musically evolved over the course of a decade. “In Through The Out Door” is an album a true Led Zeppelin fan cannot be without.

Review This is Led Zeppelin’s most maligned album, most of said malign coming from ultra-orthodox rock fans who can’t stand musical diversity. Because unlike their previous, guitar-riff based albums this one features John Paul Jones on keyboards in the lead role, with Jimmy Page playing along beside him instead of in front of him (for once).

Since Page was pretty whacked out on heroin during the making, his guitar playing skills do leave something lacking especially compared to his best work on songs like Achilles Last Stand or Black Dog.
However, the use of keyboards on the songs gives them a very different and unique feel.

In The Evening: A song with a standard rock sound and standard blues lyrics, the huge, slamming riff makes a great opener. Too bad you can’t understand any of the lyrics except ‘oh oh I need your love’.

South Bound Saurez (sic): An interesting little piece featuring Jones’ piano, but not an especially classic piece. You can’t understand any of the lyrics, though.

Fool in the Rain: A mellow, happy little riff about a slightly less happy subject; a guy waiting for his date and imagining he’s been stood up, when actually he’s waiting in the wrong place (whoops). Very enjoyable and spiced up by the fast little jam section in the middle.

Hot Dog: weirdness. A mock-country song that demonstrates their sense of humour if not much else.

Carouselambra: Whoa, they really opened the floodgates now. The first part contains keyboards, drums, bass and vocals but no guitar. The second bit has Page plucking out fuzzy little arpeggios while Robert Plant occasionally belts out something, and then it returns to a full synthesized speed-fest. You can’t understand any of the lyrics (starting to notice a pattern?) which is a shame because they can almost compete with Bob Dylan in terms of inscrutable mysticism. Great, underrated song.

All My Love: Another synth-heavy one. It’s the most sincere song on the album, dedicated to Robert Plant’s son (not daughter as a lot of people think for some reason) who died in ’77. Nice melody and cool solo.

I’m Gonna Crawl: A cool bluesy ending to the album, it might seem a bit repetative at first until they start to mix things up.

All in all…well, if you’re a really over-the-top fan like me you’d buy it even if it was crap. It isn’t. It’s as good as any of their other albums, just very different, and musical diversity is what made the band so great. So head out to your closest locally-owned, non-chain music store and get this album!

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January 25, 2014 - Posted by | Led Zeppelin In Through The Out Door |

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