Who hasn’t played air guitar to Trampled Underfoot or sang fiercely into a hairbrush for Kashmir?
They may not admit it but Led Zeppelin like acne, are a phase through we all must go. The reissuing of one of their classic albums ‘Physical Graffiti’ has got me listening to them once more.
It feels a bit like what I imagine it would feel like to revisit my old high school common room. Yes, there are some happy memories but there is also that vague whiff of body odor and unchanged socks wafting through the air.
The whiff in this case comes from the ‘white-man-being-black’ minstrel-ing that was standard for the time but leaves many feeling slightly queasy these days.
Yet for all that Led Zeppelin has actually aged quite well. For a start they sound a lot less heavy and lot more musically deft than I remembered.
And the lyrics are quite bizarre, veering wildly between pure deep-south slang and something akin to Tennyson.
Just take Kashmir as an example.
Talk and song from tongues of lilting grace, whose sounds caress my ear
But not a word I heard could I relate, the story was quite clear
Oh, I been flying… mama, there ain’t no denyin’
I’ve been flying, ain’t no denyin’, no denyin’
Incidentally in an interview with William Burroughs the band revealed the song was actually written on a road in Morocco, as at that point had never been to Kashmir.
As the album progresses you get everything from countrified acoustic tracks to old time boogie as the band stretches out and luxuriates in their undeniable musical prowess.
It’s never going to be a personal favorite but I won’t deny its power