In Through The Out Door (1979)


 
1. In the Evening 2. Southbound Saurez 3. Fool in the Rain 4. Hot Dog 5. Carouselabmra 6. All My Love 7. I'm Gonna Crawl

 

The trials and turmoil continued for Led Zeppelin during the latter half of the 1970s. Personal issues and addictions were taking their toll on the band. Plus, someone probably woke up and realized that 1979 was absolutely nothing like 1969. To stay relevant, changes would have to happen. Because of the band member’s situations, these changes seemed a bit more forced than voluntary. This is the most “different” Led Zeppelin album in the band’s catalog. To be fair, it’s quite an interesting listen. No one knew it at the time, but due to John Bonham’s death less than one year after, it would be the band’s last album of new material. They (wisely) decided that the band’s brand simply shouldn’t continue without Bonzo behind the kit. Had Bonham’s untimely death not occurred, it’s quite fascinating to ponder just what new directions the band would have undertaken.

The most startling change to this album is that John Paul Jones has discovered the synthesizer. Unlike the typical 80’s new wave song where such an instrument produced sounds that would be overwhelmingly prevalent in the front of the mix and would dominate tracks, the band’s use of the instrument is much subtler here. It’s still noticeable, but the band know when to avoid overkill. The first (some would say best) song on the album is a prime example – the slightly eerie In The Evening begins with the instrument providing a bit of cacophony before we hear Robert Plant’s familiar belt. They then launch into the most Zep-like song of old while introducing a bit of the new.

Things get a bit weird with the second track South Bound Saurez. The song starts with a boogie-woogie piano intro before launching into a Caribbean like dance number. Once you hear John Bonham’s recognizable bashing, one forgets how different it is and focuses on how good the track is. The same thing can be said for the most notable thing here Fool in the Rain with its reggae like sound which manages, again, to be quite different, yet John Bonham again puts a mighty fine stomp on the song that makes the majority of the old-timers o.k. with the fact that this thing is a far cry from anything on, say, Led Zeppelin II.

Unfortunately, those three are the best songs here. The rest is a mixed bag. Hot Dog is a bit of a smiler. It’s a downright country-toe-tapping hoedown-ish song. Again, completely uncharacteristic, but they pull it off quite well. The same really can’t be said for Carouselambra - a ten-minute marathon that’s essentially parts of three songs melded into one. The first part of the tune is quite good, the second wears on you, and third is a downright waste of space. All My Love is a sweet ballad-ish type of thing. It has its charms but still feels slightly out of place on a Led Zeppelin album. Ironically, the closer I’m Gonna Crawl sounds awfully similar in style to All My Love. Personally, I prefer I’m Gonna Crawl a bit more – it’s a bit more honest and not quite as poppy.

Although the album sold very well upon release, this might have been due to the fact that it had been a few years since any Zeppelin album. Fans were a bit puzzled after a few listens. It’s aged a bit better, and many have accepted as a fine piece of work despite sounding so different than anything the band had ever done before.

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