Presence (1976)

1. Achilles Last Stand 2. For Your Life 3. Royal Orleans 4. Nobody's Fault But Mine 5. Candy Store Rock 6. Hots on for Nowhere 7. Tea for One


Perhaps this was just bound to happen. After 6 brilliant albums in only 6 years, the hard rock gods started to wear and tear a bit. It didn’t help when the band was going through a lot of personal turmoil as well. Apparently, Robert Plant, had to do his singing in the studio while in a wheelchair due to a recent car accident.

Until this point, I had never met a Led Zeppelin song that I didn’t like. Yes, there were some that I felt were a bit less than brilliant, but I never truly heard a bad song from these guys. Sadly, this happened more than once on this album. Strangely, the whole album only has seven tracks. Many are quite long - too long actually. At about 44 minutes in length, they probably should have shaved this thing by a track or two.

In many cases, they just seem to be going through the motions. It almost sounds like they’ve forgotten what it takes to write a truly great song and, too often, they sound like they’re lumbering along. Take the 10+ minute opener Achilles Last Stand. There are many Zep fans that truly love this song. I would state that it does has it moments. I can’t help but think that I feel like I’m hearing a 3-minute song being played over and over again 3 times. Same can be said about Nobody’s Fault But Mine. Great riff, great pounding on the drums by John Bonham, great intentional stuttering by Robert Plant (’N-N-N-N-Nobody’s Fault But Mine!!!!), but it just seems to wear thin after a while. Again, this track could have used an extra edit or two.

Even though the two above tracks do have redeeming characteristics, I can’t say the same for Tea For One or the ridiculous waste of space Royal Orleans. I just might vote Tea For One as my least favorite Led Zeppelin song of all time. It’s one of those bluesy numbers, but it lacks a certain passion and energy that the guys have displayed on some of their older, more memorable cuts. At a ridiculous length of over nine minutes, it’s a flat-out painful listen. It just lumbers on at the end of the album and lands with a depressing, non-characteristic thud.

There are two really good tracks on here. For Your Life and Hots on for Nowhere both have a good solid bite to them, sounding somewhat slightly new in style yet retaining some of the energy from the band’s earlier work. Sadly, only two great songs a great Led Zeppelin album do not make. There are those that will argue that even a so-so Led Zeppelin album is better than most everything else that was being released around 1976, and those are good solid arguments. It was just sad to see a bit of a misstep by these guys after so much brilliance of late.

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