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Presence Success

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  Forgive me if this might fit under another subject brought up already, like Presence (which is really about liking the album etcetc.)

What I wanted to see is why people think that Presence wasn't the commercial success that almost all other Zeppelin albums were.

When I was discovering Zeppelin on my own (after hearing it over and over from my younger siblings) in the 1980's, I honestly didn't even give Presence the time of day at first.  When CDs became all the rage - I got them, one at a time.  I had heard all the classics from the other albums over and over.   To this day, except for a "Get the Led Out" or special program, you don't hear anything from Presence in regular rotation.  For me, one day I hear Hots on for Nowhere and loved it. Noticed Robert's voice and thought it might be on one of his solo albums.  I heard it was on Presence from some kid (pre internet/info age) and went and got the Presence cd.  Achillies, Nobody's Fault - AMAZING!!!  Why aren't these songs on everyday with Whole Lotta Love, Rock n Roll, Over the Hills ....

Now I have a few guesses.  I know it was the summer of Punk and they were dinosaurs by 1976.  Also, it's the only album, till that time, where they either weren't on tour or where about to go out to support it.  Remember the album release in 76 and the 77 tour where a year apart.  And, the movie The Song Remains the Same came in the middle.  Also, its probably the only album they did which was straight forward - guitar driven only.  No acoustic, keyboards.  Just guitars.  Maybe the lack of variety or a regular played song on radio hurt it. 

Any thoughts?  I find it ironic that many of us nuts praise the album. Maybe were just tired of some of the other albums, I get that.   But it truly is a real good record.  It's just funny that you see such high sales for the entire catalog and Presence is just kinda stuck with small sales (though sales which almost any human could live off of!!!!).

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Few people declare Presence as their favourite album when they first discover the band. I think most people gravitate toward Presence later, as they look for a break from the obvious crowd pleasers. It's an album of deep cuts, and it has less diversity than other albums, but it's still fantastic, in a different kind of way. It's probably their most technically perfect album, and as luck would have it, I listened to Presence while driving in my car today. Oh, it's so good.  

Edited by The Dark Lord

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Also it was still a no.1 album both sides of the Atlantic so it was hardly not successful, well maybe not by Led Zeppelin standards!

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I think the lower reception that Presence received was due to several factors. 

1. It was the time of punk. The music press was even more savage than usual on what was the biggest dinosaur band of all. 

2. It was released fairly soon after TSRTS. Fans were still digesting that and were somewhat disappointed in it. 

3. Artwork was a big deal then and Presence artwork was, well, very un-Zep. 

4. Zep was light and shade. Presence was very electric guitar central without the usual softer side. 

 

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2. It was released fairly soon after TSRTS. Fans were still digesting that and were somewhat disappointed in it. 

Presence was released first on March 30th, 1976.  TSRTS was released after, in October of 1976.

Both Achilles & NFBM received quite a bit of airplay upon release.  Achilles received airplay even before the album came out.  I'm sure this varies depending on where you were from, but it was Zeppelin III that received the least amount of airplay in my neck of the woods during the mid to late 70's.  

Personal opinion, but I think Physical Graffiti still hadn't been fully digested by the time Presence appeared on the scene.  As Jimmy once pointed out, it usually took fans a full year to fully digest a Zep album.  That was never more true than with PG.  The material on Presence was also not as accessible or radio friendly as some of the songs on PG.  Album rock radio also began to lean towards the era of Boston and radio-friendly bands with slicker production.  10 minutes of Achilles really didn't fit in, let alone the deeper tracks on the album.

Considering it was era of the rock live album, you would probably be surprised from today's perspective at how little TSRTS was featured on album rock radio at the time.  It's not like they were going to play "D & C" instead of "Do You Feel Like We Do", which we heard hourly for two frickin' years !

It's one of the reasons I love Presence to this day.  It was a left-turn not only for Zep, but towards everything else that was going on.  The people into the Bee Gees, Pablo Cruise, and Boz Scaggs  just didn't get it....and that was a good thing !            

 

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1 hour ago, NealR2000 said:

I think the lower reception that Presence received was due to several factors. 

1. It was the time of punk. The music press was even more savage than usual on what was the biggest dinosaur band of all. 

2. It was released fairly soon after TSRTS. Fans were still digesting that and were somewhat disappointed in it. 

3. Artwork was a big deal then and Presence artwork was, well, very un-Zep. 

4. Zep was light and shade. Presence was very electric guitar central without the usual softer side. 

 

Was it really the time of Punk in March '76? Punk has become such a self mythologising thing, in the British media at least. Due to the presence (no pun intended) of old punks like Tony Parsons etc. But in terms of going mainstream it was more like '77.

In March '76 the Pistols hadn't even yet played their legendary gig at Lesser Free Trade Hall, which if everyone who claimed to be there had been, the capacity would have been as big the Pontiac Silverdome...

 

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Lots of good points here. My $.02:

  • Overall I think Presence was hugely popular initially, like all Zep albums - the difference is that it didn't keep selling for as long as the others and didn't lodge in the rock pantheon of great/massive albums.
  • One reason is that TRSTS came out soon after, and since it was sort of a live greatest hits, it probably was a more comfortable, familiar listen for people, so they shifted their attention to that.
  • I would think others are right too that the absence of "light and shade" was a problem, but on the other hand, the radio hits almost always were the heavier songs. So again, I doubt the absence of acoustic guitar and such were a deterrent to initial purchases of the album - but I am guessing that was a deterrent to the album having more staying power.
  • It was indeed the time of punk. It predated the Pistols (barely), but Zep's popularity was strongest in the U.S., and while punk often is thought of as a UK thing, the New York Dolls, The Ramones, Iggy Pop, etc were creating the original punk scene in the U.S. in the '73-'76 period, so there definitely was something already in the air in Zep's biggest market when Presence came out.
  • Finally, there is just something unapproachable and gloomy about Presence. I think that makes it a fascinating and intense album, but it has a really astringent, cold sound to it - even the funny lyrics and the funk-oriented lines Bonham and Jones play, I don't know, there's just something sinister and almost depressing about the sonic profile.
Edited by tmtomh

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I love Presence, but definitely came to it later in my Zep love affair. Achilles is hands down one of my favorite Zep songs of all time - one time, I had it on and Mr. EaglesOfOneNest (who is not nearly the Zep fan I am) couldn't believe it was Zep! He was like, "OK, this is Metallica before Metallica!" - you can debate that all you want, but that was his reaction. 

Anyway, I agree that the length of a lot of the songs on the album mean that they didn't get that much airplay. I don't ever remember hearing Achilles on the radio, but I was born in 1974, so I can't speak for the environment when the album first was released. 

Sirius does play some gems from Presence on channel 27 ("deep tracks") from time to time. 

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I believe the main reason why sales fell off after the initial release was 76' was a real sea change of a year for music in general. Hard rock was not as popular in 76' due to three very popular trends: Punk (to a small degree in 76), but actually, disco & soft / corporate rock was all the rage. As mentioned above the great Boz Scaggs finally had a top selling album (Silk Degrees) after releasing five amazing albums prior which went nowhere. The Eagles released Greatest Hits in 76' &  would release Hotel California in 77' which completely dominated everything along with Frampton Comes Alive for all of 76' and Rumors in 77' which dominated that year. Let's not forget Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life 

Just think on the biggest bands from 76' and you will understand: Eagles, Boston, Steely Dan, Pablo Cruise, Ambrosia, Captain & Tenille, England Dan & John Ford Coley, Peter Frampton, Gary Wright, Donna Summer, Rose Royce, Stevie Wonder, Gloria Gaynor, Diana Ross, & The Trammps.

It was either adult oriented rock or disco for the most part. Even Neil Sedaka had a massive hit with Bad Blood.

Edited by IpMan

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ITTOD sold like crazy in 79', so not so sure punk had pushed the band into a corner.. I think some of Presence Jimmy

may have gone over some fans' heads with all the bouncing and dancing guitar parts. I think the album may have appealed

more to musicians, as some of the elaborate arrangements were not really comparable to anything else out there.

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7 minutes ago, Mithril46 said:

ITTOD sold like crazy in 79', so not so sure punk had pushed the band into a corner.. I think some of Presence Jimmy

may have gone over some fans' heads with all the bouncing and dancing guitar parts. I think the album may have appealed

more to musicians, as some of the elaborate arrangements were not really comparable to anything else out there.

^ This. By 1976 most rock & hard rock had gone somewhat pop (Rock n Roll Hootchie Choo, everything by Kiss, Boston, Eagles, Mac) and along comes this Zeppelin album which bordered on prog rock on a few tunes, deep blues, New Orleans swing and funk patterns, and complicated time signatures and rhythms. It really was in a category all by itself, was a good five years ahead of its time, and a bit dark in places. If Presence came out in 1981 it would have been a massive hit.

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Yeah, I've even read/heard that a lot of the album( Well, maybe not TFO) Jimmy had a harsh guitar tone for most of

the album. The solos in Achilles and HOFN, you can really hear a boosted midrange and a surely super boosted treble

EQ wise. In fact, unless you're talking about the 60''s and earlier recording tech, I've never heard anything in the Zep 

days that has such creative and obviously artfully applied screeching treble than the ALS solo. I noticed this stuff even

before I was a musician. Page hadn't really used these extreme EQ sounds before Presence, and not after. PG and

ITTOD of course have their dissonant moments, but nothing like Presence. Some fans may have been turned off by

the rather harsh guitar sounds in many of the songs.

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On ‎09‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 2:46 PM, 76229 said:

Was it really the time of Punk in March '76? Punk has become such a self mythologising thing, in the British media at least. Due to the presence (no pun intended) of old punks like Tony Parsons etc. But in terms of going mainstream it was more like '77.

In March '76 the Pistols hadn't even yet played their legendary gig at Lesser Free Trade Hall, which if everyone who claimed to be there had been, the capacity would have been as big the Pontiac Silverdome...

 

Exactly. Maybe 32 people in London and 3 in Manchester knew about punk in March '76, but the rest of the country didn't know shit til Bill Grundy that December. Even the stuff in the papers from the Screen On The Green at the end of the summer had been more about photos of Sioux's topless dancing than the Pistols!     

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3 hours ago, Brigante said:

Exactly. Maybe 32 people in London and 3 in Manchester knew about punk in March '76, but the rest of the country didn't know shit til Bill Grundy that December. Even the stuff in the papers from the Screen On The Green at the end of the summer had been more about photos of Sioux's topless dancing than the Pistols!     

Hell yeah! I would take  30 seconds of a topless Siouxsie over 60 minutes of Sex Pistols any day. She is my goth-punk rock goddess.

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1 hour ago, IpMan said:

Hell yeah! I would take  30 seconds of a topless Siouxsie over 60 minutes of Sex Pistols any day. She is my goth-punk rock goddess.

I was down the front when the Creatures played Nottingham Rock City in '99 and there was a point near the end where Sioux sort of reared back and then threw her head forward  - and all the sweat from her hair went right in my face! Yes, of course I licked it off!

Edited by Brigante

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3 hours ago, IpMan said:

Hell yeah! I would take  30 seconds of a topless Siouxsie over 60 minutes of Sex Pistols any day. She is my goth-punk rock goddess.

You and Bill Grundy both! ;)

GRUNDY: What about you girls behind?


GRUNDY: Are you worried or just enjoying yourself?

SIOUXSIE: Enjoying myself.

GRUNDY: Are you?

SIOUXSIE: Yeah.

GRUNDY: Ah! That's what I thought you were doing.

SIOUXSIE: I've always wanted to meet you.

GRUNDY: Did you really?

SIOUXSIE: Yeah.


GRUNDY: We'll meet afterwards, shall we?

STEVE: You dirty sod. You dirty old man.

GRUNDY: Well keep going, chief. Keep going. Go on, you've got another ten seconds. Say something outrageous.

STEVE: You dirty bastard.

Edited by 76229

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Aside from Royal Orleans (very funny if you can get the lyrics and you know the story) and Candy Store Rock (one of their weakest tracks ever in my opinion), it is just so relentlessly intense.  Most of it is gloomy, while Achilles points toward the light at times, but Achilles is so big and overwhelming.   It is one of my favorite albums but for the casual fan it is just too much intensity.  Hots on for Nowhere sounds a bit "fun" but the production is so heavy and brittle at the same time.  I love it, one of my favorite tracks,and it has some of the best lyrics Plant ever wrote - but again, hard to follow, dense, obtuse, and not upbeat.  I guess I agree with all the posts above about the combination of  the sound, the instrumentation (almost no acoustic and no keyboards), and the lack of anything approaching a "popular hit".  To me it is one of their best albums, and as the band have said it really captures a moment in time.  Tea For One is so brutally intense, yet so hazy and druggy.  Again, I love it but it is not for the more casual fan.  

The release of Ten Ribs and All shows they could have had the light and shade.  That is an incredible track.  With lyrics it could have been a great other side to the album.  If they had left off Candy Store Rock and closed the album with a completed Ten Ribs, that would have been even better.  

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Some historical inaccuracies and cultural assumptions need to be addressed.

As Bong-Man already noted, "Presence" was released before "The Song Remains the Same" double-live album.

The notion that "Presence"  did not receive radio play is also incorrect. By radio, I don't mean AM Top 40, which was the purview of teeny-boppers and had long been abandoned/ignored by Led Zeppelin and their fans. FM Rock radio was Led Zeppelin's domain and "Achilles Last Stand" and "Nobody's Fault But Mine" filled the airwaves upon the release of "Presence". Unless you lived in a town that did not have a decent FM rock station.

Yes, 1976 was the beginning of FM radio consultants and corporate bean-counters exerting control of radio playlists and rock radio focusing on mainstream rock and less free-wheeling, anything goes antics. More easy-going Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Boston, Peter Frampton with the super-shiny sound of expensive studios. Less lengthy prog-rock, weird outsiders like Zappa and Beefheart, and anything deemed too unsafe for selling cars and stereos.

But Led Zeppelin was too big to ignore by this point. Radio couldn't just stop playing Led Zeppelin...too many fans who called in their daily "Stairway to Heaven" request would revolt. All through 1976, "Achilles", "NFBM", "Hots on for Nowhere", and "For Your Life" would be played daily on my local stations KMET and KLOS and KWST. Even "Candy Store Rock" and "Tea For One" would get a spin at least every other day or so.

The biggest misconception though is this idea that Punk shunted "Presence" aside. First of all, 1977 was "The Summer of Punk". Not 1976.

Punk was barely on the radar in 1976. The Ramones finally ventured outside New York that year, famously playing London on the 4th of July and hitting Los Angeles in August. But NY bands such as Blondie, Television, Talking Heads were barely more than a rumour in April 1976. Most of them wouldn't tour outside New York until 1977.

Same with the English punk bands, which got a jolt of inspiration from that July 4th Ramones gig, three months after "Presence" dropped. But it wasn't until 1977 that the first English punk band crossed the Atlantic to tour the U.S. That band was the Damned. The Jam followed later in the year in October. The Sex Pistols would not make it to the U.S. until 1978 and the Clash waited until 1979 before hitting our shores.

As for radio, good luck finding punk rock on American radio in 1976. As most of the early punk singles and albums were only available as expensive import albums, a kid on a limited budget had to rely on radio to hear the new shit and most rock radio dropped the ball. Now that FM radio was a money-making cultural status symbol, punk was considered too lewd and crude for the aspirational yuppie crowd radio was cultivating.

In 1976-77, it was left to a few college radio stations and independent DJ's like K-ROQ's Rodney Bingenheimer to spread the news about punk and play those early singles. Hardly enough to make a dent in mainstream conciousness, and certainly not a factor in how Led Zeppelin was received in 1976. Punk, especially in the U.K. media, did have some effect on how "In Through the Out Door" was received, but in 1976 it was mere shadows and whispers to the average rock fan.

Then, there is the notion that "Presence" was a flop because it merely sold a couple million albums. That's like saying "Houses of the Holy" failed because it only sold 11 million compared to its predecessor's 23 million.

The fact is that a band has a certain amount of hardcore fans that will buy every album. Then, every once in a while, a band may get lucky and release an album that connects with multiple demographics as well as the hardcore fans. An album like "Sgt. Pepper's", "Led Zeppelin IV", "Dark Side of the Moon", or "Purple Rain".

Just because Led Zeppelin IV sold 23 million copies in the U.S. doesn't mean that those were all devoted Led Zeppelin fans. Some were just casual fans attracted by "Stairway to Heaven". Many copies of "IV" sold over the last 10-20 years were older fans replacing worn-out copies.

Judging from the sales figures of Led Zeppelin in the decade of their existence 1969-1980, it is likely that Led Zeppelin had around 2 million hardcore fans that would regularly buy their albums. This compares favourably with the Rolling Stones, who only had around 500,000 hardcore record-buyers.

All of Led Zeppelin's original albums were million-plus sellers. Five of them registered far enough into pop-culture across many demographics to become mega-sellers: "II", "IV", "Houses of the Holy", "Physical Graffiti", "In Through the Out Door".

Most bands in that time would be lucky to have an album sell a miilion copies, let alone a multi-million seller. For a band to have multiple releases sell upwards of four or five million or more was a very rare thing. In fact, you can count only two that did it: The Beatles and Led Zeppelin.

Even in 2017, they are the only bands that have five Diamond Albums in their catalogue...a Diamond Album is an album that has sold more than 10 million albums. Remember that the next time someone tries to tell you Pink Floyd, Kiss or the Eagles were as big as Led Zeppelin in the 1970s.

Basically, people are punishing "Presence" because it falls in the huge shadow of "Physical Graffiti"'s colossal impact. But "Presence" still hit #1 on the charts, was Led Zeppelin's first album to receive the newly-created Platinum Award, and had four cuts that received regular radio play.

So why didn't it cross over into mega-seller status?

My thoughts are as follows...

1. "Physical Graffiti" was still popular and fresh in people's minds. I think the buying public and radio weren't ready for new product yet. Radio was still playing the shit out of "Physical Graffiti"...which meant newcomers to the band were still being introduced to Led Zeppelin and going out to buy the album. By April of 1976 "Kashmir" was getting as much airplay as "Stairway to Heaven". "Trampled Underfoot", "The Rover", "Ten Years Gone", "The Wanton Song", "Black Country Woman", "In My Time of Dying", "Custard Pie", "Houses of the Holy", "In the Light", "Night Flight", "Sick Again", "Down By the Seaside"...KMET and KLOS played all of these songs regularly. Some more than others but I'd bet not more than a day or two would go by without hearing even the less-played ones. Even "Boogie With Stu" and "Bron-yr-Aur" got airplay.

So when "Presence" hit, radio added "Achilles" and "NBFBM" and other tracks, but people were still digesting "Physical Graffiti". And some new fans decided they liked "Physical Graffiti" songs better, so instead of rushing out to buy "Presence" they saved their money to buy the double-album "Physical Graffiti" instead.

2. If "Presence" was crowded out from the front by the lengthy spell cast by "Physical Graffiti", it then got squeezed in the end by the release of "The Song Remains the Same" movie and soundtrack. Another double-album, mind you. There simply was too much product in the marketplace (there was a recession at this time). Kids had to be picky with their allowance money. And because you could hear Led Zeppelin all day all night on the radio (even the live "TSRTS" cuts), one could rationalize not buying "Presence" because you could hear most of it on the radio anyway.

3. The darkness and claustrophobia of "Presence". There's no question "Presence" was Led Zeppelin's most stressful album as far as the psyche of the band and the recording conditions are concerned. It's an emotionally naked and honest album....maybe too honest. It also feels rushed at times...some songs could have benefited from fine-tuning and sharpening the lyrics. There is very little joy (save the funky "Royal Orleans"...and zero pastoral acoustic interludes.

In a year where Aerosmith released their best album "Rocks", along with new albums from AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, Boston, Queen, "Presence" didn't quite fit in with the party-rock vibe of that time. It's an ornery record...an odd duck...truly one for the hardcore fan.

Which is why I like it. It's not music for the masses. It was not meant to be easily digestable...aural wallpaper like some Jimmy Buffet or Boston album.

For such an album to sell as well as it did is testament to Led Zeppelin's power.

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3 hours ago, Strider said:

Punk was barely on the radar in 1976. The Ramones finally ventured outside New York that year, famously playing London on the 4th of July and hitting Los Angeles in August. But NY bands such as Blondie, Television, Talking Heads were barely more than a rumour in April 1976. Most of them wouldn't tour outside New York until 1977.

Same with the English punk bands, which got a jolt of inspiration from that July 4th Ramones gig, three months after "Presence" dropped. But it wasn't until 1977 that the first English punk band crossed the Atlantic to tour the U.S. That band was the Damned. The Jam followed later in the year in October. The Sex Pistols would not make it to the U.S. until 1978 and the Clash waited until 1979 before hitting our shores. Punk, especially in the U.K. media, did have some effect on how "In Through the Out Door" was received, but in 1976 it was mere shadows and whispers to the average rock fan.

In Dec 1976, the readers of the oh so punk NME voted as their favourite musical act....wait for it....ERIC CLAPTON!

And this was a few months after his infamous drunken "wogs" rant in Birmingham that led to the formation of Rock Against Racism, too.

 

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4 hours ago, Strider said:

In a year where Aerosmith released their best album "Rocks", along with new albums from AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, Boston, Queen, "Presence" didn't quite fit in with the party-rock vibe of that time. It's an ornery record...an odd duck...truly one for the hardcore fan.

Strider - great point about Aerosmith's "Rocks".  Where I was that album was huge - blasted at every party and in every car, along with Boston (debut album summer 76 I think?), and of course the omnipresent Frampton Comes Alive which was EVERYWHERE 24/7.  And of course there was also Skynyrd which everyone was suddenly listening too with the release of their live album.  I can recall trying to get people to play Presence at parties (I know, it seems silly to play Presence at a feel good high school party), but it was a steady diet that year of Rocks, Boston, Live Skynryd, and Frampton live.   Another release that hit big in my high schools was Kansas' Leftoverture in fall 1976. 

I also agree with your points about TSRTS LP.  When that came out a lot of people who liked Zeppelin quickly forgot about Presence and got totally into that album.  To hear Live Zep jamming, stretching out, playing some of the "hits"  - and we had Black Dog in the movie.  Can you imagine how big that album would have been if it had included all the songs it does in the remastered version?  

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As Zep fans we must always remember that "Presence" was not the natural order of things.  If Robert wasn't wheel-chair bound, it would have never came to be, or taken the form it did.

Efforts like TSRTS, the Stones' Black & Blue, even The Who's "By Numbers" the year before, were all rocket-fuel for the emergence of punk.  The old guard was showing it's age. Throw in some shiny radio-friendly corporate rock, disco & the Bee Gees, and things were primed for a back-lash.

I was 17 at the time and never bought in.  Going from Kashmir, TYG, and Achilles, to 2 minute Ramone and Buzz Cock crap was too much of a stretch for me.  With Neil Young's help, I went West coast retro...CSNY, Springfield, Airplane, Joni, etc.  I remember picking up younger girls to party and they would last about 30 seconds in the back-seat before exclaiming, "What the Fuck are we listening to ?"   What was the music of my older siblings from a decade before, was totally off their map.  I can listen to the Ramones today and still not have a drop of appreciation.  Different strokes...        

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3 hours ago, Bong-Man said:

As Zep fans we must always remember that "Presence" was not the natural order of things.  If Robert wasn't wheel-chair bound, it would have never came to be, or taken the form it did.

Efforts like TSRTS, the Stones' Black & Blue, even The Who's "By Numbers" the year before, were all rocket-fuel for the emergence of punk.  The old guard was showing it's age. Throw in some shiny radio-friendly corporate rock, disco & the Bee Gees, and things were primed for a back-lash.

I was 17 at the time and never bought in.  Going from Kashmir, TYG, and Achilles, to 2 minute Ramone and Buzz Cock crap was too much of a stretch for me.  With Neil Young's help, I went West coast retro...CSNY, Springfield, Airplane, Joni, etc.  I remember picking up younger girls to party and they would last about 30 seconds in the back-seat before exclaiming, "What the Fuck are we listening to ?"   What was the music of my older siblings from a decade before, was totally off their map.  I can listen to the Ramones today and still not have a drop of appreciation.  Different strokes...        

I am with ya there Bong, there are good even great Punk bands like Siouxsie, The Clash, Black Flag, and the Bad Brains which hold my attention. However, the Ramones & Sex Pistols were never my bag, their songs (structure & lyrics) were basic and inane, just crap IMO. Johnny Rotten was an annoying twat and the Ramones were just lame.

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It’s a bloody great album that reflected the state of the artists who created it 100%. 

Artistically pure and uncompromising.  

Too real for mass consumption.

 

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6 hours ago, IpMan said:

I am with ya there Bong, there are good even great Punk bands like Siouxsie, The Clash, Black Flag, and the Bad Brains which hold my attention. However, the Ramones & Sex Pistols were never my bag, their songs (structure & lyrics) were basic and inane, just crap IMO. Johnny Rotten was an annoying twat and the Ramones were just lame.

Yeah, I never really got into punk. I kind of think it's all sort of inane

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The album always seemed cold to me. Cold and grey in an artistic sense. I don't know if it was the music, mix, or album art. Maybe a combination of all. I try to imagine the album having "brighter" art like HOTH or III just to see if it makes the nature of the album more appealing. Then I kind of realize the album art was actually pretty genius, as I'm sure they thought it was. Instead of some over-glorified mularkey it was an almost sarcastic display of something mundane, cutouts from an old magazine. It was kind of punk for a dinosaur band.

The lack of light and shade undoubtedly hurt the appeal of the album. Zep's albums had always been a plethora of sound and style. No matter what mood you were in, they had something that would fit. Their songs changed like the seasons. Presence was straight forward garage band rock. Bass, drum, guitar, vocals. I wonder how betrayed Jones felt having no keyboards allowed on the album? Maybe Page was trying to prove something to people saying they were hippy dinosaurs? Maybe we should just accept that this is the best they could do at the time.

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