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ITTOD - Why is this the most disliked album of Led Zeppelin?


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As someone who is really looking forward to the remastered releases of Physical Graffiti, Presence and In Through The Outdoor, I hope that part of the remastering exercise includes efforts to bring Plant's vocals to songs like "Carouselambra" front and centre, to make it more decipherable to the listener. "Carouselambra" happens to be one of my all-time favourite Led Zeppelin songs not because of Plant's vocals but because of the guitar riffs and the sound of the keyboard. I did look up the lyrics to this song and needless to say, I was astounded! I thought lyrics to songs like "Stairway To Heaven" and "The Battle of Evermore" were beautiful but now IMHO, "Carouselambra" is nothing short of a masterpiece, based on the lyrics alone! I did feel pretty indignant on making this discovery since I was denied the pleasure of taking in the wonderful lyrics written by Plant for this song amidst all the wonderfully rockin' guitar riffs and keyboard sounds!

It is a masterpiece, along with several others he wrote lyrics for - both in Zeppelin and his solo career - it is my opinion that he is one of the most underrated lyricists ever... and that is a shame.

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I have always wondered if Carouselambra went on to anything else after the fade out.Where as Kashmir had a feeling of finality as it fades,Carouselambra sometimes feels to be unfinished.Masterpiece that it is and for me the best track ITTOD could it have had a fourth section.Looking forward to the re master and companion disc even if we only get slight remixes.

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Having gone back to 'ITTOD' and given it further consideration since my previous posting on this topic, it suddenly hit me - like a hammer from the gods! - the proverbial lightbulb went on, and I realised what was missing from 'ITTOD' all along, that intangible, indefinable something that I've heard other people say is missing from the album, and why I was SO wrong in my previous assessment that it should have been a double album (it most certainly should NOT, and thankfully wasn't)... in short, what was/is missing from the album is a traditional full-blown, balls-out rocker of a track, whilst 'Carouselambra' does have much of that, it's heavy keyboard-driven thrust and highly progressive arrangement still marks it out as different and distinct, no, what is missing from 'ITTOD' is... 'Wearing and Tearing', a balls-out rocker if ever there was one, and a track the band very much intended for inclusion - even going so far as to seriously contemplate releasing it as a single prior to Knebworth - and a track which rightly should have been included (beginning Side 2, right before the aforementioned 'Carouselambra'). Granted, it's inclusion would have pushed the running time over the 45-minute mark - the likely reason it was ultimately cut from the released album - but not so much that it would have adversely affected the overall sound quality, and it would have made the final released album feel a lot more complete.

A much cleaner and clearer final mix still would have helped matters immeasurably too... hoping the upcoming remaster will clear it up considerably, if any album needed better separation it's 'ITTOD'...

Edited by The Old Hermit
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CODA is more a compilation of zeps entire career of " leftovers (songs recorded early on but never used),outtakes ,and covers. At least one song on the album was originally written! What the heck man! " Were Gonna Groove is a reworked cover of an old blues song that zep play as an opening song circa 68 69. Poor Tom same story,only zeps version added drums and change the tempo to a ridiculous speed .the original Poor Tom was a old folk blues acoustic song w/ no drums,and used slow shuffle.

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CODA is more a compilation of zeps entire career of " leftovers (songs recorded early on but never used),outtakes ,and covers. At least one song on the album was originally written! What the heck man! " Were Gonna Groove is a reworked cover of an old blues song that zep play as an opening song circa 68 69. Poor Tom same story,only zeps version added drums and change the tempo to a ridiculous speed .the original Poor Tom was a old folk blues acoustic song w/ no drums,and used slow shuffle.

Maybe you should open a Coda thread.

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CODA is more a compilation of zeps entire career of " leftovers (songs recorded early on but never used),outtakes ,and covers. At least one song on the album was originally written! What the heck man! " Were Gonna Groove is a reworked cover of an old blues song that zep play as an opening song circa 68 69. Poor Tom same story,only zeps version added drums and change the tempo to a ridiculous speed .the original Poor Tom was a old folk blues acoustic song w/ no drums,and used slow shuffle.

Wow...That was really enlightening.What would we do without youngster newbies imparting us with their vast knowledge of all things Zeppelin. :sarcastic_hand: .

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Jimmy didn't use the Les Paul for recording this album. That traiterous bazzard pissed off a lot of people at the Gibson guitar company.

Hmmm, not true. He used the LP for IGC and used the Double Neck for Carouselambra. He used the Strat for ITE & the Tele was used on SBS, HD, & AML. Not sure what he used on FITR, hard to tell with the effects he used.

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  • 11 months later...

I have never been able to understand how so many people rate ITTOD so highly. JPJ has far too much input to the production and songs. Of course Jimmy and Bonzo were not at their best but you would think that Plant might have tried to at least push for a more 'Zeppelin' sound. Carouselambra had the potential to be something memorable but the jaunty keyboards in the first half of the song make it sound like something Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman might have come up with. Page saves it somewhat with his somber chords in the second half but for me, the song could have been so much better. In the evening plods - I can't think of another song where the band sound as bored as they do on that track - no energy and no direction, just seems aimless to me. All of My Love. I know that Page didn't want it on the album as it "wasn't what the band does" but I believe the song is about Karac so as a tribute it deserves its place - just wish they had used the longer play out version, really gives the song a memorable finish. Hot Dog? Why not, bit of fun. South Bound Suarez - not up to their normal rocking standards but still a good track. Fool in the Rain, er.....no. I'm Gonna Crawl, the highlight for me. Slow and bluesy, could almost fit right in on LZ I
I recall reading about how mad the Americans were for ITTOD and how it sold tremendously well. When I first heard the album I therefore expected something epic and felt really let down that someone had done a Klattu and put out a fake LZ album.
I would say though that if they had dropped Fool in the Rain and Hot Dog and added Darlene and Wearing and Tearing, then, on balance, I would rate ITTOD much higher.
Looking back at the change of direction that was ITTOD, I wonder that if Bonzo had lived and the band continued, would there be internal friction between JPJ wanting to go for a more 80's sound and Jimmy wanting to keep the band somewhat near it's roots? I have read that Jimmy told Bonzo after ITTOD was finished that their next album would be a hard rock album. The band was always Jimmy's band and so I would have hoped he would have prevailed.
 

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I wouldn't blame ITTOD's lack of depth on john paul jones but the fact that the band was getting older, they weren't writing with the youthful creativity they were with the first few albums and they just weren't in it 100%. sure robert plant and john paul jones grouped off and came up with their own things for the album but jimmy page would be just as much to blame for not speaking up if he felt it wasn't up to par. 

had they continued on into the 80's its hard to put a genre on where they would go but it would consist of track similar to wearing and tearing, kashmir, the rain song and maybe some 50's type songs like hello mary lou. I dont think robert plant couldn't handle doing any songs like black dog or dazed and confused anymore.

tensions in the band were pretty high at this point, jimmy was really deep into drinking and doing drugs, john bonham was deep into drinking and robert plant lost his son. after robert plants son died he didn't want to be a part of led zeppelin. in interviews he says he basically couldn't balance doing drugs and being in led zeppelin and his family. in my opinion had john bonham not died, robert plant more than likely would have left the band or at least put more time towards a solo project. 

I think it's a good album over all. that said, I dont compare ITTOD to LZI or LZII because they are entirely different.

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  • 4 weeks later...

It's quite a poppy album by Zeppelin standards, partly due to Page and Bonham being semi absent with their own personal struggles. Maybe the public were expecting a more fiery response to punk from LZ as well, after The Who and The Stones had lashed out their own memorable retorts the previous year. Adding 'Wearing and Tearing' to the album would have helped in this regard. Instead, the ultimate hard rock band went a bit soft, at least in the studio anyway. It's understandable really, after all the band members were getting a little bit older, Robert Plant had lost the most precious person in his life and ITTOD is predominantly his album lyrically. I suppose the criticism all comes down to one thing in the end: it's a good late '70s rock album... but is it really Led Zeppelin?

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If I T T O D was a peek of what was to become of L Z's future sound - I don't know if I would've enjoyed
their music in the 80's had they continued on. (This with Bonzo alive in mind) This mental image of
Jimmy and Jones strapping on a keytar
 à la Devo style??  Ha-ha ok maybe comparing them to the
group that sang "Whip it"  with Tupperware bowls on their heads is a terrible comparison, but then
again the 70's were closing out and a new decade with a different sound was becoming popular
and 'in" at that time. 
I'm making this judgment in the 2000's.  Perhaps I would've liked the album more
when it originally came out.


The other thing is Jimmy Page is moved to the back ground. Damn when he takes a backseat on a L Z
album it's very noticeable  Blah blah blah
:blahblah:yeah I know he has told us he produced it, has writing 
credits on a bulk of the songs and yes that's him playing the guitar through out it etc.. but his input on it
is lacking compared to the other albums they had put out previously. It sticks out to me and not in a good
way.

I know there're fans who really like I T T O D.  I will on occasion attempt listen to it - to see if my opinion has
changed, but each time ends in the same result. I tap ffwd and skip to the next song without letting it play
out, and when I'm put into a position where my hands are tied I find myself waiting impatiently for the tracks
to get over. It ranks as my least favourite studio album of Led Zeppelin's - I'm including Coda in that as well.
In fact there's material on Coda I really like, but the outtakes from I T T O D are not it. Maybe there'll become
a point where I T T O D will be something I enjoy, but for now it isn't making that trip to a deserted island with
me
.

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On 7/15/2014 at 0:40 AM, The Dark Lord said:

Some of Page's best work is on this album, yet there are continued references to his artistic absence on ITTOD. His resounding Fender on In The Evening....... 

great reply! the whole breakdown of page per song =everything you said TRUE!

THIS album is amazing!  

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Not counting Coda, ITTOD is the only album that I feel could have been better with the material available. 

Jimmy has implied over the years that he didn't always compile an album with the strongest material available, rather the ones that fit together in tune and make up a cohesive album. Houses of The Holy is a good example of this; while The Rover is one of the strongest and best songs in the HOTH sessions, it doesn't sound like the other songs whatsoever and Jimmy left it off. It fit much better on Physical Graffiti, and Jimmy chose wisely when compiling the first seven albums.

In the case of ITTOD, Jimmy supposedly originally claimed that they were going for a different sound on this one, but in more recent years has said that he felt the style was a bit off right from the start. If this is true, he probably changed his story to not have to eat his own words. Either way, it's clear that he doesn't care for it much.

I think the problem with the album is that while it does sound like a cohesive album, which is what Jimmy apparently strived to do, there are two cuts on it that I feel are too weak to be included and should have been replaced with stronger cuts while not disrupting the flow of the album... and those are South Bound Saurez and Hot Dog, replaced with Ozone Baby and Wearing And Tearing, respectively. Doing so wouldn't have even been a timing conflict as it would make side one run only about 40 seconds longer.

To the ears of a music critic in 1979, with Punk being the new thing and Led Zeppelin fully aware of that, ITTOD must have sounded like Zep doesn't give a shit about what's hot and instead of moving forward, they seem to be moving backward; and it rightfully received the mediocre reviews that it delivered on.

In reality, Jimmy had two songs with a Punk flair in the can, one of which he must have been really proud of, even to consider releasing it as a single, something he never did; and by the time these two songs were released, it was too late.

But alas, we may never know what the true story of ITTOD was. For all we know, the album may have been a message from Jimmy to the critics that they can stick it where the sun don't shine; I doubt it though, because he was more keen on showing them up rather than writing them off. If not for the initial criticism of the third album, the fourth album may not have been the powerhouse that it was.

Unlike Elvis Presley, whom I consider to have too many weak albums which could have simply been compiled better, Zep only had one in my book.

 

For those reading this, make a playlist for a new version of ITTOD that looks like this:

 

In The Evening

Ozone Baby

Fool In The Rain

Wearing And Tearing

Carouselambra

All My Love

I'm Gonna Crawl

 

It flows very well, and I can bet you're view of the album will change.

Edited by William Austin
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I always raise my eyebrow :huh: when Jimmy's asked how I T T O D came about and the explanation he
gives.  He makes it sound like it was all pre-planned for it to sound all keyboard--y synthesizer-esque like
it did, rather than because of circumstances at that time were forcing it to go that direction. 

It's impossible to guess how the album would've, should've or could've ended up had Jimmy been in a
different frame of mind.

It's no secret Jones and Plant were basically thrown into a position to come up with material - due to the
fact Jimmy was a mess on smack at that time.  I don't want to take anything away from John Paul Jones. I
wouldn't have ANY other guy on bass or the keys when it comes to Led Zeppelin.  Absolutely a first-rate 
musician, but after hearing  I T T O D,  I would have wanted Jimmy to get his shit ironed out before their
next album.  I love the guitar way too much for it to take a back seat - especially on a Zep album.

 

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I think it was hated because simply how different it was compared to their other albums. I mean, lets take it track by Track - In The Evening starts the album off with a classic zeppelin rocker, with the guitar being the main focus. Then South bound Saurez is a bit different,  but that always happens with Zeppelin albums, they like to do different styles. Then Fool in the rain is where this album takes a nose dive (Not in quality, but in familiarity). Hot dog is a bit better, but it's piano based, with a very weird Jimmy solo. After that, Carouselambra is mostly synth based (although one of Zeppelin's bests imo) then all my love and I'm gonna crawl. 

There isn't really much of the classic Zeppelin sound in ITTOD. But then again, this was a different band compared to Led Zeppelin I to PG. For a band who for 10 years has been a guitar based band with killer riffs and bluesy and progressive elements, ITTOD seems like a different (which again, they were).

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just been listening to Carouselambra on the official album release and also on the second album - 'The Epic' (rough mix). Seems (to me anyway) that Robert's vocals are slightly more to the front, and the keyboards a little further back on 'The Epic'. Pretty subtle differences but to my mind these changes give the song a more balanced sound and now draws me in rather than make me skip the track. Of course there is still a certain jauntiness but no longer at the expense of the vocals. Sadly it's still not on a par with Achilles, In My Time Of Dying, How Many More Times or Tea For One - all lengthy tracks and all with Jimmy very much to the fore; I think that ITTOD shows that without much input or contributions from Jimmy, you may end up with a decent album, but not a Zeppelin album.

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Some minor tweeks and ITTOD would have been a very killer album, as it stands I have always loved it but here are my two cents:

 

Remove SBS and replace with Wearing & Tearing. Use The Epic (Carouselambra) mix, bring the vocals and guitars up a bit more and add another, overdubbed guitar to mimic and complement the keyboard ala Kashmir. 

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I love the album. Some songs could have been dropped for others. If Jimmy wasn't so afflicted he may have been able to put a completed version of Swan Song on it or come up with a couple of new ass kickers. He could have put more of guitar in to Carouse and dumbed down the synth . I firmly believe the band (Jimmy and Bonzo) couldn't work that song out well enough to play it live.

None of this happened and it won't. I just have a very hard time seeing Zep remain viable on the 80s Heavy Metal scene. Maiden was blowing the roofs off venues and Priest morphed into the group that made British Steel.

ALS was a heavy song for Zep. So even if Bonzo lived and used a double bass kit , Jimmy stopped the H. , Robert had a change of heart on every thing.......,would JPJ regress after his finest moments on vinyl and pack his keys up? 

Even if this perfect storm happened the results would be a drizzle compared to the cyclone Harris and company were conjuring. And then they added an Air Raid Siren... 

ITTOD was a parting gift that we are lucky to have received.

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