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Marmalade_Skies

Why did the music of their late career suffer?

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Their first 6 albums were great, but their last 3 albums were mediocre.  Page/Bonham/Jones were still technically talented.  Plant started losing his voice, but that alone wasn't a death sentence.  It just feels like they weren't hungry for it anymore and there was some kind of extraneous pressure to just keep cranking out music.  I know that Plant was going through a lot of traumatic events in his life.

The lyrics were of mixed results, most of the riffs/drumming/melodies/etc. we've all head before, no new concepts or ideas in most of their later songs.  Early on they shifted from metal, to blues, to folk, to hard rock, to some experimental songs, but they got stagnant near the end.

I also think at that time, albums were really the only way to release music.  I guess if they had internet in their time, they would have just put out A-Sides and B-Sides.

Edited by Marmalade_Skies

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Well, I don't agree. IMO both Presence & ITTOD were excellent albums and just as good as the others within the canon. Coda was done to fulfill a contractual obligation to Atlantic, nothing more. However I often wonder why they just did not release either what would become HTWWW, RAH, or the BBC Sessions as their final in 82' instead of Coda, I believe they would have ended on a higher note if they did.

Now performance wise, the last two tours, 75' & 77' had their respective problems (75' early gigs were mediocre due to Page's broken finger & Plants illness...they really should have rescheduled the tour to begin in March instead, if they did it likely would have gone down much better). 77' had problems because of one thing, drugs. Such a shame because Plant's voice was the best since 72' but Page was really hit to miss due to the alcohol & heroin. 

The two warm up gigs in Copenhagen in 79' were two excellent shows and the majority of the 80' Tour Over Europe was also very good if not excellent which is a frigging miracle when one considers the circumstances. 

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10 hours ago, IpMan said:

However I often wonder why they just did not release either what would become HTWWW, RAH, or the BBC Sessions as their final in 82' instead of Coda, I believe they would have ended on a higher note if they did.

I think there are contractual differences between live lps and studio lps. 

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18 hours ago, babysquid said:

I think there are contractual differences between live lps and studio lps. 

Good point

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Yeah some view Presence, In Through The Out Door and Coda  a decline in the material,
I certainly don't -- at least not Presence  or Coda.  Please don't throw tomatoes at me 'In
Through The Out Door' fans. I hear you all loud it clear! I know many of you love that album!

Life offstage for the band after Robert's car accident maybe started a bit of unravelling.
Jimmy being introduced to smack was the worst thing for that man. You can't blame others
for somebody becoming an addict but FUCK YOU to the person who supplied him with that
stuff.


Presence  was recorded at a difficult time for the band.  It was played on the final US tour in
1977 - which we know has its unsavoury reputation.  It's riddled with drugs and the backstage
environment is violent, but I think over the years some of the not-so-great bootleg recordings
along with music journalism constantly talking about Jimmy's drug du jour problem have helped
contribute to believeing their music declined. I'm not saying the late years don't have some huge
ass trainwrecks onstage, just saying Pages smack addiction, followed up with some lousy gig
recordings basically has some saying every single moment post Roberts car accident is shit.
Not for me.


I like the album Presence, but unfortunatley the 77 tour wasn't always the best way to showcase it.
In Through The Out Door as much as I'm not a cheerleader for it, it certainly has its supporters,
but again it didn't exactly have this huge tour to help promote it. And it never helps when you know
that the lead guitarist aka Mr. Zeppelin himself wasn't overly a backer for it.  Coda  is material
the band had written and recorded and shelved away until there was a need to bring it out, but sadly
this album is attached to post Zep breaking up over beloved Bonzo.  Jimmy at this point was a hermit,
Robert was well onto his solo career and again there was nothing live to help it out.

God this make me wish Bonzo was alive. A good recipe for the guys was some rest, major rehab,
letting, them all explore some solo stuff and then perhaps come back again together.... Oh my what
could have been :( 


 

Edited by KellyGirl

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As Kellygirl has said Presence was recorded under enormous pressure ( Roberts injury, deadlines, an uncertain future etc...) and it's certainly not the most easy listen. But it does have two stand out bona-fide classics in ALS and NFBM and it rewards with repeated listening. I'd go as far as saying its up there with my favorite albums of all time now but this wasn't always the case. It's a grower and all the better for it.

ITTOD is a different beast and again recorded at a difficult time (Karacs death, Jimmys health, a sea change in musical tastes etc..) again it has at least two classics in ITE and like it or not AML. Technically it suffers from a muddy mix but it is a daring record, attempting to explore new avenues and push the accepted envelope of the Led Zeppelin sound. It may not have always been successful but that is the very nature of experiments and perhaps we should be grateful that a band of their stature were still prepared to lay it on the line rather than play it safe.

Coda is a collection of polished out takes, a few overdubs here and there but leftovers none the less. Personally I don't fully buy the contractual obligation bit, they had their own label, they'd split up and bowing to label pressure had never been their way in the past. Plus I don't think Atlantic would have been that insensitive to demand an Lp regarding the situation. I have a feeling it was more in giving Jimmy something to do and maybe gain a bit of closure.  

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"Plus I don't think Atlantic would have been that insensitive to demand an Lp regarding the
situation. I have a feeling it was more in giving Jimmy something to do and maybe gain a bit
of closure"

 

I never thought about that. Their contract with Atlantic Records ended in '73? Some of the things Robert has
said does make me wonder. Didn't he say he wished Coda had never came out, or something along those lines?
Why say that if you were obligated in a contract to do it. His words imply that they didn't have to at all, so perhaps
you're right BabySquid about Jimmy putting it together as closure for himself and the band. Page could've just stuck
with saying Coda was a result of leftover material from the 12 years the band were together - enough to dust off and
put out a final collection of songs. The End. Never mind the contract obligation from Swan Song. Which now that I
think about it sounds weird considering Swan Song was ran by themselves.
:unsure:


Wow discussing the last 3 albums Presence, In Through The Out Door and Coda really shows how much they are
products from a timeframe of so much sadness and negativity. Near death car accidents, drug addictions, depression,
homesickness , unable to work and live in their own country due to tax exile, seedy security team '77, child death, a band
members death, and finally disbandment. Compare all of that to Led Zeppelin's first album thru Physical Graffiti where it
was happy times at the cottage in Wales, Headley Grange, each member had a baby conceived/born, no Bindon, heroin
wasn't a factor yet and even though they were touring a lot from 68-75, they were able to be residents in England. It's
amazing Presence and In Through the Outdoor came to be when you see what was taking place at those times
.

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The question you should be asking is why do you think the music suffered? Lol. But really I think the music was too hard for people to get sometimes. A lot of what is heard depends on the listener. There isn't one song on their last two albums (coda doesn't count but it was still good) that I don't like. All my love and I'm gonna crawl aren't my taste but the performances are still great. Their message was complex and self referencing and groovy. It's what the music alludes to in you that determines if you think it's good. Personally I wouldn't  throw out a single song.

If you don't like candy store rock which took me a couple listens to appreciate I would suggest this crazy shit 

 

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I can relate pretty much to what everybody is saying. One thing which seems to be I guess understandably overlooked

is Jimmy's guitar playing on Presence. I understand how the album has no keys, no acoustic numbers, etc., but tracks

like ALS, HOFN, RO, and so on are brilliantly orchestrated and Page is playing stuff that is really original, he invented

it , there really weren't precursor's to what he was doing. But I understand how IMO the performances are also very

good, but the album as a whole is a bit claustrophobic style wise, and is a bit darker mood wise than previous albums.

Overall the studio output suffered somewhat the last 3, but was far more apparent live, for all the stated earlier posted

reasons.

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For me, PG was their last classic album. Presence has ALS, FYL and some great musicianship, but it's not a great song-writing album. It's a bit like Pink Floyd's animals. A fan's fan album, or one that serious muso's like.

ITTOD has all my love and a great intro to ITE, but the rest is like a weak Plant-Jones album.

By '75 the song-writing partnership between P and P had imploded. You're only as strong as your material.

 

Edited by Flares

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Yeah, that's a great summing up. I should shut up, but still wonder how much the songwriting decline was up to

Page /drugs blah blah, or just a natural decline in creativity/ideas.

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On April 5, 2016 at 1:00 AM, KellyGirl said:

"Jimmy being introduced to smack was theYou can't blame others
for somebody becoming an addict but FUCK YOU to the person who supplied him with that
stuff."

You must be a child. Page wanted dope; it's as simple as that. Blame the user not the supplier. No such thing as "drug pusher."  Don't take the after school specials too serious. Lol. 

 

 

Edited by Silverseas

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^^ Oh haha:blush: oops I didn't mean to sound naive like I thought somebody was forcing Jimmy to abuse smack.
I do have to wonder what things would have been like if management had been clean,  but like you stated if he wanted
smack he was going to get it one way or another. 

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Their later music didn't suffer. In fact, it became more technically proficient on their later studio albums. Fans, who wanted the band to re-write Whole Lotta Love, over and over and over, suffered from their inability to grow like the band was doing. Presence and ITTOD are both 10/10 in my books. 

Edited by The Dark Lord

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On April 7, 2016 at 0:10 AM, KellyGirl said:

^^ Oh haha:blush: oops I didn't mean to sound naive like I thought somebody was forcing Jimmy to abuse smack.
I do have to wonder what things would have been like if management had been clean,  but like you stated if he wanted
smack he was going to get it one way or another. 

 

On April 7, 2016 at 0:10 AM, KellyGirl said:

^^ Oh haha:blush: oops I didn't mean to sound naive like I thought somebody was forcing Jimmy to abuse smack.
I do have to wonder what things would have been like if management had been clean,  but like you stated if he wanted
smack he was going to get it one way or another.  Drugs/ alcohol are there as our temptations.  We just have to be vigilant they don't take over .  

Didn't mean to sound abrasive or harsh Kellygirl. It's just a fact of life that in the '70s through the late '80s cocaine and to a a degree heroin was standard diet for many.  I lived through that peroid. It is a complex set of circumstances how some pass away (Cobain, Layne Staley, Morrison, Hendrix, Nick Drake.  . Etc) and some carry on. 

Edited by Silverseas

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I think it's interesting that some feel the later albums didn't suffer. Ever onwards, surely. Quality of the music, not so

sure. The thing with the standard "diet" of Coke and smack is true, but as much as I love Page, I'm not sure I can

name another guitarist so musically wrecked by their habits. Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton(booze), Keith Richards(everything!!) and many others managed to maintain a pretty good playing ability thru their substance abuse. I really

think 50% of Page's problem was simply not practicing or even screwing around with his guitar, at least to have it in his

hands. I WOULD love to know on average how much Page practiced/played his guitar daily from 77' to 80'.

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Silverseas: Oh no worries at all, it's all right! It's all good! :peace:

**********************************************************************************

But back to OP's thread topic regarding Zep's music suffering in those last few years.

It really is rather subjective. Physical Graffiti  is a tough act to follow,  but Presence  for
me doesn't fall short.  Jimmy + Robert are still a team during the writing process of
Presence.  Taxing and stressful yes, but they work it out while Plant recuperates from 
his accident.  A L S  is like the albums centre piece and sounds amazing, T F O,  F Y L, 
and N F B M  are all really  great too.  It's the bands LIVE delivery of Presence  that's a 
bit wonky for me.  Only two tracks were added to the set in 1977.  For the most part N F
B M
  was executed fairly well through out.  It was A L S  that could have the
:wacko: 'what-the-
fuckery' attached to it. The noise solo pre A L S  could get messy as hell for Jimmy and
T F O  only got a few shakes during S I B L Y.

Zep was a HUGE LIVE act that used their live shows to push out their body of work.  Not to
take away from the good shows from the last years - it's just known Led Zeppelin was one
hot mess offstage come 1977 and on.   Something though that separates Jimmy, Plant, Jonesy
and Bonzo apart from some of these other groups who also had member who abused
drugs -  is some of those groups were in a position where they were able to remove that
member from the band, or at least shuffle them off to rehab while a replacement sat in. NEVER
in a million years could that have worked with Zeppelin.  Kick Page out of  Zep?  I can't think of
something more absurd or crazy. 
*I only used Jimmy as the example because of his substance
issues AND he was absolutely monumental in the writing*  I know in the thick of it all, it was those
exact 4 guys or it wasn't going to happen.

Edited by KellyGirl

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23 hours ago, Mithril46 said:

I think it's interesting that some feel the later albums didn't suffer. Ever onwards, surely. Quality of the music, not so

sure. The thing with the standard "diet" of Coke and smack is true, but as much as I love Page, I'm not sure I can

name another guitarist so musically wrecked by their habits. Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton(booze), Keith Richards(everything!!) and many others managed to maintain a pretty good playing ability thru their substance abuse. I really

think 50% of Page's problem was simply not practicing or even screwing around with his guitar, at least to have it in his

hands. I WOULD love to know on average how much Page practiced/played his guitar daily from 77' to 80'.

Page's playing, Bonhams playing, and Jones' bass playing was never as proficient as it was on Presence, so there was no decline in terms of the quality of musicianship on their albums, despite the fact that some fans struggle with the change of approach on the last two studio discs. 

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The playing itself wasn't the problem, just after PG the songwriting IMO

declined. As a guitarist I find actually Presence has some amazing composition, but a lot of that subtle stuff apparently goes right over most fans heads. I mean Page's tone on the 1st solo in ALS, the choice of notes, sound

like some epic desperate pleading siren calling for help, if you want to get 

poetically ridiculous. And again over most fans heads, Page uses all sorts

of brilliant EQ trickery on Presence, from harshly metallic to pillow soft to

great effect. Of course he did this before, but never as pronounced IMO.

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Easy answer:  Dope!  

Better answer: They were getting bored.  

But I don't accept the OP's premise, I never consider the band diminished.  They were playing to impress themselves but many fans cried for Stairway and WLL.  To me Presence is a brilliant album!  It's the one I listen to the most these days.  PG is my second "most played" but I can always notice that it's made of lots of older material so folks consider it better than the band really was in '75.

Edited by chef free

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Just now, chef free said:

Easy answer:  Dope!  

Better answer: They were getting bored.  

But I don't accept the OP's premise, I never consider the band diminished.  They were playing to impress themselves but many fans cried for Stairway and WLL.  To me Presence is a brilliant album!  It's the one I listen to the most these days.  PG is my second "most played" but I can always notice that it's made of lots of older material so folks consider it better than the band really was in '75.

I agree.  That's the point I was going to make. PG has so much variety because of the 7  70-72  tracks. The 74 tracks are similar to what went on with Presence. I think the 8 1974 Pg tracks were better overall, but Presence isn't some huge drop off by any means. 

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Really good points there. Who started the whole Presence "problem" anyway ?? I know it didn't sell as much as other Zeppers', but many great albums are only appreciated much later, just because they were initially

weak in sales. Put this album on with modern "3-d" headphones and

prepare to be amazed by Page's guitar antics.

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1 hour ago, Mithril46 said:

Really good points there. Who started the whole Presence "problem" anyway ?? I know it didn't sell as much as other Zeppers', but many great albums are only appreciated much later, just because they were initially

weak in sales. Put this album on with modern "3-d" headphones and

prepare to be amazed by Page's guitar antics.

It is a bit of a mystery.  Even upon its initial release, Presence was not gang-buster stuff for sales.  It may have been too much too quickly....we had PG out in Feb of 75, Presence comes out barely a year later in Mar of 76, then TSRS soundtrack in Oct of 76.  It got sandwiched between the incredible PG and their first live release....so it may have fallen off the radar with all the other "noise" around it.

To me Presence is good.  Not great.  but good.  The lack of some softer material, and most tracks employ a start/stop rhythm, which was so unique with Black Dog, but became repetitive after awhile on Presence.  To me, the best track on Presence may be Tea For One.

I thought ITTOD was better, again, not great, but better.  More color, more light and shade, more texture. 

Coda doesn't count, it was done because they had to fulfill the contract.

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Right, Coda, should not be in there, few know that overdubs, etc., were

actually done on some of the material in 82', or 81'. Presence, yes, is 

a monochromatic album compared to all the rest. ITTOD for some reason

I can't make a definitive judgement, the good and bad points never settling

into a cohesive whole.

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Presence was the last great Zep (studio) album IMO.  It definitely embodied a consistent trajectory and evolution seen in the previous 6 albums (and of course reflected the trying times the band faced at the time).  Whatever one's opinion of ITTOD, it was pretty clearly a sharp break with the previous character of the band's music.  (And agreed, Coda was really a contractual obligation, hard to call it a true Zep release, although there's definitely interesting material there.)  I don't think there's any need to overthink the issue, drugs and addiction explain a lot of what Zep produced musically post-Presence. 

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