Undoubtedly Led Zeppelin were the biggest hard rock act of the 70’s, but it cannot be denied that ‘In Through The Out Door’ was their worst album.
Written by: Dangerzone
ARTIST: Led Zeppelin
ALBUM: In Through The Out Door
SERIAL: SS 16002
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Robert Plant – vocals * Jimmy Page – guitars * John Paul Jones – bass * John Bonham – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 In The Evening * 02 South Bound Suarez * 03 Fool In The Rain * 04 Hot Dog * 05 Carouselambra * 06 All My Love * 07 I’m Gonna Crawl
WEBLINKS: Site Link
As undoubtedly the biggest hard rock act of the 70’s, it cannot be denied that ‘In Through The Out Door’ was the worst album of Led Zeppelin’s career and showed the general disarray the band was in during the period. Three years since the average ‘Presence’ album, Led Zeppelin had dissolved into a mountain of personal woe, Plant still reeling from the death of his son, Page a pencil thin junkie and Bonham an alcoholic mess, looking ten years older than he really was.
This paved the way for Jones to assume control of the band, which led to a very weak record which displayed none of the heaviness of old. The duo of Page and Plant combined for only one track, the shambolic ‘Hot Dog’ and the use of keyboards was rampant, dulling the sound of one of the heaviest rock acts of all time.
At only seven tracks this is sparse on quality, despite some lengthy compositions. ‘In The Evening’ is a positive start, a dark piece of rock with Page’s guitar tuned way down. It’s not overwhelmingly heavy, but very atmospheric and one of only two key tracks on the album.
The other is the ten minute epic ‘Carouselambra’, one of the most experimental tracks Led Zeppelin ever attempted, with the use of synthesizers taken to every degree possible. Tempo’s shift constantly, Bonham displaying some thunderous drumming along with Page’s riffs demonstrating what Zep were all about. Some may disagree but this is a classic composition and is let down by the weakness of the rest of the material.
‘All My Love’ was a hit, but is a lukewarm AOR ballad with no power and Page might as well not be there due to the heavy keyboard use again, which culminates in a fairly crude synth solo. Immediately following is the drawn out blues of ‘I’m Gonna Crawl’, another slow and laboured song which surely left many shaking their heads, with Page again barely noticable.
The rest of the material is as poor, the samba like pop of ‘South Bound Suarez’ with it’s heavy piano use and jangly rhythms a real letdown. ‘Fool In The Rain’ toys with the same style, with Page’s solo strangely distorted, another forgettable cut.
The less said about ‘Hot Dog’ the better. A country hoe down clearly supposed to be tongue in cheek, this is pure filler and hardly indicative of the previous strength of the Page-Plant writing duo. Yes, Zeppelin had a knack for experimenting with various styles on previous albums, but because this album lacked any heaviness, this is easily dismissed.
The one issue that continues to perplex me about this album are the songs left off it that appeared on 1982’s ‘Coda’ collection of unused outtakes. The tracks from the sessions for this album, ‘Wearing and Tearing,’ ‘Ozone Baby’ and ‘Darlene’ exceed almost everything here and represent Zeppelin at their hard rock best.
Why they felt the need to leave them off in favor of the lighter pop tracks is beyond me. Naturally the album was a huge seller and a number one despite it being poor. The album was noted for the elaborate album cover more than the music and its a shame the band went out like this.
After Bonham died, it was over and who knows if they could have reclaimed their form had he survived. Based on some of Page’s work on the ‘Death Wish 2’ soundtrack and Plant’s early solo work they might have. Otherwise, this one is for completists only.
In The Evening