Michael Oldfield

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["Physical Graffiti" is] a work of genius, a superbly performed mixture of styles and influences that encompasses not only all aspects of Led Zep's recording career so far but also much of rock as a whole.

This is not just a collection of great tracks, but a perfectly balanced selection of music that weighs heavy rock with acoustic, ballad with out-and-out rocker in such a way that you can play the album non-stop day and night without ever needing to pause for a bit of peace.

And for one of the world's heaviest bands, that's some achievement….

[Led Zep] are, if you like, one of the few "progressive" bands left—you remember them, the groups who were always going to move forward and keep exploring new avenues.

Zeppelin have, and still are doing just that. They established their base with heavy blues/rock on "Led Zeppelin I", and have constantly sought to build on that, investigating new fields: from the folky "Battle Of Evermore" to the reggae influenced "The Crunge".

Now they've taken electronic space rock for "In The Light", one of the two most immediately striking cuts on "Physical Graffiti"….

What marks it as the work of true musical craftsmen … is the linking: those space sounds are not just a frill tagged on for the hell of it, but properly joined to the core of the song, first led in by Robert Plant's voice, then led out for a reprise in the middle by Jimmy Page's acoustic guitar.

"Kashmir" hits you just as immediately. It's in a completely different vein: heavily orchestrated, with a chopping string riff which builds up to a crescendo at the end of each verse. The nearest equivalent is the work of the classical composer Moondog, who uses the same richly descriptive style.

So effectively is it used though on "Kashmir" that it actually sounds like you're travelling on a caravanserai through the East….

Certainly this is one of the most imaginative and outstanding numbers Led Zep have ever cut.

But the band's strength does not always rest on the new. They take that old, old theme of the blues on "In My Time Of Dying" and came up with a fresh approach, by constantly changing the pace, veering from the breakneck to the dead slow….

And if it's heavy rock you want, Zeppelin can drive a number along like no other band on earth. Listen to them roar through "Custard Pie", "Night Flight" and "Sick Again", always giving that little bit extra that's the sign of class—a bubbling keyboard here, a nifty riff there, an intricate pattern elsewhere.

They can be wistful ("Down By The Seaside"), fun ("Boogie With Stu"), acoustic ("Bron-Yr-Aur"), melodic ("The Rover")—just about anything in fact. They can take as long as they like with the next album: "Physical Graffiti" will last 18 months or 18 years. And then some.

Michael Oldfield, "Led Zeppelin: Pure Genius," in Melody Maker (© IPC Business Press Ltd.), March 1, 1975, p. 13.

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