Continuing my look at the albums of 1975…
Last week I named Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here as one of my favorite 1975 albums and noted that the band was a staple of my high school days. Well, the other band my friends and I obsessed over was, of course, Led Zeppelin. Forgive me for being a walking cliché.
Something about Floyd and Zeppelin, different as they are, made them catnip for teenage boys, at least in the late 80s.
For some reason, my Led Zeppelin fandom spanned only the band’s first five albums (the four numbered releases plus Houses of the Holy). I knew a few songs from their final three records but I didn’t know the full tracklists.
I knew 1975’s Physical Graffiti because of one standout song, the epic ‘Kashmir,’ considered one of the band’s finest recordings. That opening riff is certainly one of the greatest in rock history.
Physical Graffiti started as a collection of eight new songs that ran too long to fit on a traditional record. So the band decided to expand the lineup and release it as a double album, increasing the runtime by adding seven outtakes from previous albums.
Those tracks include ‘Houses of the Holy,’ a great song that was somehow left off of the album that bears its name, and two lighthearted songs (‘Down by the Seaside’ and ‘Boogie with Stu’) that would have felt wildly out of place had they been slotted into Led Zeppelin IV.
This is a 15-track album that runs 83 minutes, testing the listener’s patience on some of the extended songs. But it’s much more varied, in terms of sound and style, than I expected. There’s a lot of buried treasure here.
Of course, I shouldn’t write about Physical Graffiti as if it’s some little-appreciated collection. I might have missed it in my high school days, but it was a smash hit, one of four Diamond-selling albums in the Zeppelin discography, and second only to Led Zeppelin IV in total sales.
Oh, let the sun beat down upon my face
With stars to fill my dreams
I am a traveler of both time and space
To be where I have been
Sit with elders of a gentle race
This world has seldom seen
Talk of days for which they sit and wait
All will be revealed
Talk and song from tongues of lilting grace
Whose sounds caress my ear
But not a word I heard could I relate
The story was quite clear
Oh, baby, I been flying
No, yeah, mama, there ain’t no denying
Oh, ooh, yeah, I’ve been flying
Mama, mama, ain’t no denying, no denying
Oh, all I see turns to brown
As the sun burns the ground
And my eyes fill with sand
As I scan this wasted land
Trying to find, trying to find, where I’ve been
Oh, pilot of the storm who leaves no trace
Like thoughts inside a dream
Here is the path that led me to that place
Yellow desert stream
My Shangri-La beneath the summer moon
I will return again
Sure as the dust that floats high in June
When movin’ through Kashmir
Oh, father of the four winds, fill my sails
Across the sea of years
With no provision but an open face
Along the straits of fear
Oh, when I’m on, when I’m on my way, yeah
When I see, when I see the way you stay, yeah
Ooh, yeah-yeah, ooh, yeah-yeah, when I’m down, yeah
Ooh, yeah-yeah, ooh, yeah-yeah, but I’m down, so down
Ooh, my baby, ooh, my baby, let me take you there
Oh, oh, come on, come on, oh, let me take you there, let me take you there
Ooh, yeah-yeah, ooh, yeah-yeah, let me take you there, let me take you there
As with Pink Floyd, I initially eschewed Led Zeppelin based on the type of music I thought they made and the type of kids who were into them. That led to an amusing moment while working at Vibrations Records around 18 years old, when a coworker/friend expressed shock that I did not love and appreciate Zeppelin – telling me that I could not consider myself a true fan of rock music if I did not embrace Led Zeppelin.
Challenge accepted, and so I rented or borrowed a few tapes/CDs, and ultimately put together a nice mixtape of my favorite Zeppelin songs. “Kashmir” was on that tape, though I’m not sure anything else from Physical Graffiti made the cut.
I had already been familiar with “Kashmir” through radio play and also because we used that song during a scene on our high school student film classic “Indiana Gallup” where I show off my considerable acting chops and physical prowess by pretending to climb up a mountain – not easy to pull off in flat South Florida.🤪