Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti
Sometimes even the curator of Overlooked Gems overlooks an obvious one that's been right under his nose for close to 30 years. In times like these, space must be given to gems that I have overlooked, even when you've known about them all along. Please allow me this moment of self-indulgence and public apology. Please allow yourself to feel as content and mildly wise as I sometimes feel when highlighting the subtle virtues of...oh...The Final Scene in the Otherwise Horrendous Staying Alive.
I've spent a good part of the last 3 days listening to Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti album. For years, since my latent acceptance and admiration of the band, this has been one of their albums I've never listened to all the way through. I'd pick and choose the few "hits" and move on to the earlier albums, if I needed to continue to "get the Led out," or other albums by artists more in my wheelhouse. For the last 3 days, however, I've listened to this double album from start to finish a half dozen times. After all these years I suddenly find myself appreciating the icy, menacing production of songs like "Custard Pie", "The Rover", and "In the Light". I've been thinking about how,in lesser hands, this hard rock take on The Blooz was done with, at best, an unavoidable element of cartoonish evil (eg, Black Sabbath) or unflattering horniness (eg, ZZ Top) or, at worse (eg, ZZ Top), well, a lot worse than "at best." The lab-coat-wearing Kentonite in me is once more impressed with Zep's mix of science, disgust, and hippie-eyed optimism. Bravo, Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti!
In conclusion, I apologize to all the burnouts of my youth for having mostly overlooked this band and its followers at the end of their prime. You were right.