Led Zeppelin - In Through The Out Door (Classic Album UK 1979)

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In Through the Out Door is the eighth studio album by English rock band Led Zeppelin. It was recorded over a three week period in November and December 1978 at ABBA's Polar Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, and released by Swan Song Records on 15 August 1979. In Through the Out Door was the band's sixth and final release to reach the top of the charts in America, and was the last released by the band before the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980.

The album was named by the group to describe its recent struggles amidst the death of Robert Plant's son Karac in 1977, and the taxation exile the band took from the UK as a result of the Harold Wilson and James Callaghan administrations, which also adversely affected other major British bands of the time, such as The Rolling Stones. The exile resulted in the band being unable to tour on British soil for over two years, and trying to get back into the public mind was therefore like "trying to get in through the 'out' door."

In contrast to previous Led Zeppelin albums, In Through the Out Door features much greater influence on the part of bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones and vocalist Robert Plant, and relatively less from drummer John Bonham and guitarist Jimmy Page. Two songs from the album—"South Bound Saurez" and "All My Love"—were the only two original Led Zeppelin songs that Jimmy Page had no part in writing. With the exception of "Darlene," a Boogie-Woogie based song credited to all band members (which was eventually released on the 1982 album, Coda), Bonham did not receive writing credits for any of the songs recorded at Polar Studios. This diminished input by Page and Bonham is attributed to the two band members often not showing up on time at the recording studio, with Bonham struggling with alcoholism and Page battling heroin addiction. As Jones said:

There were two distinct camps by then, and we [myself and Plant] were in the relatively clean one.

Many of the songs were consequently put together by Plant and Jones during the day, with Page and Bonham adding their parts late at night. According to Jones, this wasmainly because I had a new toy. I had this big new keyboard. And Robert and I just got to rehearsals early, basically... So Robert and I, by the time everybody turned up for rehearsals, we’d written three or four songs. So we started rehearsing those immediately, because they were something to be getting on with.

Both Page and Bonham later expressed reservations about the album. In an interview he gave to Guitar World magazine in 1998, Page stated that he and Bonham:

... both felt that In Through the Out Door was a little soft. I wasn't really keen on "All My Love". I was a little worried about the chorus. I could just imagine people doing the wave and all of that. And I thought, that's not us. That's not us. In its place it was fine, but I wouldn't have wanted to pursue that direction in the future.

Years later, Page elaborated that "we wanted, after In Through the Out Door, to make something hard-hitting and riff-based again. Of course, we never got to make that album." He is also quoted as saying "It wasn't the most comfortable album. I think it was very transitional... a springboard for what could have been.

Following the recording sessions at Polar Studios, the album was mixed at Page's personal studio at his home in Plumpton. "Wearing and Tearing", "Ozone Baby" and "Darlene" were recorded during sessions for this album, but were dropped due to space constraints. All later appeared on Coda.

The original album featured an unusual gimmick: the album had an outer sleeve which was made to look like a plain brown paper bag, and the inner sleeve featured black and white line artwork which, if washed with water, would become permanently fully colored. There were also six different sleeves featuring a different pair of photos (one on each side; see images at right), and the external brown paper sleeve meant that it was impossible for record buyers to tell which sleeve they were getting. (There is actually a code on the spine of the album jacket, which indicated which sleeve it was—this could sometimes be seen while the record was still sealed.) The pictures all depicted the same scene in a bar (in which a man burns a Dear John letter), and each photo was taken from the separate point of view of someone who appeared in the other photos.

The album artwork was designed by Hipgnosis. Storm Thorgerson recalls the design in his book Eye of the Storm:

The sepia quality was meant to evoke a non-specific past and to allow the brushstroke across the middle to be better rendered in colour and so make a contrast. This self same brushstroke was like the swish of a wiper across a wet windscreen, like a lick of fresh paint across a faded surface, a new look to an old scene, which was what Led Zeppelin told us about their album. A lick of fresh paint, as per Led Zeppelin, and the music on this album... It somehow grew in proportion and became six viewpoints of the same man in the bar, seen by the six other characters. Six different versions of the same image and six different covers.

Did you ever noticed you could affect the dust jacket by putting water on it? If you applied spittle to it or a bit of water, it would change color, like a children's coloring book we based it on. But we didn't tell anybody. I don't think Zeppelin told anybody, either.

In 1980, Hipgnosis was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of best album package for In Through the Out Door.

The album was intended to be released prior to the band's twin concerts at Knebworth in 1979, but production delays meant that it was released shortly after their performances at this event. Plant jokingly referred to the delays at times during the performance on August 4.

Despite receiving poor reviews, the album went to #1 on Billboard's chart in its second week on the chart. On this album's release, Led Zeppelin's entire catalogue made the Billboard 200 between the weeks of 23 October and 3 November 1979, an unprecedented feat. The album remained on the US top spot for seven weeks and sold three million copies by the end of September 1979. To date, the album has sold six million copies in the US.

In Through the Out Door was Led Zeppelin's final album to be released while the band was together. Drummer John Bonham died the next year on 25 September 1980. [Wikipedia]

01. "In the Evening"   Jones, Page, Plant 6:49 
02. "South Bound Suarez"   Jones, Plant 4:12 
03. "Fool in the Rain"   Jones, Page, Plant 6:12 
04. "Hot Dog"   Page, Plant 3:17 
05. "Carouselambra"   Jones, Page, Plant 10:32 
06. "All My Love"   Jones, Plant 5:51 
07. "I'm Gonna Crawl"   Jones, Page, Plant 5:30 

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