Led Zeppelin’s last album came out just a little more than a before John Bonham’s death and the end of the band. I read an article about this album in Record Collector magazine last week and it made me think about the album again. I’ve listened to that album far less than any of their other releases, but weirdly enough as a kid my dad always used to tell me that In Through the Out Door was his favorite. Granted, he wasn’t much of the Zep fan in the first place, but it felt like a weird choice to me.
This album seemed to come at a fairly bad time for Led Zeppelin. Robert Plant and his wife had been in a car accident and Plant’s son died because of a stomach illness in 1977. The band was so broken down that it was often rumored that they would soon break up. There was even some word that Jimmy Page would soon replace Keith Richards in The Rolling Stones. This is likely no more than a rumor. Jimmy Page and John Bonham were struggling with their own dependencies, so the album appears to have a lot more influence by Plant and bassist John Paul Jones. There are two songs on the album that get no input from Page at all which are the only original Led Zeppelin songs to do so.
When the album was released after lot of delays in 1979 and sold very well even in the days where Disco and Punk music was the new standard and New Wave was beginning to form. Some critics felt like Zep were a little lost in the current musical climate. The album featured more synthesizer than the band had in years before. A lot of the album does still get airplay today All My Love was supposedly a tribute to Plant’s son and Fool in the Rain got some attention as well. In the Evening was probably my personal favorite of all the music on the album.
Since its release the surviving members of the band never seemed to be that supportive of the record. Robert Plant said this years later about the album.
In Through The Out Door wasn’t the greatest thing in the world, but at least we were trying to vary what we were doing, for our own integrity’s sake. Of all the [Led Zeppelin] records, it’s interesting but a bit sanitised because we hadn’t been in the clamour and chaos for a long time. In ’77, when I lost my boy, I didn’t really want to go swinging around—”Hey hey mama say the way you move” didn’t really have a great deal of import any more. In Through The Out Door is more conscientious and less animal.
Bonham died in September of 1980 and basically took the future of the band with him. Leaving the bands catalogue untouched since In Through the Out Door. In some ways his death may have been the best thing for the legacy of the band who have become more and more appreciated over their limited career, much like bands like The Beatles and Nirvana.
I probably haven’t listened to this full albums since I picked it up on CD about 5 years ago. It was recently reissued by Page a few years ago and its likely as easy to find as it ever was (if it was ever hard to find). Its a quick album on top of it all. It clocks in at only 7 tracks which may not mean anything anyway. The previous album Presence was only 7 tracks as well and while selling less copies it seems to have gotten an appreciation from Zeppelin fans. It has more of cult following than any of their records.
What are your thoughts on Led Zeppelin’s last album? Do you enjoy it? Is it as good as the others?