- You’ll find solid excellent sound on both sides of this outstanding copy of Zep’s final release
- It’s all here: huge amounts of rock-solid bass, grungy guitars, breathy, natural vocals, and jump out of the speakers presence and energy
- Fool In The Rain and All My Love are two of the best, and best sounding, tracks on the album
- “The album’s opening number, ‘In the Evening,’ with its stomping rhythms and heavy, staggered riffs, suggests that Zeppelin haven’t deviated from their course, but by the time the rolling shuffle of ‘South Bound Suarez’ kicks into gear, it’s apparent that they’ve regained their sense of humor.”
- If you’re a Zep fan, this title from 1979 is surely a Must Own
- The complete list of titles from 1980 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
This may not be Zep’s best album, but there are some great songs here, and the music really works when the sound is this good.
This vintage Swan Song pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What The Best Sides Of In Through The Out Door Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1979
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Zep’s Last from the Studio
We found the best sounding tracks to be “Fool In The Rain” on side one and “All My Love” on side two.
“In The Evening” can rock with the best of them, “South Bound Saurez” can be very rich and sweet, and “I’m Gonna Crawl” can sound out of this world.
In fact, after playing two knockout copies we found back to back, I am a bigger fan of this album than I ever was.
What We’re Listening For On In Through The Out Door
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the guitars and drums, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
And The Classic Pressing?
After finishing our first shootout for this album in August of 2007, our faces were sure red. We used to think the Classic version was pretty decent, but the best originals SLAUGHTER it! We had never done a shootout for this album before that. We didn’t feel up to the challenge, because most pressings tend to be miserable — gritty, grainy, hard sounding, congested mids, dull, and so on.
The best pressings of this album sound AMAZING, but they are few and far between. The test is an easy one — a copy that makes you want to turn up the volume is likely a winner. The Classic does not pass that test.
We threw one on and just couldn’t deal with the edgy vocals and upper midrange boost. As far as we’re concerned, there’s no substitute for The Real Thing. As hard as it is to find great sounding copies of this album, it’s positively impossible to sit through Classic’s version.
Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.
In the Evening
South Bound Saurez
Fool in the Rain
All My Love
I’m Gonna Crawl
Somewhere between Presence and In Through the Out Door, disco, punk, and new wave had overtaken rock & roll, and Led Zeppelin chose to tentatively embrace these pop revolutions, adding synthesizers to the mix and emphasizing John Bonham’s inherent way with a groove.
The album’s opening number, “In the Evening,” with its stomping rhythms and heavy, staggered riffs, suggests that Zeppelin haven’t deviated from their course, but by the time the rolling shuffle of “South Bound Suarez” kicks into gear, it’s apparent that they’ve regained their sense of humor. After “South Bound Suarez,” the group tries a variety of styles, whether it’s an overdriven homage to Bakersfield county called “Hot Dog,” the layered, Latin-tinged percussion and pianos of “Fool in the Rain,” or the slickly seductive ballad “All My Love”
… the record was a graceful way to close to Zeppelin’s career, even if it wasn’t intended as the final chapter.