In Through the Out Door by Led Zeppelin Review
In Through the Out Door was the eighth and final album of original material from Led Zeppelin and also the last to be released before the sad death of drummer, John Bonham. If the preparations for their 1976 album, Presence were troubled, the background to In Through the Out Door were tragic due to the sad death of Robert Plant’s son, Karac in 1977. It took Plant a long time to get into a frame of mind where he could write and record again, hence the delay between records.
Jimmy Page was deep into heroin addiction at this point and consequently didn’t make his usual contribution to the song writing process. Therefore it was up to John Paul Jones and Robert Plant to come up with the bulk of material on the record. This resulted in In Through the Out Door being unique amongst Led Zeppelin albums in that it is led by John Paul Jones keyboard arrangements rather than Jimmy Page’s guitar.
In the Evening is a good example of how the synthesizer came to dominate the record. The main riff is played through the keyboard and backed by Jimmy Page’s guitar. Robert Plant’s vocals are well down in the mix and only occasionally can words be made out.
South Bound Saurez is one of only two Led Zeppelin original compositions that Jimmy Page didn’t have a hand in writing. Both are on In Through the Out Door, the other being All My Love. Page actually made some errors with his playing on this track but opted to leave them in rather than have them corrected.
Fool in the Rain seems a little lightweight on first listen but is in fact skilfully delivered by all of the band, whatever their respective problems may have been. Plant’s tale about a man apparently stood up by his date is something of a slow-burner.
Next track, Hot Dog, is an unashamedly throwaway number, with rockabilly vocals from Robert Plan. It was the only song on In Through the Out Door not to include a credit for John Paul Jones.
Carouselambra is the second-longest track Led Zeppelin recorded in the studio, after In My Time of Dying from Physical Graffiti. Never performed live, this is the part of In Through the Out Door where John Paul Jones synthesizer really does come to dominate. Once again, Robert Plant’s vocals are buried deep in the mix, especially in the first part.
All of My Love was written in honour of Robert Plant’s son Karac and is one of two truly classic cuts on the record. Jimmy Page was known to dislike the record but in spite of a rather dated and weak sounding synthesized trumpet solo, the song holds up really well.
Final song, I’m Gonna Crawl is strange by Led Zeppelin standards at first but is a bit of an underrated classic. The lyrics are slightly lame but the feel of the song and the performances of the band are excellent. Jimmy Page in particular produces some of his very best guitar work on this track.
Jimmy Page was rumoured to be slightly unhappy with In Through the Out Door, finding it rather soft, and has spoken of discussions with John Bonham about a harder edged riff-based follow up. Of course, this wasn’t to be as a few months after the release of In Through the Out Door, Bonham died. A tragic waste of a real talent and the end of Led Zeppelin.
Reviews were harsh at the time of release and this release tends to get lumped with it’s predecessor, Presence as a lesser album in Led Zeppelin’s career. However, like Presence, troubled times produced great music and there is much to recommend on In Through the Out Door.
Rated Sound gives In Through the Out Door a rating of 8/10.
In Through the Out Door (1979) by Led Zeppelin Track Listing
1. In the Evening
2. South Bound Saurez
3. Fool in the Rain
4. Hot Dog
6. All My Love
7. I’m Gonna Crawl