Physical Graffiti – Led Zeppelin Cover

Physical Graffiti is the sixth studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin. It was released as a double album on 24 February 1975 by the group’s new record label, Swan Song Records.

The band wrote and recorded eight new songs for the album in early 1974 at Headley Grange, a country house in Hampshire, which gave them ample time to improvise arrangements and experiment with recording. The total playing time covered just under three sides of an LP, so they decided to expand it into a double by including previously unreleased tracks from the sessions for the earlier albums Led Zeppelin III, Led Zeppelin IV and Houses of the Holy. The album covered a range of styles including hard rock, progressive rock, rock ‘n’ roll and folk. The album was then mixed over summer 1974 and planned for an end-of year release; however, its release was delayed because the Peter Corriston-designed die-cut album cover proved difficult to manufacture.

The album was originally released with a die-cut sleeve design depicting a New York City tenement block, through whose windows various cultural icons could be interchangeably viewed. The album designer, Peter Corriston, was looking for a building that was symmetrical with interesting details, that was not obstructed by other objects and would fit the square album cover. He subsequently came up with the rest of the cover based on people moving in and out of the tenement, with various sleeves that could be placed under the main cover and filling the windows with various pieces of information.  Incidentally, the same front doorway and stoop at 96 E. 8th Street/St. Marks Place is also the location used by The Rolling Stones for their music video promoting their single “Waiting On A Friend” from their 1981 album Tattoo You.

The two five-storey buildings photographed for the album cover are located at 96 and 98 St. Mark’s Place in New York City.[11] The original photograph underwent a number of tweaks to arrive at the final image. The fourth floor of the building had to be cropped out to fit the square album cover format.

Artwork

Eschewing the usual gatefold design in favour of a special die-cut cover, the original album jacket included four covers made up of two inners (for each disc), a middle insert cover and an outer cover. The middle insert cover is white and details all the album track listings and recording information. The outer cover has die-cut windows on the building, so when the middle cover is wrapped around the inner covers and slid into the outer cover, the title of the album is shown on the front cover, spelling out the name “Physical Graffiti“.[11] Images in the windows touched upon a set of American icons and a range of Hollywood ephemera. Pictures of W. C. Fields and Buzz Aldrin alternated with the snapshots of Led Zeppelin. Photographs of Lee Harvey OswaldMarcel Duchamp and Pope Leo XIII are also featured. Per the liner notes, package concept and design was by AGI/Mike Doud (London) and Peter Corriston (New York). Photography was by Elliott Erwitt, B. P. Fallon, and Roy Harper. “Tinting Extraordinaire:” Maurice Tate, and window illustration by Dave Heffernan. In 1976 the album was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of best album package.

Album Review

Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti

Review by Gary Hill
When Led Zeppelin went in to record their fifth album they didn’t plan to do a double disc set. It just sort of turned out that way. They had recorded eight songs and the music was too massive to fit on one LP so they added in some previously unreleased gems recorded during their tenure to fill it out. The result is a disc that is quite strong, but perhaps a little uneven. The newer material does seem like a natural bridge between the classic fourth album of the group and the one they were to record next, Houses of the Holy. The song “Kashmir” might be the best track they ever recorded and it’s worth the price of admission all by itself.

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