Physical Graffiti is the sixth studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, released as a double album on 24 February 1975.
The band wrote and recorded eight new songs at Headley Grange. These eight songs stretched the total playing time of the record beyond a single LP's optimal length,note so they made this a double album by including one outtake from Led Zeppelin IIInote , and three each from Led Zeppelin IVnote and Houses of the Holynote , including the unused title track. This resulted in an album that covered even more stylistic ground than their other albums.
As a result, Physical Graffiti was a commercial and critical success (even garnering praise from Rolling Stone, of all places, which had disparaged most of the band's previous works). It ranks at #73 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It has sold nearly ten million copies worldwide and continues to be one of the band's most critically acclaimed works for showcasing the band's mastery of a wide diversity of styles.
Disc OneSide One
- "Custard Pie" (4:15)
- "The Rover" (6:42)
- "In My Time of Dying" (11:08)
- "Houses of the Holy" (6:28)
- "Trampled Under Foot" (5:36)
- "Kashmir" (8:37)
Disc TwoSide Three
- "In the Light" (8:47)
- "Bron-Yr-Aur" (2:06)
- "Down by the Seaside" (5:15)
- "Ten Years Gone" (6:34)
- "Night Flight" (3:38)
- "The Wanton Song" (4:08)
- "Boogie with Stu" (3:52)
- "Black Country Woman" (4:24)
- "Sick Again" (4:42)
- John Bonham drums, percussion
- John Paul Jones bass guitar, organ, acoustic and electric piano, mellotron, guitar, mandolin, VCS 3 synthesiser, Hohner clavinet, Hammond organ, string arrangement
- Jimmy Page electric, acoustic, lap steel and slide guitar, mandolin, production
- Robert Plant lead vocals, harmonica, acoustic guitar on "Boogie with Stu"
In My Time of Troping:
- Auto Erotica: "Trampled Under Foot" is a strange example because it's not necessarily about having sex in a car; it uses car parts as a barely veiled metaphor for sexual activity. This usage was no doubt inspired by similar imagery in Robert Johnson's song "Terraplane Blues", but Johnson's song was about infidelity, whereas Zeppelin's song is just about giving into sexual temptation.
- Badass Boast: "Custard Pie" has a surprisingly subtle one (by this band's standards, at least). The "back door man" is a common trope in blues, where a woman's lover runs out the back door to avoid being caught by her boyfriend/husband. "Custard Pie" inverts this:See me comin', throw your man out the door
- The implication is that the singer is so good in bed she'll kick her man out of the house to be with him.
- Distinct Double Album: It kinda goes without saying here, although it's not a straight example of the distinct part because both LPs are too stylistically diverse to be easily categorised. However, the first LP does tend to have longer songs that are more based in hard rock, whereas the second LP tends to have more subdued or acoustic material. However, the second LP has the nine-minute "In the Light" and the hard rock tracks "The Wanton Song" and "Sick Again", so this isn't a hard-and-fast rule.
- Epic Rocking: 6 of the 15 songs on this album go over 6 minutes. At more than eleven minutes long, "In My Time of Dying" is Led Zeppelin's longest officially released studio track ever.
- Genre Roulette: Even by Zeppelin standards, this one is extremely diverse, covering Hard Rock ("Houses of the Holy", "The Wanton Song", "Sick Again"), Stevie Wonder-style funk-rock ("Trampled Under Foot"), blues-rock ("Custard Pie", "In My Time of Dying"), Progressive Rock ("Ten Years Gone", "In the Light"), Eastern-influenced symphonic rock ("Kashmir", "In the Light"), country-rock ("Down by the Seaside", "Black Country Woman", "Night Flight"), folk ("Bron-Yr-Aur"), soft rock ("Down by the Seaside", "Ten Years Gone"), and numerous other styles.
- Groupie Brigade: Plant's pity for the underaged groupies that would flock to the band's hotel rooms is the subject of "Sick Again".
- Instrumental: "Bron-Yr-Aur".
- Intercourse with You: It's a Zeppelin album, so of course roughly half the songs are this.
- In the Style of.../Musical Pastiche: "Trampled Under Foot" is in the style of Stevie Wonder (specifically, "Superstition").
- Love Nostalgia Song: "Ten Years Gone", written for one of Plant's old girlfriends who'd given him a choice between her and his music career."I was working my ass off before joining Zeppelin. A lady I really dearly loved said, 'Right. It's me or your fans.' Not that I had fans, but I said, 'I can't stop, I've got to keep going.' She's quite content these days, I imagine. She's got a washing machine that works by itself and a little sports car. We wouldn't have anything to say anymore. I could probably relate to her, but she couldn't relate to me. I'd be smiling too much. Ten years gone, I'm afraid. Anyway, there's a gamble for you."
- Not Christian Rock: "In My Time of Dying", based on a traditional gospel blues song that had been in the repertoire of Blind Willie Johnson. Bob Dylan also recorded a version on his self-titled debut album.
- Premature Encapsulation: "Houses of the Holy" was meant to be the previous album's title track.
- Recurring Riff: "Sick Again" reuses some riffs from "In My Time of Dying", particularly towards the end of the song.
- The Something Song: "The Wanton Song".
- Studio Chatter:
- At the end of "In My Time of Dying", Bonham can be heard coughing, so Plant sings the word "Cough" as a Throw It In!. Then Bonham says, "That's gotta be the one, hasn't it?" Another voice, likely engineer Andy Johns, says, "Come have a listen, then," and Bonham replies, "Oh yes, thank you."
- "Black Country Woman", which was recorded in Mick Jagger's garden, opens with some studio chatter about the recording process and an airplane flying overhead: "Gotta get this airplane off." "Naw, leave it, yeah."
- Trampled Underfoot: Trope Namers.
- Uncommon Time:
- "Kashmir" has, in the main section, the drums playing straight 4/4 while the strings, guitar, and bass are in 3/4. There's also a bar of 9/8 before the bridge.
- Although "Sick Again" is mostly in 4/4, the band extended several measures by an extra beat where they felt it better suited the rhythm of the song. As a result, it has several measures of 5/4 as well.