Presence is the seventh studio album by the English rock band Cover notes Zeppelin, released by Swan Song Records on 31 March 1976.
The album was written and recorded during a difficult time in the band’s history, as singer Robert Plant was recuperating from serious injuries he had sustained earlier that year in a car accident. This led to tours being cancelled and the band booking studio time to record Presence instead. The album is dominated by Page and Plant compositions, with only one track credited to the entire group, and unlike other Zeppelin albums features no keyboards and little acoustic guitar. Because Plant was still recuperating, the band could not tour to capitalise on the album’s release and only two tracks, including ten-minute opener «Achilles Last Stand», were performed live. After touring in support of their previous album, Physical Graffiti released in early 1975, Led Zeppelin took a brief break from touring that summer, intending to start a major US tour on 23 August.
Critics had said they were at the height of their popularity at this time. Because of their status as tax exiles, Plant was forced to recuperate abroad, initially in Jersey, Channel Islands then in Malibu, California, and wrote several sets of lyrics that reflected on his personal situation and wondering about the future. Once they had worked out arrangements, the group were eager to record. Page favoured going to Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany, which he felt had state-of-the-art recording facilities. The recording sessions for Presence were also particularly challenging for Plant. The studio was in a basement of an old hotel, and the singer felt claustrophobic.
He also experienced physical difficulties as a result of his car accident, and missed his family. The album was completed on the day before Thanksgiving. Plant suggested to the record company the album should be called Thanksgiving. This idea was quickly dropped, in favour of a title that was thought would represent the powerful force and presence that the band members notes surrounded the group. Royal Orleans», being credited to all four band members. With Plant at less than full fitness, Page took responsibility for the album’s completion, and his playing dominates the cover’s tracks.
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Both Page and Plant had planned this album’s recording session as a return to hard rock, much like their debut album, except at a new level of complexity. It marked a change in the Led Zeppelin sound towards more straightforward, guitar-based jams. The ten-minute opening song, «Achilles Last Stand», was first recorded on 12 November, when the basic backing track was laid down. Jones played an Alembic 8 string bass on the track, giving it a distinctive tone.
For Your Life» was mostly arranged in the studio. Page played a Fender Stratocaster on the track, the first time he had used that guitar model for recording with the band. In contrast to earlier albums that contained several tracks that the band chose to play live at Led Zeppelin concerts, only two tracks from Presence were played in full on stage while the band was active. The cover and inside sleeve, created by Hipgnosis with George Hardie, features images of people interacting with a black obelisk-shaped object.
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