Robert Plant was involved in a serious car accident in 1975. The band were determined to keep producing albums, and as a result Plant recorded Presence from a wheelchair. After the wide reaching previous albums, Presence is decidedly more modest; a lot of these songs are based on conventional blues or rock and roll structures. The relatively straightforward material places a lot of the emphasis onto the band’s tight playing – it’s a great showcase for Jimmy Page’s riffing and the nimble rhythm section.
Presence does boast one Led Zeppelin classic – the opening ‘Achilles Last Stand’ is ten minutes of intense riffing and soloing, with little dynamic contrast and Plant’s vocals lower in the mix than usual. There’s another riff-fest in ‘For Your Life’, and the stop start blues of ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’ is also fun, but a lot of the remaining material is generic – ‘Tea for One’ feels like an inferior rewrite of ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’, while there’s also some generic rock and roll.
Apart from the towering ‘Achilles Last Stand’, Presence is more interesting as a showcase for the band’s virtuosity than it is for their compositions.