What Led Zeppelin Was Thinking With the ‘Bizarre’ ‘Presence’ Album Cover

by Jeremy Spirogis
What Led Zeppelin Was Thinking With the ‘Bizarre’ ‘Presence’ Album Cover

As album covers go, you must look exhausting to seek out one cooler than Led Zeppelin. For the band’s 1969 debut, Jimmy Page selected an image of the Hindenburg (Luftschiff Zeppelin #129) taking place in flames over New Jersey in 1937.

In some methods, it referenced the joke Keith Moon made about forming a band with Page then watching it crash spectacularly. But past that it represented the epic nature of Zep’s music and the form of havoc the band may wreak on the music business.

After one other nice cowl for Led Zeppelin II (“the brown bomber”), the band’s album designs received stranger each trip. For Led Zeppelin III (1971), Page needed to launch the document with a pop-art showcase he didn’t like in any respect. (The artist had stored it hidden too lengthy previous to deadline.)

Next got here two albums with no band title or title, adopted by the sensible cowl of Physical Graffiti (1975). But when the band launched Presence in ’76, the album cowl featured the weirdest picture Zep followers had seen to this point.

Zeppelin named the album ‘Presence’ after seeing the design

The entrance cowl of Led Zeppelin’s 1976 album, ‘Presence’ | Rhino

Hipgnosis, the design agency behind the Houses of the Holy cowl, additionally received the contract for Zep’s sixth studio album. On this event, the band got here up with the title Presence after seeing the pictures that graced the entrance/again covers and gatefold.

In every of the 10 pictures, you discover 1950s suburban, middle-class figures at work or play, all of them considering a black object. This object neither casts a shadow nor displays any gentle again from it. In a phrase, “The Object” has a commanding presence.

According to Aubrey Powell, one of many chief designers, The Object was “obtuse and bizarre, and it suited Led Zeppelin.” As far because the which means behind it, he couldn’t say for positive. But the members of the band clearly preferred it sufficient to maintain it.

When reporters contacted Zeppelin’s press division to ask about it, they realized that nobody there might reply their questions, both. Storm Thorgerson, who co-designed it with Powell, recommended the hard-to-define object had rather a lot in frequent with the band.

The black object might characterize Zep’s place in rock — and society

“Led Zeppelin” arrives for the premiere of their live performance movie “The Song Remains The Same” on October 21, 1976. | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

According to designer Thorgerson, the black object can characterize nearly any sturdy presence. “The black object stands as being as powerful as one’s imagination cares it to be,” he informed Dave Lewis. “We felt Zeppelin could rightfully feel the same way about themselves in the world of rock music.”

Like Zeppelin, The Object instructions consideration and scrutiny but yields no clear solutions. “Those people were trying to discover what The Object was — and how its presence is felt,” Thorgerson mentioned. “I think the whole sleeve concept was very appropriate for Zeppelin — a very powerful band, musically and socially.”

While Zeppelin might have formally entered the Spinal Tap period when it comes to cowl artwork, all of it got here right down to the music. If you puzzled whether or not they nonetheless had the ability and authority of rock’s greatest band, tracks like “Achilles Last Stand” and “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” put the query to mattress.

“It was a reflection of the height of our emotions of the time,” Page mentioned in 1993. “There are no acoustic songs, no keyboards, no mellowness.” Indeed, the album was as metallic as Zeppelin received. As for the quilt, be happy to suppose in “Kubrickian” phrases, as Robert Plant recommended followers may.

Also seeHow a John Bonham Drinking Song Became a Classic ‘Led Zeppelin III’ Track

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