The Led Zeppelin album John Paul Jones calls his own

From the dying embers of The Yardbirds, Jimmy Page, the band’s third guitar hero following Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, cobbled together a new lineup. With Robert Plant, John Bonham and John Paul Jones on board, a new era was born under the Led Zeppelin banner. This group of distinctly gifted musicians began to blaze a new trail for rock and roll moving into the 1970s.

For the most part, Page’s assemblage was perfect. The band struck a fine balance, embodying the quintessential rock group alongside The Who and The Rolling Stones, with global stadium tours and hedonistic tendencies. However, on a few isolated occasions, mostly toward the end of the ‘70s, Led Zeppelin showed symptoms of dissonance and acrimony.

In the run-up to 1979’s In Through the Out Door, tensions reached a boil as Page and Bonham’s hard-partying lifestyle began to impact their professional libido. Meanwhile, Plant and bassist John Paul Jones were more dedicated to the studio exploits, showing up on time and doing most of the work for the album. Over this period, the band operated in two halves, with Page and Bonham often recording their parts during late-night sessions.

Plant captured the essence of this dysfunctional and moribund phase in the album’s classic track, ‘Carouselambra’. In the revealing song, the frontman sings: “Where was your word / Where did you go? / Where was your helping? / Where was your bow?”

“I thought parts of ‘Carouselambra’ were good, especially the darker dirges that Pagey developed,” Plant reflected in a 2003 conversation with Mojo. “And I rue it so much now because the lyrics on ‘Carouselambra’ were actually about that environment and that situation. The whole story of Led Zeppelin in its latter years is in that song… and I can’t hear the words!”

While reflecting on In Through the Out Door in a 1991 interview with Australian music journalist Ritchie Yorke, Jones opined that, because of Page’s absence, his bass compositions formed the foundation of much of the record.

“It just seemed that Robert and I got to rehearsals first, and we basically wrote the album, just the two of us,” Jones recalled. “We were left alone quite a lot of the time, along with John [Bonham], so we tended to get on with it, I think. I suppose you could say that In Through The Out Door is my album, the way Presence was Jimmy’s album.”

Sadly, Led Zeppelin would only stay together for another year after In Through the Out Door. On September 25th, 1980, Bonham was found dead; the cause of death was later revealed as asphyxiation following a heavy night of drinking.

Instead of finding a replacement, Led Zeppelin disbanded out of respect for their late friend. In a press release on December 4th, 1980, the band announced to their fans: “We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were.”

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