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Led Zeppelin - Houses Of The Holy CD (album) cover


Led Zeppelin


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3.90 | 767 ratings

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4 stars Houses of the Holy 4/5

An album that sees a wide variety of experimentation from the gods of blues based bombast. There are many elements of this album that see the further exploration of progressive tendancies on IV ('Songs Remains the Same', 'The Rain Song', 'Over the Hills and Far Away', and 'No Quarter') and then there are just offbeat and eccentric songs that deserve no place on this album ('The Crunge', 'D'yer Ma'ker'). And then there is the weak rocker 'Dancing Days' which is subpar, and lastly the fun but middle of the road 'Ocean'. There was one point in time in which I thought this was their masterpiece, and though I still think it forms the core of their best work there are too many inconsistencies on this album (moreso than IV) for me to give it a higher ranking than III or IV.

'The Song Remains the Same' really illustrates the band's complete divorce from the type of music they were playing on I and II. This song features layered guitars, complex rhythm parts from John Bonham and JPJ drive the piece along at an incredible speed. Great tempo shifts in the piece only further solidify this as one of Led Zeppelin's best.

The music immediately merges into 'The Rain Song'. JPJ incorporates piano, mellotron and organ pedal work that blends with Jimmy's guitars to create the most intricately layered piece from these guys. And do I love them for it! Is this the same band that bored me with II? The consummation of three years of musical development in my eyes. Then the ending! Goodness did they take the dynamics of Stairway and take it to a whole different level! (This is the mystery of the quotient/Upon us all a little rain must fall)

Could it get any better? Well...yeah. And does it ever with 'Over the Hills and Far Away'. This is the blending of acoustic and electric guitar parts that was never present (aside from 'Babe I'm Going to Leave You') on I and II. Robert Plant ladies and gentlemen! Is he ever good when he sings actual lyrics that aren't incessant ramblings about his baby.

And then there is 'The Crunge'. Incessant rambling 'about my girl' exhibit A. Not to mention obnoxious 70's funk. 'Dyer Maker' isn't much better, the roots of white reggae. If only they had the foresight to substitute 'Houses of the Holy' and 'The Rover' for these two. 'Dancing Days' is a fairly decent piece, some seem to like it and others hate it. I tend to lean towards the latter though I will give it a listen unlike the surrounding two songs (which I skip).

'No Quarter' then prooves to be a hidden gem: great groove from John Bonham, amazing mood set by JPJ and his keyboards, great riff by Jimmy and awesome vocals by Robert. The highlight has to be JPJ's solo. Acoustic piano set amongst a pallet of keyboard effects that create an elegant mood, and then in come Bonzo and Jimmy creating one of the most exploratory jams Led Zeppelin graced us with. My favorite piece of theirs because for one you need to listen to it horizontally, it doesn't strike you in the face at the get-go.

Bonzo counts the band into the 'Ocean', he provides a nice groovy beat. All in all a straight up fun rock and roll number. Nothing wrong with it as it would have been better suited alongside the 'The Rover' and 'Houses of the Holy'. Their absence alone prevents this album from gaining a 5 star and the deserving title as Led Zeppelin's magnum opus.

Overall, the sheer strength of 'The Song Remains the Same', 'Over the Hills and Far Away' and 'No Quarter' push this album over the top to 4 stars. Good stuff and as always Enjoy!

mr.cub | 4/5 |


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