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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin III CD (album) cover


Led Zeppelin


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3.94 | 1011 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Fragile

For me, this was a lull between two greats, in much the same way as Yes' "Fragile" was a slight but definite dip in their catalogue.

Things start off in pure rock mode, with the sublime "Immigrant's song", one of Led Zeppelin's most commercial yet loveable pieces. The lyrics are inspired by the Viking invasions, the band having (then) recently played in Iceland. The song was a minor hit for the band in the US, where it was backed by the rare but excellent non album B- side, "Hey hey what can I do". Things quickly turn gentler as the acoustic sounds which dominate the album open "Friends". The band had retired to an isolated cottage in back- country Wales to work on the album, the convivial surroundings apparently persuading them to lighten up. The rare strings on this track may be seen as a precursor to "Kashmir" on "Physical Graffiti".

"Since I've been loving you" reverts to the band's blues influences of the previous album, and thus sounds a little out of place here. The songs was in fact recorded for the second album, but dropped for reasons of space. It went on to become a cornerstone of the band's live act, being substantially extended in the live environment.

The closest John Bonham gets to a drum solo here is on his co-composed "Out on the tiles", a rather forgettable pop rock piece with a driving Jimmy Page riff. "Gallows pole" is a variant on a traditional folk song which itself has many variations. Led Zeppelin's version is based on folk singer Leadbelly's interpretation, the instrumentation reverting to the acoustic sounds which dominate the album. "Tangerine" is a pleasant Jimmy Page number with some fine guitar work. The song is a gentle love song with unusually romantic lyrics and pedal steel guitar. The following "That's the way" is taken from the same mould, the pace quickening but the folk mood remaining for "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp", not to be confused with the correctly spelt "Bron-Yr-Aur," from "Physical graffiti".

The album closes with a tribute to the legendary Roy Harper (who is probably best known in these parts for his vocal performance on Pink Floyd's "Have a cigar"). The song, which consists only of vocals by Plant and guitar by Page, is in reality an amalgam of blues standards, not Harper songs, which would have been better being replaced on the album by the aforementioned "Hey hey what can I do." This has to be one of Led Zeppelin's poorest recordings, and acts as a distasteful closer to the album.

"Led Zeppelin III" is for me an adequate but unexciting album, with occasional highlights. When considering the band's catalogue as a whole, the many acoustic tracks here make for a fine contrast with their generally heavy material. When gathered in the form of a single album however, the results are out of character and undemanding.

In terms of prog influences, "Led Zeppelin III" probably had the less than any other of the early albums. Some prog folk bands may have explored similar territories, but their roots in that area were well established by the time this album was released. Indeed, the most influential part of the album is probably the wonderfully original sleeve, complete with 12" rotating cardboard wheel.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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