7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Singing to an Ocean,
This review is from: Houses Of The Holy (Audio CD)
I like this album and find it extremely fascinating. It is certainly one of the most interesting and enigmatic albums to be released by a mainstream, popular band. In the short five year period from 1968-1973, Led Zeppelin had been prolific by any measure. They were constantly touring, and still managed to realease four landmark Rock and Roll albums, three top 20 hits, and STAIRWAY to HEAVEN, the rock anthem of that decade. Now, in late 1972, the first chapter of Led Zeppelin was coming to a close. HH would be the last album on the Atlantic label; 1974 would see not a single public appearance of the band, and Robert Plant would undergo vocal surgery. So, HH is a document of a band in transition as it looks back on successes of the scale never seen before in the entertainment world, and forward to discover new musical directions. It all starts with the cult of the album. It is a shame the graphics on this album have been reduced to a small piece of paper in a CD jewel case. It is worth a trip to a used record store to see the gatefold album colour as it was intended. The artwork on an album was an important part of the product in the early seventies, and Hipgnosis does a splendid job. The images are at once, attractive, forbidding, strange, familiar, haunting and indecipherable, even though they are only of children playing on rocks. This is the first album from LZ with an explicit title; yet, you would be hard-pressed to find the name of the band. The album is a creature of its time in that each side is a complete experience or show. The CD undermines this, but it is not difficult to exhume. Each side consists of a four song set in which the first song is a high energy rocker (THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME & DANCING DAYS) In fact, TSRTS was the opening number for the 1973 tour. The fourth song on each side is a show closer in the tradition of HOW MANY MORE TIMES which was replaced by WHOLE LOTTA LOVE after the Bath Festival of 1971. At the end of their shows, LZ would use these songs as starting points for a medley of favourites which would include Rock, Blues, even the Beatles. THE CRUNGE is an uabashed acknowledgement of James Brown, and the band is having a great time. THE OCEAN, as is well-known refers to their audiences, which had become so large they resembled a sea of humanity. It was used as an encore in the '73 tours, and is an intimate piece of an artist singing about his relationship with his fans. It also includes a mention of Robert Plant's young daughter. It would not due to leave the OCEAN without mentioning that this is the one where Bonzo "sings". In between these songs the band introduces new ideas, an extremely gutsy move in the pop world. Nothing is the same. TSRTS starts with an introduction of Page on a double-necked guitar while he creates a "massive guitar orchestration." A surprise attack for which almost none of the pundits were prepared. THE RAIN SONG is a quiet piece of sappy pop love lyrics which introduced the melotron, and is a showpiece for Page's doublenecked guitar. STAIRWAY was actually not recorded with that instrument. OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY is one of the many jokes in this album. The title refers to an unfavourable response, "Would you please play OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY." ;-) It opens with one of Page's most memorable and deceptively simple sounding licks. While it is a variation on a theme of the Yardbird's tune WHITE SUMMER which Page wrote, it foreshadows more of what is to come as Page builds his "guitar orchestra". D'YER MAK'ER is one of the most misunderstood titles in the LZ catalogue. It is a contraction of "Did You Make Her?" (if you don't know what that means, ask your lover). Spoken quickly, it sounds like "Jamaica" the homeland of Bob Marley, who was stirring things up in London in the early seventies. It's a fun Raggae number. NO QUARTER is the piece which has endured the test of time. A John Paul Jones showpiece. Ironic that the album by that title did not feature JPJ at all. Plant would introduce this as a "subduey piece about one of the journeys." It contains the mystical vein which fascinated Robert, as can been heard in RAMBLE ON, IMMIGRANT SONG, and BATTLE of EVERMORE. NQ replaced DAZED & CONFUSED as the extended, experimental, instrumental song. By the time LZ hit LA in 1977, NQ had evolved into a captivating conversation between Page and JPJ's piano. For the NQ tour in the 90's, Page & Plant played it alone sans band and orchestra. Another piece which grips the past, shakes it loose from any shackles and sends it to the future. I experience something different each time I hear these songs. It is a work of music which reveals as much about the perfomers as it does about the listerners. Here's hoping you don't loose your way.