on February 17, 2005
Imagine turning out four of the most successful and groundbreaking heavy metal/blues-rock albums of all time, only to go on turning out more outstanding material. Very few bands in history have consistently delivered mind-blowing albums one after the other for an extended period of time the way Zeppelin has. Zeppelin had invented the sound of the decade, and by 1973, they were really ready to spread their wings (as if they hadn't already).
"Houses Of The Holy" follows the same foot steps as "Led Zeppelin IV", but the approach is much more easy-going. Jimmy Page's riffs range from folk hooks as well as his classic blues-rock hooks, giving the album a lighter and looser feel. The album kicks off with epic "The Song Remains the Same". "The Rain Song" is a moody, meandering tune, sprawling progressive rock arrangements touching on classical music, jazz, blues, and folk, as well as hard rock. Robert Plant's vocals are soulful and heartfelt. "The Rain Song" also shows Jimmy Page's growth as a producer. "Over the Hills and Far Away" was a further progression away from the band's original heavy blues into more diverse arrangements. The acoustic introduction is a variation of Jimmy Page's own "White Summer," which was highly influenced by Davey Graham's "She Moved Thro' the Fair." The affectionate James Brown send-up "The Crunge," one of my favorites, really adds to the diversity of the album. "Dancing Days" gives you a solid taste of their classic hard rock strut. The reggae-influenced song "D'Yer Mak'er", featuring John Bonham's driving drums makes for an exceptional love song. The song was released as a single and reached the top 20, staying on the charts for total of eight weeks. Zeppelin's spooky "No Quarter" is a jazz, bluesy jam. The songs starts off with John Paul Jones' electric piano, reminiscent of the Doors' "Riders On The Storm". The song jumps into Bonham's hard-hitting drums, then leads into Page's blues-rock riff, backed by an analog synthesizer. Plant paints a picture of creepy images within his soaring slowed-down vocals. "The Ocean" makes for a great closer, featuring a funky guitar riff from Page, into an a cappella, going out swinging.
It's hard to pick a "best" Zeppelin album. Usually my favorite is the one I am currently listening too. "Houses Of The Holy" lives up to the reputation of their first four masterpieces. They took a chance and were unfazed by the spotlight. This album adds dramatic influence to heavy metal, blues-rock and hard rock as we know it today. Don't miss out on this flawless classic.
on August 20, 2000
If you think of Led Zeppelin as heavy metal band, then you've only heard Whole Lotta Love and Black Dog. On this album, as with each of their albums, they went far, far outside the realm of whatever heavy metal encompasses.
From the majestic opening of The Song Remains The Same to the '50's doo-wop fade-out of The Ocean, this is possibly Led Zep's most consistent album. With one-man orchestra John Paul Jones prominent on The Rain Song and No Quarter, Jimmy Page in brillant acoustic form on Over The Hills And Far Away and pulling out a killer riff in Dancing Days, John Bonham dominating The Crunge and D'yer Mak'er (pronounced Jamaica, for those who don't know), and Robert Plant superb throughout, each member of the band is at their peak, at a time before the excesses of subsequent tours began to take their toll.
The perfect album to listen to pool-side on a sunny day. Just crank it up and enjoy the magic.
Houses Of The Holy is probably the most melodic of all Led Zeppelin's albums. The album has full and layered sound that relies more on the band's powerhouse rhythm section of John Paul Jones and John Bonham than on Jimmy Page's guitars. Don't worry though, Mr. Page's powerhouse riffs abound throughout the album, but they are deftly mixed in to create a bigger sound. Mr. Jones' keyboards are found in heavy doses which is a welcomed thing. "The Crunge" is a James Brown tribute that has a loose, funky feel and "Over The Hills & Faraway" is a driving rocker. "Dancing Days" has a melodious beat with a stinging guitar and "D'yer Mak'er" is a reggae influenced song and is one of the few Zeppelin songs you can actually dance to. "No Quarter" is the most mystical and darkest of all of Zeppelin's songs. The music has strange keyboards and Robert Plant's voice is so distorted that is sounds like he's singing under water. The lyrics are Tokleinesque in nature and the song is a mini masterpiece. The album closes out with the thumping "The Ocean". Houses of The Holy has another infamous Zeppelin cover and brought them back to number one.
Ah, 1973: It was the year I was born, Pink Floyd put out the seminal Dark Side Of The Moon, and Led Zeppelin's arguably best release, "Houses of the Holy," also came out. The urgent opening riffs on "The Song Remains the Same" signal great things to come. Jimmy Page does some marvelous twin guitar work, Robert Plant has an almost Chimpmunkish yelp, and we're off and running. "The Rain Song" quickly tones things down, a soothing, dreamy tune sprung from the South Carribean, with strings in the background for further relaxing effect. "The Rain Song" might be Zeppelin's best acoustic song ever.
Like Pink Floyd, Zeppelin refused to releasing songs as singles. And yet, structured pop shines through on the folkishly delightful "Over the Hills and Far Away," the fun rock jingle of "Dancing Days," and the reggae- flavored "D'yer Maker." "No Quarter" contains a dimmer vibe, filled with buzzy guitars, a brooding piano, and Plant's isolated voice coming through in distorted tones, like a man coping with deep depression. Midway through, John Paul Jones plays a beautifully serene piano, only to give way to John Bonham's smooth rhythmic drum kick. The band's cohesiveness is at an all-time high here, as everyone involved gets to subtly show off. There's nothing coy about the next sublime rocker, "The Ocean," which anybody with half a heartbeat could stomp along to.
"Houses of the Holy" may have been Zeppelin at its height; the band could have called it quits after this record and still be assured easy classic-rock status. It's simply another great Zeppelin album that adds to a string of greats. The guys kept their style simple, yet branched out a bit and explored new avenues. Some would even say that all Zeppelin albums after this one were pleasant icing on the cake. Of course, the same thing has been said about Pink Floyd after 1973, as well.
on March 18, 2003
"The Song Remains The Same", "The Rain Song" and "Over The Hills And Far Away" are, in my humble opinion, the best songs the Zeps ever recorded. A sensual bluesy rocker, a gentle acousting tapestrie and a folk song ...funky hard rocker, these might not be the most played Zep tracks ("Stairway to Heaven" and "Kashmir" still hold that distinction), they are certainly some of the best. Almost everything about them is perfect, every guitar track, every bass line, every drum beat. It would be worth getting this CD just for these tracks.
What about the rest of the album? It's quite good. There's some stuff here that'll make you roll your eyes up, like the silly funk workout, "The Crunge" and the catchy but stupid "Dancing Days." But listen to Plant get down with da riddim, mon as he play some of dat reggae in "D'yer Mak'er" (pronounced "Jamai'ker") "No Quarter" is definitely the creepiest Led Zep song ever recorded. It's so ominous, foreboding and mournful that it could have been recorded by Black Sabbath in one of their more experimental phases. "The Ocean" is a fun rock work out that'll get stuck in your head.
But really, they could have just recorded sounds of the bands farting and telling bad jokes and I'd still love "Houses of the Holy" because of those first three tracks I mentioned.
Can you dig it?
on December 27, 2000
"Led Zeppelin 4" is definitely one of the best rock albums ever conceived. It seemed almost impossible for Zeppelin to outdo their 1971 masterpiece, which went on to sell a whopping 16 million copies. But after 15 months, the four wild men known as Led Zeppelin released their fifth album "Houses of the Holy" in March 1973, their most ambitious piece of work. Although there are a couple of flaws, it's still another great album. Things start off in hard rock fashion with "The Song Remanins the Same," a blazing opening number which features Jimmy Page and his trusty red and black double-necked guitar. Then things calm down a bit with "The Rain Song," a truly beautiful acoustic song which features Robert Plant at his lyrical best; sort of like a softer version of "Stairway to Heaven." "Over the Hills and Far Away" is pure classic Zep, with a great acoustic opener by Mr. Page. "The Crunge," a James Brown tribute, is kind of overdone but it makes me smile every time. "Dancing Days" has catchy riffs and a killer chorus. "D'yer Mak'er" has some cornball lovey-dovey lyrics and an uneven guitar solo from Jimmy Page, but at least the band was brave enough to record it. After the first six tracks make you feel happy, "No Quarter" makes you feel like crap. Featuring a creepy synthesizer, an energized drum kick, and Robert Plant singing in a low, frightening tone, "No Quarter" features some of John Paul Jones' best keyboard work, including his brilliant grand piano entrance. Finally, Zep rocks even harder with "The Ocean." John Bonham rules this final track with furiously awesome drum beats (he even sings at the beginning!) Even though "D'yer Mak'er" should've been more thought out and "No Quarter" should've been in Zep's next album "Physhical Grafitti" instead, "Houses of the Holy" is still a perfect Led Zeppelin album--it's alive and ambitious.
on December 20, 2006
No one can touch Led Zeppelin's studio recordings. These are the best. Believe it or not, this was the last one for me to purchase back in the day. I don't think I got this one until early '78.
My first thought was not good though. I didn't like the studio version of 'Song Remains the Same'. That was the first song, and I didn't like it. The reason: I had the 'Song Remains the Same Soundtrack' with the live version. I still think the live version is a much better version. The rest of these are classics in pure Zeppelin fashion.
Imagine that, the band that I think made the best studio albums of all time and my only complaint is that I like a live version of one song better. Hmmm... pretty minor complaint and this still deserves every bit of the 5 stars.
If I were to meet Jimmy Page, I'd only say things I'm sure he's already heard a million times, but he is the master of the studio. The songs were well crafted too, but I think this CD is another example of 'studio brilliance' that only a few artists ever have been able to do. When you can create EXACTLY the sound you want and the atmosphere you want... well that's brilliance.
on April 16, 2001
This was the climax of Led Zeppelin's career. Released in 1973, this album was the first Zep recording to have a title. The boys were now mega stars around the world after "IV"... and they had enormous pressure to put out something better. Well just put in "Houses of the Holy" and you will soon realize that this is exactly what they did.
HotH is not as radio friendly as the first 4 Zep albums were. In fact, I don't think I've ever heard any of the songs on the radio besides Dy'er Mak'er. What does this mean? Nothing. In fact, it means that this will all be fresh material to you if you haven't heard the album itself before.
"The Song Remains The Same" is a fast, fun song with unreal guitar work from Jimmy Page. Robert Plant's vocals are so-so, but it's reall the music on this song that shines. Bonham pounds away like the drugged up, freak-genius he was.
"The Rain Song" is an absolutely gorgeous acoustic song. Clocking in at around 7 and a half minutes, it stands right up there with the other Zepics (Stairway, Kashmir, Achilles...). Very beautiful song here. Great to listen to... on a rainy day! What irony ;) Best song on the CD by far.
"Over the Hills and Far Away" starts off with a nice acoustic beginning and turns into a hard rocking good, fun song. Great riff created by Page here. My 2nd favorite song.
"The Crunge" has a great, funky beat to it. Another fun, rocking song created by Zeppelin here. I love it.
"Dancing Days" is something almost everyone has heard. If not by Zeppelin, then by the Stone Temple Pilots who covered it. Great inventive riff and good vocals by Plant.
"Dy'er Mak'er" rules. It truly does. A very silly song (just look at the lyrics). This was the only SINGLE released from "Houses of the Holy"...
"No Quarter" is pure genius. Another great Zepic that is very underated. This song gives me the chills. Something else to realize is that Tool covered this song. 'Nuff said.
The album ends with a great, heavy song "The Ocean". Bonham is at his best on this song, and Page's riffs are as usual, heavy as a mother f**ker. Just like most Zeppelin albums, a rocking way to end another classic recording.
I give most of the credit of this masterpiece to Jimmy Page. The production is astounding. The order of the songs (an underated factor in albums) is perfect. Page was a master at this. He knew exactly how to order the songs so that the listener would not get bored.
House of the Holy is my favorite Zeppelin album. Each song is incredible, and does not sound like anything else on the album. Everything is fresh, and still sounds as great as it did in 1973. Great job Led Zeppelin.
on August 13, 2000
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.
With this 1973 album Led Zeppelin continues to cause trouble by offering an album cover by Hipgnosis with naked blonde children climbing a bunch of rocks without any reference to the title or even the name of the band. The group figured everybody would know about "Houses of the Holy" and insisted on finding new ways of tweaking their noses at the music business beyond producing songs that were way too long for AM Top 40 airplay. There were those of us who were just happy that there was an official name to Led Zep's fifth album after the previous one was known variously as "Led Zeppelin IV," "Runes" and "ZOSO." "House of the Holy" is very similar to that album in that once again there are no length blues tracks as you would find on their first three albums, although we do have John Paul Jones playing with his synthesizer on "No Quarter," which became his signature song.
What we do have are more examples of Led Zep's version of rock 'n' roll where the bass lines and Bonzo's drumming come up big with "The Ocean" (I like the odd little a cappella section) and "Dancing Days," as well as the folk influence on the acoustic beginning to "Over the Hills and Far Away." We even have one of the better examples of Led Zep being cute with "D'yer Mak'er" ("Me wife is going on vacation." "Jamica?" "No, she's going of her own free will...") and the group's first attempt to try to duplicate the success of "Stairway to Heaven" with the lush synthetic strings of "The Rain Song." Actually, I think the opening track, "The Song Remains the Same" is a better effort along those lines, covering much more ground both musically and vocally. You always get the feeling that Jimmy Page is always looking for the perfect song to not only start off an album but to open a concert, which probably makes it ironic that the song they apparently used most often was "Rock and Roll," the second track from their fourth album. Overall, "Houses of the Holy" is probably the best of the second level Led Zeppelin albums