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Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy (1973)

Discussion in 'Album Reviews' started by gcczep, Aug 5, 2011.

  1. Jonny Come Lately

    Jonny Come Lately The New Kid In Town

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    Just wanted to bump this to post my thoughts, I finally got round to downloading it and listening to all the songs together (although I had heard all of them separately beforehand).

    I was curious about this album because I knew it was the first album my dad ever purchased on vinyl back in the day (I know his older brother had I, II and IV - not III, interestingly). Having being introduced to the band via IV, the only Led Zeppelin CD in my parents' collection, this is the third album I've come round to, after IV and I. I've heard all of II and III but intend to pick up the new remasters, and also want to acquire Graffiti soon, but anyway, onto Houses Of The Holy.

    My favourite track on this album is Over The Hills And Far Away which I consider to be one of the band's finest compositions, an excellent demonstration of Page's 'light and shade'. It would certainly make my personal top ten Led Zeppelin songs, and even possibly my top five. I also think No Quarter and The Song Remains The Same are first rate, I can forgive the tweaking of Plant's voice in the latter as the guitars are so good. I like The Rain Song and Dancing Days too, but I have a certain fondness for The Ocean (the closest song to the sound of I and II here, I think).

    I actually asked my dad what he thought of the two most controversial tracks on the album, The Crunge and D'yer Mak'er - he says he was never much of a fan of the former but liked the latter. I tend to agree with him, D'yer Mak'er isn't a classic but it is a good fun song (as an aside I love the reggae bit around 4:07, makes me smile every time), although I don't mind The Crunge - the riffs are quite cool and the 'where's the confounded bridge' part amuses me.

    All in all I think it's a very good album, I can certainly listen to and enjoy all eight tracks even if the two humorous songs aren't strictly up to the band's usual (very high) standards.
     
  2. gcczep

    gcczep Ever Onward...

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    Houses of The Changes...

    ^At the time The Crunge and D'Yer Maker were the tracks that critics felt was off left field from the expected heavy crunchers. What I've always given them credit for was experimenting with other strains of music into their own playing. Not too many hard rock outfits at that time would even think about it. At least the band did not take itself too seriously...
     
  3. rocknroll

    rocknroll Member

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    Thanks for the cool review. No Quarter is my favorite track here.:geetar:
     
  4. Dr. Love

    Dr. Love Member

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    I'm a big Zepp head and in my mind, I've always divided their discography into early and later, with IV being the end of early and Houses of the Holy being the beginning of the later. IMO, early clearly trumps later. Houses of the Holy is my favorite later album (which means I rank it about in the middle of their studio discography). If I had to pick a favorite song, I might pick No Quarter.

    IMO, Houses of the Holy is their last album that is good all the way through. I can see that Physical Graffiti is a fan-favorite here. It has some fantastic stuff but also some lesser material, so my main criticism of PG is its consistency. If I reduced PG to a normal-length album by selecting my faves and discarding the rest, then I'd have a very solid album that stands up to Houses of the Holy (maybe even nudging out ahead).

    There's no question in my mind that Zepp went downhill after PG, but I'm not going to bother going into all that.
     
  5. Khor1255

    Khor1255 Senior Member

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    Totally agree with all of that. Except maybe I'd add that although they slacked a little after 4 Presence is where they actually went off a cliff.
     
  6. Jonny Come Lately

    Jonny Come Lately The New Kid In Town

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    I enjoy all of the tracks on Houses of the Holy, but one thing that I do find interesting about Houses of the Holy is that the album largely demonstrates the band covering as wide variety of styles, some of which were completely new for the band (funk on The Crunge, reggae on D'yer Mak'er, prog on No Quarter, even The Rain Song was different from anything else they'd done before) but it ends with the one track that has their trademark monster hard rock sound - if you didn't know where The Ocean came from and it was put into the middle of Led Zeppelin II I don't think you'd be able to tell that it wasn't really from that album, whereas most of the others on Houses would stick out like a sore thumb.

    Do you find you have any particular preference for either the new tracks on Physical Graffiti recorded in the 1974 sessions, such as Kashmir and Trampled Under Foot, or those which originated from earlier sessions (e.g. The Rover and Houses of the Holy)? If you define I-IV as early Led Zeppelin, then technically some of the songs on PG are early era.
     
  7. Dr. Love

    Dr. Love Member

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    Except for a couple songs on Presence, I don't disagree with you overall.

    Yep.

    The primary component of The Ocean is II-esqe riffage all the way, but the end of the song isn't.

    For simplicity's sake, my era classifications are based on release chronology and not individual song creation. However, Houses of the Holy (song) and The Rover were from the Houses of the Holy sessions, so they are still firmly in my "later" era anyway and aren't applicable examples for your question (those two particular songs are among my faves on PG though).

    Regarding the songs that were actually written and recorded during the "early" era and not released until PG, no, I do not have a preference to those songs. Those were the outtakes of that era and IMO of lesser quality, so I agree with the decision to cut them from the early albums. The PG sessions produced a little more than one album so they decided to fluff it up with outtakes to make it a double-album, and IMO it shows.
     
  8. Jonny Come Lately

    Jonny Come Lately The New Kid In Town

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    Fair point about The Ocean, the guitar at the end does sound more like the guitar on, say, The Song Remains The Same than anything from II. As for the rest of that song though, nothing else on Houses of the Holy comes as close to the riffing of Heartbreaker or Whole Lotta Love.

    Thanks for replying, I was interested to know whether you had a strong preference for their earlier sound or whether you simply thought their early songs were better. Looking back, I'd have been better listing Night Flight or Down By The Seaside (originating from the LZ IV sessions) among the outtakes, rather than those from the Houses sessions - I knew the two I originally listed weren't from the early era, but just gave those songs as examples of outtakes rather than completely new material.
     
  9. Khor1255

    Khor1255 Senior Member

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    I agree here as well. Nobody's Fault But Mine is a great tune and Achilles Last Stand is right up there with the very best they've ever done.
     
  10. Riff Raff

    Riff Raff The Kevin Owens Show Staff Member

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    This and PG will always remain my favourite two LZ records. Every song on each I never get sick of.
     

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