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Led Zeppelin - III (1970)

Discussion in 'Album Reviews' started by gcczep, Jun 3, 2014.

  1. gcczep

    gcczep Ever Onward...

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    Led-Zeppelin III
    Released: October 5, 1970

    Following the calculated frenzy of the first and the barnstorming fury of the second, the band [at least half of it] decided to do the then de rigueur luxury of going to the country and forming some introspective songs. Page and Plant decided on an out of the way cottage in Wales called Bron-y-Aur that the singer nattered on about. It took the first ten months of 1970 for them to record, mix and release it with initial demos conceived from January to May. Side A comprised of the electric numbers with Side B touching down off with the acoustic ones. To the tracks:

    The A Side:

    Immigrant Song – After a sojourn to Iceland, Plant writes an homage to the Viking lore. The tape hiss fades in with a count-down, then Page’s driving guitar is augmented by Plant’s wailing call. Short and to the point clocking at a mere 2:26, it is a compact, driving number opening the album nicely. I read somewhere that U.S. troops used this song at an ear splitting volume to drive Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega out of hiding at the Holy See.

    Friends – With its Eastern and Indian influences, it is a slower paced song with a philosophical lyrics about loyalty and helping people in need. Strings and faux gospel choruses gave it weight and texture. This and the somewhat similar “In The Light” never caught on with me.

    Celebration Day – The droning synthesizer ending of the previous track intros this song. Page guitars of two to three different riffs are meshed together to form the structure. It has simple lyrics about joining a band and reaching stardom. It is one of my favorites relative to Jones’ bass playing. I actually prefer the live versions of this song as it sounds more snappy.

    Since I’ve Been Loving You – The band’s own signature self penned blues. This song captures their essence on the genre as a foursome with the most minimum of overdubs. Plant’s smoky, lamented singing, Jones’ quiet organ, Bonham’s steady beat and last but not least Page’s guitar talents demonstrated by a memorable solo. On stage, they never deviated much from it maintaining the song’s effectiveness. When the pair in 1995 as Page and Plant, re-did it and augmented it with a string arrangement, the song took on a haunting quality and was not as bluesy.

    Out On The Tiles – Borne out of a drinking song that Bonham [who else?] belted out, this track moves with a bar sing song cadence. Halfway through the track, there is a change-up in rhythm which Bonham kicks matters into overdrive with nifty drum fills that Page pans across the channels. Cool ending song to the first side.

    The B Side

    Gallows Pole – A dark song about a hanging, it incorporates mandolin, banjo, six and twelve string guitars, all manner of kitchen utensils plus several roadies providing the backing vocals. The band goes Medieval and in a manic form too. Plant sings at a high key throughout. Page overlays a tortured guitar solo at the fade-out. Now I laugh and pull so hard to see you swinging from the gallows pole…pole…pole…yeah.

    Tangerine – A number Page resurrects from his Yardbirds days based on a lost love. Simple acoustic guitar riffs then with a soaring, reaching solo then interlaced country style pedal steel guitar notes. Pretty, very pretty. It ends like it starts, a bit clunky but not sloppy. This was part of their acoustic set in 1971 but for me did not have the same impact without that electric solo.

    That’s The Way – Witnessing the violence, racism along with the ignorance they experienced during their 1970 American tour, Plant pens the thoughtful lyrics. It could be also interpreted as a statement concerning the environment about fish in dirty water dying but to me it sounded more like the segregation they saw especially in the Deep South and how kids that want to play together are resigned to it. Gentle acoustic guitars with an unassuming, low key approach as a track, it delivers a powerful message. Heck even then nemesis Rolling Stone hailed it overall as a great composition praising Plant’s “singing.” And they say the band is just strictly heavy riffs, right? Right?

    Bron-Y-Aur Stomp – We all love our four legged friends. So did Plant with his dog Strider. This track skips along at a happy pace. If I could play a guitar, I would love to learn the opening notes. The foursome sounded like they were having a merry time. Page fingerpicks a neat acoustic solo while Bonham adds to the fun with castanets. When the band performed this in concert, it became a hoe down complete with fifteen to seventeen thousand participants that Plant climaxed by calling out his faithful dog’s name.

    Hats Of To (Roy) Harper – Page and Plant as a duo re-enact two black bluesmen sitting on their porch on a downtrodden house in Mississippi or Tennessee. It is just the guitarist playing slide keeping pace with Plant singing through blues clichés off different songs that ran in his head. At first, I did not care for it but as I delved deeper into the history of the blues I came to appreciate it more. I still do not get the connection to Harper the folk singer but whatever.

    The band had an uneasy standing with the press but the critical lambasting this album received would really ratchet it even more. They were criticized for going soft with its acoustic elements which Page rightfully pointed out was present in the preceding two releases. Yes, where were their ears indeed? I thought the electric numbers did not have the sonic impact of the tracks from the debut and second. This album will eventually coalesce with the heavier feel of the first two to form what fans consider their penultimate release. Personally, I did not play this album much in my early years yet it grew on me as the years went on. An artist has to grow, explore and expand instead of the same batch of style every time. So do their fans. I know I did.

    The cover was meant to coincide with the rustic themes and origins of the album with its supposed rotating crop wheel. I had some fun with the inner disc but of course it was only for the first few spins. I never had the inclination to tear it open just to see the whole thing. After spending five bucks and change on it then, for an unemployed teen it was not a sensible thing to do just for cheap thrills. Well, at least one with a budding anal retentive mindset. My copy even has the inscriptions “Do What Thou Wilt” and “So Mote It Be” on the run off grooves.

    Finally:

    “Credit must be given to Bron-y-Aur, a small derelict cottage in South Snowdonia for painting a somewhat forgotten picture of true completeness which acted as an incentive to some of these musical statements.”
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2014
  2. Lynch

    Lynch Here for the cookies and the tunes

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    Good review. Personally, I'm not a fan of this album at all. There are two songs on the album that I would purposely play, Since I've Been Loving You and Immigrant Song. The rest of it has always felt like they had the attitude of "lets see what we can get away with here" to me. Maybe I just feel that way because much of LZ1, all of LZ2 and much of LZ4 are so freakin' incredible, this album will always feel like a letdown to me. I don't see that ever changing.

    Never understood why such a good song like Hey Hey What Can I Do didn't make this album, but some of these other songs did make it.
     
  3. Khor1255

    Khor1255 Senior Member

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    Cool review of one of my favorite Zep albums. I hadn't heard this one much until a friend gave it to me because she didn't like it. I was almost immediately hooked.
     
  4. Musikwala

    Musikwala Popmartian

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    You don't like Tangerine? It is perhaps the most gorgeous Zeppelin song ever!
     
  5. Lynch

    Lynch Here for the cookies and the tunes

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    Nope, not at all. Not a fan of much of anything acoustic that Zeppelin ever did. This song would be the exception on that note as I appreciate the acoustic parts of this song MUCH more than the electric which I find annoying, along with Plant's singing and vocal sliding in his phrasing. Also don't care for the harmonies. Bottom line, to answer your question, nope, don't care for it at all.
     
  6. Musikwala

    Musikwala Popmartian

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    What about Rain Song from Houses?
     
  7. Lynch

    Lynch Here for the cookies and the tunes

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    Nope, don't like that one either. A couple of times I'd have to play that at weddings back when I DJ'd and I'll say the ONLY thing good about it was that I could leave for 5 minutes without worrying about getting back to change tracks. Annoyed me when couples would want it for their first song, or for the 'dollar dance'. To me, the song is about 4 minutes too long.
     
  8. Musikwala

    Musikwala Popmartian

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    :heheh:

    To each their own. I have no problem with their acoustic side.

    By the way gcc, very well-written review, man! :grinthumb
     
  9. LG

    LG Fade To Black

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    Very nice summation George...:clap:

    What are the odds of you doing a Zeppelin review...:hm:


    :grinthumb

    I consider the first 4 Zeppelin albums and Physical Grafitti must haves in anyone's rock collection. I am considering getting the new vinyl editions when they arrive this week.
     
  10. Riff Raff

    Riff Raff The Kevin Owens Show Staff Member

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    Love this way more than IV also.
     

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