I really don’t play Houses Of The Holy enough. I tend to focus on the first four Led Zeppelin releases and ignore the rest most of the time, which is my loss as it is an excellent album.
It was their fifth studio album and continued their commercial success by reaching the number one position on The United States album charts and selling in excess of 11 million copies.
Jimmy Page provided a much smoother production, and it may also be the most melodic of their albums. Page layered many of his guitar parts, giving the music a fuller sound which presented problems playing some of the material live. Rolling Stone Magazine named it one of the 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time.
The cover is immediately recognizable and the album won a Grammy Award for Best Recording Packaging. The idea was taken from the Arthur C. Clarke science fiction story Childhood’s End.
Side one of the original vinyl release is the stronger of the two. “The Song Remains The Same” is an example of Page’s multi-track guitar production, which is both interesting and effective. It was originally intended as an instrumental track but vocals were added late. It would become more famous as a live track but this original studio version is solid. “The Rain Song” has grown on me over the years. It is a sprawling seven minute love song which twists and turns with a number of surprises along the way. “Over The Hills And Far Away” is one of those building acoustic to rock songs they were so good at producing. “The Crunge” is just a fun funk type jam.
The final four songs which comprised side two of the original release contain a number of good stand alone songs but really do not form a consistent unit. “Dancing Days” features some excellent, and by this time expected, riffing by Jimmy Page. “D’er Maker” was a surprise hit single. It has a reggae feel and is one of the more different songs in the Zeppelin catalogue. Great song but it would be a difficult fit on any of their studio albums. “No Quarter” has a jazzy/blues feel. John Paul Jones provides some of the best piano work of his career, and in many ways it is his signature performance. “The Ocean” and John Bonham bring the album to a satisfying if a little odd conclusion.
Houses Of The Holy was a creative outing from Led Zeppelin. The individual parts added up to a fifth superior album in a row.
Article first published as on Blogcritics.org