on 16 October 2006
I love this Album! In fact this was the album that got me into Zeppelin, and D'yer Mak'er was the track that sparked my love for this band more than 20 years ago.
Houses of the Holy is a typical Led Zeppelin album, inasmuch as it is a collection of tracks of different styles and moods, delivered by superb musicianship, yet unified by that unique, indescribable Zeppelin sound. As usual, the band invite you on a musical journey that pushes the boundaries of what you thought Led Zep are all about.
Jimmy Page's guitar playing is immaculate through out, from the multi layered guitar rock anthem "The Song Remains the same", through probably their most beautiful ballad "The Rain Song". "Over the Hills and far away" is a folk rock track that would have graced Led Zep III and Dancing Days is an off beat rocker with some great slide guitar playing. The Ocean is probably one of the great guitar riff rock songs ever, in the very best tradition of Black Dog and Heartbreaker whilst No Quarter illustrates the growing creative influence of John Paul Jones.
The tracks that usually divide opinion are "The Crunge" and "D'yer Mak'er". If you take them on face value, The Crunge has a groove that is a brilliant advert for the rhythm section whilst D'yer Mak'er is simply a beautiful, naïve love song.
This album is great for listening to in the summertime; sitting around a beach fire with friends watching the sun set, and has a beautifully uplifting vibe. If you like head banging your way through an entire album then maybe this isn't for you. If you like something a bit more varied then this is a classic.
on 1 November 2003
This is an album on which all 8 tracks give me tingles, that fabulous feeling that you get when you love a song so much that you almost want to cry and dance and sing all at the same time.
It kicks off with a truly great rock song, 'The Song Remains the Same'. Having recently watched the video of 'TSRTS' for the first time, I'm even more in love with this song than ever. It then runs seamlessly into 'The Rain Song', which is really beautiful, classic acoustic 'gentle' Zep. I love 'Over the Hills and Far Away' for the heartfelt vocals of the chorus. 'The Crunge' I just love. It's bizarre but great (and also sounds like a James Brown song at the end...). My favourite track is probably 'Dancing Days' for its rhythm and riff. 'D'yer Mak'er' (or however you spell it) is a strange contrast of stereotypical romantic song lyrics and a reggae sort of rhythm which is weird but interesting and also gives it individualism. 'No Quarter' is an eerie, Lord of the Rings-ish track; hard to explain but if you listen to it you'll see what I mean! And then there is 'The Ocean', probably the one I neglect unfairly because it seems like a bit of an anticlimax after 'No Quarter', but it's a more typical Led Zeppelin rock track (not that that's a bad thing at all!)
Led Zeppelin are one of my all-time favourite bands. I know everyone loves them for different reasons, but for me their eclectic sound and brilliant musical talent is what makes them so excellent (and they also write damn good songs!). This album is definitely worth getting even if you're not a huge Zep fan because the songs are all so different but so great. So yeah. Buy it!
It wasn’t until this, their fifth album that some critics and even fans felt that the band was finally slipping, having peaked. This was more experimental than anything they had done up until this point, with forays into Eastern sounds and even, gasp, disco. Time has been kind to the record though, and now we can look back and appreciate it fully. There is at least one song which we could have done without, a couple that many will see as forgettable, but still some big songs and a few underrated ones. Underrated seems to be the key word here, as many people leave this albums out when they list great Zeppelin albums. Have another listen, and hopefully you’ll be surprised at the depth of writing and music on display.
‘The Song Remains The Song’ is a joyous opener, and in spite of the song title, this is a new sound and direction for the group. The drums are not as thunderous, but there is a wall of sound production which ensures there is still a heap of volume and power. Page’s guitar are jangly, but typically fast, accurate, and Plant gives some vocal acrobatics which become grating at their higher moments.
‘The Rain Song’ is an atmospheric one, for me definitely evoking memories of looking out through clouded windows at the seemingly neverending rain, the gently strummed chords in the intro like ceaseless dripping. There are some long, peaceful instrumental moments in this song, with soft vocals in the sparse verses. Plant seems to employ a number of unusual vocal distorts and tricks throughout this album, and while that is certainly true here, those are put firmly in the background. The vocals are almost drawn, drawls, there is a looseness to them meaning the melodies come more from the music than the singing. With superb work from JPJ in the background, and the usual sturdy stuff from Bonzo, the song reaches a thunderous crescendo with a few minutes remaining, or at least it seems so as it is only momentary, the final moments being a louder, more dramatic retread of the opening.
‘Over The Hills And Far Away’ has one of my favourite Zep introductions, another wonderful acoustic piece from Lord Page. It’s a spirited return to the sounds of Led Zep III, with Plant bringing back some idealistic vocals and cutesy melodies. Once the drums kick in the song takes on a heavier approach, a streamlined funky collection of riffs to make another strong track. There is nice overdubbed guitar work for the solo, sounding a little bit disco, a little bit rock, and a large part fun.
‘The Crunge’ continues the funky sounds, and within moments it’s clear that this is unlike anything the band has recorded so far. Frequently voted among the worst songs the band has ever written, it is a clear misstep, but there is still a certain charm. Plant is alarming with his wailing, there are weird synth noises, and while the music and performances are fine, it simply sounds too cheesy for a band as powerful as this. The band show with the next track that they can experiment with other genres successfully, this one though is a bit of a cult mess.
‘Dancing Days’ is a terrific fusion of rock, and more dance oriented genres, with the emphasis clearly on the rock side whilst retaining the Zep sound thanks to powerful drums and a fantastic riff. Catchy and repetitive like the best Disco tracks, though free of all the dated and cheesy stuff, this is an interesting song, and another strong one on this underrated album.
‘Dyer Maker’ is yet another unique track, with a fun vibe, great guitar work almost blown away by Bonzo stoutly refusing to play his drums quietly in an otherwise soft song. Influenced by growing reggae popularity, it is a bit of joke song, but it’s one I wholeheartedly enjoy – the band are exploring a sound they haven’t touched upon before, they sound like they are having a great time, and they succeed at claiming the style as their own. With amusing lyrics, catchy melodies, it’s one which many fans don’t enjoy, but I’ll always defend it.
‘No Quarter’ is definitely the precursor to the much more renowned Kashmir, but it is certainly not an inferior version of that epic, instead standing on its own as a fantastic, eerie, downbeat and doom laden rocker. It’s an extremely moody song with a variety of production tricks played to enhance the mood. The peaking of progressive rock, with its studio trickery and focus on mood clearly holds influence over this one, and yet again Zep take all the important pieces from another genre and meld them into their own style. Oscillator effects and a lot of compression on the guitars and synth, and even on the vocals, as well as the dynamic tonal changes throughout and the Eastern tinges give a distinct sound which again sounds unlike the standard Led Zep track, but also unlike anything else.
‘The Ocean’ is introduced by some Bonzo banter, annoyed at the number of takes, but finally getting it right. This is a more typical Led Zep track – big bluesy riff, stomping drums, rocking vocals etc. Aside from some unusual timing, it’s a straightforward, unremarkable track, at least until the last minute when the song suddenly changes into a honkey tonk blues breakdown. A dedication to their fans, it’s a decent track, and a decent song to end with.
In some ways this could be called my favourite Led Zep album – with 5 of the 8 tracks being previously rated by me on my ipod as 5 stars. A number of those 5 star tracks though may not be as essential or brilliant as 5 star tracks on more popular albums, and only one of the 3 remaining tracks can be said to be poor. Some fans may be put off by the different approaches to songwriting which the band take here, moving away, or more accurately, branching from their blues and hard rock roots. Regardless, the songs are still there, the songs are still strong – the songs remain the same. Sorry.
on 6 July 2000
Houses of the Holy is perhaps not as great in length as Physical Grafiti,or as classic as Led Zeppelin 4,but is one of their more diverse albums. The opening track,The Song Remains The Same is one of the finest opening tracks I have ever heard;powerful and heavy guitars mixed in with percise drums and bass lines. Over The Hills And Far Away has a lovely accoustic intro and a well crafted ending which may suprise,as does The Ocean. As well as containing solid tracks such as The Crunge and Dancing Days,as well as the fun track D'yer Maker,the album is dominated by the quiet,simplistic brilliance of The Rain Song,featuring nice mixed orchestral violins;and the haunting echoes of No Quarter, where John Paul Jones excels on keyboards and synthesisers. Jones is on excellent form throughout the album,along with gutsy guitar work from Jimmy Page. Robert Plant and John Bonham are also top class. This album was an fantastic introduction to their next album Physical Grafiti,which is even better.