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.