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Sunday, June 28, 2009

29 in 2009 - Led Zepplin: "House of the Holy"

Led Zepplin: House of the Holy
Originally Released: March 28, 1973
Genre: Rock
Rating: 9 out of 10

If you're looking for an Audio Overflow review of House of the Holy, you should look here, as one's already been done. Not by me, of course, but by some other writer who hung out here for a while.

If, however, you're looking for what is probably the most varied, yet consistently entertaining rock album to ever grace these ears, you should look no further than Led Zepplin's 1973 masterpiece. My "relationship" with Zepplin has always been weird. I have always been passingly familiar with their most-famous tunes; familiar enough to even say, "Yeah, I like Zepplin." But had I ever actually sat down and spent time with the band, fully digesting everything that they have to offer? Nope. That's one of the reasons why I added this album to this series. I really wanted a good excuse to listen to an entire Led Zepplin album in full.

House of the Holy is a roller coaster ride of rock goodness, beginning with the upbeat, guitar-heavy track, "The Song Remains the Same." If you've never listened to Zepplin before (who hasn't?) then this song is really the perfect introduction, as it showcases the band members' individual talents proudly. Jimmy Page is a f***ing FORCE on the electric guitar, John Bonham is a BEAST on drums, Robert Plant is an ANIMAL on the mic, and John Paul Jones is...well...a bass player. Sorry.

That song collapses into the beautiful "The Rain Song," Erin's (the aforementioned AO writer) favorite Led Zepplin song of all time. The song is the exact opposite of its predecessor, featuring soft pianos and lush string instrumentation. Bonham's drums are even more powerful here as they playfully interact with the guitar and never overpower a thing. Is it my favorite Zepplin song? Nope, that still belongs to "Misty Mountain Top," but damn!

Elsewhere on the album are the fantastic "The Crunge" - a confusing, yet wholly enjoyable rock freak-out that only gets better as you listen to it over and over again - and "D'yer Mak'er" - an island-esque ballad that was the first Zepplin song I can ever remember hearing. It's brilliant in its simplicity, and a whole lot of fun to sing at karaoke (probably the only Zepplin song that any sane person would attempt, too). "Dancing Days" is another fun guitar-rocker, and one of the band's more famous tracks, though it never charted well in its day.

So what do I think of House of the Holy? I think it's a fantastic rock album. Easily one of the best of that decade, if not ever! There isn't a single bad track on this album, and every song shows a different side of the band that you never would have guess existed. Honestly, to think that the band playing on "The Crunge" is the same band playing on "D'yer Mak'er" is mind-blowing. Aside from Plant's iconic vocals, they are entirely different in both their influences and execution. That, to me, is what makes this such a fascinating listen. It is an album worth coming back to over and over again, as I'm sure millions have done over the course of the last 36 years.

Verdict: Classic

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