I have been looking to review this album on Throwback Thursday all week long. Houses of the Holy is one of the most iconic pieces from Led Zeppelin. Released in 1973, it did not get very good reviews with Gordan Fletcher of Rolling Stone stating that it was, “one of the dullest and most confusing albums I’ve heard this year.” However, like a fine French wine, this album has aged to become one of the most classic records of all time with every song being a hit. Let’s dive into it!
Robert Plant is perfect. Well near-perfect. His voice has this jagged aspect that paired with any off band would sound awful, however, it works so well with the drums of John Bonham, the guitar of Jimmy Page, and the bass of John Paul Jones. He utilizes his notorious yells and pitch swings of low to high to pull the listener right in. “D’yer Maker” is a great example of this. On every line of “I love you | Oh, baby, I love you”, you get this unique swing from a low tone to these spiked soprano notes. What’s even more fascinating is how the words of the song somehow transcended time and ended up on the Reggaeton Pop hit of 2007, “Me Love” from Sean Kingston. This just goes to show that Led Zeppelin was so influential to artists in every genre in the years to follow their reign.
John Bonham, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones are each legendary with their respective instruments but there is a reason for this. The sound that they create was something that was unheard of and different. At times they matched the drums to the guitars tempo or sometimes just let Bonham do his own thing. This aspect of the drum pieces set the base for nearly every song. If you pay attention in each song on the album, you can hear how distinctly different the drums sound compared to other bands of the decade. “Over The Hills And Far Away” has some fantastic guitar riffs from Jimmy Page that seem to stand the testament of time. Every once and a while you still hear rock and alternative songs that are so clearly influenced by Jimmy Page’s sound and vibe. Just listen to Red Hot Chili Peppers’s acoustic performance of “Under The Bridge“. We also have to talk about “The Rain Song”. It has such a smooth, groovy flow that you can easily jam to, all tracing back to the solid bass work by Jones.
While this was Led Zeppelin’s fifth studio album, it was Jimmy Page’s first time experimenting with the layering of the instrumentals and vocals. “No Quarter” shows this off with Page layering a synth keyboard sound over a ballroom piano piece. On the same song he also clearly plays around with layering Plant’s voice. This was still the early days of doing this, so at points, it feels raw and not lined up. However, I feel that was what Page was after; an experimental album that would change not only how Led Zeppelin sounded but how rock music was made.
Every song. Period. It’s only eight tracks and every single one is iconic in the rock genre.
I am not going to lie. I have a bias because I have been listening to this album since I was a little kid. However, most rock fans will agree…this album is so well done. Every song on the album individually is perfect and when they are all together, it is immaculate. That being said, Houses of the Holy is a:
If it is possible I would give this album an 11 (as any true rock fans know that “these go up to eleven“), however, I must hold every album to the standards I have set. Houses of the Holy is one of my top five albums of all-time.