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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Led Zeppelin

Houses of the Holy

Review by Gary Hill

For those who think Zeppelin was always nothing but bluesy hard rock, this flies in the fact of that. Much of this disc really fits into a progressive rock category. Then again, each Led Zeppelin album is quite a bit different from the rest. There is a reason this disc is considered a classic album. That's because it really is that good.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Song Remains The Same
The fast paced jamming that opens this borders along the lines of prog rock. This is such a classic Zeppelin sound in so many ways, though. I love the melodies to the vocal lines as the music drops back for the verse. The jam that follows that first vocal section features some killer melodic guitar soloing. The piece keeps evolving and there are some moments where Page's guitar even brings in some hints of bluegrass on some of the soloing. Yet, this is a powerhouse jam that seriously rocks and covers a lot of musical territory.
The Rain Song

This is a mellow track. It’s balladic and pretty and has some mellotron on it for good measure. It’s another that could easily put the album into the prog rock category. There’s a killer harder rocking movement later in the number that has always been one of my favorite segments of the CD. Where the last cut was a guitar showcase, this one’s success has more to do with Robert Plant’s vocals than anything else.

Over The Hills And Far Away

In some ways this feels like it could have come from Zeppelin’s third album. Still, there’s a lot of progressive rock in the mix on this one, too. There are some intriguing changes and both Plant and Page feature prominently in the success of this number. It’s a highlight of the disc and has gotten a lot of air play over the years.

The Crunge

There’s a bouncy and rather fun sound to this little number. It’s got some definite R & B and soul influences. The bass line is more prominent here than on the earlier tracks. While there are some unique and unusual textures here, this is quite a cool piece of music.

Dancing Days

A more typical Zeppelin rocker, this is a strong cut. It’s perhaps not as adventurous as some of the other music on show here, but it’s no less effective.

D'yer Mak'er

I’ve never been overly crazy about this rockabilly meets reggae number. Sure, it’s got its moments and charms, but just isn’t really my cup of tea.

No Quarter

This is one of my favorite Led Zeppelin tracks of all time. Sure, it’s not all that guitar oriented – and for that reason not the most typical LZ sound. That said, this is quite proggy and dramatic. It’s a powerful more mellow number with some killer textures and moods. It’s possibly closer to the sound we associate with Pink Floyd than Led Zeppelin, but what a great piece of music.

The Ocean
I could easily imagine this track fitting on the disc that came before (IV). It’s a good tune and more typical Zeppelin.
 
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