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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin III

Review by Gary Hill

This album was certainly a shock to Zeppelin fans when it came out. Accustomed to the bluesy hard rock of the first couple albums, much of this had to have seemed like a different band. It showed a folky, acoustic side to the outfit. I’d have to say that while not everything is completely successful from my way of think it’s essential for a few songs including “Immigrant Song,” “Friends,” “Celebration Day” and “Since I’ve Been Loving You.” It’s not Zep’s most consistent album, but it’s still quite 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
Immigrant Song
As powerful and dynamic as this cut is, it's hard to believe that it's less than two and a half minutes in length. Robert Plant's opening wail is trademark Zeppelin. The whole cut really is one of their strongest numbers in a lot of ways. This rocks like crazy, and in some ways is the "odd man out" of an album that leans toward the mellow end of things. It's a safe bet that you've heard this song. If you haven't heard it in a while, dig it out again. You'll be glad you did.
Friends

This folky number has always resonated with me. I love the textures that ride over the top and the lyrical concepts of the track. This is far from what people had gotten used to with Led Zeppelin, but it’s also a great piece of music.

Celebration Day

This is sort of in between the opener and the second cut. It rocks out a bit more, but still has a bit of that folky texture. It’s another great tune on a disc that’s full of them. Jimmy Page’s guitar really steals the show here, but Robert Plant gives him a run for his money.

Since I've Been Loving You

A killer slow rocker, this is arguably Zeppelin’s most successful foray into nearly pure blues. I have always loved this cut and everyone really contributes to it. It’s always been one of my favorites from the band and even by itself it would be worth the price of admission here. At almost seven and a half minutes in length, it’s also the longest piece on show here – by a comfortable margin.

Out On The Tiles

Another hard rocker, this one is perhaps closer to the music the band would do on the fourth album than that which has come before. This is good, but I wouldn’t consider it to be a real standout.

Gallows Pole

This bluesy number is traditional and played in an acoustic fashion. It’s a classic number and a highlight of the CD and shows off some early fascination Zep had with bluegrass music.

Tangerine

While I wouldn’t consider this a highlight of the set, I like it a lot. It’s bouncy and quite folk music oriented.

That's The Way

I can’t tell you why, but I’ve always loved this track. In many ways it’s not all that different from the one that preceded it. Somehow the charm and innocence of the number really does a lot for it, though.

Bron-Y-Aur Stomp

A bouncy number, this is well named. It’s acoustic and bluesy. It’s good, but has never really done a lot for me. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a clunker, but it’s not a highlight.

Hats Off To (Roy) Harper
Take a Robert Johnson style of slide blues (right down to the production and vocals) and have Zeppelin do it. You’ve got this cut. It’s another that’s never really won me over.
 
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