Houses of the Holy

All studio and live performances from Houses of the Holy. 

Houses of the Holy was released by Atlantic Records on 28 March 1973. It is Led Zeppelin's first album composed of entirely original material, and represents a musical turning point for the band, who had begun to record songs with more layering and production techniques. Much of the album was recorded in Spring 1972 using the Rolling Stones Mobile

Studio at Stargroves, a Berkshire country estate owned by Mick Jagger. Some songs from the album had initially been tried out earlier than this, such as "No Quarter", which was first attempted during a session at Headley Grange. Several of the songs were produced as trial recordings (demos) at the personal studios of guitarist Jimmy Page and bass player/keyboardist John Paul Jones. Having recently installed these studios in their homes, it enabled them to finish the arrangements which had been laid down earlier. In particular, Page was able to present complete arrangements of "The Rain Song" and "Over the Hills and Far Away", while Jones had developed "No Quarter". Some songs which were recorded from these various sessions did not make it onto Houses of the Holy, namely "Black Country Woman", "Walter's Walk", "The Rover" and also the would-be title-track, "Houses of the Holy". All of these songs were retained and later released on subsequent Led Zeppelin albums.

The Song Remains The Same

The song was originally an instrumental which was given the working title "The Overture", before Plant added lyrics to it, after which it temporarily came to be known as "The Campaign" before the band settled on the title "The Song Remains the Same".

 

Favorite Version: 21 June 1977 - Los Angeles, California

The Rain Song

Page was able to bring in a completed arrangement of the melody, for which singer Robert Plant composed the words. This song is considered by Plant to be his best overall vocal performance. The song also features a mellotron played by John Paul Jones to add to the orchestral effect, while Page plays a Danelectro guitar. George Harrison was reportedly the inspiration for "The Rain Song" when he made a comment to Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, about the fact that the group never wrote any ballads. In tribute to Harrison, the opening two notes are recognisably borrowed from the first line of his ballad "Something" with The Beatles. Record producer Rick Rubin says, "I don't even know what kind of music this is ["The Rain Song"]. It defies classification. There's such tasteful, beautiful detail in the guitar, and a triumphant feel when the drums come in — it's sad and moody and strong, all at the same time. I could listen to this song all day. That would be a good day."

 

Favorite Version: Studio

Over The Hills And Far Away

Over The Hills And Far Away was released as a single, with "Dancing Days" as the B-side, in the US. Through the pre-verse interludes and instrumental bridge, "Over the Hills and Far Away" stands out as an example of Jones and Bonham's tight interplay.

 

Favorite Version: How The West Was Won (Los Angeles and Long Beach 1972)

The Crunge

The Crunge evolved out of a jam session in the studio. John Bonham started the beat, John Paul Jones came in on bass, Jimmy Page played a funk guitar riff (and a chord sequence that he'd been experimenting with since 1970), and Robert Plant started singing. For the recording of this track, Page played on a Stratocaster guitar and it is possible to hear him depressing a whammy bar at the end of each phrase. A voice is audible at the beginning asking, "You almost ready to go?" and someone answers, "If you like it." The voices that can be heard talking on the recording just as Bonham's drums begin on the intro are those of Jimmy Page and audio engineer George Chkianz.

 

Favorite Version: Studio

Dancing Days

Dancing Days was recorded at Stargroves, England in 1972. It was inspired by an Indian tune that Jimmy Page and Robert Plant heard while traveling in Bombay. This was the first track from the album to be offered for radio play by Atlantic Records. It was premiered on 24 March 1973 on the BBC Radio One Rosko lunch time show. As with the single's A-side, "Over the Hills and Far Away", "Dancing Days" was introduced by the band in concert well ahead of its commercial release.

Favorite Version: Studio

D'yer Mak'er

This song was meant to imitate reggae and its "dub" derivative emerging from Jamaica in the early 1970s. Its genesis is traced to Led Zeppelin's rehearsals at Stargroves in 1972, when drummer John Bonham started with a beat similar to 1950s doo-wop, and then twisted it into a slight off beat tempo, upon which a reggae influence emerged. The distinctive drum sound was created by placing three microphones a good distance away from Bonham's drums."D'yer Mak'er" is one of the few Led Zeppelin songs where all four members share the composer credit. The name of the song is derived from an old joke, where two friends have the following exchange: "My wife's gone to the West Indies." "Jamaica?" (which has a similar pronunciation as "D'you make her?") "No, she went of her own accord". Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones has expressed his distaste for the song, suggesting that it started off as a joke and wasn't thought through carefully enough.

 

Favorite Version: Studio

No Quarter

No Quarter was recorded in 1972 at Island Studios, London. It was written by John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. The song became a centerpiece at all Led Zeppelin concerts thereafter up until their final tour.  It was engineered by Andy Johns and also mixed by Johns at Olympic Studios, London. The version that made it onto the album evolved out of a faster version Led Zeppelin had recorded earlier at Headley Grange. Jimmy Page applied vari-speed to drop the whole song a semi-tone, in order to give it a thicker and more intense mood. In addition to the pitch change, the album version featured a very highly compressed guitar track. When played live, the "No Quarter" is played a half step up in D minor as opposed to C♯ minor from the studio version.

 

Favorite Version: 22 May 1977 - Fort Worth, Texas / 28 April 1977 - Cleveland, Ohio (I love that they throw in the March from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker in these performances)

The Ocean

At approximately 1:37–1:38 into the song and again at around 1:41, a telephone can be faintly heard ringing in the background.

 

Favorite Version: New York 1973 (Led Zeppelin DVD / The Song Remains The Same) - Having the visuals for this one, and seeing Bonham singing and wailing on his drums makes this one for me...