display | more...
The first four Led Zeppelin albums seem like a family, a story arc, or some sort of musical rock epic, mostly due to their numbering. Houses of the Holy, released in 1973, is their first album that stands alone, not simply because of its (non-numeric) title, but also because it is a departure from their earlier, blues-influenced, pure rock and roll exuberance. The album runs from the straight, frenetic sprint of The Song Remains the Same, through the staggered tidal time signature of The Ocean. It stops along the way to dip into Viking mythology, James Brown-inspired funk, and a little reggae just for kicks. Almost an afterthought to their first four albums--a footnote to say, "we're more than you think"--it ignores their roots and reinforces all the stylistic surprises of the earlier work: a soft, moody number like Going to California is echoed in beginning of The Rain Song. The mystical edge from Ramble On, Stairway to Heaven, and Immigrant Song comes back to haunt you in No Quarter. An amazing album from beginning to end, but certainly an acquired taste, Houses of the Holy shows the spectrum of what Led Zeppelin were capable of.

Tracks:
  1. The Song Remains the Same
  2. The Rain Song
  3. Over the Hills and Far Away
  4. The Crunge
  5. Dancing Days
  6. D'yer Mak'er
  7. No Quarter
  8. The Ocean

The song "Houses of the Holy" comes from their massive album Physical Graffiti, and features a guitar vamp in a time signature I've tentatively tagged as 9/8 time. The vamp usually follows the lyric "You know," and serves as a great counterpoint to the other theme of the song. Most of the song is in a straight driving 4/4 time, in simple couplets that show off Robert Plant's voice more than anything else. The rest of the band (or possibly some howler monkeys) lend their voices to the hooting over the last minute or two of the song.

Lyrics:

Let me take you to the movies. Can I take you to the show?
Let me be yours ever truly. Can I make your garden grow?
From the houses of the holy, we can watch the white doves go;
From the door comes Satan's daughter, and it only goes to show...
You know.

There's an angel on my shoulder, In my hand a sword of gold.
Let me wander in your garden, and the seeds of love I'll sow...
You know.

So the world is spinning faster--are you dizzy when you're stoned?
--Let the music be your master. Will you heed the master's call?
Oh... Satan and man.

Said, there ain't no use in crying, 'cause it will only, only drive you mad!
Does it hurt to hear them lying? Was this the only world you had?
Oh, oh!

So let me take you, take you to the movie. Can I take you, baby, to the show?
Why don't you let me be yours ever truly? Can I make your garden grow?
You know.


Incidentally, also the name of an irrigation ditch - turned - stoner hangout in the Delaware woods near St. Andrew's. The closest thing to "the old Indian cave" from Dead Poets Society that existed.

I just learned some things.

I wanted to add some commentary on one of the most memorable features of "Houses of the Holy"-- its outer and inner cover art, an overly saturated painting of a half dozen nude children climbing up a strange basalt rock structure. The inner image shows the same terrain, with a child being lifted towards the sun. Given Led Zeppelin's interest in the occult, and the sexual nature of much of their lyrics, this album cover hovered on the border of tasteful, even joyous nudity, and something just a little more nefarious.

Apparently, I missed something about this cover: it was actually not a painting, but a photograph, or, apparently, a painted photograph. It was designed by Hipgnosis, the British design firm that designed much 70s album cover art, including most famously, Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon. The album artwork was loosely inspired by an Arthur C Clark book, and was photographed at the Giant's Causeway in Ireland over two days, with two models, with the final cover image being a collage that was later processed. It is a striking and memorable image, for me clearly Led Zeppelin's best album cover.

I do have to say that like much of what Led Zeppelin did, the album cover does strike a note for me: on one hand it seems pastoral, innocent and mystical, but I also feel (perhaps unjustly) just a little bit of unease about the presentation of nude children by a band with a history of sexual lyrics.

Also, most of what I know about the origin and making of this album art comes from a few articles, so there may be more to the story:
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-500606/Solved-Mystery-iconic-Led-Zeppelin-album-cover-golden-haired-children.
https://broadcastbarnsley.wordpress.com/2019/01/09/houses-of-the-holy-the-curious-history-of-an-album-cover/html

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.