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Published On: Tue, Jul 15th, 2014

Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin III

LZ IIILed Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin III
(Atlantic Catalogue Group)

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Any album that opens with a viking yell and ends with a tribute to Roy Harper has to be unique. A surprising blend of hard rock and soft acoustic tunes, Led Zeppelin III is considered one of the band’s most underrated works.

The remastered III adds clarity to Jimmy Page’s intricate acoustic guitar work and drummer John Bonham’s prodigious power. But it’s multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones who benefits most from the new remix. His rich Hammond in “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and thumping bass in “Gallows Pole” show why he was a top-rated session man.

Three acoustic numbers define the album. The English folk of “Gallows Pole” is reminiscent of Fairport Convention’s “Matty Groves.” (Ironically, Fairport’s lead singer, Sandy Denny, would appear on Led Zeppelin IV.) Page sets the tone with a choppy acoustic rhythm. Bonham’s lead-footed beat drives Robert Plant’s vocal until “Gallows Pole” races along like a headless horseman ravaging a frightened village.

Page introduces “Tangerine” on 12-string, adding pedal steel and an electric solo that echoes former bandmate Jeff Beck’s soaring style. The pedal steel’s lonesome whine also weaves through “That’s the Way,” as Plant sings in a somber, relaxed tone, making it hard to believe this is the same group that recorded the lung-shredding “Whole Lotta Love.”

Zepheads will rejoice at the second disc of outtakes. The bluesy “Since I’ve Been Loving You” is indeed a rough mix – Plant’s voice cracks as he taps into his emotions. Instrumental versions of “Out On the Tiles” (“Bathroom Track”) and “Brony-Y-Aur Stomp” (“Jennings Farm Blues”) give Page a chance to stretch out, while Plant shows off his harp playing in “Key to the Highway/Trouble In Mind.”

Led Zeppelin III may not have been the group’s most popular album, but it proves their music wasn’t just for head bangers.

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Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin III