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Design By Humans
Published On: Wed, Nov 19th, 2014

Led Zeppelin: Houses of the Holy

led zeppelin housesLed Zeppelin
Houses of the Holy
(Atlantic Catalog Group)

Buy it at Amazon!

While Robert Plant has chosen to expand his musical horizons recording award-winning folk with Alison Krauss, retro rock with the Band of Joy and hard-edged blues rock with the Sensation Space Shifters, Jimmy Page continues to immerse himself in Led Zeppelin’s historic past by remastering their catalogue.

Page’s production for Houses of the Holy tops any of the previous eight zillion reissues. The most notable improvements are the rich textures emanating from John Paul Jones’ keyboards, and the added punch given to John Bonham’s drums.

There’s no escaping the ruinous “The Song Remains the Same.” The crystal-clear production only serves to accentuate Plant’s banshee vocal and the wrong-headed, amphetamine-paced arrangement. “The Crunge,” a James Brown rip-off, still proves white people should leave R&B alone.

Fortunately, the other six songs are among Zep’s best.

“The Rain Song” is Zep’s most romantic ballad, highlighted by Jones’ symphonic mellotron and Plant’s heartbreaking vocal (which he considered one of his best performances). “Over the Hills and Far Away” is a Page showcase, awash with acoustic, pedal steel and electric guitars.

Bonham’s reggae rumbling turns “D’yer Mak’er” into carefree ear candy, and Page’s slippery slide work shapes “Dancing Days.” While establishing the flow for the doo wop-influenced “The Ocean,” Bonham treats his drums like a caveman crushing a carnivore.

A second disc offers up rough mixes of all the cuts except “D’yer Mak’er.” Without Plant’s computerized caterwauling, the instrumental for “No Quarter” focuses on Jones’ eerie keyboards, making it sound like the soundtrack to a Viking spectacle. The other cuts are so similar that the song(s) remain the same, but fans will appreciate their work-in-progress feel.

Despite a couple of cringe-worthy tracks, Houses of the Holy is indeed a sacred, must-have album.

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Led Zeppelin: Houses of the Holy