Why Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy” is for everyone

Christian Keller

It has been almost 50 years since Houses of the Holy was released on March 29, 1973. A lot of people say it’s one of the best Zeppelin albums out there and I would personally say it’s my favorite for sure. 

A couple of songs on this album are “The Ocean,” “The Song Remains the Same,” “No Quarter,” “The Rain Song,” “Dyer Maker,” “The Crunge,” “Dancing Days,” and “Over the Hills and Far Away.” This masterpiece of an album was recorded by Zeppelin’s own Jimmy Page under his small label, Swan Song, which is a subsidiary of Atlantic records.

The album is very diverse in genres which would also make it good for others. They started to experiment with different sounds on vocals and got very funky with time signatures on this album which, if you’re interested in odd-timed music, I’d say this is a good album.

To me, “The Rain Song” is the ultimate Led Zeppelin masterpiece. It contains rich chord progressions and soothing vocals from Robert Plant. It’s one of the most peaceful songs they’ve ever made. Page used an alternate tuning to get a wide organic sound.

If you are looking for powerful classic Zeppelin riffs, look no further to “The Ocean.” Along with “Black Dog,” this Riff is in an odd time signature and in the key of A but much simpler and the majority of the song is in the common 4/4 time signature instead of the riff being in a mix of 4/4 and ⅞ or 15/8. 

If you are a big fan of James Brown’s funky sound look no further to “The Crunge.” This song also has an odd time signature of 9/8 for the leading hook starting off with John Bonham getting into the groove and then with John Paul Jones getting funky with the bass and synths. 

The recording of this album was definitely thought of and the time was taken to make this album sound crisp and clear. 

Page and engineer Eddie Kramer definitely took advantage of multi-tracking many different guitar parts and other miscellaneous parts to fill up the sound. Robert Plant’s vocals on “No Quarter” and “The Ocean” had either tape flanging or Leslie Speakers to give his voice more depth or clearer sound in his higher register. John Paul Jones’ use of the synth is definitely becoming more prevalent in this album, featured on songs such as “No Quarter” and “The Crunge.” The keys give the song more texture and an ambient feel.

The message that the album brings to me is universal. Again, I think anyone can find a song they like from this album. If you want to veg out and chill on a quiet day, “The Rain Song” is a great choice. If you want to lace up your rollerblades and go to a roller skating rink, “D’yer Mak’er” is a great choice. There’s a song for everybody off the album.

I love this album. It’s one of two albums that change the shift in direction of their music but this hits even harder. I think people underestimate this one since it’s not Zeppelin’s first four albums but this has the best orchestral arrangements ever for rock bands, even better than “Stairway To Heaven.” So sit back, relax, play the whole album, and enjoy the sound.