Houses of the Holy

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This article is about the Led Zeppelin album. For other uses of the term Houses of the Holy, please see Houses of the Holy (disambiguation).
Houses of the Holy
Hothalbum1973.jpg
Type Studio album
Artist Led Zeppelin
Release Date 18 March 1973 (US), 26 March 1973 (UK)
Recorded May 1972 at
Stargroves with the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio;
Island Studios, London.
Mixed at Olympic Studios, London;
Electric Lady, New York.
Genre Hard rock, prog rock, folk rock, rock
Language English
Length 40 minutes 58 seconds
Label Atlantic Records
Catalogue Atlantic SD 7255 (US), Atlantic K 50014 (UK)
Producer Jimmy Page
Engineer Eddie Kramer and Andy Johns

Houses of the Holy is the fifth album by English rock band Led Zeppelin, released by Atlantic Records on 28 March 1973. The album title is a dedication by the band to their fans who appeared at venues they dubbed 'Houses of the Holy.' It was the first Led Zeppelin album to not be, at least unofficially, titled after the band. The album represents a musical turning point for Led Zeppelin, as they began to use more layering and production techniques in recording their songs.

Although Houses of the Holy initially received mixed reviews, it has since become regarded by critics as one of Led Zeppelin's finest albums. The album provided notable additions to the band's catalogue, including 'Over the Hills and Far Away', 'Dancing Days', 'The Song Remains the Same', 'D'yer Mak'er', 'No Quarter' and 'The Ocean', and it has sold over 11 million copies in the United States.

Recording sessions

This album was even more experimental than their last ones. From reggae influences to romantic ballads, Houses of the Holy shows that the band members were immensely burgeoning as musicians. Much of this album was recorded in Spring 1972 at Stargroves, the country estate in Berkshire, using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio. 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.[1]

Several of the songs were also demo'd at the personal studios of guitarist Jimmy Page and bass player/keyboardist John Paul Jones. These two musicians had recently installed the studios in their respective homes, which enabled them to complete the arrangements which had been laid down earlier.[2] 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'.[3]

Another bout of recording took place at Olympic Studios in May 1972, and during the band's 1972 North American tour additional recording sessions were conducted at Electric Lady Studios in New York.[4] Some of these songs which were recorded from various sessions did not eventually make it onto Houses of the Holy, namely 'Black Country Woman', 'Walter's Walk', 'The Rover' and also the title-track, 'Houses of the Holy'. All of these songs were retained and later released on subsequent Led Zeppelin albums.

Composition

This album was a stylistic turning point in the lifespan of Led Zeppelin. Guitar riffs became more layered within Jimmy Page's production techniques and departed from the blues influences of earlier records. In the album's opening opus, 'The Song Remains the Same', and its intricate companion suite, 'The Rain Song', Robert Plant's lyrics matured toward a less overt form of the mysticism and fantasy of previous efforts. Houses of the Holy also featured styles not heard on the first four Led Zeppelin albums. For example, 'D'yer Mak'er' is a reggae-based tune; 'No Quarter' features atmospheric keyboard sounds and an acoustic piano solo from John Paul Jones; 'The Crunge' is a funk tribute; and 'The Rain Song' is embellished by Jones on his newly-acquired Mellotron. The album's closing song 'The Ocean' is dedicated to 'the ocean' of fans who at this point of the band's career massed to Led Zeppelin concerts.

In the assessment of Led Zeppelin expert Dave Lewis:

In retrospect, Houses of the Holy holds its ground with the middle period releases quite admirably. The barnstorming effect of the early era was now levelling off and though devoid of the electricity of Led Zeppelin I and II, or the sheer diversity of the third album, and lacking the classic status of the fourth, 'Houses' took stock of their situation. In doing so, it laid several foundations on which they would expand their future collective musical aspirations.[5]

Album sleeve design

Though the album was completed in the spring of 1972, its release was delayed till 18 March 1973 in the United States, and 26 March 1973, in the United Kingdom, due to production problems with the cover artwork. The cover art for Houses of the Holy was inspired by the ending of Arthur C. Clarke's novel Childhood's End.[6] It is a collage of several photographs which were taken at the Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland, by Aubrey Powell of Hipgnosis. This location was chosen ahead of an alternative one in Peru which was being considered.[7]

The two children who modelled for the cover were siblings Stefan and Samantha Gates.[8] The photoshoot was a frustrating affair over the course of ten days. Shooting was done first thing in the morning and at sunset in order to capture the light at dawn and dusk, but the desired effect was never achieved due to constant rain and clouds. The photos of the two children were taken in black and white and were multi-printed to create the effect of eleven individuals that can be seen on the album cover. The results of the shoot were less than satisfactory, but some accidental tinting effects in post-production created an unexpectedly striking album cover.[9] The inner sleeve photograph was taken at Dunluce Castle near to the Causeway. Page, in the end, was satisfied with the artwork: '(The cover) denoted the feeling of expectancy for the music contained within.'

Like Led Zeppelin's fourth album, neither the band's name nor the album title was printed on the sleeve. However, manager Peter Grant did allow Atlantic Records to add a wrap-around band to UK copies of the sleeve that had to be broken or slid off to access the record.[10] The first CD release of the album in the 1980s did have the title logos printed on the cover itself.

In 1974 the album was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of best album package. The cover was rated number six on VH1's 50 Greatest Album Covers in 2003.

Release and critical reaction

This was Led Zeppelin's final studio release on Atlantic Records before forming their own label, Swan Song Records, in 1974. It was also the only Led Zeppelin album that contained complete printed lyrics to each song.

Although intended for release in January 1973, delays in producing the album cover meant that it was not released until March, when the band was on its 1973 European tour. The album was promoted heavily before the commencement of Led Zeppelin's subsequent North American Tour, ensuring that it had ascended the top of the American chart by the beginning of the tour.[11] Because much of the album had been recorded almost a year previously, many of the songs which are featured on the album had already been played live by Led Zeppelin on their concert tours of North America, Japan, Europe and the United Kingdom in 1972-1973.[12]

Upon its release, the album received some mixed reviews, with some criticism from the music press being directed at the off-beat nature of tracks such as 'The Crunge' and 'D'yer Mak'er'.[13] However, the album was very commercially successful, entering the UK chart at number one, while in America its 39-week run on the Billboard Top 40 was their longest since their third album.[14] In 2003, the album was ranked number 149 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Reviews

Reviewer Country Review Year Score
Scott Floman (Goldmine) United States Rock and Soul Album Reviews 2002 A

Accolades

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Dave Marsh United States The Top 40 Albums (1973)[15] 1973 13
Grammy Award United States Grammy Award for Best Recording Package[16] 1974 Nominee
Classic Rock United Kingdom 100 Greatest British Rock Album Ever[17] 2006 90
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame United States The Definitive 200: Top 200 Albums of All-Time[18] 2007 51

(*) designates unordered lists.

Track list

Album information

Track listing:

  • Side 1:
  1. 'The Song Remains the Same' (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant) – 5:24
  2. 'The Rain Song' (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant) – 7:32
  3. 'Over the Hills and Far Away' (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant) – 4:42
  4. 'The Crunge' (John Bonham, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant) – 3:10
  • Side 2:
  1. 'Dancing Days' (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant) – 3:40
  2. 'D'yer Mak'er' (John Bonham, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant) – 4:19
  3. 'No Quarter' (John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant) – 6:57
  4. 'The Ocean' (John Bonham, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page) – 4:28

Chart positions

Album

Chart (1973) Peak Position
Japanese Albums Chart[19] 3
UK Albums Chart[20] 1
Norwegian Albums Chart[21] 4
US Billboard The 200 Albums Chart[22] 1
US Cash Box Top 100 Albums Chart[23] 1
US Record World Top Pop Albums Chart[24] 1
Austrian Albums Chart[25] 3
Canadian RPM Top 100 Albums Chart[26] 1
Spanish Albums Chart[27] 9
Australian Go-Set Top 20 Albums Chart[28] 1
Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart 1
German Albums Chart[29] 8
French Albums Chart[30] 3

Singles

Year Single Chart Position
1973 'D'yer Mak'er' Billboard Hot 100 Chart (Pop Singles)[31] 20
1973 'Over The Hills And Far Away' Billboard Hot 100 Chart (Pop Singles)[32] 51

Sales certifications

Country Sales Certification
United Kingdom (BPI) 300,000+ Platinum[33]
Germany (IFPI) 100,000+ Gold[34]
Argentina (CAPIF) 30,000+ Gold[35]
United States (RIAA) 11,000,000+ 11× Multi-Platinum[36]
France (SNEP) 150,000+ 2× Gold[37]
Spain (PROMUSICAE) 40,000+ Gold[38]

Certification history

Organization Level Date
RIAA – USA Gold 10 April 1973
RIAA – USA Platinum 11 December 1990
RIAA – USA 5× Platinum 11 December 1990
RIAA – USA 6× Platinum 27 August 1991
RIAA – USA 8× Platinum 25 November 1997
RIAA – USA 10× Platinum 29 March 1999
RIAA – USA 11× Platinum 15 November 1999

Credits

Personnel
  • Musicians:
    • Jimmy Page – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, pedal steel guitar, backing vocals, producer, remastering, digital remastering
    • Robert Plant – vocals, harmonica
    • John Paul Jones – bass guitar, keyboards, synthesizer, organ, piano, Mellotron, clavinet, bass pedals, harpsichord, backing vocals
    • John Bonham - drums, percussion, backing vocals
  • Production:
    • Peter Grant – executive producer
    • Eddie Kramer – engineer, mixing
    • Andy Johns - engineer, mixing
    • Keith Harwood – mixing
    • Bob Ludwig - mastering
    • Aubrey Powell – photography
    • Hipgnosis – sleeve design
    • Barry Diament - original CD mastering engineer (mid-1980s)
    • George Marino - remastered CD engineer (1990)

References

  1. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 58. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  2. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 58. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  3. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 58. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  4. Lewis, Dave; Simon Pallett (2005). Led Zeppelin: The Concert File, Revised. London: Omnibus Press, 173. ISBN 978-1-84449-659-4. OCLC 64083054. 
  5. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 61. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  6. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 60. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  7. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 60. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  8. Childers, Chad (27 March 2013). See the 'Houses of the Holy' Cover Child Models All Grown Up. Ultimate Classic Rock. Loudwire Network. Retrieved on 25 April 2014.
  9. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 60. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  10. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 60. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  11. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 60. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  12. Lewis, Dave; Simon Pallett (2005). Led Zeppelin: The Concert File, Revised. London: Omnibus Press, 173. ISBN 978-1-84449-659-4. OCLC 64083054. 
  13. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 61. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  14. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 60. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  15. The Top 40 Albums 1973. rocklistmusic.co.uk. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  16. Grammy Award for Best Album Package (Hipgnosis) - 2 March 1974. Grammy. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  17. Classic Rock - 100 Greatest British Rock Album Ever - April 2006. Classic Rock. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  18. The Definitive 200: Top 200 Albums of All-Time. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (United States). Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  19. Top 100 Albums - 10 April 1973. Oricon. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  20. Top 100 Albums - 14 April 1973. chartstats.com. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  21. Top 20 Albums - 29 April 1973. norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  22. The Billboard 200 - 12 May 1973. Billboard. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  23. Top 100 Albums - 12 May 1973. Cash Box. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  24. Top Pop Albums - 12 May 1973. Record World. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  25. Top 75 Albums - 15 May 1973. austriancharts.at. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  26. RPM Albums Chart - 19 May 1973. RPM. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  27. Top 100 Albums - 9 June 1973. PROMUSICAE. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  28. Top 20 Albums - 30 June 1973. Go Set. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  29. Top 100 Albums - June 1973. charts-surfer.de. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  30. Top 100 Albums - 1973. infodisc.fr. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  31. Hot 100 Singles - 29 December 1973. Billboard. Retrieved on 2009-01-17.
  32. Hot 100 Singles - 28 July 1973. Billboard. Retrieved on 2009-01-17.
  33. BPI Houses of the Holy certification - 24 November 1988. BPI. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  34. Bundesverband Musikindustrie: Houses of the Holy - 1993. musikindustrie.de. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  35. CAPIF: Led Zeppelin - 1993. CAPIF. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  36. RIAA.org Houses of the Holy - 15 November 1999. RIAA. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  37. Disque en France: Houses of the Holy - 18 October 2001. SNEP. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  38. PROMUSICAE Houses of the Holy - 2002. PROMUSICAE. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.