Led Zeppelin’s ‘Houses Of The Holy’ Turns 50!!!
It was 50 years ago today (March 28th, 1973) that Led Zeppelin‘s fifth album, the beloved Houses Of The Holy, was released in North America. The collection went on to hit Number One the following May 12th, and held down the top spot for two weeks. In all, the album stayed in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 albums chart for 14 weeks.
Houses Of The Holy — which also topped the charts in England, Canada, and Australia — was nominated for the Best Recording Package Grammy award. To date, Houses Of The Holy has sold over 11 million units in North America alone.
The eight-track album includes many of Zeppelin’s best loved tunes: “The Song Remains The Same,” “The Rain Song,” “Over The Hills And Far Away,” “The Crunge,” “Dancing Days,” “D’yer Mak’er,” “No Quarter,” and “The Ocean.”
We caught up with Jimmy Page, who produced Houses Of The Holy — as well as all the Zeppelin albums — and asked him about the sessions the band held at Mick Jagger‘s English country estate, Stargroves. Seeing as how Zeppelin would be following the Who into the residence after they wrapped their own sessions — we asked him if he asked either producer Glyn Johns and/or Pete Townshend about some of the prime spots to record in at Jagger’s place: “I did actually go over to check out Stargroves and the Who were there — I don’t know if they were recording or rehearsing or what, to be honest with you. I just remember walking in and I’d hate that if someone walked in on my session. I sort of was invited into the house and they were sort of playing, and just remember seeing Pete Townshend on this orange Gretsch. But it was a trip! Y’know, it was Mick Jagger’s country home and there were certain areas of the upstairs wing — where the bedroom was — it was out of bounds (laughs).”
Page explained his thought process behind layering the guitars on “The Rain Song”: “On ‘(The) Rain Song’ there’s a whole sort of sonic perspective that was intended for the guitars on that; and to be frank, it’s only the same sort of the sonic perspective that I would have for that particular track that I would have to another one — although it would change, it would mutate.”
Jimmy Page admitted there was a concerted effort to highlight Zeppelin’s melodic capabilities on House Of The Holy: “I was definitely thinking in that mode — from what you’re saying. I mean, there’s definitely an intent to come up with melody, whether it’s in the form of a riff-induced thing, like ‘Whole Lotta Love’ — I mean, that is like a voodoo melody. And when you come to something like, ‘(The) Rain Song,’ that’s an intentional sort of piece, a composed piece with melody. ‘Dancing Days,’ that really kicks its way into life, as, like — it’s a guitar riff with the bass and the drums sort of playing to it. And then Robert (Plant’s) singing over it.”
We asked Jimmy Page if there’s footage of Led Zeppelin recording House Of The Holy — or any of their albums for that matter: “No, no there isn’t. Because it was a very sort of private world, it was ruthlessly efficient in its delivery of the music and there was no time for waiting to see whether somebody’d put a magazine in his camera and all of that. I mean, it was like pulling teeth just having a photographer in there on a couple of occasions. They were just interfering with the flow of what the music was about.”
On October 28th, 2014, Led Zeppelin released a new, remastered edition of Houses Of The Holy, which features previously unreleased audio content in a variety of packages — including a limited edition “Super Deluxe” box set.