Houses of the Holy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Houses of the Holy
Six nude children with long blonde hair scramble up a stairstep series of basalt rocks ascending away from the viewer, with an orange-white sky above
Studio album by Led Zeppelin
Released 28 March 1973 (1973-03-28)
Recorded December 1971 – August 1972[1]
Genre Hard rock
Length 40:57
Label Atlantic
Producer Jimmy Page
Led Zeppelin chronology
Houses of the Holy
Physical Graffiti
Singles from Houses of the Holy
  1. "Over the Hills and Far Away/Dancing Days"
    Released: 24 May 1973
  2. "D'yer Mak'er/The Crunge"
    Released: 17 September 1973

Houses of the Holy is the fifth studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, released on 28 March 1973 by Atlantic Records. It is their first album composed of entirely original material and it represents a turning point in musical direction for the band, who had begun to record songs with more layering and production techniques.

The album contained several songs that would regularly feature in the group's live set, including "The Song Remains the Same", "The Rain Song", "Over the Hills and Far Away", and "No Quarter", Houses of the Holy became a commercial success, and was later certified 11x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 1999.[2] In 2012, the album was ranked at #148 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[3] The title track was originally recorded for the album, but was delayed until the release of the band's next album Physical Graffiti in 1975.


By 1972, Led Zeppelin had achieved sustained commercial and critical success from both their studio albums and live shows. They were keen to record on location using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio as it had been an enjoyable experience for the untitled fourth album, released the previous year.[4] After touring Australia in April 1972, the group decided to take the mobile studio to Mick Jagger's home, Stargroves, a manor house and country estate in Hampshire. Eddie Kramer returned as recording engineer.[5][6]

Some songs from the album had initially been tried out in earlier sessions, such as "No Quarter", which was first attempted during a session at Headley Grange Estate, in East Hampshire.[7] Both guitarist and producer Jimmy Page and bassist / keyboardist John Paul Jones had installed home studios, which allowed them to arrive at Stargroves with complete compositions and arrangements.[4] In particular, Page was able to present a complete arrangement of "The Rain Song", including non-standard guitar tunings and a variety of dynamics, and "Over the Hills and Far Away", featuring multiple guitar parts. Jones had developed "No Quarter" beyond its earlier arrangement at Headley Grange, slowing the tempo and adding various synthesizers. Once the group were settled in Stargroves, they composed the other songs through jam sessions together. Further recording took place at Olympic Studios in May, and during the band's 1972 North American tour additional recording sessions were conducted at Electric Lady Studios in New York.[4]

Some songs which were recorded from these various sessions did not make it onto Houses of the Holy, such as "Black Country Woman", "Walter's Walk", "The Rover", and also the would-be title-track, "Houses of the Holy". All of these songs were retained and later released on subsequent Led Zeppelin albums. A series of rock 'n' roll covers were recorded at Electric Lady Studios, which remain unreleased.[4]


This album was a stylistic turning point in the lifespan of Led Zeppelin. Guitar riffs became more layered within Page's production techniques and departed from the blues influences of earlier records.[citation needed]

Side one

The album's opening track, "The Song Remains The Same" was originally an Page-composed instrumental called "The Overture". Plant added lyrics that referred to the group's experiences on tour, and it was given a working title of "The Campaign". His lead vocal was sped up slightly in the final mix, while Page played a Rickenbacker twelve string guitar and a Fender Telecaster.[8]

"The Rain Song" was composed at Page's home studio, which allowed him to bring a complete arrangement to the recording sessions, including the vocal melody. Jones added a string section played on the Mellotron, while Page played acoustic and Danelectro electric guitars.[8]

"Over The Hills And Far Away" was written about the hippie lifestyle, including references to the "open road" and "Acapulco gold". The song was developed in two halves, with a quiet acoustic section leading into a livelier electric one. The song was one of the first to be introduced into Led Zeppelin's live set, being first played in mid-1972.[8]

"The Crunge" was written by Bonham and developed out of a jam at Stargrove. He decided to create a funk beat that stepped on and off the beat, making it impossible to dance to. Plant improvised a set of lyrics in the manner of James Brown over the music, parodying Brown's "Take it to the Bridge" vocal style towards the end of the track. To further show that the song was a tongue-in-check joke, the group considered putting "dance steps" to the song on the cover at one stage. The track was occasionally performed as an impromptu piece in concert, usually in the middle of another song such as the fast guitar solo section in "Dazed and Confused".[7]

Side two

"Dancing Days" was inspired by the enjoyable sessions at Stargroves, and the lyrics show a general optimism to life.[7]

"D'Yer Mak'er"[a] was composed by Bonham as an attempt to combine reggae with 1950s doo-wop[b] by leaving a short off-beat. The track sounded like it could have commercial success in its own right, and Plant thought it should be released as a single. Although test and promotional pressings were produced, the rest of the group vetoed the idea.[7]

"No Quarter" was composed by Jones. An early arrangement of the song was attempted for the fourth album, but abandoned. Jones reworked the track to add acoustic and electric piano, and various synthesizers. The track quickly became a live favourite, and was featured at every show from 1973 onwards, providing Jones with an extended solo showcase in the middle of the song.[7]

"The Ocean" began with Bonham shouting "We've done four already but now we're steady and then they went, 1, 2, 3, 4", referring to the number of takes already recorded. The title and lyrics refer to the group's fans and their devotion to the band. The middle of the track features an a cappella vocal break sung by Plant, Bonham and Jones, while the ending was another pastiche of the doo-wop style.[7]

Unreleased material

The album's title track was recorded at Olympic and mixed at Electric Lady. It was ultimately left off the album, as there were enough tracks to fill two sides of an LP, and was released on the follow-up, Physical Graffiti.[9] That album also included "Black Country Woman", recorded in the garden at Stargroves for Houses of the Holy.[7]

Another track from the Stargroves sessions, "Walter's Walk", was eventually released on Coda in 1982. A song with a working title of "Slush" was recorded at the Olympic sessions, but remains unreleased.[7]

Artwork and packaging

The cover art for Houses of the Holy was inspired by the ending of Arthur C. Clarke's novel Childhood's End. The cover 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 considered.[10]

The photo shoot 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 11 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.[10] The inner sleeve photograph was taken at Dunluce Castle nearby the Causeway.

In February 2010, Stefan Gates presented a half-hour BBC Radio 4 documentary entitled Stefan Gates's Cover Story, about his part in the making of the album cover. Gates claimed in the documentary to have felt there was something sinister about the image, although his sister disagreed. He also admitted never having heard the album. The programme ended with Gates returning to Giant's Causeway and listening to the album on a portable player, after which he claimed that a great weight had been lifted from him.

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 paper title band to US and UK copies of the sleeve that had to be broken or slid off to access the record.[10] This hid the children's buttocks from general display, but still the album was either banned or unavailable in some parts of the Southern United States for several years.[11]

The first CD release of the album in the 1980s did have the title logos printed on the cover itself.[10]

In 1974, the album was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Album Package.[12] The cover was rated #6 on VH1's 50 Greatest Album Covers in 2003.[13]

Page has stated that the album cover was the second version submitted by Hipgnosis. The first, by artist Storm Thorgerson, featured an electric green tennis court with a tennis racket on it. Furious that Thorgerson was implying their music sounded like a "racket", the band fired him and hired Powell in his place.[14] Thorgerson did, however, go on to produce the album artwork for Led Zeppelin's subsequent albums Presence and In Through the Out Door.

Release and critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 98/100[26]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[15]
Robert Christgau A–[16]
Classic Rock 9/10[17]
The Daily Telegraph 3/5 stars[18]
Entertainment Weekly A[19]
Mojo 4/5 stars[20]
MusicHound 4/5[21]
Pitchfork Media 9.3/10[22]
Rolling Stone (1973) (unfavourable)[23]
Rolling Stone (2003) 5/5 stars[24]
Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[25]

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

The epic scale suited Zeppelin: They had the largest crowds, the loudest rock songs, the most groupies, the fullest manes of hair. Eventually excess would turn into bombast, but on Houses, it still provided inspiration.

—Gavin Edwards, Rolling Stone[27]

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. 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 UK in 1972–73.[10]

Upon its release, the album received some mixed reviews,[28] with much criticism from the music press being directed at the off-beat nature of tracks such as "The Crunge" and "D'yer Mak'er". Gordon Fletcher of Rolling Stone, on release, called the album "one of the dullest and most confusing albums I've heard this year", criticizing every song and comparing them to the band's previous work.[29] However, the album was very successful commercially, entering the UK chart at number one, while in America its 39-week run (two of them spent at #1) on the Billboard Top 40 was their longest since their third album.[10]

In 2012, the album was ranked #148 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[3]


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
The Book of Rock Lists United States "The Top 40 Albums (1973)"[30] 1981 13
Grammy Award United States "Grammy Award for Best Recording Package"[31] 1974 Nominee
Classic Rock United Kingdom "100 Greatest British Rock Album Ever"[32] 2006 90
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame United States "The Definitive 200: Top 200 Albums of All-Time"[33] 2007 51
Rolling Stone United States "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time"[34] 2012 148
Pitchfork Media United States "Top 100 Albums of the 1970s"[35] 2004 75

(*) designates unordered lists.

2014 reissue

A remastered version of Houses of the Holy was reissued on 27 October 2014, along with Led Zeppelin IV. The reissue comes in six formats: a standard CD edition, a deluxe two-CD edition, a standard LP version, a deluxe two-LP version, a super deluxe two-CD plus two-LP version with a hardback book, and as high resolution 96k/24-bit digital downloads. The deluxe and super deluxe editions feature bonus material. The reissue was released with an inverted color version of the original album's artwork as its bonus disc's cover.[36]

Track listing

Standard edition

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "The Song Remains the Same" 5:32
2. "The Rain Song"
  • Page
  • Plant
3. "Over the Hills and Far Away"
  • Page
  • Plant
4. "The Crunge" 3:17
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
5. "Dancing Days"
  • Page
  • Plant
6. "D'yer Mak'er"
  • Bonham
  • Jones
  • Page
  • Plant
7. "No Quarter"
  • Jones
  • Page
  • Plant
8. "The Ocean"
  • Bonham
  • Jones
  • Page
  • Plant

Deluxe edition bonus disc

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "The Song Remains the Same" (Guitar overdub reference mix)
  • Page
  • Plant
2. "The Rain Song" (Mix minus piano)
  • Page
  • Plant
3. "Over the Hills and Far Away" (Guitar mix backing track)
  • Page
  • Plant
4. "The Crunge" (Rough mix – Keys up)
  • Bonham
  • Jones
  • Page
  • Plant
5. "Dancing Days" (Rough mix with vocal)
  • Page
  • Plant
6. "No Quarter" (Rough mix with JPJ keyboard overdubs – No vocal)
  • Jones
  • Page
  • Plant
7. "The Ocean" (Working mix)
  • Bonham
  • Jones
  • Page
  • Plant
Total length: 36:10



Chart (1973–74) Peak
Australian Go-Set Top 20 Albums Chart[37] 1
Austrian Albums Chart[38] 3
Canadian RPM Top 100 Albums Chart[39] 1
Danish Albums Chart[40] 7
French Albums Chart[41] 3
Italian Albums Chart[42] 4
Japanese Albums Chart[43] 3
Norwegian Albums Chart[44] 4
Spanish Albums Chart[45] 9
UK Albums Chart[46] 1
US Billboard 200[47] 1
West German Albums Chart[48] 8
Year Single Chart Position
1973 "D'yer Mak'er" US Billboard Hot 100 20
1973 "Over The Hills And Far Away" US Billboard Hot 100 51


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[49] Gold 30,000^
France (SNEP)[50] 2× Gold 200,000*
Germany (BVMI)[51] Gold 250,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[52] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[53] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[2] 11× Platinum 11,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also



  1. ^ The title comes from an old British joke – "My wife's gone on holiday?" "D'Yer Mak'er?" (which when pronounced quickly sounds like "Jamaica") "No, she went of her own accord."
  2. ^ This led to the remark "Whatever happened to Rosie and the Originals?" on the sleeve


  1. ^ Houses of the Holy, Led Zeppelin, Atlantic Records, R2-544300, Super Deluxe Edition Box, 2014 liner Notes, page 3
  2. ^ a b "American album certifications – Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  3. ^ a b "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 14 August 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d Lewis 1990, p. 17.
  5. ^ Lewis 1990, pp. 17,89.
  6. ^ Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream; The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin. Omnibus Press. p. 58. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Lewis 1990, p. 54.
  8. ^ a b c Lewis 1990, p. 53.
  9. ^ Lewis 1990, p. 55.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Dave Lewis (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9
  11. ^ Classic Rock Covers: Led Zeppelin; Houses of the Holy. Atlantic, 1973. Designer: Hipgnosis (Storm Thorgerson, Aubrey Powell) Archived 21 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine.[self-published source]
  12. ^ "Grammy Award Nominees 1974 – Grammy Award Winners 1974". Retrieved 28 April 2017. 
  13. ^ "The Greatest: 50 Greatest Album Covers". VH1. Archived from the original on 16 October 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015. 
  14. ^ Brad Tolinski and Greg Di Bendetto, "Light and Shade", Guitar World, January 1998.
  15. ^ AllMusic review
  16. ^ "Robert Christgau Review". Retrieved 9 August 2011. 
  17. ^ Batcup, Tim (November 2014). "Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IV / Houses Of The Holy". Classic Rock. pp. 98–99. 
  18. ^ McCormick, Neil (23 April 2014). "Led Zeppelin's albums ranked from worst to best". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  19. ^ Tom Sinclair (20 June 2003). "Entertainment Weekly Review". Retrieved 9 August 2011. 
  20. ^ Snow, Mat (November 2014). "More muscle in your bustle: Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy". Mojo: 106. 
  21. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 662. ISBN 1-57859-061-2. 
  22. ^ Richardson, Mark (24 February 2015). "Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin IV/Houses of the Holy/Physical Graffiti". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 10 October 2015. 
  23. ^ 1973 Rolling Stone Review
  24. ^ 2003 Rolling Stone Review
  25. ^ "Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  26. ^ "Reviews for Houses of the Holy [Remastered] by Led Zeppelin". Metacritic. Retrieved 13 July 2015. 
  27. ^ "Edwards, Gavin (30 July 2003). "Houses of the Holy" review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 4 September 2008. 
  28. ^ Michael Wale, "Led Zeppelin", The Times, 11 July 1973.
  29. ^ Fletcher, Gordon (7 June 1973). "Houses of the Holy". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 14 August 2017. 
  30. ^ "The Top 40 Albums 1973". Archived from the original on 6 January 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2009. 
  31. ^ "Grammy Award for Best Album Package (Hipgnosis) – 2 March 1974". Grammy. Archived from the original on 26 October 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2009. 
  32. ^ "Classic Rock – 100 Greatest British Rock Album Ever – April 2006". Classic Rock. Retrieved 10 February 2009. 
  33. ^ "The Definitive 200: Top 200 Albums of All-Time". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (United States). Archived from the original on 27 September 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2009. 
  34. ^ "500 Greatest Albums | Rolling Stone Music | Lists". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 9 August 2011. 
  35. ^ "Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1970s". Pitchfork. 23 June 2004. Retrieved 9 August 2011. 
  36. ^ Bennett, Ross (29 July 2014). "Led Zeppelin IV And Houses Of The Holy Remasters Due". Mojo. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 
  37. ^ "Top 20 Albums – 30 June 1973". Go Set. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  38. ^ "Top 75 Albums – 15 May 1973". Archived from the original on 15 March 2006. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  39. ^ "RPM Albums Chart – 19 May 1973". RPM. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  40. ^
  41. ^ "Top 100 Albums – 1973". Archived from the original on 27 October 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  42. ^ "Top 100 Albums – 1973". Hit Parade Italia. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  43. ^ "Top 100 Albums – 10 April 1973". Oricon. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  44. ^ "Top 20 Albums – 29 April 1973". Archived from the original on 24 October 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  45. ^ "Top 100 Albums – 9 June 1973". PROMUSICAE. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  46. ^ "Top 100 Albums – 14 April 1973". Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  47. ^ "The Billboard 200 – 12 May 1973". Billboard. Retrieved 19 January 2009. [dead link]
  48. ^ "Top 100 Albums – June 1973". Archived from the original on 8 January 2009. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  49. ^ "Argentinian album certifications – Led Zeppelin – Recintos de lo Sagrado". Argentine Chamber of Phonograms and Videograms Producers. 
  50. ^ "French album certifications – Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. 
  51. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Led Zeppelin; 'House of Holy')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  52. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año : 1959–2002 (PDF) (in Spanish). Iberautor Promociones Culturales. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  53. ^ "British album certifications – Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy". British Phonographic Industry.  Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Enter Houses of the Holy in the search field and then press Enter.


External links

  • Houses of the Holy at MusicBrainz (list of releases)
  • Cover art
  • Cover art – Aubrey Powell
  • Stefan Gates' Cover Story (BBC programme about the album cover)

Retrieved from ""
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia :
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Houses of the Holy"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA