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Houses of the Holy

Guest Blogger: Rikky Rooksby is the author of many musical how-to books such as How to Write Songs on Guitar or Arranging Songs. Below is an excerpt from his blog. Please visit his site to read the whole article.

Houses of the Holy

As Dave Lewis (see the website and Record Collector magazine feature) reminds us, March saw the 40th anniversary of the release of Led Zeppelin’s fifth album. Having numbered their first three LPs and titled the fourth with four symbols, they more conventionally gave the fifth a title: Houses of the Holy (a reference to their audiences and concert halls). The Zeppelin mystique was assuaged by the fact that the title was not printed on the sleeve but came as a paper wrap-around. The sleeve itself was a strikingly tinted photo montage of the Giant’s Causeway. Nor did the album contain the song ‘Houses of the Holy’, which was eventually released in 1975 on Physical Graffiti.

Houses of the Holy was a hugely-anticipated album, following the band’s elevation to international fame during the preceding two years, and the fourth album which contained ‘Stairway To Heaven’. Many were hoping for another ‘Stairway’ on the new album, and Robert Plant revealed in one interview that the band did indeed have a song metaphorically fired from the same cannon. This was ‘The Rain Song’, a very attractive altered-tuning ballad with rising and falling dynamics. The remaining seven songs included the uptempo rollercoaster ‘The Song Remains The Same’, the delightful acoustic / electric mix of ‘Over The Hills and Far Away’, the heavy rock winter nocturne of ‘No Quarter’, the unbuttoned and joyful rifferama of ‘The Ocean’ (its opening riff combing a bar of 4/4 with one of 7/8), and the two controversial tracks ‘D’Yer Mak’er’ and ‘The Crunge’.

These were received by the more prog-rock ‘hairy’ part of Zep’s audience as ideological crimes: the first for being reggae and the other for being James Brown funk, and both for being apparently Not Serious. How dare Zep waste several inches of vinyl bandwidth on musical jokes! was the cry. What happened to the Viking-horde-clamouring-for-Valhalla head-banging which was what the World’s Official Heaviest Band were supposed to deliver?

Keep reading on Rikky Rooksby’s blog!

Rikky Rooksby is a guitar teacher, songwriter/composer, and writer on popular music. Considered the premiere author of songwriting guides, Rooksby has also written numerous music history and guitar instruction books and has published over 200 interviews, reviews, articles, and transcriptions in music magazines. He has also transcribed and arranged more than 40 chord songbooks, including music by Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, The Beatles, and many other artists.

A member of the Guild of International Songwriters and Composers, Rooksby is also a sought-after teacher who leads courses on music at The Oxford Experience and other international continuing education summer schools.