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Houses of the Holy

Houses of the Holy
Studio album by Led Zeppelin
Released 28 March 1973
Recorded January–August 1972, Stargroves and Headley Grange with the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, and Island Studios, London; Mixed at Olympic Studios, London, and Electric Lady Studios, New York
Genre Hard rock
Length 40:58
Label Atlantic
Producer Jimmy Page
Led Zeppelin chronology
Led Zeppelin IV
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
  3. "The Rain Song (mix minus piano)"
    Released: 30 September 2014

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

Containing some of the band's most famous songs, including "The Song Remains the Same", "The Rain Song" and "No Quarter", Houses of the Holy became a huge success, and was certified eleven times platinum by the RIAA.[1] In 2012, it was ranked #148 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

The title track was recorded for the album, but was delayed until the band's next release, Physical Graffiti, two years later.


  • Recording sessions 1
  • Composition 2
  • Album sleeve design 3
  • Release and critical reaction 4
  • Accolades 5
  • 2014 reissue 6
  • Track listing 7
    • Deluxe edition bonus disc 7.1
  • Sales chart performance 8
  • Sales certifications 9
  • Personnel 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13

Recording sessions

Much of the album was recorded in Spring 1972 using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio at Stargroves, a Berkshire country estate owned by Mick Jagger. 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.[2]

Several of the songs were produced as trial recordings (demos) at the personal studios of guitarist Jimmy Page and bass player/keyboardist John Paul Jones. Having recently installed these studios in their homes, it enabled them to finish the arrangements which had been laid down earlier. 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".[2]

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.[2]

Some songs which were recorded from these various sessions did not make it onto Houses of the Holy, namely "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.


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. 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 (the name of the song being derived from the phonetic spelling of the British pronunciation of "Jamaica"); "No Quarter" features atmospheric keyboard sounds and an acoustic piano solo from Jones; "The Crunge" is a funk tribute to James Brown; and "The Rain Song" is embellished by Jones on his newly acquired mellotron. The album's closing song "The Ocean", which features an a cappella section and a doo-wop influenced coda, is dedicated to "the ocean" of fans who were massing to Led Zeppelin concerts at this point of the band's career. Subsequently, one view is that the title "Houses of the Holy" refers to the massive venues they played full of their adoring fans. However, when Page was asked about the significance of the title in a Sirius XM interview in New York City 7 Nov. 2014, he responded, “It’s about all of us being houses of the Holy Spirit, in a sense.”

According to 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.[2]

Album sleeve design

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 being considered.[2]

The two children who modelled for the cover were siblings Stefan and Samantha Gates.[3] 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 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.[2] 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.[2] 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.[4][5]

The first CD release of the album in the 1980s did have the title logos printed on the cover itself.[2]

In 1974, the album was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of best album package. The cover was rated #6 on VH1's 50 Greatest Album Covers in 2003.

Page has stated that the album cover was the second version submitted by Hipgnosis. The first, by artist Presence and In Through the Out Door.

The album art was referenced towards the end of the movie Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure as the title characters used the album as a reference for the types of places they had visited during their travels in the story: "We visited many places that looked like the cover of the album "Houses of the Holy"."

Release and critical reaction

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[7]
Robert Christgau A–[8]
Classic Rock 9/10[9]
The Daily Telegraph 3/5 stars[10]
Entertainment Weekly A[11]
Mojo 4/5 stars[12]
MusicHound 4/5 stars[13]
Rolling Stone (1973) (unfavourable)[14]
Rolling Stone (2003) 5/5 stars[15]
Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[16]

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 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[17]

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.[2]

Upon its release, the album received some mixed reviews,[18] 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". 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.[2]

In 2012, the album was ranked #148 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
The Book of Rock Lists United States "The Top 40 Albums (1973)"[19] 1981 13
Grammy Award United States "Grammy Award for Best Recording Package"[20] 1974 Nominee
Classic Rock United Kingdom "100 Greatest British Rock Album Ever"[21] 2006 90
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame United States "The Definitive 200: Top 200 Albums of All-Time"[22] 2007 51
Rolling Stone United States "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time"[23] 2012 148
Pitchfork Media United States "Top 100 Albums of the 1970s"[24] 2004 75

(*) designates unordered lists.

2014 reissue

A remastered version of Houses of the Holy was reissued on 27 October 2014, along with their untitled fourth album. 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 a negative version of the original album's artwork as its bonus disc's cover.[25]

Track listing

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "The Song Remains the Same"   Jimmy Page, Robert Plant 5:32
2. "The Rain Song"   Page, Plant 7:39
3. "Over the Hills and Far Away"   Page, Plant 4:50
4. "The Crunge"   John Bonham, John Paul Jones, Page, Plant 3:17
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Dancing Days"   Page, Plant 3:43
2. "D'yer Mak'er"   Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant 4:23
3. "No Quarter"   Jones, Page, Plant 7:00
4. "The Ocean"   Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant 4:31

Deluxe edition bonus disc

Reissued setlist
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "The Song Remains The Same" (Guitar Overdub Reference Mix) Page, Plant 5:29
2. "The Rain Song" (Mix Minus Piano) Page, Plant 7:45
3. "Over the Hills and Far Away" (Guitar Mix Backing Track) Page, Plant 4:22
4. "The Crunge" (Rough Mix - Keys Up) Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant 3:16
5. "Dancing Days" (Rough Mix with Vocal) Page, Plant 3:46
6. "No Quarter" (Rough Mix with JPJ Keyboard Overdubs - No Vocal) Jones, Page, Plant 7:03
7. "The Ocean" (Working Mix) Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant 4:26

Sales chart performance

Chart (1973–74) Peak position
Australian Go-Set Top 20 Albums Chart[26] 1
Austrian Albums Chart[27] 3
Canadian RPM Top 100 Albums Chart[28] 1
French Albums Chart[29] 3
Italian Albums Chart[30] 4
Japanese Albums Chart[31] 3
Norwegian Albums Chart[32] 4
Spanish Albums Chart[33] 9
UK Albums Chart[34] 1
US Billboard 200[35] 1
West German Albums Chart[36] 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

Sales certifications

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Argentina (CAPIF)[37] Gold 30,000x
France (SNEP)[38] 2× Gold 200,000*
Germany (BVMI)[39] Gold 250,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[40] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[41] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[1] 11× Platinum 11,000,000^

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


Led Zeppelin

See also


  1. ^ a b "American album certifications – Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy".   If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Dave Lewis (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9
  3. ^ Hewett, Rick (8 December 2007). "Solved: Mystery of the iconic Led Zeppelin album cover and its golden-haired children". Daily Mail (London). 
  4. ^ . Atlantic, 1973. Designer: Hipgnosis (Storm Thorgneson, Aubrey Powell)Houses of the HolyClassic Rock Covers: Led Zeppelin;
  5. ^ "Koldo Barroso, "Best albums with nude covers and the stories behind",, 9 November 2006". 9 November 2006. Retrieved 9 August 2011. 
  6. ^ Brad Tolinski and Greg Di Bendetto, "Light and Shade", Guitar World, January 1998.
  7. ^ AllMusic review
  8. ^ "Robert Christgau Review". Retrieved 9 August 2011. 
  9. ^ Batcup, Tim (November 2014). "Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IV / Houses Of The Holy".  
  10. ^ McCormick, Neil (23 April 2014). "Led Zeppelin's albums ranked from worst to best".  
  11. ^ Reviewed by Tom Sinclair (20 June 2003). "Entertainment Weekly Review". Retrieved 9 August 2011. 
  12. ^ Snow, Mat (November 2014). "More muscle in your bustle: Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy".  
  13. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 662.  
  14. ^ 1973 Rolling Stone Review
  15. ^ 2003 Rolling Stone Review
  16. ^ "Houses of the Holy"Led Zeppelin .  
  17. ^ "Edwards, Gavin (30 July 2003). " review"Houses of the Holy". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 4 September 2008. 
  18. ^ Michael Wale, "Led Zeppelin", The Times, 11 July 1973.
  19. ^ "The Top 40 Albums 1973". Retrieved 10 February 2009. 
  20. ^ "Grammy Award for Best Album Package (Hipgnosis) – 2 March 1974". Grammy. Retrieved 10 February 2009. 
  21. ^ "Classic Rock – 100 Greatest British Rock Album Ever – April 2006". Classic Rock. Retrieved 10 February 2009. 
  22. ^ "The Definitive 200: Top 200 Albums of All-Time". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (United States). Retrieved 10 February 2009. 
  23. ^ "500 Greatest Albums | Rolling Stone Music | Lists". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 9 August 2011. 
  24. ^ "Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1970s". Pitchfork. 23 June 2004. Retrieved 9 August 2011. 
  25. ^ Bennett, Ross (29 July 2014). "Led Zeppelin IV And Houses Of The Holy Remasters Due".  
  26. ^ "Top 20 Albums – 30 June 1973". Go Set. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  27. ^ "Top 75 Albums – 15 May 1973". Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  28. ^ "RPM Albums Chart – 19 May 1973". RPM. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  29. ^ "Top 100 Albums – 1973". Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  30. ^ "Top 100 Albums – 1973". Hit Parade Italia. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  31. ^ "Top 100 Albums – 10 April 1973". Oricon. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  32. ^ "Top 20 Albums – 29 April 1973". Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  33. ^ "Top 100 Albums – 9 June 1973". PROMUSICAE. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  34. ^ "Top 100 Albums – 14 April 1973". Archived from the original on 8 December 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  35. ^ "The Billboard 200 – 12 May 1973". Billboard. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  36. ^ "Top 100 Albums – June 1973". Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  37. ^ "Argentinian album certifications – Led Zeppelin – Recintos de lo Sagrado".  
  38. ^ "French album certifications – Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy" (in French).  
  39. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Led Zeppelin; 'House of Holy')" (in German).  
  40. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año : 1959-2002 (in Spanish). Iberautor Promociones Culturales.  
  41. ^ "British album certifications – Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy".   Enter Houses of the Holy in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go

External links

  • Houses of the Holy at MusicBrainz (list of releases)
  • Lyrics
  • Cover art
  • Cover art – Aubrey Powell
  • Review On Music-Nerds
  • Stefan Gates' Cover Story (BBC programme about the album cover)
Preceded by
20 Flashback Greats of the Sixties by Various Artists
UK Albums Chart number-one album
14–21 April 1973
Succeeded by
Ooh La La by The Faces
Preceded by
Aloha from Hawaii: Via Satellite by Elvis Presley
Billboard 200 number-one album
12–25 May 1973
Succeeded by
1967–1970 by The Beatles
Preceded by
Hot August Night by Neil Diamond
Australian Kent Music Report number-one album
4–24 June 1973
Succeeded by
Red Rose Speedway by Paul McCartney & Wings
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