The Goldmine-Quadrophenia by The Who

It’s the last post of the semester folks, and to finish off this blog series with a bang I’ve decided to end with a profile of The Who’s legendary rock opera Quadrophenia. Released in 1973, Quadrophenia was the third and last of Pete Townshend penned rock operas for The Who following Tommy in 1969 and the aborted Lifehouse project which became the wildly successful Who’s Next album in 1971. As a rock opera, the double album tells a single narrative story with recurring lyrical and musical themes. The story’s protagonist is a teenager named Jimmy, who lives in Britain in the mid-1960’s and is a member of the trendy Mod subculture. Back in the early 1960’s the Mods were a fashionable British youth scene that helped to popularize The Who.

The main feature surrounding the story and ideas in Quadrophenia is the number four. Quadropenia was written by Pete Townshend with the intention of having it play in quadrophonic (four speaker) surround sound. The album’s name itself is a play on words with the mental disorder schizophrenia, or dissociative personality disorder, often called multiple personalities. The protagonist Jimmy displays four separate personalities, each embodied by the four band members of The Who. Throughout the album, these four lyrical and musical themes repeat themselves as the story progresses. So without further ado, let’s dive into Quadrophenia!

Side A

The first song is the short piece I Am the Sea, it is a form of overture that introduces each of the lyrical personality themes in a ghostly/echoing manner as recordings of the ocean play over them.

Suddenly the listener is shaken awake to the track The Real Me. For a band as rocking as The Who, it’s impressive that this is one of their hardest rockers. It begins the story of young Jimmy Cooper, with poor Jimmy trying a doctor, his mother, and a preacher to help him with his emotional issues, hinting at his multiple personalities from the start. The song is known for John Entwistle’s bass guitar performance. Entwistle was unparalleled as a bassist and showcases his talents well on this track.

The next song is the instrumental title track. The song Quadrophenia introduces all of the musical themes that repeat throughout the album and as such is a more fleshed out companion piece to I Am the Sea, w. When compared to the instrumental tracks on the Tommy album, the change that The Who had made in the few short years between the recordings is evident. Whereas Tommy was based around acoustic and electric guitars interplaying with Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon’s rhythm section, Quadrophenia is much more oriented around synthesizers and piano to go along with Townshend, Entwistle, and Moon’s regular instruments.

The next song is Cut My Hair, which details Jimmy attempting to fit into the Mod’s fashion culture. Jimmy wants to belong with his friends but can’t seem to find any solace in the scene. The chorus has a call back to The Who’s song I Can’t Explain, their earliest hit back in their Mod days. The track ends with a recording of a radio report detailing the fights between rival Mod and Rocker groups.

The final song on the first side is The Punk and the Godfather, and contains another lyrical reference to an early Who song, this time My Generation. The Punk and the Godfather slyly enough is talking about The Who themselves, as Jimmy sees one of their concerts in their early days and remarks how they became successful only thanks to the support of their Mod fans as they made fools of themselves destroying their equipment every night. It’s another source of disappointment for Jimmy, who had idolized and followed the band.

Side B

The second side of the album begins with I’m One. Sung by Pete Townshend, the song shows Jimmy at a crossroads. He is admits having issues but still has the optimism that he can turn things around for himself as his life is slowly deteriorating. When played live, Pete Townshend would often perform the song solo, with only his acoustic guitar.

Turning the vocal reigns back to lead singer Roger Daltrey, the next track is much more of a Who rocker. The Dirty Jobs describes Jimmy’s attempts at getting by now that he has been thrown out of his house. With his newfound resolve being tested by various circumstances that keep forcing him to find new employment, Jimmy keeps on trying to improve his situation.

The third track on side B is Helpless Dancer, and it is lead singer Roger Daltrey’s personal theme. Accompanied by beating piano and John Entwistle’s French horn arrangement, Daltrey sings about Jimmy’s further grief that is making it harder and harder for him to keep on pushing ahead, and eventually quitting altogether. The song ends with a recorded playing of one of The Who’s early hits, The Kids are Alright.

Following up Helpless Dancer is the song Is It in My Head? Where Jimmy further questions his mental problems that have made him quit working to support himself. The track itself contains instrumental arrangements very similar to Who’s Next material, with the acoustic/electric guitar and synthesizer in the background.

The first album ends with the furious rush of the song I’ve Had Enough. The song begins with a reprise of Jimmy’s theme declaring his yet unwavering support of the Mod movement. Following that is the first instance of the ‘Love Reign O’er Me’ theme outside of the instrumental tracks, which will further be utilized in the second album. The song is fairly self-explanatory, with Jimmy declaring that he is finally through with his Mod lifestyle and everything surrounding his alienating adolescent upbringing. The song ends with Roger Daltrey screaming that Jimmy has “had enough of trying to love,” beckoning the listener to the second album to see where the story will go from here.

Side C

The second album begins with a surge of energy in the form of the song 5:15. The song describes Jimmy hopping on a train to the Brighton beach, where he had his best memories as a mod that he seeks to relive. The song is a rip roaring and rollicking piece that captures Jimmy’s mood as he rides the train hyped up on drugs towards the beach. Intercut with tender and introspective moments, the song manages to balance both the light and heavy elements of the thematic material unfolding.

The second track is Sea and Sand, taking place on the Brighton beach and following Jimmy’s thoughts as he contemplates all that has gone on so far. He laments the loss of his girlfriend as well as his complete isolation from his Mod group, who he once completely identified with. Sea and Sand is almost a mini-version of the album itself, telling much of the story and Jimmy’s internal issues. It ends with Daltrey singing lines from one of The Who’s earliest tracks, I’m the Face, back when the group itself was synonymous with the Mod scene as the band The High Numbers.

The following track is Drowned, a rocking tune that is sequenced with Jimmy contemplating renting a boat to go drown himself in the ocean and find peace for his tortured mind. The song was originally written by Pete Townshend for Meher Baba as early as the Tommy album in 1969. Baba was a spiritual guide of Townshend’s and contributed one of the two names to the hit Who song Baba O’Riley.

The final song on the third side of the album is Bell Boy, drummer Keith Moon’s thematic song. In the story, before Jimmy can get to rent his boat he runs into ‘Ace-Face,’ one of the chief Mod leaders who Jimmy used to look up to. Moon himself infamously sang the vocals of Ace-Face on Bell Boy which was a huge crowd pleaser. Jimmy is aghast that Ace-Face has degenerated from a leader of Mod gangs to the titular bell boy of the hotel that they used to take advantage of. Jimmy now finds himself absolutely disgusted with the Mod lifestyle that he used to proudly subscribe to. Jimmy finds no solace in his trip to Brighton to find some kind of reconciliation between himself and his past as a Mod, and is now even more distraught after seeing the fallen Ace-Face.

Side D

The last side of the double album contains only three songs, but they are a very hard hitting finale to the album. The first song on this quarter of the double album is Doctor Jimmy, a furious and bombastic surge of energy and (warning) salty language. Jimmy gets a bottle of gin and drowns his sorrows along with more pills, and at this point in the story has gone mad. Between his compulsive rages where he echoes Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide with his Doctor Jimmy and Mister Jim, he has moments of clarity, where he asks himself which part of his personalities is the real him. The “Is it me” lyric is bassist John Entwistle’s theme on the album, and the song itself features much of his French horn accompaniment. The whole album really displays a much better use of Entwistle’s French horn skills, which aside from Tommy only really was utilized in a campy manner.

The bridge between Doctor Jimmy and the finale is the instrumental piece The Rock. It contains once again the suite of musical themes that represent all of Jimmy’s personalities with new inflections. The song is a great work at displaying The Who’s collective musical talents. As the track is instrumental, there aren’t any lyrics to tell the story, but Jimmy has followed through with his plan to buy a boat and go out to sea. Instead of drowning himself he lands on a rocky island, but after going ashore his boat has floated away, stranding him.

The album closes with the sounds of rain that bring on the song Love Reign O’er Me. It is guitarist Pete Townshend’s musical and lyrical theme and the finale to Jimmy’s story. After finding himself alone on the rock with life’s pressures no longer driving him mad, Jimmy realizes that he has been wrong to reject love. He knows that by going back to land he will have to endure the life that has so far plagued and haunted him, but he must go back in order to experience love. Jimmy realizes that love, even if just a fleeting moment of it, is the most powerful spiritual force, and to experience it makes life worth living. The song offers a climactic finale to the album and features Roger Daltrey’s finest vocal performance, in full rock god mode he screams at the top of his voice as the music crashes all around him like the emotional storm Jimmy has endured during the events of the record.

Quadrophenia often plays second fiddle to The Who’s first and more well-known rock opera Tommy, however among fans who have listened to both, it is hard to find any consensus. One thing I will say is that in instrumentation and mixing in general, the five years in between the release of the two albums saw huge advances in The Who’s abilities, specifically Pete Townshend’s ability to write, arrange, and record complex music and lyrics. The album is a tour de force of powerful emotions and a compelling story of struggle and ultimate triumph over the crushing disappointments that life can throw at the lonely and alienated youth of the world.

Since it’s the last week of the semester this is sadly my last post of the year. I’d like to thank everybody for reading my weekly series The Goldmine. It’s been very fun and exciting to contribute to the KCR blog. I’d like to thank blog leader Jewell Karinen for making everything happen. I hope to return next year to the KCR blog with a new series to work on. Hopefully I’ve spurred you the reader into listening to some of the albums I’ve written about. I’ve often found comfort in these albums, music opens up doors to places you never knew existed. I hope you’ve found something deep in the heart of The Goldmine of classic rock that I’ve unearthed for you.

Thank you for reading,
Cameron Satterlee

The Goldmine-Exile on Main St. by The Rolling Stones

It’s the end of the month so that means it’s time to profile another double album! The album in question may in fact be the best album that I will ever talk about on this blog, that is The Rolling Stones’ 1972 magnum opus Exile on Main St. The final record in the band’s incredible five year untouchable golden run that brought forth Beggar’s Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile; some of the finest rock music ever recorded. The Stones were the kings of rock and roll and at the peak of their creative powers.

Describing Exile on Main St. itself is rather difficult due to the sheer vastness of it all. Describing it piece by piece is also somewhat of a challenge because on first blush it is a cobbled together collection of muddily mixed rock-ish genre tracks. The strength of the album comes from the depth as well as breadth found in between the two vinyl discs. Sure, The Rolling Stones were a rock and roll band, they in fact bill themselves as the world’s greatest, but this album displays a vast reservoir of blues, soul, gospel, and country to go along with it. I think we should just jump in instead of me setting the stage any more.

Side A

The album begins in true Stones flair, with a drugged out and muddy sounding rocker about their hedonistic rock lifestyle. The song is appropriately titled Rocks Off, and sets an exhilarating tone for the rest of the record. The song’s mix is purposely haphazard, with instruments cutting in and out with little rhyme or reason, yet somehow it sounds better than the most professional records of the era. Session piano man Nicky Hopkins contributes his famous key licks to the track, and the backing brass keeps the song swinging as it frolics along.

A slow fade out and suddenly we find ourselves being swept up in Rip This Joint, one of the fastest songs the band ever recorded. A short little rocker moving at a breakneck pace, the song is about a tour across the country, and certainly could be seen to mirror the Stones’ own tours of the era, which were some of the most famous of all time for their decadence and general indecency.

The first of the cover songs on the album, track three is the Stones taking on Slim Harpo’s swinging blues classic Shake Your Hips. The Stones were perhaps the most decorated cover band of the time, devoting at least one album slot to an old blues or Motown standard which they gave a triumphant dressing up.

The fourth song on the first side is Casino Boogie, which takes blues images and shuffles them around a swinging boogie beat. The song has Keith Richard’s affection for the blues written all over it in his guitar lines and his backing vocals supporting Mick Jagger’s muddy drawl.

To close out the first quarter of the album we run into Tumbling Dice. Unlike the rest of The Rolling Stone’s albums, Exile has no real hits, as in a signature song that instantly conjures up the image of the rest of the album to other fans. Tumbling Dice is perhaps the closest thing to this as it is the most regularly performed song on the album in concert. The song features Jagger and a chorus of beautiful backing singers singing about gambling and infidelity. Sixth-Stone Ian Stewart contributes piano to the song. Drummer Charlie Watts was allegedly frustrated with his ability to play the beat coming out of the “keep on rolling” section of the song and was replaced in that part by producer Jimmy Miller, who also played drums on the Stone’s mega-hit You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

Side B

The second side begins with the song Sweet Virginia, a country-blues piece featuring the whole stones ensemble including Ian Stewart. Keith Richards and Mick Taylor duet on acoustic guitars and provide backing vocals for Mick Jagger along with a whole crew of other backing vocalists along with New Orleans blues legend Dr. John.

The second track on the second side is more country than country-blues but it has a notable soul influence in the vocalizations and the organ track. Al Perkins of The Flying Burrito Brothers contributed his signature steel pedal guitar to the song. Torn and Frayed is similar in lyrical content to other Stones country-influenced tracks as Dear Doctor and Far Away Eyes, telling the stories of washed up and haggard protagonists trying to survive their trying times.

While staying in the country-blues theme of this side of the album, Sweet Black Angel stands in stark contrast thematically to the other tracks on the album. Behind the absolutely beautiful acoustic arrangements is a sharp political statement from the Stones concerning the trail of civil rights activist Angela Davis, who was being charged with murder at the time the album was being recorded. The Stones were never a very political band, but this is one of their most overt statement against injustice as they saw it.

To close the first album is the lush and lusty Loving Cup. Nicky Hopkins takes over again on the keys and together with Charlie Watts and bassist Bill Wyman provides the Stones the perfect backing track to perform their subtle and sublime overlays. Similar to Tumbling Dice, Loving Cup has an aurally astounding vocal display from Mick Jagger and his backing vocalists.

Side C

The second album begins with the classic Keith Richards song Happy. It is considered to be the signature tune for the guitarist, and is frequently played in concert whenever Keith gets his two or so songs in the middle of the show. Mick Taylor performs the slide guitar and Mick Jagger is relegated to backing vocals for this one track. Both Ian Stewart and Nicky Hopkins play piano on the song, with session man Hopkins taking up the electric piano.

The next track is the short and rollicking Turd on the Run, and yes that is the song’s name. The song has a varied mix of acoustic and electric instrument and the production job makes it somewhat difficult to decipher what exactly is being said and played, but it’s a fun little tune.

A deep down and dirty slide guitar riff from Keith Richards starts off the lumbering Ventilator Blues. The song is the only song ever co-credited to guitarist Mick Taylor, although he only plays the guitar solo that closes out the song. It’s likely that he also wrote the guitar licks even though Keith plays them on the recorded version. Nicky Hopkin’s complex and articulate piano riffs roll up and down and contrast the slow back beat.

Ventilator Blues fades directly into I Just Want to See His Face. A gospel inspired song, the combination of the falsetto vocals and sparse instrumentation make the song sound as if it’s somewhere out of the 19th century swamps and fields of the American Deep South.

The last song on the third side is Let It Loose, one of the most spiritually moving songs that The Rolling Stones ever wrote. The song draws on soul, gospel, and blues and meshes them together in an incredibly powerful manner that draws out the very heart of any invested listener. Dr. John again contributes backing vocals and also performs the delicate piano track. Mick Jagger gives one of his finest vocal performances on the song, this is high praise for the singer of a band whose very logo is a mouth. The backing gospel choir adds onto Jagger’s solos with precise angelic swoons and hails. Taylor and Richard’s guitars, plugged into Leslie organ speakers, give the song another unique angle that makes it stand out not only on the album but throughout the Stones catalog.

Side D

The last side of the album would not be as tame as the previous two, beginning with a bang with All Down the Line. The song is one of the most straightforward rock tracks on the album. It features Mick Taylor’s slick electric slide guitar licks, a key to the band’s success during his tenure as guitarist opposite Keith Richards. Bill Wyman’s bass and Charlie Watt’s drums pull the song forward like a speedy roadster. Bobby Keys and Jim Price, who contributed sax, and trumpet and trombone throughout the album lend their lungs to this rolling record.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VziSYmfG5RA

The second cover song on Exile can be found in Stop Breaking Down, from the original blues master Robert Johnson himself. The song contains much more instrumentation than just Johnson and his solitary acoustic guitar, with Taylor once again performing his masterful slide. Mick Jagger plays harmonica in addition to singing. A full band effort, the song is a great example for how the Stones can retool an old blues song into a rock and roll format.

The album makes its last twist and turn in direction with the gospel inspired Shine a Light. The song was written for former Stones guitarist Brian Jones, whose tragic detachment from the band and eventual death is spiritually chronicled in harrowing style by Mick Jagger. Jones’ replacement Mick Taylor plays a fitting emotive guitar tribute to his predecessor. Billy Preston, who had performed with The Beatles in their Get Back and Abbey Road days contributed both piano and organ to the song.

To close out an album as vast and expansive as Exile on Main St. we finally come to Soul Survivor. The tune seems to sum up the album, drawing elements from many of the genres explored in the album, including soul, gospel, and of course rock and roll.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ug2_PIoheIU

With that we reach the end of the album Exile on Main St. It is truly one of rock music’s great master works and is an essential record in the history of genre as a whole. The album displays an astounding depth and breadth in all of the 18 tracks laid down by the band. If you want to experience what rock music was at its absolute height, this is a great place to start.

I’d like to thank all of my readers, running this weekly publication has been very fun and rewarding. I was honored on April 25th as KCR Radio’s best blogger and I hope to continue my work here. Thanks for reading.

The Goldmine-Killers by Iron Maiden

Today we are going back to 1981 to our second foray into the metal scene. Between when they helped start the New Wave of British Heavy Metal with Iron Maiden in 1980 and when they gave the genre it’s defining works with the trio of The Number of the Beast, Piece of Mind, and Powerslave in 1982-84, Iron Maiden released Killers. The sometimes overlooked and underrated album was the second and last to feature vocalist Paul Di’Anno, who would be booted out following their tour supporting the album because of unreliability and drug use. Adrian Smith, who would team up with Maiden’s other guitarist Dave Murray to record some of heavy metal’s best songs, debuted on the record.

Iron Maiden’s second album begins with the short instrumental song The Ides of March. The song establishes the band’s sound for the rest of the album. The recording quality has improved since their debut record but the harsh edge can still be heard in the guitar tone.

The second track on the album has also proved to be the most enduring hit. Short for Iron Maiden fare, Wrathchild shows off perfectly the transition that the band was undertaking in the Killers album. As I mentioned before with the changing tone, the band was moving away from the biting punk-metal sound into a more conventional heavy metal tone that would define their most famous work. It only became conventional because Iron Maiden made it the standard for the rest of Heavy Metal to follow. Wrathchild was written years before its inclusion on the album, dating back at least to 1979 when it was on the very first Metal for Muthas compilation.

The third track, Murders in the Rue Morgue, is another one of the few songs written before the Killers album session. Murders is based off of the same titled poem by Edgar Allen Poe and features similar thematic material in the writing. Iron Maiden has very frequently written songs inspired by old books, poems, films, and television shows including some of their best work.

The fourth track on Killers is the short and rushing Another Life. Featuring one of the fiercest guitar solos on the album, another life is one of the perfect examples for highlighting the importance of including Adrian Smith in the Iron Maiden double guitar assault. Every great Maiden album since has always included him and Murray teamed up.

Following up Another Life is Genghis Khan. The song itself is notable for being the second instrumental on the album, no other Iron Maiden album had more than one, and after 1984 the band would not release another. There is perhaps no other song that illustrates the influence that Progressive Rock had on Iron Maiden with its instrument harmonizing and studio explorations. It is the pinnacle of this form of creativity for Maiden, who would slowly adapt themselves for the longer more lyrically oriented era that would dawn following the album.

Steve Harris’ thumping bass guitar starts off the relatively slow paced Innocent Exile. Despite the slower playing speed, the song takes its power from the interplay of the bass and electric guitars, as Harris, Murray, and Smith weave in and out of lead and rhythm sections to provide the song with the signature Iron Maiden dynamism.

Already we reach the seventh and title track of the album. The song Killers begins with an agile bass and drum intro that slowly builds over a minute and crashes into the verse. Like much of their early work, the song and the album were controversial among more the conservative (or at least more sensitive) areas of the British press. The song itself tells of a serial compulsive thrill murderer who hunts his victims down in the dead of night. One of the most intense tracks on the album, it features some of drummer Clive Burr’s finest recorded work. Killers is the only song written for the album that has a co-writing credit Paul Di’Anno. Bassist Steve Harris wrote every other song written specifically for Killers.

What I mean by this is that, depending on what version of the album you listen to, a song by the name of Twilight Zone (written by Harris and Murray) is included. Twilight Zone was written as a single and not originally meant to be on the album. It isn’t on the British release, but follows the song Killers on the American and Canadian editions. It follows Purgatory as the tenth song on the CD reissue. For a metal song, it has an impressive beat and showcases Di’Anno’s vocal range.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-FCaZa7mTU

Hey everybody, it’s a song on a metal record with acoustic guitar! Some may say blasphemy, but quite often the bands that define a genre break that genre’s rules. Prodigal Son is the longest song on the album at six minutes and twelve seconds. This makes it the shortest ‘longest song’ on any album, as Maiden usually has at least one track that pushes the eight minute mark, with a few going over ten.

Purgatory is the rushing and furious penultimate track, featuring rapid-fire lyrical delivery and instrumentation. This was the fourth and final song written before the Killers album sessions.

Drifters is the final song on the album and closes it with a bang. Containing just enough pop sensibility within a thunderous armor, it’s a catchy yet completely metal rush of a track. Once again, Iron Maiden’s progressive side exposes itself with a short slow then fast interlude in the middle of the song. The track ends with the crashing of cymbals and a lashing howl of Paul Di’Anno, the last we would hear of him as the singer of Iron Maiden. But in his wake we would meet perhaps the greatest metal singer of all time, the legendary Bruce Dickinson, who would be the final piece in the puzzle and usher the band into metal superstardom.

In all, Killers is a very different beast than the band that Iron Maiden would develop into. It is very much a transitional work, but still much more reflective of their early career than the band they would develop to be. Like I mentioned before, their initial self-titled album, and their following few releases are much better known when compared to Killers. Nevertheless, Killers is an album that would do you well if you’ve never listened to it. It draws from a variety of styles (rare for metal) and represents the most legendary metal band of all time still attempting to discover their unifying sound, and lineup for that matter.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txN7NbWy9p8

The Goldmine-Houses of the Holy by Led Zeppelin

This week on The Goldmine we will be giving Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy a listen to. Released in 1973, Houses of the Holy was the follow up to Zeppelin’s hugely popular untitled fourth album. The album was a musical turning point for the band, who explored a growing number of sounds that added greatly to the diversity in their music. Houses of the Holy is a wonderful mix of many popular musical styles, with the fantastic talent of its collective musicians to hold it all together.

Side A

The albums starts off with a bang in the form of The Song Remains the Same.  Guitarist Jimmy Page plays overdubbed 12-string guitars ferociously, the song (along with Achilles Last Stand on the Presence album) is the best realization of Page’s dream of a symphony-like guitar army completed through multiple overdubs. With both the 12-string and Robert Plant’s slightly sped up vocal performance the song is in a much higher tonal register than much of Led Zeppelin’s work. The Song Remains the Same became a concert staple and lent its name to Led Zeppelin’s concert film released in 1976.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqyFwVHhNDU

Following up The Song Remains the Same is The Rain Song. The quintessential rock ballad, The Rain Song is allegedly inspired by George Harrison of The Beatles, who at a concert told the band that they should write more ballads. The song has multinstumentalist extraordinaire John Paul Jones on his traditional bass as well as piano and mellotron, giving the song its lush string orchestral backing sound. Vocalist Robert Plant used The Rain Song during his fantasy sequence in the aforementioned film The Song Remains the Same, which had all band members and manager Peter Grant playing out dreamlike short stories. At 7 and a half minutes, it’s the longest song on the album.

The third song on the album is Over the Hills and Far Away. Another ballad-like song, this time Jimmy Page gets back to his 6-string with both electric and acoustic overdubs and an extended outro. It was released as the single to promote the record backed by Dancing Days as the B-Side. Over the Hills and Far Away, like The Song Remains the Same, became a concert staple and a popular radio hit. It is one of the best examples of Led Zeppelin’s acoustically styled writings brought forth from Plant and Page’s vacations at Bron-Yr-Aur in the Welsh mountains.

The last song on the first side is The Crunge, a James Brown styled funky jam. A short and comparatively trivial song when held next to the first three songs on the album, The Crunge was derided by critics early when the album was released as more of a joke. However, the song was a band favorite even though they never played it live and one of the most lighthearted songs on a very fun and lighthearted album.

Side B

The second side starts off with Dancing Days, another fun song with light, if not a little quirky lyrics. Dancing Days could be considered the most generic song on the album, a mid-tempo rocker with some interesting guitar and organ melodies. While it’s the closest thing to filler on the album, you can hear it on the radio all over still, which is a testament to the strength of the songs on the record.

The second song on the second side is D’yer Mak’er, which was also the second single released on the album. It’s pronounced “D’jer Make-er” after a joke with a punchline mimicking the pronunciation of Jamaica with an accent. The song was written in reggae/dub style and is credited to all band members. Along with The Crunge, D’yer Mak’er is one of the songs singled out by critics and fans as more disposable because it didn’t fit Zeppelin’s ‘sound.’ Nevertheless, the track is very catchy and all band members give it their best.

Following this up in the complete opposite musical spectrum is No Quarter. A moody and murky piece, the song features Page’s guitar playing one of his heaviest and dirtiest riffs and one of his most melodic and subtle guitar solos of his storied career. But No Quarter really belongs to John Paul Jones, whose keyboard expertise on synthesizer and piano truly makes the song great. It was his ‘dream sequence’ song in The Song Remains the Same. Stop me if you’ve heard it before but No Quarter became a live staple, featuring Jones playing extended keyboard solos stretching the 7 minute song to an epic 20 plus minutes.

From drummer John Bonham’s countdown to start the song to the very end of the feedback fading out The Ocean is everything an album closing song should be. The track is four and a half minutes of unbridled joy, dedicated to the band’s legions of fans who looked like an ocean when viewed from the stage. Robert Plant’s vocal performance saunters along with Page’s raunchy guitar riff and we can’t forget the Bonham/Jones backbeat that swaggers behind everything. The Ocean’s doo-wop coda brings the song and the album to a thrilling finale to close the album.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvoG36nUcSU

Houses of the Holy crams a lot into 8 songs on a single album. Each track is wildly different from the last and shows a much more multifaceted face of an already diverse band. Led Zeppelin never wrote a more varied single album. Their next release, the sprawling double album Physical Graffiti, would see them follow this path of making a wide array of great sounding rock (spectrum) music. Most albums are unified by tones and sounds or lyrical and musical themes, Houses of the Holy is unified by the presence of four supremely talented musicians as they enjoy creating a wild and fun album.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzrK_Vd0T1I