Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Happy Spring!

On this day in 1973, the prerelease promotion of Led Zeppelin's fifth album reached British television as the BBC's Old Grey Whistle Test aired a new song.

Just a week before Houses of the Holy hit the shelves, the song "No Quarter" received special treatment, being played against an abstract film clip on Bob Harris' television program.

"No Quarter" was just one of eight songs on Houses of the Holy, the first new Led Zeppelin album released since the untitled fourth LP in November 1971. Jimmy Page told Bravo in West Germany, "We have enough songs," he said. "If we went by that we would bring out a new album every month, but we want to put out only good stuff."

But "good stuff" to one person can be filler to another. Disc and Music Echo published a review whose headline read "Zeppelin Lose Their Way." It called the LP "an incredibly inconsistent piece of work" and said that Page and Plant were "strangely sluggish and vacant" throughout.

The review complained, "They seem to have run out of good melody lines as witnessed by 'The Crunge,' a straight jam that barrels along on a couple of chords and ends with Plant crying for someone to 'take it, take it' and 'has anyone seen the bridge?' It cuts out without them ever finding it." It also said, "'The Ocean' is another track that fizzles to an inconclusive ending."

Even the Melody Maker's Chris Welch wrote something bad about Houses of the Holy. The diehard supporter of Led Zeppelin he was, he filled his review with comments about how the band was capable of producing such wonderful music. "Thus it grieves me very much when they allow their tremendously high standards to slip," he intoned. Welch wrote that "The Song Remains the Same" was the only song with any buzz of excitement.

The New Musical Express may have been the only British magazine to cast the album in a wholly positive light. Mentioning "The Crunge," Roy Carr stated, "Brother Bobby shows James Brown where it's at." Carr also offered that "No Quarter" is "another faultless track which I'm sure points a direction for things to come."

The song that seemed too hard to swallow for most critics was "D'yer Mak'er." In the negative reviews, Welch called the tune "sadly indulgent," and Disc and Music Echo said it was "another fill track, a not very amusing parody on a '50s boy-loses-girl-and-weeps teen ballad." But Carr suggested in his favorable New Musical Express review, "Own up. Like everything they attempt, it's a bloody great track with a fine workout from Bonzo. See what a diet of bananas and best bitter can do."

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