Led Zeppelin III
LED ZEPPELIN

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LED ZEPPELIN - Led Zeppelin III cover
4.05 | 93 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1970

Filed under Hard Rock

Tracklist

1. Immigrant Song (2:24)
2. Friends (3:52)
3. Celebration Day (3:25)
4. Since I've Been Loving You (7:23)
5. Out On The Tiles (4:01)
6. Gallows Pole (4:51)
7. Tangerine (3:09)
8. That's The Way (5:36)
9. Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp (4:17)
10. Hats Off To (Roy) Harper (3:40)

Total Time 42:43

Line-up/Musicians

- Robert Plant / vocals, harmonica
- Jimmy Page / guitars, backing vocals, banjo
- John Paul Jones / bass guitar, organ, synthesizer, mandolin, backing vocals
- John Bonham / drums, percussion, backing vocals

About this release

Release date: October 5, 1970
Label: Atlantic Records

Thanks to Stooge, bartosso, Pekka, Lynx33, diamondblack for the updates

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Specialists/collaborators reviews

bartosso
"Sister, I implore you, take him by the hand!"

Really, it's not going to be a review. It's a bit awkward to me, humble collaborator, to review this incredible album, an album I was listening to as a six-year-old with a flush on my cheeks. I'm pretty sure most of you have already listened to it, or at least heard the cult song written as a tribute to the immigrant (or the emigrant, it depends on the GDP of your country). You have not? Well, people, this is not the most popular Led Zeppelin album, but the most important for sure. With the first two albums, the band presented themselves as highly talented yet not really extraordinary hard-rock band. However, with their third album they divided the critics. To hell with them! To me, LED ZEPPELIN III inspired several generations of eclectic rock musicians, changed their approach to combining metal with folk music and influenced their musical sensitivity. Sounds awesome? Yes, just like the album!
AtomicCrimsonRush
Hammer of the gods.

Another excellent Zeppelin album that resides comfortably as one of the all time greatest albums in rock history. It is still proto prog not quite living up to essential to the genre but it is nevertheless a vital component of rock history. The album cover was a trippy psychedelic multi faceted art romp. As you spun the wheel the images changed and none of it made sense unless you were stoned. The super foursome were already legendary by the time this third release found its way into stores. I guess fans were wanting more killer riffs and blues heavy rock with acoustic moments and Plant’s blazing vocals. On this album Led Zeppelin certainly delivered all that and more.

The opener is brilliant proto metal with a driving riff and freak out Plant screams. The lyrics were always engrained in my consciousness and are unforgettable, focussing on the Nordic adventures of rampaging Vikings preparing for Valhalla as they release their souls into the void, well that was my take on it. The lyrical phrases were perfect for the song; "Come from the land of the ice and snow…….. hammer of the gods...... Valhalla I am coming…….. whispered tales of war, a howling come, the tides of warm, we are your overlords….. " Perhaps Manowar took a leaf out of this songbook as it encompasses the exact content of their 80s metal. Of course Zeppelin were way ahead of their time but the influence of this song is insurmountable. Immigrant Song would perhaps be my all time favourite Zeppelin and all this in a paltry 2 minutes and 25 seconds.

After this short sharp blast, Friends is quite a breath of fresh air. The focus on acoustics and dark orchestration is really unsettling. The middle Eastern modality was akin to what The Beatles were doing on their Sgt Pepper opus.

The boisterous guitars and Plant roaring are a feature of Celebration Day. The Zep were masters of slow moody blues and the stunning Since I've Been Loving You is mind bending. Page is a man possessed on guitar with mega string bends and sweeps, he literally makes his guitar cry. The emotion poured out is augmented by pulsating basslines and slow drum patters. That’s the way it is features more acoustic and horns to augment the melancholy flavour. Plant sounds reflective, rather like he is speaking to a lost generation; “all the fish that lay in dirty water dying, have they got you hypnotised, yesterday I saw you kissing tiny flowers, But all that lives is born to die, And so I say to you that nothing really matters, And all you do is stand and cry.”

Bron-Y-Aur Stomp is another fan favourite but I had to remind myself of what this sounded like as it was a less memorable track for me. It breezes along with manic folk slide acoustics on steel guitar and foot tapping percussion that sounds characteristically like a live festival, indeed it really is raw and sounds unfinished which is part of the whole illusion. It conjures up images of a traditional Welsh dance troupe out among the trees celebrating at a festival. A representation of hippy freedom. Hats off to Roy Harper is another raw Delta swamp bluesy thing that has dominant scratchy steel guitar with Page sounding Like he is playing with a beer bottle up and down the strings. Plant breezes in with the voice of power, “shake ‘em on down”, and his voice warbles processed and it may even represent a drug induced state. Obviously the band did entice the drug culture and this is the type of song they would revel in under the influence.

The album has a heavy reliance on acoustic and folkish nuances. It ventures into some parodic dark humour with songs such as Gallows Pole. This one reminds me of what Iron Maiden did on Hallowed Be Thy Name, "cos at 5 o'clock they take me to the Gallows Pole, the sands of time for me are running low." In comparison, Zeppelin are rather restrained but still must have had an impact on metal giants of the 80s. So here is the fourth 4 star album in a row for me. When will they reach masterpiece status as they are certainly worthy. The following fourth album put all things to rest.
Warthur
Zeppelin spread their wings a bit on this one, expanding the scope of their songwriting and musical expression from the firmly blues rock rooted approach of their first two albums. The most hard-rocking track on here, Immigrant Song, kicks things off with a proto-speed metal approach which is energising but rather outdone by Black Sabbath the same year with Paranoid. What's really interesting is what happens after that - we plunge into Friends, complete with driving acoustic guitar lines, subtle use of Moog, and a decidedly foreboding atmosphere, and we know we're no longer with the same old Zeppelin we used to know.

The band don't abandon the blues entirely - Since I've Been Loving You is one of their best slow blues rock songs, in fact - but they do delve deeply into acoustic experimentations. Apparently they were compared unfavourably to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young when this one came out, which is just bizarre - CSNY were taking hippy folk into the 1970s, whereas here the Zeps are bringing a light acoustic touch to heavy, hard rock material, creating an altogether different sound. Although it's not very metal, it is more varied and more interesting than their earlier material.
Nightfly
After the bombast of their previous album Led Zeppelin III came as a bit of a surprise to the critics at the time due to the fact that it was largely acoustic based, particularly on side 2. This came about not only for the reason that Zeppelin were always striving to move forward and not repeat themselves, but also because much of it was written on a holiday taken by Robert Plant and Jimmy Page at a cottage in Wales called Bron-Y-Aur. Taking acoustic guitars along they would write material around the campfire on the summer evenings.

It wasn't all acoustic though. In fact opening track Immigrant Song is one of the bands most celebrated rockers with its unison Jimmy Page/John Paul Jones riff and John Bonham following every note on the drums. Plant Viking influenced lyrics are brought to life with his war cry screams on this, one of their greatest album openers. The heavy rock quotient also consists of Celebration Day, another classic Zeppelin rocker that due to the beginning of the master tape being damaged very nearly didn't make it. They got round this by fading it in from the end of preceding track Friends. Good job they did too as it's another brilliantly executed moment with its incessant driving multi-layered riffing from Page and another great Plant vocal. The third of the heavier tracks, Out On The Tiles ended side 1. It's an often overlooked gem with its stop/start Page riff and Bonhams solid, dextrous and weaving bass drum work.

Since I've Been Loving You is the bands greatest blues moment full stop. It's a slow blues starting quietly with a masterly build to a powerful climax. Page plays one of his greatest solos ever and the same can be said of Plants vocal performance, beautifully phrased and on top of his game; absolutely brilliant. Jones adds some well placed organ and Bonham keeps it simple but effective on the drums.

The use of acoustic guitars was nothing new to Zeppelin; used to great effect on I on Babe, I'm Gonna leave You and Page's acoustic showcase Black Mountain Side and II had Ramble On. Friends is the first and is actually the only acoustic track on side 1. It's not one of the better ones however and alongside Page's guitar Jones wrote a string arrangement and uses his Moog near the end.

Side 2 is where all the great acoustic moments lie. Gallows Pole is a traditional folk tune and is brilliantly executed. Starting with just a single acoustic guitar and Plants voice it builds to a climax being in turn joined by mandolin, bass, drums and banjo turning into a galloping acoustic rocker. Tangerine is a lovely laid back piece. Page also plays some pedal steel as well as acoustic and Jones and Bonham are in and out where required keeping the rhythm solid and simple and Plant gives a fine yet restrained vocal performance. That's The Way follows suit with a lovely reflective vocal from Plant and no drums present at all. Page adds a bit of electric guitar for colour but apart from that it's just acoustic and mandolin.

Bron-Y-Aur Stomp is a song written about Plant's dog. It's a fun track and the title gives you a good idea of the type of tune it is, driven along by Bonham's repetitive single note bass drum and high hat. Page plays some fine guitar and Plant turns in another good vocal performance. Hats Off To (Roy) Harper is a disappointing way to close an excellent album. Just Page on a single acoustic guitar and Plant with a heavily treated vocal, no doubt trying for an authentic 30's sound but it ultimately goes nowhere and is one of the bands less satisfactory moments on any album.

Although acoustic instruments would go on to feature on future Zeppelin albums they wouldn't be there in the quantity they were on III so as a result this is quite unlike any other. It turned out to be a very worthwhile venture though being one of the most diverse albums of their career, as well as one of the best.

Members reviews

friso
Led Zeppelin - III (1970)

Led Zeppelin is one of the important hard rock bands of the late sixties and seventies. There brutal style, theatrical vocals and often good musicianship has been the basis for a successful career. I myself am not much of fan of the band. I like some songs, but they made no albums I can listen to completely without loosing my attention. Most of the time the recording-quality and the weaker songs on their albums stop me from going to side two of the record. Furthermore I find it disturbing to hear completely different vocals in the studio than on the live concerts.

Having that said I must say I like this third album. It has some of my favorite Zeppelin-tracks and it was recorded with an acceptable result. The short, but powerful Immigrant song works is a nice hard-rock opener. Friends is a very progressive/psychedelic track with amazing acoustic guitars and a distinct vocal melody of Plant. Best song of the album. Since I've Been Loving You is an amazing blues-rock track with an innovative approach and sticky lyrics. The other tracks on side one focus on the hard-rock aspect of the music, whilst all the songs on side two focus on the acoustic-rock side of the band.

Conclusion. This record has some of my favorite rock songs of Zeppelin, but still I think of Zeppelin as a lesser band of the genre. This record is not very necessary for the progressive collection, but is a good addition for the hard-rock collection. Good, but non-essential it is then. Three stars, although I must say the first four tracks of the album deserve four stars.

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