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This article is about the Led Zeppelin album. For other uses, see Houses of the Holy (disambiguation).

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Houses of the Holy is the fifth studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, released on 28 March 1973 by Atlantic Records. It is their first album composed of entirely original material and it represents a turning point in musical direction 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 commercial success, and was later certified 11x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 1999.[2] In 2012, the album was ranked at #148 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The title track was originally recorded for the album, but was delayed until the release of band's next album Physical Graffiti in 1975.

Recording sessions[]

Much of the album was recorded in Spring 1972 using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio at Stargroves, a manor house and country estate in Hampshire county, England.[1][3]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 Estate, in East Hampshire.[4]

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".[4]

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.[4]

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 a British pronunciation of "Jamaica"); "No Quarter" features atmospheric keyboard sounds and an acoustic piano solo from Jones; "The Crunge" is a funk tribute; and "The Rain Song" is embellished by Jones on his newly acquired Mellotron.[4] 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 archivist 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.[4]

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.[4]

The two children who modelled for the cover were siblings Stefan and Samantha Gates.[5] The photo shoot 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.[4] 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.[4] 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.[6]

The first CD release of the album in the 1980s did have the title logos printed on the cover itself.[4]

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.[7]

Page has stated that the album cover was the second version submitted by Hipgnosis. The first, by artist Storm Thorgerson, featured an electric green tennis court with a tennis racket on it. Furious that Thorgerson was implying their music sounded like a "racket", the band fired him and hired Powell in his place.[8] Thorgerson did, however, go on to produce the album artwork for Led Zeppelin's subsequent albums Presence and In Through the Out Door.

Release and critical reaction[]

Template:Album reviews

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.

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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[9]

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.[4]

Upon its release, the album received some mixed reviews,[10] 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.[4]

In 2012, the album was ranked #148 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
The Book of Rock Lists United States "The Top 40 Albums (1973)"[11] 1981 13
Grammy Award United States "Grammy Award for Best Recording Package"[12] 1974 Nominee
Classic Rock United Kingdom "100 Greatest British Rock Album Ever"[13] 2006 90
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame United States "The Definitive 200: Top 200 Albums of All-Time"[14] 2007 51
Rolling Stone United States "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time"[15] 2012 148
Pitchfork Media United States "Top 100 Albums of the 1970s"[16] 2004 75

(*) designates unordered lists.

2014 reissue[]

A remastered version of Houses of the Holy was reissued on 27 October 2014, along with Led Zeppelin IV. 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 blue-colored version of the original album's artwork as its bonus disc's cover.[17]

Track listing[]

Standard edition[]

Side one
1."The Song Remains the Same"
2."The Rain Song"
  • Page
  • Plant
3."Over the Hills and Far Away"
  • Page
  • Plant
4."The Crunge"
Side two
5."Dancing Days"
  • Page
  • Plant
6."D'yer Mak'er"
  • Bonham
  • Jones
  • Page
  • Plant
7."No Quarter"
  • Jones
  • Page
  • Plant
8."The Ocean"
  • Bonham
  • Jones
  • Page
  • Plant

Deluxe edition bonus disc[]

1."The Song Remains the Same" (Guitar overdub reference mix)
  • Page
  • Plant
2."The Rain Song" (Mix minus piano)
  • Page
  • Plant
3."Over the Hills and Far Away" (Guitar mix backing track)
  • Page
  • Plant
4."The Crunge" (Rough mix - Keys up)
  • Bonham
  • Jones
  • Page
  • Plant
5."Dancing Days" (Rough mix with vocal)
  • Page
  • Plant
6."No Quarter" (Rough mix with JPJ keyboard overdubs - No vocal)
  • Jones
  • Page
  • Plant
7."The Ocean" (Working mix)
  • Bonham
  • Jones
  • Page
  • Plant
Total length:36:10


  • John Bonham – drums, backing vocals
  • John Paul Jones – bass guitar, keyboards, synthesiser bass, backing vocals
  • Jimmy Page – acoustic, electric and pedal steel guitars, theremin on "No Quarter", production
  • Robert Plant – lead vocals
  • Barry Diament – mastering (original 1985 CD release)
  • Keith Harwood – mixing
  • Hipgnosis – sleeve design
  • Andy Johns – engineering, mixing (on "No Quarter")
  • Eddie Kramer – engineering, mixing
  • Bob Ludwig – mastering engineering
  • Aubrey Powell – cover photography
  • George Marino – mastering (remastered CD)


Chart (1973–74) Peak
Australian Go-Set Top 20 Albums Chart[18] 1
Austrian Albums Chart[19] 3
Canadian RPM Top 100 Albums Chart[20] 1
Danish Albums Chart[21] 7
French Albums Chart[22] 3
Italian Albums Chart[23] 4
Japanese Albums Chart[24] 3
Norwegian Albums Chart[25] 4
Spanish Albums Chart[26] 9
UK Albums Chart[27] 1
US Billboard 200[28] 1
West German Albums Chart[29] 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


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[30] Gold 30,000^
France (SNEP)[31] 2× Gold Expression error: Missing operand for *.*
Germany (BVMI)[32] Gold Expression error: Missing operand for *.^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[33] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[34] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[2] 11× Platinum 11,000,000^

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

See also[]

  • List of best-selling albums in the United States


  1. 1.0 1.1 Houses of the Holy, Led Zeppelin, Atlantic Records, R2-544300, Super Deluxe Edition Box, 2014 liner Notes, page 3
  2. 2.0 2.1 [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "[[:Template:Certification Cite/Title]]"] Check |url= value (help). Recording Industry Association of America. URL–wikilink conflict (help) If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  3. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream; The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin. Omnibus Press. p. 58. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 Dave Lewis (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9
  5. Hewett, Rick (8 December 2007). "Solved: Mystery of the iconic Led Zeppelin album cover and its golden-haired children". Daily Mail. London.
  6. Classic Rock Covers: Led Zeppelin; Houses of the Holy. Atlantic, 1973. Designer: Hipgnosis (Storm Thorgerson, Aubrey Powell) Archived 21 November 2008 at the Wayback MachineTemplate:Self-published source
  7. "The Greatest: 50 Greatest Album Covers". VH1. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  8. Brad Tolinski and Greg Di Bendetto, "Light and Shade", Guitar World, January 1998.
  9. "Edwards, Gavin (30 July 2003). "Houses of the Holy" review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 4 September 2008.
  10. Michael Wale, "Led Zeppelin", The Times, 11 July 1973.
  11. "The Top 40 Albums 1973". Archived from the original on 6 January 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2009. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  12. "Grammy Award for Best Album Package (Hipgnosis) – 2 March 1974". Grammy. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
  13. "Classic Rock – 100 Greatest British Rock Album Ever – April 2006". Classic Rock. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
  14. "The Definitive 200: Top 200 Albums of All-Time". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (United States). Retrieved 10 February 2009.
  15. "500 Greatest Albums | Rolling Stone Music | Lists". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
  16. "Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1970s". Pitchfork. 23 June 2004. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
  17. Bennett, Ross (29 July 2014). "Led Zeppelin IV And Houses Of The Holy Remasters Due". Mojo. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  18. "Top 20 Albums – 30 June 1973". Go Set. Retrieved 19 January 2009.
  19. "Top 75 Albums – 15 May 1973". Retrieved 19 January 2009.
  20. "RPM Albums Chart – 19 May 1973". RPM. Retrieved 19 January 2009.
  22. "Top 100 Albums – 1973". Retrieved 19 January 2009.
  23. "Top 100 Albums – 1973". Hit Parade Italia. Retrieved 14 April 2014.
  24. "Top 100 Albums – 10 April 1973". Oricon. Retrieved 19 January 2009.
  25. "Top 20 Albums – 29 April 1973". Retrieved 19 January 2009.
  26. "Top 100 Albums – 9 June 1973". PROMUSICAE. Retrieved 19 January 2009.
  27. "Top 100 Albums – 14 April 1973". Retrieved 19 January 2009.
  28. "The Billboard 200 – 12 May 1973". Billboard. Retrieved 19 January 2009.[dead link]
  29. "Top 100 Albums – June 1973". Archived from the original on 8 January 2009. Retrieved 19 January 2009. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  30. [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "[[:Template:Certification Cite/Title]]"] Check |url= value (help). Argentine Chamber of Phonograms and Videograms Producers. URL–wikilink conflict (help)
  31. [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "[[:Template:Certification Cite/Title]]"] Check |url= value (help) (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. URL–wikilink conflict (help)
  32. [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Led Zeppelin; 'House of Holy')"] Check |url= value (help) (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  33. Salaverri, Fernando (2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año : 1959-2002 (PDF) (in Spanish). Iberautor Promociones Culturales. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  34. [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "[[:Template:Certification Cite/Title]]"] Check |url= value (help). British Phonographic Industry. URL–wikilink conflict (help) Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Houses of the Holy in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

External links[]

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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