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Led Zeppelin III: We come from the land of ice & snow

This album is like a well worn t-shirt- familiar, comforting, and everlasting.


Led Zeppelin III is Led Zeppelin’s most underrated album, as well as their most overlooked. Upon release in 1970 Led Zeppelin III left many of the bands followers scratching their heads due to the eclectic nature of the album. Led Zeppelin I & II are both high-octane blues rock workouts that redefined the sound of Rock, and thus helped create Heavy Metal. Led Zeppelin III was different; it was mellower with folkish acoustic tracks. While Led Zeppelin had previously included acoustic tracks on their first two albums, Led Zeppelin III took those acoustic experiments to a whole new level. Despite the acoustic tracks the album is augmented by plenty of classic rock work-outs; it’s Led Zeppelin after all. Rocking is what this band does best.

Led Zeppelin III was composed almost entirely at a remote cottage in Wales known as Bron-Yr-Aur. After the relentless touring behind the first 2 Led Zeppelin albums, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page wanted to get away to a remote location to write, as well as un-wind. With Led Zeppelin II primarily composed and recorded while on the road the songwriting duo wanted to focus more on the pastoral side of the band, versus the raw energy exhibited on Led Zeppelin II. After working on the material for Led Zeppelin III the band reconvened with drummer John Bonham and bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones to record the album at their rehearsal space known as Headley Grange, as well as Olympic Studios located in London.

Led Zeppelin III opens with “Immigrant Song” with Page playing a riff that is based around an F# octave. Plant then enters with a Viking-esque war call. The lyrical focus is from the perspective of Vikings rowing from Scandinavia in search of new lands. Immigrant Song stands as one of the many highlights’ from Led Zeppelin III, as well as practically inventing Viking Metal . Next up is track 2 “Friends”, which is a very reminiscent of folk-rock act Crosby, Stills and Nash with its unique guitar tuning and folksy vibe.

Track 4 “Since I’ve been loving you” the center piece of Led Zeppelin III starts off with Page playing a bluesy melodic lead line which proceeds into a standard Blues-Rock song. “Since I’ve been loving you” was one of the first tracks recorded for Led Zeppelin III, and proved to be a vehicle for improvisational work-outs for all 4 of the band members when played live.

Track 6 “Gallows Pole” is Led Zeppelins take on the traditional folk song that remains a mystery in regards to the song’s origins. Legendary blues artist Leadbelly originally recorded the song then known as ‘Gallis Pole’, Leadbelly’s version would popularize the track, setting the stage for covers from Judy Collins to Bob Dylan. Led Zeppelin’s version of Gallows Pole remains the most popular, and often considered the definitive version.

Track 7 “Tangerine” is one of my favorite songs of all time. “Tangerine” starts with a quietly strummed acoustic part proceeded with a brief mandolin interlude; Plant enters with a melodic vocal during the first verse, with the full band kicking in for the chorus. Plant has stated that “Tangerine” is about love in its most innocent stages. “Tangerine” is used to great effect towards the end of Cameron Crowe’s classic movie Almost Famous.

Track 8 “That’s The Way” continues in the acoustic tradition with Page playing an acoustic guitar tuned to G with John Paul Jones playing Mandolin throughout. The meaning behind “that’s the way” is very much up for debate, it is rumored to be about Plant’s views on ecology and the environment at the time. The emotion that the track lends is reminiscent of lost love, possibly the loss of a first love.

Led Zeppelin III ends with a tribute to Roy Harper “Hats off to (Roy) Harper.” The track is a tribute to the legendary English blues/folk singer who came to prominence during the ’60’s. The song is a medley of various blues songs and lyrics and ends the album on an interesting note.

Led Zeppelin III is tied with Houses of the Holy as my favorite Led Zeppelin album. Every time I listen to Led Zeppelin III I am taken back to the first time I heard the album as a kid. To this day when I listen I am taken back to that time. Through the years there have been numerous albums released that retain this vibe yet remain timeless, never falling into the trappings of nostalgia. This is an album you can put on when you feel down, or when you feel up, when it’s raining out or when it’s sunny out. By taking a chance with experimentation Led Zeppelin released one of their most enduring albums; this album is like a well worn t-shirt- familiar, comforting, and everlasting.

We come from the land of the ice and snow-from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow ~ Immigrant Song


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