I moved recently and have space for my albums, which I took out of storage and now have at my disposal along with my turntable, of course. It was like looking at an old photo album thumbing through those boxes – most albums, but some big 45s. I also have a box of the little 45s, which I’ve yet to break into.
I pulled out “Houses of the Holy” first, which is Led Zeppelin’s “Lovesexy” or in other words, an album that a great artist makes after a string of hits that seems effortless, and which I think might be their best. So maybe the designation is personal, but I’m sticking with it.
“Houses of the Holy” was the first Led Zeppelin album I owned. Prior to that I was at the mercy of my brother’s albums and mix 8-track tapes, which he named “Rock 1,” “Rock 2,” “Rock 3,” and so on, inspired no doubt by Zeppelin. The cover art features naked blond children climbing up a pyramid – or some pyramid-like structure. I was struck looking at it that in our panicked world, it would probably be considered perverted and racist.
I loved it. I wanted to be one of those kids, at the photo shoot, climbing up the rocks, and cracking up between shots with John Bonham, whom I assumed was really funny. Led Zeppelin was the real deal among us kids, which is ironic as I recently read they were pieced together by a producer, not unlike One Direction. But Led Zeppelin was king and deservedly so, no matter how they came together.
Robert Plant was the quintessential rock singer, maybe one small step above Roger Daltrey, but not quite Freddie Mercury who seemed to float above and beyond any and all other rock and roll singers. John Paul Jones was the bassist and like pretty much all bassists we really liked him but didn’t have much to say about him. It’s the usual fate of the bassist and most bassists seem to prefer it that way. Jimmy Page was a guitar god – pure and simple. And John Bonham, John Bonham; those drums ruled our world. Huge pounding beats exploding off in all directions! We were blown away by John Bonham.
Like all young people we had a hierarchy and most everyone would have Led Zeppelin at the top. If not, you could get away with The Stones because they were The Stones; The Who was doable; Rush would just inspire ridicule. They were Canadian, for starters, and the bass player sang and often high, but not high like Robert Plant who could freaking wail! Geddy Lee just sang, well, too high too much.
That’s about it though. It really was Zeppelin at the top and “Houses of the Holy” was a brilliant album. It was a good way to christen my new house – or really the detached garage where my turntable now sits like a time machine awaiting my next journey back in time. Right on.