Sound — 10
An overall great album without any "downers" if you're used to Zeppelin's style. To me, albums 1-4 (yes, I said it, the much-revered "ZoSo" album as well) build up to this album, and they all build up to Physical Graffiti. But anyway. I remember hearing that Jimmy Page agressively wrote this album in a creative fervor after the "theory" got thrown out there that he couldn't compete with archrival guitarist Pete Townshend of The Who, and write a rock opera. This was his barrage in response to that totally unfounded remark. "Tommy" relied on fast beats and a story about a deaf, dumb, and blind kid (who's really not) who's good at pinball. HOTH is about the music. 01. The Song Remains The Same - fantastic song. Fast, complex, overdubbed to the max, with Plant reaching into his higher range, Page really giving his equipment and his fingers one helluva workout, John Paul Jones adding color and texture with his excellent keyboard and bass skills, and John "Bonzo" Bonham pounding away with one of the catchiest, steadiest, quickest beats I've heard. Can't go wrong. 02. The Rain Song - a much slower, yet nonetheless complex song. Sort of a second part to TSRTS, Page uses a DGCGCD tuning for some very "pretty" droning guitar chords. It vies for the title of the album's "love ballad" against D'yer Mak'er. 03. Over The Hills And Far Away - an upbeat song centered around G with a hard-enough electric backing up the acoustic parts and a solo that isn't Page's best work but far from the worst you could possibly hear, it's still Jimmy Page. My absolue favorite song to play on acoustic, people seem to like to hear it even if they don't know what it is. 04. The Crunge - a very funk-oriented song done as sort of a tribute tune to James Brown. Bonham beats his skins with an energy unmatched in nearly any other band, but also eschews any other "normal" time signatures for an awkward 9:8 time! Very catchy, and a funky Zeppelin tuned rivaled only by Trampled Underfoot for it's funkiness. Where's that confounded bridge? 05. Dancing Days - Jimmy got the riff for this one from an old man playing it streetside in India. It's a strange- and worldly-enough tune that it fits perfectly with this album. A rocking, upbeat tune that you can't go wrong with. 06. D'yer Mak'er - it's not "Die-yer May-ker," just say it the way it looks. I've heard that saying it that way is one of two ways to piss off Robert Plant; the second is to call him Bobby. An excellent, very catchy ballad with a reggae beat. 07. No Quarter - personally, this is one of my favorite Zep songs. They prove with this one that you don't need tons of distortion, a triple-kick bass drum pedal, or detuned guitars to make a too-awesome heavy metal song, and this is as heavy as they get. It's in C#min, with keyboard and guitar solos burning slowly and darkly through the B Dorian scale. If you like it, look into the cover version by Tool. It's a very hit-or-miss song, but it's a hit for me. 08. The Ocean - "We've done four already but now we're steady and then they went: one, two, three, four" and BANG! come in the drums and the guitar. This song has possibly one of the most catchy riffs in history, even having the dubious honor of being sampled by the Beastie Boys on "She's Crafty." Plant again reaches into his higher ranges for this one, but the best part comes at the end with an abrupt time change that leads into the best outro solo any album has ever stopped with. This song is guaranteed to get your feet tapping. Jimmy Page put the sum of his skills as a producer into this album, and it shows. The mastering is, well, masterful, and each of the four band members really hits their mark in every song. You can't go wrong with this one.
Lyrics — 8
Usually, I'm more of a sucker for the actual music than the vocals of any given band. That being said, I don't pay much attention to the lyrics, and it wasn't until I looked at the inside of the cover booklet and realized how, skimpy, for lack of a better word, this album really is. If it's artistic lyric mastery you're looking for, go grab a Jethro Tull album and pass this one by, or if you think Ronnie James Dio's lyrics are the deepest words ever spoken, keep walking. Lyrically, this album really only "clicks" on a few songs. However, though some may be short on words, the subject matters of the songs and how the words are song sync perfectly with the music. It's hard not to listen and appreciate Plant's vocal skill.
Overall Impression — 10
I think the naked kids on the front were supposed to be sort of a suggestion to The Who and whoever started the rumor that Page couldn't write an epic rock opera like Pete Townshend could: kiss it. That's just my opinion, not actual fact, the trivia thrown in with the song reviews is fact. In fact, the entire album is an example of what en epic rock album should be. It ranges everywhere from driving-fast to deep and dark. If you're a Zep novice looking to buy your first album, this is a great place to start. The whole album is topped only by a few songs from other albums, such as Kashmir from Physical Graffiti and Achilles' Last Stand off Presence. Buy it if you haven't already.