Sound — 8
Led Zeppelin's third album, released in 1970, was a disappointment to many. By that time, the band had already built a reputation as one of the heaviest bands in the world, so it was a shock to many who listened to Led Zeppelin III for the first time. About half of the songs on this album are folk songs. While the band already had a few folk-based songs (including Babe I'm Gonna Leave You and Black Mountain Side), this album added another dimension to the band. The first half of the CD has the more rocking songs, including the most well-known song on the album, the opening Immigrant Song. There's also the heavy Out On The Tiles, with an incredible ending riff, the paranoid-sounding Celebration Day (featuring one of the best solos on the the album), and the highlight of the album, Since I've Been Loving You, a 7 1/2 minute blues masterpiece, featuring an amazing solo by Jimmy Page, one of his best moments ever (on record, that is). The rest of the album includes the aforementioned folk-styled songs. First, among the harder tunes, is Friends, an Eastern-influenced song with creative violin and guitar arrangements. There is also Gallows Pole, Zep's take on an old English folk song, Tangerine, which is the best of the folk songs here, with beautiful lyrics and a moving solo, That's The Way (perhaps a bit too long, but still a beautiful song), Bron-Y-Aur Stomp (a fun song about Robert Plant's dog, complete with Page's slide guitar) and Hats Off To (Roy) Harper, which is pretty much a mess. While it has a nice, almost haunting atmosphere, Plant's vocals are warped and the guitar is way too muddy. Fortunately, that's the only real weak point on the album.
Lyrics — 9
Here is where Zeppelin's lyrics really start to improve. At this point, Robert Plant begins writing the majority of the band's lyrics, and they start to tackle more subjects than females. Immigrant Song has some of the best lyrics on the album, the kind that paint images in your head (images of Vikings sailing about, slaughtering innocent civilians). Friends also has great lyrics, about, well friends. However, Plant still hasn't reached his creative peak lyrics-wise.
Overall Impression — 8
Though Led Zeppelin III was highly underrated when it was released (and still is now), it probably helped build Zeppelin's career in the long run by keeping things exciting and interesting. However, I wouldn't reccomend this album to people who haven't heard much Zep. My advice is to either grab the 2nd or 4th albums first, and if you like songs such as Going To California or Ramble On, give this one a shot. I would definitely buy this again if I lost it.