November 22, 2021 4 min read

We took a week off from Nick’s Picks because I couldn’t get focused enough to write one, as things have been crazy here at Rock City! Judging by the messages I have received and the conversations I had this past weekend with our customers, it sounds like Nick’s Picks was missed! This week I selected one of rock’s greatest releases, arriving to the world on October 5th, 1970 this week’s pick is the versatile yet powerful… Led Zeppelin III ! 

Led Zeppelin III, mostly written in Bron-Yr-Aur in a cottage without electricity or running water (what?!) that was suggested by Robert Plant as a get away from the pressure of constant touring the band had been participating in the previous years, the album was Recorded from Fall of ’69 to Summer of ’70 with most of it being recorded at the non-conventional “Headley Grange”. An old workhouse in the countryside of England. Zeppelin would return to this home often to record songs from Zeppelin III Through to Physical Graffiti. 

Side One kicks off with “Immigrant Song”, a Zeppelin classic with an absolutely bombastic feel and delivery. The song tells the story of the Viking invasion of England and is one of Zeppelin’s most celebrated tracks. “Immigrant Song” gives way to “Friends” a more laid back acoustic tune, new to the Zeppelin arsenal at the time, the song showcases a very odd C6 tuning on the guitar. The song also features incredible strings that sound great in headphones! Up next is “Celebration Day”, another powerful, driving and crushing song that only Zeppelin could engineer. See the expanded “Song Remains the Same” for a KILLER live version of this! Track 4 is one of the quintessential Zeppelin songs, maybe the most essential for me…. “Since I’ve Been Loving You”, I could write a 10 paragraph blog about this track alone. To me this song is as great as “Stairway” or “Whole Lotta Love”, The vocal delivery from Plant is to me the defining moment in his career, beautiful organ playing from John Paul Jones, absurdly great drumming from Bonham (Keep your ear in the mix for the squeak of his Ludwig Speed King kick pedal during the verses) and an absolutely jaw dropping solo from Page.

Second to none. This is what makes Page one of the best ever! I’ve probably heard this track 1500 times and every time I hear it I stop and listen, it still floors me every. single. time. I hear it. ‘Out on the Tiles” Closes out Side 1 which is another crushing Zeppelin rocker! I STILL don’t understand how they count into the second verse, Bonham trickery at it’s finest.

Side Two showcases the more reserved/folky side of Led Zeppelin which at the time was not thought to be possible. Kicking off with “Gallows Pole”, a reworking of an old traditional folk song that showcases Page’s killer banjo and Jones’ mandolin picking. “Tangerine” which follows is a track from Page’s Yardbirds days. Some beautiful 12-String acoustic guitar playing on this as well as some pedal steel guitar playing from Page. “That’s The Way” would become a staple in Zeppelin’s live sets through the 70’s along with “Going to California” for the Acoustic portions of their show, see the Led Zeppelin 2003 DVD release for a great version of this from 1975’s Earls Court performance. This is another beautiful piece of music that is complete immersive in headphones! Get some good ones! “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” is a classic country/folk rave up which features John Bonham on SPOONS! That’s right, Spoons! He redefined those too! The closing track “Hats off to (Roy) Harper” is a reworking of an old blues track called “Shake Em on Down”. The song is named in tribute to Roy Harper, a friend of the band who you may recognize as the lead vocalist on Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar” from “Wish You Were Here”. All of it comes full circle right? 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the packaging on the vinyl, this is brought up to me constantly by customers and fans who were lucky enough to get this album when it was released! The album cover features a “spinner” known as a “volvelle” which allows the holder to adjust and change the album cover by rotating the “spinner” clockwise or counter clockwise. This has resulted in some of the most iconic and recognizable Zeppelin artwork from T-Shirts to Shoes and most recently to the Zeppelin Pinball Machine (that we have in the store) and that imagery has become part of the Zeppelin lore!

John Bonham changed my life and made me want to play the drums, I wear the influence “on my sleeve” literally as I have a portrait of Bonham tattooed on my arm so I am of the opinion that Led Zeppelin doesn’t have ANY bad records, they are all great in different ways and I have studied them all thoroughly but it’s Zeppelin III that I think showcases the band at their most versatile and creative peak! It’s also the one I reach for the most off of my record shelf and every time I drop the needle it still sounds and feels fresh!

What’s your experience with Zeppelin III? I want to know! Post your comments and memories below!



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