On October 5, 1970, "Led Zeppelin" released their third album "Led Zeppelin III".
This album marks a fundamental change in the musical style of the band that has experimented with folk, acoustic pieces, blues rock, and psychedelia, in addition to the hard rock and blues that characterized it.
After two albums in less than two years and intense touring, the band decides to take a break and rest before starting to work on their next album.
Singer Robert Plant decides to retire to the "Bron-Yr-Aur" cottage in Wales where he used to spend time with his family as a child. He convinces guitarist Jimmy Page to join him at the cottage and write material for their next album. The cottage was very insulated and had no running water or electricity, which greatly influenced the writing process which focused mainly on acoustic songs.
Another thing that characterized the songs written for this album, was the unusual guitar tuning. Page was influenced at the time by musicians Davey Graham and Bert Jansch who used to tune the guitar in an untraditional tuning and this undoubtedly influenced the sound of the album.
Planet noted that after two blues and hard rock albums the band was interested in a changing in musical direction, because they wanted to show that they could play other musical styles as well.
Another characteristic that exists on this album, is the fact that all the band members were co-writing, compared to the previous albums where Page was the dominant one.
Also notable on this album is bassist John Paul Jones who was revealed as a talented multi-instrumentalist who also plays a variety of instruments, including Hammond organ, Moog synthesizer, mandolin, and bass pedal, and was also responsible for the addition of strings in the song "Friends".
The album opens with Bonham's galloping drumming and Planet's famous Tarzan-like chanting of the song "Immigrant Song". The song was written in Iceland where the band performed in 1970 on and it was influenced by the Viking invasion of England. "We come from the land of ice and snow" Planet sings and the words "The Hammer Of The God" and "Valhalla" leave no room for doubt that this is indeed a song about the Vikings. The song was performed at the "Bath" festival, just 6 days after the band left Reykjavik, but with slightly different lyrics.
"Friends" is an acoustic song in a non-traditional guitar tuning by Jimmy Page and string arrangement by John Paul Jones. Page wanted to bring an Indian-style sound to this song and it was indeed re-recorded in 1972 with the Bombay Orchestra and this special performance appears in the extended version of the album "Coda" which was released in 2015. This song connects to the next song "Celebration Day" with a link section played by a Moog Synthesizer. This section was intended to cover a glitch in which an excerpt from the song was deleted at the beginning of the master tape. This glitch almost caused the song not to be included on the album. The song was written by Robert Plant as an expression of his experience of his stay in New York. Planet also used to present this song as "The New York Song" during the band's performances.
The fourth track "Since I've Been Loving You" is without a doubt the best song on the album and one of the band's greatest songs. An immortal blues piece recorded live in the studio with the whole band playing simultaneously, and whoever listens well will be able to hear John Bonham's bass drum pedals creaking, which only adds to the authenticity of the recording. John Paul Jones plays the Hammond organ as he performs the bass roles using a bass pedal. Jimmy Page's solo is one of the most beautiful in his entire career and just to think that it was recorded live in one take sends chills through our pine. Plant's singing is among his most powerful, dating back to a time when his vocal range was infinite.
The first side of the album closes up with "Out on the Tiles" a song written by John Bonham. The intro to the song was played before the song "Black Dog" in performances. In the middle of the song Jimmy Page can be heard saying the word "Stop" apparently trying to stop the take but the band kept playing.
The first song on the other side of the vinyl "Gallows Pole" is Zeppelin's version of the folk song "The Maid Freed from the Gallows". Jimmy Page plays here for the first time on a banjo that belonged to John Paul Jones, on electric and acoustic guitar while John Paul Jones plays mandolin and bass.
The song "Tangerine" was written by Jimmy Page back in his "Yardbirds" days, then it was called "Knowing That I'm Losing You". The song is about lost love. Jimmy Page plays here on Steel Guitar and Acoustic.
We continue with the acoustic line and the song "That's the Way", which was written in the "Bron-Yr-Aur" cottage about problems in couples' relationships. The song was originally called "The Boy Next Door" and was born as a result of Jimmy Page's improvisation playing the chords to Planet who improvised the lyrics. The song was first played by the band at the Bath Festival. It was also the band's first time playing an acoustic set. The band will continue on this line and incorporate acoustic sets during their performances in the years 71-73.
From here we come to the song "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp" which is a kind of tribute to the cottage where some of the songs for the album were written. The song that talks about Planet's dog was originally called "Jennings Farm Blues" and was recorded back in 1969 in an electric version. In honor of the band's third album, the song received an acoustic arrangement and includes John Bonham's playing on spoons and John Paul Jones' playing on contrabass.
The song that seals the album "Hats Off to (Roy) Harper" is based on a blues song by "Bukka White" which is called "Shake 'Em On Down" and is a focus for their fellow singer and songwriter Roy Harper. In this song, Planet's voice goes through an amplifier with a vibrato effect.
During the sessions for the album, the band recorded 6 more songs that did not find their way to the final version of the album. "Poor Tom" was released as part of the compilation album "Coda", the song "Bron-Yr-Aur" was included on the double album "Physical Graffiti", the song "Hey, Hey, What Can I Do" was first released as a b-side for the song "Immigrant Song", and the songs "Jennings Farm Blues" and "Key to the Highway / Trouble in Mind" appeared on the album's expanded 2014 release.
After the album release, it drew quite a bit of criticism and some even claimed that the band was trying to sound like "Crosby, Stills & Nash". This criticism greatly hurt Jimmy Page and caused him to stop giving interviews to promote the album. This criticism also caused Page to insist that the band's fourth album will not bear the band's name on the cover. Page wanted the band to be judged based on the musical material and not because of its name.
Despite the criticism the band received in real-time, this is an excellent album that proves the diversity and versatility of the band, an essential stage in its development that will only intensify in future albums.