You really get an understanding of just how much of a production genius Jimmy Page was when you listen to a copy of Houses with the kind of resolution and transparency found on our best copies. To take just one example, just listen to how clearly the multi-tracked guitars can be heard in the different layers and areas of the soundstage. On some songs you will have no trouble picking out three, four and even more guitars playing, each with its own unique character.
This clarity allows you to recognize — perhaps for the first time — the special contribution each makes to the finished song.
In-Depth Track Commentary
The Song Remains the Same
The Rain Song
Check out the guitars — the sound should be warm, sweet and delicate. There are some dead quiet passages in this song that are almost always going to have some surface noise. Most copies start out a bit noisy but almost always get quieter as the music goes along.
Over the Hills and Far Away
This is a great test track for side one. It starts with lovely acoustic guitars before the Monster Zep Rock Chords come crashing in. If both parts of the song sound correct and balanced, you more than likely have a winner. And the bigger the dynamic contrast between the parts the better.
Turn your volume up good and high in order to get the full effect, then stand back and let the boys have at it.
Much like The Rain Song, this track is full of dead quiet passages that will virtually always have some audible surface noise. It’s a chronic problem. A copy that plays quieter than Mint Minus Minus for either track is truly exceptional.
One of my all time favorite Zep tracks. Listen to that BIG breath Plant takes right after the quiet bridge in the middle of the song. Wow — he knows he’s still got plenty of loud singin’ left to do!
…along these lines can be found below.
Transparency is key to the better pressings of this album as well as many of our other favorite demo discs.
Other recordings that we have found to be especially Tubey Magical can be found here.
The most important advice on the site can be found under the heading The Four Pillars of Success.
Record shootouts are the fastest and easiest way to hone your listening skills, a subject we discuss often on the site and directly address in this commentary from way back in 2005.
Here are more entries in our ongoing Shootout Advice series.