1970's unexpectedly acoustic-oriented Led Zeppelin III is the sleeper in the band's catalog, and remains many a fan's favorite. Includes Tangerine; That's the Way; Immigrant Song; Since I've Been Loving You; Gallows Pole , and more.
After plundering the Yardbirds' legacy and Willie Dixon (among others) for their blues-riff-heavy first two albums, Jimmy Page and company surprised many listeners with the strong acoustic/folk sensibility displayed on III
. Page aficionados shouldn't have been caught off guard; the guitarist had toyed with similar sensibilities and modalities during his brief tenure with the Yardbirds (most notably "White Summer" from the Little Games
album). Ever the creative thieves, Zep kick off the album by nicking the riff from "Bali Ha'i" no less, with Robert Plant wailing it to punctuate the thundering FM warhorse "Immigrant Song." Even other electric rockers like "Celebration Day" and "Out on the Tiles" have an inventive, offbeat musicality to them that suggest the band was already wary of stereotyping. But it's the decidedly mellower acoustic groove of the album's latter half that's the news here, from the graceful beauty of "That's the Way" and "Tangerine" to the raw, folksy charm of "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp," "Hats Off (to Roy Harper)," and the traditional "Gallows Pole." --Jerry McCulley