LED ZEPPELIN — Led Zeppelin II

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LED ZEPPELIN - Led Zeppelin II cover
4.21 | 126 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1969

Filed under Hard Rock


1. Whole Lotta Love (5:34)
2. What Is And What Should Never Be (4:45)
3. The Lemon Song (6:19)
4. Thank You (4:49)
5. Heartbreaker (4:14)
6. Living Loving Maid (She's Just A Woman) (2:39)
7. Ramble On (4:24)
8. Moby Dick (4:20)
9. Bring It On Home (4:21)

Total Time 41:28


- Robert Plant / lead vocals, harmonica
- Jimmy Page / guitars, backing vocals
- John Paul Jones / bass guitar, organ, backing vocals
- John Bonham / drums, tympani, backing vocals

About this release

Release date: October 22, 1969
Label: Atlantic Records

Thanks to Stooge, Pekka, Lynx33, diamondblack for the updates


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Following in the successful slipstream created by their knockout debut, the Zeppelin moved onto a bonafide classic in the same year. 1969 is arguably where prog began in earnest and albums like this certainly helped to boost music onto a different plane of existence. Plant, Page, Jones and Bonham are in fine form and created absolute genius trademark songs, that have in themselves become legendary.

The opener is the riff every guitarist envied at the time. Whole Lotta Love begins with the killer riffing machine of Page that feels dark and dirty but absolutely unforgettable. "You need coolin'" sings Plant in his falsetto and therein history is made. Emulated, copied, parodied but never bettered, the song is perhaps a quintessential piece of the entire rock era. It even featured original use of song structure in a true progressive vein. It almost seems an obsolete task to try and describe the nuances created in this track but it bares mentioning in order to demonstrate how innovative the band were at the time. The mesmirising riff drives headlong with music strafes using guitar slides. Eventually the sensuous sliding is taken to the lowest point before the music dies and we hear Bonham's hi hat tinkering, a jazz infestation among the hyper bluesscape. There is a brief lead break that never quite fits but has since become part of the entire atmosphere. The song returns to the outstanding riff and verses until once again the music diminishes and there is an uncharacteristic pause, but it is not over. Plant is heard in false reverse echo and then the actual voice answers "Way down inside". Then we hear the echo of another phrase, followed by the actual phrase, "Woman, you need loooooooooooooooooooovvvvvveeeeee." These very weird Plantisms are refreshingly original as Plant screams 'love' from the bottom end up to his highest range. The unearthly reverse echo is now infamous and so rarely used it is almost a benefactor of this one song, a patron of a lost art never created in the first place. This typified the experimentation of the group that were perhaps attempting here to compete with the drug consciousness. Whatever the case, the song stands the test of time as vital to the proto prog scene and rock in general.

Other songs? I will name a few. We have another delightful rocker in the form of Heartbreaker. There is a raucous blast of rock on Ramble On, with Plant shrilly and as impossible to ignore as Page's lead guitar durability. The tough sounds of guitar are a key feature especially on tracks like Bring It On Home and the enduring hypnotic What Is And What Should Never Be. Bonham has his finest moment on the drum showcase Moby Dick, a song that remains a tribute to the late great percussionist.

The blues was always present and Zeppelin borrowed and reinvented the clichés of yesteryear to create a sound that bedazzles on every listen. The exuberant array of songs are now firmly engrained into the rock subconscious but with the album peaking on many top 100 lists. For me, it is simply one of the best examples of music trailing out the end of the 60s.

The second Zeppelin album sees the band still rooted in their Blues inspirations - the opening to Bring It On Home is a straight cover of the original before the rock kicks in - and they haven't really advanced their sound a whole lot since the first one, bar that the songs seem to embrace straight up rock a bit more and break out the blues a bit less. In particular, Jimmy Page's guitar sound still hasn't quite hit its peak, and isn't really very metallic - you can hear crunchier, more muscular, more classically metallic guitar playing on the Stooges' first album, which was recorded a bit before this one. And Moby Dick would be a much tighter song without Bonham's unnecessary, overlong and uninspired drum solo. But still, Whole Lotta Love is a whole lotta fun. Three stars.
After successfully conquered America with their blues-laden debut, Led Zeppelin deployed a heavier touch to their music, and at the same time, puts on some folk influence, which also became the first prototype for their later masterpiece, "IV". This recipe was met with critical victory, and by the end of the 20th century, the band secured a total of 12 million sales worldwide and "II" was cited by many as one of the most influential heavy metal/hard rock records of all time.

The album kicks off with a groovy blues-based "Whole Lotta Love" with Plant's insane wail and Page's whirlwind shred, a timeless classic that was covered by many and later was brought on stage by American Idol finalist, Adam Lambert. This song's lyric and another bluesy-jam tune, "The Lemon Song" contained an explicit sexual theme, but the band explored a wide territory of writing, from The Lords of The Rings' fantasy epic of "Ramble On", the annoying groupie of "Livin' Lovin' Maid", to the husband-to-wife soundtrack of "Thank You".

The heartfelt ballad that's famed with the starting lines of "if the sun refused to shine” is an expressive and honest statement that's used by fans as their wedding song. However, as great as it goes, the greatest track on this album is definitely the mighty "Heartbreaker” with Page's infectious riffs and magical solos, and what makes this track so important is the influential tapping technique was developed by Eddie Van Halen after watching this song live.

Led Zeppelin's sophomore release is highly enjoyable, a crucial part of early metal development, an important piece of history, that should be listened and learned by all rock fans. This record, along with their fourth release, is my most favorite Zep album and in my opinion, is the pinnacle of their careers.
Hot on the heels of their debut Led Zeppelin quickly released (as was the way in those days) their much anticipated second album in October 1969. It turned out to be an enormous success and featured at least 2 classics. Featuring much the same elements as their debut, though with more finesse. There are the heavy riffs, much borrowing from the blues, the folk elements and the light and shade dynamics prevalent on tracks such as Babe I'm Gonna Leave You on their first album.

Can there be anyone out there who's not heard Whole Lotta Love? It's an outright Zeppelin classic with one of Jimmy Page's best and most recognisable riffs. Simple but powerful it must have spawned a million heavy metal bands. But of course there's more.. Who can forget the memorable spacey middle section driven along by John Bonhams cymbal work with all sorts of sound effects thrown in and Robert Plant screaming over the top.

What Is and What Should Never Be is the band in more chilled out mode, at least to begin with. Lightly strummed chords from Page, Bonham playing rimshots give way to a powerful full on chorus. It features an excellent Page solo too with some nice slide work.

The Lemon Song is a blues piece borrowing heavily from Chester Burnett's (Howlin Wolf) Killing Floor. It moves along at mid pace before exploding into an up tempo instrumental section. Not one of my favourite tracks on the album, wandering along a bit aimlessly at times.

Much better is Thank You, a truly lovely song, lyrics written by Plant for his wife. It's a fairly mellow track with some tasteful Hammond Organ from John Paul Jones and page turning to a twelve string some of the time and Bonham's drums absent during the verse.

Heartbreaker is another classic Zeppelin rocker with another killer riff from Page. A great and powerful vocal performance from Plant too. It's in the main mid paced, until the incendiary instrumental section with a blistering Page guitar solo.

Livin' Lovin' Maid is less satisfying being a bit lightweight and even considered by the band themselves as a bit of a throwaway track. However it is one of their more commercial tracks making it accessible to people who in the main probably don't enjoy heavy rock very much.

Ramble on is absolutely brilliant and one of my favourite tracks on the album. Another excellent Plant vocal, it has an acoustic guitar dominated verse, Bonham keeping time on a tabla before exploding into a powerful chorus. Overall simply a great tune.

Moby Dick is the worst track here. Don't get me wrong, I think Bonham is a fantastic drummer but this drum solo is just plain dull, particularly on the part where he plays with his hands, displaying little of the technique the guy possessed. For a great and more representative Bonham solo check out his performance on the self titled 2003 Zeppelin DVD. The one redeeming feature here is it does have a pretty good Page riff before the solo starts.

The album does go out on a high though with Bring It On Home written by Sonny Boy Williamson. It starts as a restrained blues before exploding into another killer Page riff and an overall great band performance.

Led Zeppelin II is a great rock album, just not quite making that classic status in my eyes, containing a few weaker tracks but the sheer strength of the good material making it an essential part of any rock fans collection.

Members reviews

For me, this album was a step down from their great debut. Yes, it's got a fan favourite in the riff heavy hard rocker Whole Lotta Love, and Thank You is a very beautiful ballad. Moby Dick may come close too, with a very catchy riff too, but being mostly the vehicle for a drumm solo, as great as Bonham may be, well, there's a reason in concert release reviews they are often refered to as the "dreaded drum solo". But even these ones are not among my very favourite songs, and besides them I don't find much to compete with their greatest songs. Yet, there is nothing bad at all, they are all good and well written songs, only they are not stellar as I would expect from such a band.

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