LED ZEPPELIN — Led Zeppelin II (review)

LED ZEPPELIN — Led Zeppelin II album cover Album · 1969 · Hard Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
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.
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