Led Zeppelin II (1969)


 
1. Whole Lotta Love 2. What Is and What Should Never Be 3. The Lemon Song 4. Thank You 5. Heartbreaker 6. Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman) 7. Ramble On 8. Moby Dick 9. Bring it on Home

 

Released only 10 months after their stellar debut, this one somehow manages to put their excellent freshman effort to shame. Although Led Zeppelin I was an outstanding album that showcased confidence, this record showcases swagger. It’s almost as if they now realized they were kings of the hill (which they weren’t yet), and peacocked their feathers for all to see and hear.

The first track Whole Lotta Love exuberates boldness and confidence as all members seem to play harder and louder than anything familiar with this new group. I wasn’t really around at the time, but had I been, I think I would have now put away any doubts I may have had about these guys. This album was definitely not going to be any sort of sophomore slump.

This record isn’t quite as diverse as its predecessor. The focus here is much more “rock” with less blues, psychedelia, and acoustic guitar. All are present, mind you, but such elements are used sparingly and seem to support the tracks as opposed to dominate them. Witness the excellent closer Bring It On Home. The first minute or so leads one to believe that this song is going to be some sort of hardcore Delta Blues song, yet it’s merely an intro for another powerhouse. Same can be said for such a song as Ramble On. Yes, Jimmy Page leads off with an acoustic, but shortly into the song he trades it for an electric to metaphorically bring the house down.

The one exception seems to be Thank You. As good as this track is, sounds a bit out of place. This song incorporates a bit of the late sixties flower-powerish elements, and is the one song that never overwhelms one. It is a pleasant diversion however. Moby Dick is also a bit of a rare duck. It’s a 4 ½ minute instrumental track that features a John Bonham solo during about three-quarters of it. Not something one usually hears on a studio album. Because his playing is so melodic, though, one doesn’t mind, and such an excursion is actually welcome – even if the piece sounds mostly improvised (not surprisingly, they would feature this track live with Bonham quadrupling the length of his contribution).

Although Led Zeppelin had a much more stellar catalog than most, it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that a huge chunk of fans rate this album as the best of their best. Had they still been touring forty years since their inception (as many of their counterparts have been known to do), it wouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone if they included this entire album, from start to finish, in the set. No weak links anywhere to be found.

There was no loner any doubt about where these guys were going.

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