Review Summary: T'was in the darkest depths of Mordor.
1969. The Jimi Hendrix Experience had broken up, and just a year earlier, the blues rock trio Cream disbanded. And soon, the (still) biggest band in the world, The Beatles, would inevitably break up shortly after releasing their final true album, Abbey Road
. So, the world was in need of the next big thing. The next big thing turned out to be Led Zeppelin. No one had expected it. Their first album was supposedly terrible(but grew immensely in popularity), according to magazines such as Rolling Stone. But Led Zeppelin II
changed it all. It received a very badly written review from Rolling Stone, but nevertheless, it was
a positive review.
Nowadays, recording two whole albums in just one year is a task that is tough to complete. Every two, three, sometimes four to five years, a band releases an album, but times were different in olden times. The Beatles once released four studio albums in a year. Led Zeppelin were receiving pressure to make a new album, so they followed through with the pressure and did so. Even with all of the pressure, Zeppelin managed to record an album that would surpass their self-titled debut, not only in heaviness and rawness, but musically as well. Everyone loves the old and outdated feeling of Led Zeppelin I
, but II is just better.
If you listen to this album, you'll notice that pretty much every song has a bluesy edge to it, and this is no problem in my eyes. Whole Lotta Love
and The Lemon Song
are quite possibly the bluesiest tracks on the album. They are both filled with superlative guitar work, and the bluesiest riffs you can get. What is so great about The Lemon Song is that it is a song to just jam out to. Like I said before, Jimmy Page's guitar work is shining, and it is being bluesy too. Now, I will say that Zeppelin sort of ripped off Willie Dixon(who is pretty fun to listen to) with the song Whole Lotta Love, but nevertheless, it is a classic song, and probably the most radio-exposed track on the album.
Another thing that you will notice about the album is that there are quite a few songs that start off slow, and then build up. What Is And What Should Never Be
is one of these songs. It is also one of my favorite tracks on the album. The bass work of John Paul Jones is very noticable, and John Bonham's drumming is quiet and subtle. Plant's vocals are very soft, and the guitar work is subtle as well. It is a very relaxing track, and then the chorus kicks in, and here we have the entire band showcasing their skills as a musician or a singer, and simply doing their best. Nothing sounds bad in this track. Everything flows together. And then, slowly, the song winds down, and goes back to the verse. Another song on II that builds up and up is Ramble On
, a track that shows that the band read books, as for which books, The Lord Of The Rings. The song starts off with some subtle acoustic guitar work, and Plant singing, but like with What Is And What Should Never Be, it builds up and gets heavier and heavier.
Not every song is a heavy, bluesy, straight-forward rock 'n' roll riff-fest. Thank You
is a subtle and beautiful song actually, with soft singing by Plant, and pretty much everything else being soft and quiet. Heartbreaker
is far different. It begins with one of the most easily recognized riffs ever, and it is quite a catchy one as well. I once saw a person on the internet say that this song was sexist, but it is unbeknownst to me how one could possibly come up with that theory. It is a guitar-dominated track, and in my opinion, I find this a good thing. Living Loving Maid
follows Heartbreaker, and it always does on the radio as well, because the two are essentially one flowing track. It is a straight-forward rock song, with a fast riff. It too, like Heartbreaker, is a track where Jimmy is showing his skills.
There is an instrumental song on the album, a track where drummer John Bonham, also known as Bonzo, showcases his wonderful and energetic drumming skills. Moby Dick
is the title of said track. Of the instruments played on the album, the drums are quite possibly the hardest. Many of my friends at school claim that drumming is the easiest profession in music, simply because you hit things with your arms. My friends at school claim that guitar is the hardest. This is not true. Playing riffs is difficult, yet drumming is the hardest. You don't just hit things with sticks being held in your hands. You must use your legs as well. Many people cannot do a drum solo, even if they can drum. Just look at Peter Criss of KISS. He did drum solos in concert, but were they great at all? No. It was just banging. John Bonham however, bangs and plays with his hands, and basically destroys his drum set while going insane with his sticks. This is Bonham's song. He dominates it. However, this does not mean that drums are not the only instrument being played. The song also showcases Page's guitar skills, even though he plays basically the same two or three riffs throughout the song. Bring It On Home
is the closer of Led Zeppelin II, and it is a bluesy song, and while it may seem slow at first, it works its way up and becomes one of the most energetic and playful songs on the album. It showcases the whole band, playing their instruments, and having fun doing so. It is a proto-metal masterpiece of rock music, that truly deserves more radio-play. But then, if it were played on the radio all the time, it would not still be the gem that it is, would it?
There you have it. Led Zeppelin II is, currently, my favorite Led Zeppelin album. It is a raw, heavy, almost-metal masterpiece which showcases every member of the band showing off their skills. It is not dominated by one or two members. Jimmy, Robert, John, and John shine on this album. It is not as diverse as Houses Of The Holy
, nor is it as delightfully folky as that of Led Zeppelin III
. It is straight-forward rock, and that is what it is supposed to be. It's energetic; it's bombastic; it's freaking fun
. This put Zeppelin at musical messiah status, and for good reason too.