LED ZEPPELIN II
Ah, Zeppelin. Widely regarded as one of, if not the
, best bands of all time. They were really the first "supergroup" to ever take the stage, carrying on the British Invasion torch that was lit by the Beatles and vitrually inventing hard rock as we know it. This album, their second studio cut (released within eight months of the phenomenon that was their debut album), is personally my second favorite Led Zep album (behind the illustrious IV). However, I believe that II is the most consistent of Zeppelin's catalog, and in my opinion there isn't a bad (or even mediocre) song on it.
Robert Plant (Lead Vocals/Harmonica) - Famous for his range (it's rumored that there are notes on the album that only dogs can hear), but I've always liked him more for his emotion and feeling. And realistically, without him, there would be no Brian Johnson, Axl Rose, or James Hetfield. Just goes to show you.
Jimmy Page (Lead Guitar/Theremin) - IMO, the best guitarist of all time, period. He was undoubtedly the figurehead of British blues-rock, and therefore, one of the most important figures in rock as we know it. And although his title of best guitarist is debatable, he has to be hands down the best riff-writer to ever pick up an axe. His solos aren't so bad either :D.
John Paul Jones (Bass/Keyboards) - One of the greatest all-around musicians of all time. As the quietest member of the band (on and off the stage), you have to pay attention to catch his magic, but it's definitely there. Some songs, he takes a backseat to the other three, but on others, he steals the show.
John "Bonzo" Bonham - One of the models on which all modern rock drummers today are built. His remarkable combination of steak-and-potatoes raw power and surgeon-like precision make him, IMO, one of the best drummers of classic rock. Personally, my favorite thing about him is the fills.
1. "Whole Lotta Love" - Until "Stairway," it was the
quintessential Zeppelin song. Brilliant riff, brilliant drumming, brilliant vocals, and far and away the most unique interlude of any song to date make for a classic.
2. "What Is and What Should Never Be" - Starts off benignly, with flanged vocals by Plant, then bursts into classic Zep form for the chorus, with some brilliant background vocals. Catchy as hell.
3. "The Lemon Song" - One of the weirdest, and at the same time most ingenious, songs on the album. It starts out with a hybrid-picked main riff with some bizarre chord shapes, and when you don't expect it, explodes into a lightning-paced, almost folky interlude. It'll keep your head spinning, and it's great, but it lacks some flow.
4. "Thank You" - The most beautiful Zep song ever recorded. The combination of Page's guitar and JPJ's keyboard melts your heart, and then Plant comes in with some of the most heartfelt lyrics he's ever written. He still finds a way to scream, as well. Beautiful acoustic solo, and amazing fills by Bonzo, as well.
5. "Heartbreaker" - Another classic. Again, starts off with a signature Page riff, fattened by a heavy Jonesy bassline and the meaty drums of Bonzo. Plant comes out firing, wailing about a notorious woman who once broke his heart. And then, everything goes silent, and BAM! the unaccompanied guitar solo. Pure, 100%, genuine, genius. That's all there is to it. From there, the song builds back up to fever pitch, then stops abruptly, and...
6. "Living Loving Maid" - Another catchy tune, and brilliantly placed as a sort of appendix to "Heartbreaker." In addition, one of the poppiest songs ever written by Zeppelin. Nothing outstanding though.
7. "Ramble On" - Very similar in structure to songs like "What Is and What Should Never Be" and stuff off of Zeppelin I, but mellowed out with some acoustic guitar during the verses. The mellowness only serves to emphasize the typical Zeppelin chorus, though, and makes for another great song.
8. "Moby Dick" - Starts off with one of the most memorable Zeppelin riffs of all time, with some amazing Page fills, but then abruptly disintegrates into a Bonzo drum solo. And what
a ****ing solo! If we could get pompous bastards like Lars Ulrich to take a look at what Bonham does here (with his HANDS, no less), the world would be a better place. Rest in peace, Bonzo.
9. "Bring it On Home" - The song that Zeppelin traditionally used to close theur earlier shows, it's a barnburner of a song to close out the album. Starts off with a straight-up blues part, which melts into a classic Plant harmonica solo, and then escalates into yet another three minutes of raw power. Ends the album on a high note.
Really, the only thing is that a few too many of the songs fit the generic Led Zeppelin mold. I would've liked to see a few more unique tracks, in the vein of "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" or "Trampled Underfoot.