Review Summary: "You need cooooooolin'....baby I ain't fooooolin'"
After Led Zeppelin released their fantastic debut, they didn't waste any time in following it up. Later that year (1969) Zeppelin made what is considered one of their best releases. The result spwaned great classics that still receive radio play to this day. Led Zeppelin are my favorite band, and this is my favorite release by them (although it's hard to pick just one favorite).
As anyone who's ever heard even one song by the band knows, Led Zeppelin are something special. If you don't believe so, stop lying to youself. Or get your head checked. What made them so great is simply the fact that they were extremely talented musicians who loved what they did and did it differently. Remember, this was the 70s. There weren't all those bands that sounded the same yet. Really, only the mighty Zeppelin could make something like this.
Things start off great as the band deliver a great blues-rock riff as "Whole Lotta Love" begins. The lyrics are supposely "stolen" from an old Muddy Waters song "You Need Love" but in all honesty, who cares? Jimmy Page shows his diversity by playing guitar and even theremin, while John Bonham backs him up with some good drum fills. You know you're in a for a great album when you hear this song.
This record is filled with great standout tracks, some even becoming hits. "What hits?" you ask. "There's no 'Stairway' or 'Black Dog'!" That is true, but I feel the strong songs on here are as good or even better. "Ramble On" is famous for its acoustic mystical fashion, heavy choruses (with superb vocals), and fantasy 'Lord of the Rings'-inspired lyrics. Some of my favorite lyrics of all time appear in this song: "Twas in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair...But Gollum, and the evil one, crept up and slipped away with her...". Really mystical.
"Bring It On Home" can be cited as another "hit", albeit a lesser known one. The band pay tribute to old blues musician Sonny Boy Williams II as Plant sings in a quiet tone and plays harmonica as well. Things kick in to another great riff and rhythm as Zeppelin make their closing track a great standout. Another song not commonly known by fans (except supreme ones) would be "Living Loving Maid". Plant sings of a woman who thinks she can get anything she wants. Supposely he wrote these about a groupie who annoyed the crap out of the band around that time. Oddly enough, Page really seems to dislike this one, citing it as his "least favorite Led Zeppelin song". Maybe because the solo isn't top notch, or because he doesn't care for the almost pop feel of it, I don't know. I still believe it's a good one.
Now we get to the meat and potatoes of the album. The real jaw-droppers on this record: the solos. John Pual Jones gets a little room on a few tracks, Page has his moments (Whole Lotta Love) but in all honesty it's the big things in life most people care about. And if Moby Dick and Heartbreaker aren't the big ones here, I can't think of what is. The former is a catchy riff (which includes some guitar soloing too!) that dies off after a minute or so and launches into Bonzo mode. He starts things off soft and a little slow, but don't let him fool you. This cat can play. He builds it all up and even throws away his drum sticks because I guess he feels his hands will do better to play this one. The guy is just full of power and monstrousity. I mean hey, he isn't nicknamed Bonzo for no reason. The latter isn''t nearly as long a solo as the former, but Page gives something powerful with his guitar skills. One need only five seconds of it to see what a legend he is, and why he's ranked as my favorite guitarist.
This album really demonstrates different talent and styles. "The Lemon Song" showcases the blues, while "Thank You" and "What Is And What Should Never Be" allows toneful and soft songs with heavy choruses to sparkle. Jimmy Page shines the most on here, and it really gives you a sense of why people should listen to Zeppelin besides just the "big songs". John Bonham isn't as productive as I'd like him to be throughout here (although Moby Dick makes up for it I suppose) but that's alright. It's only their second release (in less than a year) and it kicks major butt. All in all, this is REALLY good and worth the buy.
Whole Lotta Love
Bring It On Home
-Jimmy Page's playing
-It's Led Zeppelin
-Not enough Bonham as on debut