The second incarnation of my blog
Based on the top 100 albums in Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500, I have set myself the challenge of hearing and appraising each album. I hope to be surprised and educated along the way.
At number 79 is Led Zeppelin II, the second album (strangely enough) by the rock gods that my eldest brother loves so dearly. Reviewers have said to be the heaviest of their albums and less bluesy than their debut – I can’t say I agree, it’s far more subtle than that.
Produced by guitarist Jimmy Page, it was released in October 1969 after an unusual recording process. The songs were written and recorded during 8 months of non-stop touring in North America and Europe. Many studios across the USA, Canada and the UK were therefore utilised.
The album starts with a perfect guitar riff of Whole lotta love. It’s a powerful song on every level though it’s more of a jam played around a couple of riffs.
What Is and What Should Never Be is an atmospheric bluesy-rock-ballad that flows beautifully and reminds me of later Beatles music. The Lemon Song is more of a blues standard than any other on the album.
Thank You is a sweet song, even considering the John Bonham drum sound (which is pretty much full on most of the time) and may have influenced some groups like Free with its sound.
Jimmy Page’s guitar approach throughout the album is complex, experimental and innovative. There is plenty going on for a guitar fan and although a little pretentious at times, it’s all quite accessable. Another iconic guitar riff kicks off the heavier side 2 with Heartbreaker and the rock continues with Living loving maid which sounds to me like a 1970’s glam rock song! I expect to receive some comments from Led Zep’ fans with that view!
One song that sound like something very contempary is Ramble On that veers from Californian AOR to a great interplay between bluesy guitar and thundering bass. Moby Dick is a short piece that is a simple blues song, but I assume much was improvised as it sounds loose and fun. The final track is Bring it on home that bookends the album perfectly with Whole lotta love.
When this was released, I can imagine fans and new converts being highly impressed with the production and the powerful sound. It sounds fresh and full of innovative ideas that encourage you to listen again and again.
I do have an issue with bands numbering albums. I assume at the time they wanted you to be a completist and buy the set. As a “number 2 album” this certainly cant be classed as a second choice!
My rating: 8/10
Standout tracks: Whole lotta love, What Is and What Should Never Be
Listen to the album here.
See the Top 100 here.