cream of the crate #46 : led zepplin – led zepplin ii
Album Cover – [CLICK to enlarge]
 

This review was originally posted on the first Toorak Times web site where publications ceased on that site in March 2017. The old site will be permanently closed in 2020 and these reviews are being re-published in order to preserve them on the current Toorak Times/Tagg site.

cream of the crate #34 : pink floyd – the vinyl boxed set

"Unsurprisingly the album contained what would become the some of the band’s defining live statements." - (Chris Jones - BBC)

This is number forty six in the series of albums I’m featuring as part of an on-going retrospective of vinyl albums in my personal collection.

The series is called, “Cream of The Crate”, and they represent vinyl albums that I believe are of significant musical value, either because of their rarity, because they represent the best of a style or styles of music or because their is something unique about the group or the music.

One of the real ‘power-house’ groups to emerge from the transition of the 1960’s into the 1970’s, Led Zeppelin set the bar at a very high level, and it might be successfully argued, few groups, if indeed any, were able to achieve more than the ‘Zeps’ in this musical genre!

This is “Led Zeppelin II“, and was released on October 22nd 1969 on the Atlantics Label (SAL 933615).

cream of the crate #46 : led zepplin – led zepplin ii
Album label – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

With Led Zepplin I (released in January of 1969), the Zep’s announced that they were going to be a force to be reckoned with but we got the feeling there was better to come, and with Led Zeppelin II they delivered in spades!


Subsequent albums (in fact they released a total of nine studio albums between 1969 and 1982) all had amazing strengths, and many bought forth absolute classic tracks.

But with Led Zeppelin II we had the wonderful crossover of heavy metal, hard rock and blues. I’m not the first to acknowledge it, but in my mind this represented the ‘heaviest’ of all their albums.

This doesn’t make it necessarily their best, but it is seriously unique and was way ahead of the rest of the pack.

It was the groups break-through album into the mighty USA market, having reached number one in both the UK and the USA. By 1999 it was certified as being Platinum for sales in excess of 12 million copies.

It is regularly and often talked about as being one of the most influential rock albums of all time.

cream of the crate #46 : led zepplin – led zepplin ii
Inside gatefold : Left hand Side – [CLICK to enlarge]
cream of the crate #46 : led zepplin – led zepplin ii
Inside gatefold : Right hand Side – [CLICK to enlarge]

What is amazing was that at the time the album and the group faced incredibly ‘off-the-planet’ negative reviews, with reviewers of the day unable to get their heads out of the ‘pretty clouds’ of music that had been produced both prior and at the time, recorded by groups such as the Beatles, the faces, the Moody Blues and the like.

They simply didn’t get it!

John Mendelsohn in Rolling Stone Magazine met the album with a ferocious review amongst which he decried the sheer intensity of the group!

Lester Bangs, also of Rolling Stone, said, “Nobody that crass can be all that bad.” I wonder if he ever recanted that statement?

For me? It was one of the most powerful albums of the period, promising and delivering a new dimension to what had been a pleasant but largely placid English music scene at the time.

Fired up by the incredible guitar work of Jimmy Page, and with Robert Plant taking his voice to places previous unheard – and more than ably supported, rather, brilliantly supported by the bass work of John Paul Jones and the clever drum work of John Bonham – they blew most of us away.

TRACK LISTING:

cream of the crate #46 : led zepplin – led zepplin ii
Album info – [CLICK to enlarge]
Side One
1. Whole Lotta Love
2. What Is And What Should Never Be
3. The Lemon Song
4. Thank You

Side Two
1. Heartbreaker
2. Living Loving Maid (She’s just a woman)
3. Ramble On
4. Moby Dick
5. Bring It On Home


If ever an album started with a ‘shit-kickin’ track, it was this one. “Whole Lotta Love” had it all.

The lyrics weren’t exactly written by a bard, and went something like –
You need coolin’, baby, I’m not foolin’
I’m gonna send ya back to schoolin’
Way down inside, honey you need it
I’m gonna give you my love
I’m gonna give you my love, oh

Wanna whole lotta love
Wanna whole lotta love
Wanna whole lotta love
Wanna whole lotta love

You’ve been learnin’, baby, I been learnin’
All them good times, baby baby, I’ve been yearnin’
Way, way down inside, honey, you need ah
I’m gonna give you my love, ah
I’m gonna give you my love, ah, oh

Wanna whole lotta love
Wanna whole lotta love
Wanna whole lotta love
Wanna whole lotta love
[Incomprehensible]

But the music is another thing completely.

A driving beat, with a blues based theme overlaid with electric fury. It’s a great track for any budding ‘air guitarist’.

The whole track dissolves into almost a free-form electronic/electro solo, with a theremin mixed in with Pages guitar in a free-for-all where Engineer, Eddie Kramer claimed,”everything is going bananas, is a combination of Jimmy and myself just flying around on a small console twiddling every knob known to man”. It is excitement personified with Robert Plant half sobbing, half singing and half crying (hang on, that’s 3 halves? – well, it worked!).

cream of the crate #46 : led zepplin – led zepplin ii
Plant & Page – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

There was many a psychedelic experienced ably assisted by this track.

Whole Lotta Love

The next track worthy of mention is “Heartbreaker“. Another real ‘rocker’ of a track. It kicks off with one of many recognisable riffs, that Led Zeppelin are unforgettable for.

The opening riff is in fact repeated during the song, but it is the solo after the second verse that really demands attention, and must be one of Plants very best solo’s.

Heartbreaker

The next track has a problem! “Living Loving Maid‘ is simply too short!

It is a very upbeat track with another excellent Page riff and it has in fact two problems! The second is that it’s one of those bloody tracks that once it gets into your head it is so hard to get it out.

cream of the crate #46 : led zepplin – led zepplin ii
Led Zepps – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

Five interesting acts about this track:
1. This is a song about a groupie who bothered the band in their earlier days.
2. Led Zeppelin never played this live because Jimmy Page hated it. Plant played it on his solo tour in 1990.
3. In a printing mistake, the original pressed version has the song titled “Livin’ Lovin’ Wreck (She’s a Woman)
4. It was released as the B-side of “Whole Lotta Love“.
5. By accident or design it flows seamlessly from “Heartbreaker”. Radio stations would regularly play them together.

Living Loving Maid

Ramble On” is actually a really, really nice song that utilises acoustic guitar.

How Bonham manages to keep his drumming (appropriately) gentle is beyond me, but it stands out because of it.

At this time there was a growing fascination with ‘magic’, in particularly through ‘Lord of the Rings‘, and as the track weaves a tale, the discerning listener will pick up the mention of ‘Gollum‘.

As the track progresses it picks up a harder edge before the music fades with Plant calling out the last of the lyrics.
Mine’s a tale that can’t be told, my freedom I hold dear.
How years ago in days of old, when magic filled the air.
T’was 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, her, her….yeah.

Ramble On

I think this might just be my favourite “Zeps” album, although “Physical Graffitti” might just pip it.

cream of the crate #46 : led zepplin – led zepplin ii
Rear Cover – devoid of anything except the record codes.

 

I can’t imagine any rock/heavy metal/electric blues fan not having listened many times to this album and although a couple of tracks struggle 50 years later, overall it holds up brilliantly.

It sits proudly in my collection, and if it is to sit in yours (if you don’t already have it), you pick up the original vinyl in excellent condition for around $25.00.


VIDEOS:

There are many video tracks of Led Zepplin, but I have tried to track down the best live performances of tracks on this album.

 

Moby Dick

 

Whole Lotta Love

 

Thank You


 

Previous Cream of The Crate Albums:

Click to open:

#1.   Howling Wolf: Real Folk Blues

#2.   Otis Redding: Otis Blue

#3.   Dr John: Gris Gris

#4.   Spectrum: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet

#5.   Son House – The Real Delta Blues

#6.   Various Artists – Cruisin’ 1961

#7.   Various Artists – Live At The Station Hotel

#8.   Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – Deja Vu

#9.   Moon Mullican – Seven Nights To Rock

#10. Billy Thorpe – Time Traveller

#11. Bobby & Laurie – Hitch Hiker

#12. Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland

#13. The Beatles – The Beatles Collection [A Box Set]

#14. Johnny O’Keefe – 20th Anniversary Album

#15. Jimmy Cliff – The Harder they Come (Music form the soundtrack to the film)

#16. Frank Zappa – Roxy and Elsewhere

#17. Junior Walker & The All Stars – Roadrunner

#18. Various Artists – Jump Children [Voit Voit]

#19. Various Artists – King – Federal Rockabillys

#20. Max Merritt & The Meteors – Max Merritt & The Meteors

#21. Planet Gong – Camembert Electronique

#22. Earth, Wind & Fire – Head To The Sky

#23. Ellen MclLwaine – We The People

#24. The Easybeats – Absolute Anthology [1965 – 1969]

#25. Rainbow Generator – Dance Of The Spheres

#26. Martha & The Vandellas – Greatest Hits

#27. Buddy Holly – The Rock & Roll Collection

#28. The Who – Quadrophenia

#29. Elvis – The Legend (1954 – 1961): A Boxed Set

#30. Col Joye – Lets Rock With

#31. The Yardbirds – For Your Love

#32. Eddie Cochran – The Singles Album

#33. Krozier & The Generator – Tranceformer

#34. Pink Floyd – The Vinyl Boxed Set

#35. Jackie Wilson – Jackie Sings the Blues

#36. Cream – Wheels of Fire [In the Studio]

#37. The Masters Apprentices – Masterpiece

#38. Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables

#39. Billy Holiday – The Original Recordings

#40. MPD LTD – The Wild Side of Life

#41. Solomon Burke – Solomon Burke’s Greatest Hits

#42. Nina Hagen – Unbehagen

#43. Various Artists – Rockabilly Stars Vol. 3

#44. Louis Jordan – The Best of

#45. Various Artists – Decade Volume 1

Share with: