Thursday, February 11, 2010

#75: Led Zeppelin II- Led Zeppelin

Listened to: MP3

There are albums to put on while your driving. There are albums to put on when you’re trying to get to sleep. There are albums to put on while your writing. And then there are albums to put on when you’re getting it on. Led Zeppelin II is the last of these. Robert Plant’s voice always possessed an erotic nature, and it’s no better showcased than on the first half of this album.
“Whole Lotta Love” sounds like he was fucking in the studio, for god’s sake. “I’m gonna give you every inch of my love” along with that sliding guitar right after is all you need to know what the boys in the band want you doing. Fresh off their debut groundbreaker, Zep gets even more sophisticated on this one, Bonham’s drumming begins to move into that masterful symphonic style he displayed fuller on albums like Presence and Coda, and Page’s guitar playing is truly in a league of it’s own on this album. Even that accapela “Way down inside” seems to drip with sex. And Whole Lotta Love” ain’t the only track. “What Is And What Should Never Be” (a very special song in my life for reasons I’ll not discuss) alternates between ballad (or the closest Zeppelin comes to a ballad) and heavy rock jam. It basically sets the rhythm for the bedroom (or basement, or car, or office). “The Lemon Song” has a guitar sound that I absolutely love, and really reminds us all of Zep’s roots, the blues. Listen to that guitar solo, or that galloping drum beat, and you can’t deny Zeppelin is one of the greatest bands of all time (though I still think The Rolling Stones are the greatest, and my favorite will always be The Who). “I wanna squeeze you, baby, until the juice runs down my leg”? Come on. Pure sex right there.

But after thee tracks of hardcore fucking, isn’t it time for some sentimentality? The boys of Zeppelin thought so, which brings us to the beautiful “Thank You”. It takes the traditional 60’s love song, and brings it to a place where Zeppelin can still remain the badass mystical guys they are. “Thank You” is up there on my list of Best Love Songs (a list you’ll see on Sunday.

I remember I had an audition for a band (I got the gig and was fired shortly after) in 10th grade, and I had to sing “Heartbreaker”. I stood outside a Waldbaums for 3 hours at a Boy Scout fund raiser listening to it on repeat. Truly a powerhouse track, and a great way to open side B (I’d imagine. I don’t actually have this record). The only thing I dislike is that he ruins the rhyme scheme towards the end and just yells “Go away heartbreaker”. That just never sat right with me.

“Living, Loving Maid” to me sounds more like a post-Bon Scott AC/DC track than Zeppelin, and I’ll be damned if I could tell you why. “Ramble On” might be one of the best, and geekiest, tracks on the album. It’s about Lord Of The Rings. If I tried to write about Lord Of The Rings, I’d get my ass kicked, but Zep pulled it off. This track is heavy, intense, and true, bloody rock and roll.
“Moby Dick” doesn’t even need vocals. That riff is heavy and powerful enough to sustain the whole song, and Jimmy Page gives another Jimi (Hendrix) a run for his money with the solos on this track. Also, if anyone was wondering why Zeppelin couldn’t go on without John Bonham, look no further than this track.

The album ends on “Bring It On Home”, a terrifyingly reverb-ed track with a haunting harmonica, the bluesiest track on the album, though not one of the strongest in my opinion. I would have rather they ended on “Moby Dick”, but who am I to question masters, right? The song does pick up into classic heavy Zeppelin, after all. Still, it’s standard Zep fare.

All in all, Led Zeppelin II proves Zeppelin is one of the few bands to avoid the sophomore slump. If anything, II might actually surpass I musically. I won’t go so far as to determine that, but I will say that both these albums are essential listening for anyone who wants to truly live. Yeah, that’s not too bold a statement.


Tomorrow, swing by for # 45: The Band by…The…The Band.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome, a man whom I forgot to ask to do a bio, so he’ll remain an enigma (until next time he guests, when I’ll correct my error), Tom Lorenzo.

I’m not gonna come off as some big music auteur and I’m not gonna try to tell
you if you don’t agree with me you’re a raging dickhead. I’m not as musically inclined as my man Mickey. So, with that out of the way, lets get this shit started.

Led Zeppelin is one of my favorite bands of all time. I was a late bloomer when it
came to music. I used to just listen to songs I liked from movies and tv shows and whatnot. But senior year I started to expand. But freshman year of college is when I discovered Zeppelin on an all Zeppelin channel on XM Radio. Ever since then, I’ve been a different man musically. Now, on to the album at hand, “Led Zeppelin II”.

I just wanna say I love the album and the album cover. Basically superimposing
their faces on to the photos of the red baron and company from WWI is awesome. This entire album is basically Zeppelin throwing down the gauntlet. This was around the time The Beatles were in disarray. So Zeppelin came out and said fuck all that music about peace and shit. If “Led Zeppelin” was them making an album fusing blues and hard rock, “Led Zeppelin II” is them going even further outside the norms of rock and roll.

These guys mixed blues with rock and created something new. At the time, critics hated them. But now, we can let classics like “Whole Lotta Love” wash over us. Jimmy Page owns this song and “Heartbreaker” with his guitar solos from hell. Often the unsung hero in bands, John Paul Jones lets the bass loose, particularly on “Ramble On”, which is a song about “Lord of The Rings”. John Bonham, one of the best drummers of all time, just absolutely makes other drummers look like lily licking cocksuckers with “Moby Dick”. Then we got Robert Plant, further cementing himself as one of the best vocalists of all time. He also brings his writing talents to the table. “What Is and What Should Never Be”, about fucking his wifes younger sister. He also heavily contributed to “Ramble On” with his love of Tolkien. He also wrote possibly my favorite song on the album, “Thank You”. Seriously, I have two ideal picks for a wedding song. “Thank You” and “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica.

Now, not everything is a classic. I think the weakest song on here is “The Lemon
Song”. It’s still good, all the guys on their game but it just doesn’t do it for me. While “Living Loving Maid” is an underrated song in my opinion, it still is one of the weaker tracks on here. And “Bring It On Home” is one of the weaker tracks on here, because I feel like it was a track left off of the last album. Also because naysayers of Zeppelin say that they ripped this song off from Sonny Boy Williamson and it’s just annoying to hear.

This album is a classic. It’s Led Zeppelin doing what they do best and absolutely
tear it apart. This came out the same year as “Led Zeppelin” and they showed a
tremendous growth between the two. There are some absolute classics here and even the weaker songs are better than most bands on their best day. I’ll also say the emergence of Zeppelin is a great moment in music history and gave people a different sound than The Beatles. Zeppelin is rock and roll. I mean, a little red snapper anyone?

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