“What does matter is that Led Zeppelin represents the rock ‘n’ roll you’re meant to believe in as a teenager. We’re naive to ignore the musical perfection and hungry enough to enjoy the feels. Consequence of Sound” Reading through reviews of LZII, I found this above quotation struck me most. You see, as a teen, I inherited my first record player. This was a monstrous four tiered Sony beast of a machine with a tape player, CD player, radio and turntable all in one. In truth this was the beginning of my life in music. When my Great Grandfather moved homes, I got the record collection. In this collection was LZII. I cannot count the amount of times I have heard this album since my teenage years but it is certainly up there as one of my favourites. LZ aficionados will readily tell you this isn’t LZ’s best work, and they might be correct academically, but this is my favourite of theirs, and my blog. Above all, rediscovering its brilliance has struck me harder than any other album this month.
Led Zeppelin II, which came out in October ’69, just nine months after its almighty, self-titled predecessor, must have benefited from the fast turnaround. The recording process was completed at different studios during the band’s near-constant touring in 1969, and maybe the reason it was so successful was the London group, while on the road, didn’t even have time to think about the hype they were building. With LZII, Led Zeppelin became Led Zeppelin, proving their essence at the same time. To speak cosmically about the matter: What happened was what was supposed to happen. Consequence of Sound
LZ consists of vocalist Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. Each get their own moments to shine throughout the nine tracks on this album with solos seemingly coming from nowhere to entice and enthral the listener throughout. Produced by Jimmy Page, this is the first true flexing of LZ’s muscles and shows us what the band is truly capable of.
Like I listened to the break (Jimmy wrenching some simply indescribable sounds out of his axe while your stereo goes ape-shit) on some heavy Vietnamese weed and very nearly had my mind blown. Rolling Stone
While I did not have the luxury of “heavy Vietnamese weed”, or indeed any of the other narcotics John Mendelsohn then goes on to describe he was on while listening to this track, I was similarly amazed. Page’s solo, introduced by Bonham’s teasing drums and Page’s shrieking in line with swelling guitars, is difficult to comprehend and ties together a seamless rock anthem which is now instantly recognise-able as one of LZ’s crowning jewels.
The Lemon Song, while featuring some questionable lyrics (“Squeeze my lemon, till the juice runs down my leg”), this may be my favourite on the album. One can recognise the lemon’s phallic symbolism here as being rooted in the blues which preceded LZ. Indeed Willie Dixon did sue LZ for Bring It on Home, LZII’s closing track. This was a blatant cover of a Sonny Boy Williamson blues song of the same name, written by Willie Dixon. But back to the Lemon Song, watch out for the glorious Page/ Bonham solo in the middle which once again, comes out of nowhere and builds to a magnificent crescendo. Listen also for Jones’ impossibly great bass sustaining this track gloriously. For cross reference, listen to the following tracks:
- Killing Floor – Howling Wolf
- Traveling Riverside Blues – Robert Johnson
Living Loving Maid is another. “Alimony, alimony, paying your bills”. This track is perhaps a bit repetitive but certainly sets the mood for what is to come and is danceable to a T. It is also described as ‘eternally hummable’.
For every young person who discovers “Whole Lotta Love” and “Heartbreaker” and “Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman)”, there’s an older person who gets sick of them from overplay and doesn’t need to ever hear them again. Pitchfork
Ramble on is another highlight. The riff that keeps riffing. Watch out for the Lord of the Rings reference bid song. My final highlight is the instrumental Moby Dick, which showcases Bonham’s genius drumming in the same way as the closing track on Cream’s Fresh Cream, Toad, showcased Ginger Baker’s drumming prestige.
Overall, this is a remarkable album which holds very fond memories for me and I hope it will be able to deliver these to you also, in these trying times.