E2 Led Zeppelin Discography
Title: Led Zeppelin II
Released: October 22nd, 1969
Run Time: 40:44 minutes
- Whole Lotta Love
- What Is And What Should Never Be
- The Lemon Song
- Thank You
- Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)
- Ramble On
- Moby Dick
- Bring It On Home
Released in October 1969, Led Zeppelin's second album had advance orders of half a million in the US alone and has continued to sell well ever since. Led Zeppelin II resided in the UK charts for 138 weeks and for 29 weeks in the US. It reached No. 1 on both sides of the Atlantic, (by the end of the year in the US and in February 1970 in the UK), and has notched up more than 12x Platinum sales to date.
Album Artwork Trivia
The album's artwork is well worth a mention: The looming Zeppelin airship theme is carried over from the cover of the first album but in silhouette this time. The main feature is an archive photograph of the Jasta 11 Division of the German air force - the squadron of Manfred von Richthofen, The Red Baron, himself. The original photograph was modified in several ways:
- Four of the pilots faces have been airbrushed out and replaced by those of Bonham, Jones, Page and Plant.
- Manfred von Richthofen, seated in his Albatross plane at the back of the group in the original, has been deleted completely. The body of his brother, Lothar, remains, sat cross-legged, at front.
- Additionally, the faces of Richard Cole and Peter Grant, the band's road-, and general-manager respectively, have been super-imposed in the same manner.
- Two further faces appear: bluesman Blind Willie Johnson and the actress Glynis Johns, who played the mother in the film 'Mary Poppins'. The latter is presumably a play on the name of recording engineer Glyn Johns.
Overall, Led Zeppelin II has a very 'gritty' feel - it has a much more authentic, 'fuller' sound quality to it than the debut album. The two main factors here are the introduction of chief recording engineer Eddie Kramer, (who Page had sought out after being impressed by his work with Jimi Hendrix) and the fact that the album was recorded in snatches between live performances on gruelling promotional tour. The result is a confident, rich-sounding album.
The album opens strongly with Whole Lotta Love, a track based completely around Page's distinctive three-note riff. The song's strong sexual overtones are reinforced by a central section which can only be referred to as an 'aural orgasm'. The screeching guitar, accompanying Plant's groans of ecstasy, fly from speaker to speaker as the climax is reached. Eddie Kramer later said that the effect of this section was achieved, for the most part, by Page and himself manically twiddling every knob in sight on the mixing desk! Needless to say, this section was completely missing on the single released in the US, (purely for airtime considerations, of course).
The band's record label, Atlantic, had expected to follow up with a release of the single in the Britain and, despite the fact that some intitial pressings were made, their release was vetoed by Zeppelin's manager as 'against band policy'. The track did receive recogntion in the UK, but in a manner that the band hadn't anticipated: An instrumental version of Whole Lotta Love became the signature tune for UK chart show 'Top of the Pops' and inadvertently sealed Led Zeppelin's reputation as the definitive 'heavy metal' band.
The second track, What Is And What Should Never Be, is much more mellow than the first, (then again, how could it not be?). Plant's song-writing ablility is really starting to show, and the track is marked by a beautiful guitar solo from Jimmy Page.
The Lemon Song is an other overtly sexual track, based largely on Chester Burnett's 'Killing Floor'. Tribute is paid to Robert Johnson as Plant implores his lover to 'squeeze my lemon'. Indeed!
The tone is changed again for the album's fourth track, Thank You, a love song for Plant's wife Maureen. No mention of 'lemons' here, then, Robert?
The pace is kicked up again for the next track, Heartbreaker. A real rock song, but with an essential, strong blues influence epitomised in another great Page guitar solo.
Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman) was originally the b-side to the US single release of Whole Lotta Love and was initially regarded as somewhat of a 'filler' track on Led Zeppelin II. Reputedly written about one of the the band's more psersistent groupies.
Ramble On: A hint of things to come? Plant's interest in Tolkien is evident here with references to 'Gollum' and the land of Mordor. As always, Page's masterful guitar work is very evident.
Originally titled "Pat's Delight" after his wife, Moby Dick, is an instrumental showcase for John Bonham's drumming skills. I must admit that, whilst I appreciate good drumming technique, I'm not a great fan of over-extended solos. Page flicks in and out with some guitar licks but this is defintely Bonham's track. Amazingly, he played some sections of this track with his bare hands.
Appropriately enough, the final track is Bring It On Home. Starting out slowly with some smoky harmonica for company, Plant's weary rendition of a an old blues standard soon yields to a more upbeat track, full of Page's electric guitar. The track winds back down at the very end, as the harmonica closes out the album.
In summary, I would say that, despite a couple of 'weak-ish' spots, the album is one of Led Zeppelin's strongest. A timeless, outstanding piece of rock history.