Led Zepelin - Led Zeppelin II
On October 22, 1969, the second studio album of "Led Zeppelin" was released - known as "Led Zeppelin II" !!
This masterful album was released just 9 months after the debut album "Led Zeppelin".
The musical material on the album blends American blues, English folk and rock with psychedelic touches, and is served on a bed of memorable riffs, bounced to jazzy bass beats, spiced with thunderous drum beats, and caramelized by one divine voice! This feverish stew will give birth to the flagship dish. A new musical style that will later be crowned as "Hard Rock" and will change the face of the music world forever.
Unlike the debut album which was recorded entirely in one studio in London in a short time, the second album was recorded in six different studios in North America including New York, Los Angeles, Memphis and Vancouver. Each song was recorded separately, produced and mixed separately, making the end result no less amazing, as the sound and production is so balanced, uniform and cohesive, that the whole album seems to have been recorded and edited in one place.
The reason for recording the album in so many locations lies in the fact that the band was at that time in the midst of a tour to promote their debut album. Despite this, the record company wanted to take advantage of the momentum and put pressure on the band to release a follow-up album. Due to the busy schedule of performances, the band was forced to enter recording studios in the destinations where they performed and this is the reason for the scattering in the recording studios.
The album opens with "Whole Lotta Love" and one of the greatest and most influential riffs in the rock world ever. So let's not ignore the elephant in the room and put things on the table. True, Led Zeppelin are probably the biggest "lenders" in the music world. They did it before and will do it after and only the fact that they did not give credit to the real creators in real time can be credited against them. In this case, the resemblance to Willie Dixon's song and Steve Marriott's singing style ("Small Faces") on the song "You Need Love" is far from coincidental. But all this does not in any way detract from the greatness of "Led Zeppelin" because the end result of all the other artists were missing the "Hand of God" and the "magic touch" of "Led Zeppelin", to make them immortal songs. If only they would give credit to Willie Dixon in the first place for the inspiration and would not wait for the lawsuit than everything would be perfect.
But the immortal riff is not the only reason this song is so amazing and memorable. John Bonham's great and powerful drum sound contributes a lot to the end result and was achieved by a trick by recording technician George Chkiantz. The song was recorded at the "Olympic" studios in London which were known for their high ceilings and the wooden floor that swallowed the sounds. To give the drums an open, powerful and resonant sound, the recording technician placed the drums on an elevated platform and placed microphones in unconventional places.
The psychedelic sound of this crazy piece starting at about 1:20, was achieved by Jimmy Page who also produced the album and recording technician Eddie Kramer, while totally rioting on the console as they turn every possible button.
Another interesting statistic regarding the recording of the song refers to one of the first times the "backward echo" effect was used. It is an effect in which the echo is heard before the singing is heard. Anyone who listens to the song starts at about 4:00, when Robert Plant begins with the phrase "Way down inside ..." the echo can be heard before Robert Plant's singing. This all happened by mistake when another Robert Plant take was mixed with the master. When Page and Eddie Kramer discovered this during the mixes they were no longer able to correct the mistake and were left with no choice but to intensify the effect so that it sounded like it was done on purpose.
This song was ranked 75th on Rolling Stone magazine's 500 greatest songs of all time. "Q" magazine ranked the song third on the "100 Guitar tracks of All Time" list. The song also ranks third on the list of the 100 greatest rock songs of all time by VH1.
The second track "What Is and What Should Never Be" makes bold use of stereo and you can hear the guitar go right and left between the speakers. The uniqueness of the song in its dynamics in the transitions between the quiet passages and the noisy outbursts. This is the first song in which Jimmy Page has played the Gibson Les Paul guitar, that later will become his trademark. Until then he had played the Fender Telecaster guitar. It is also the first song in which John Bonham uses Chinese gong as part of his drum set. You can hear it in the bridge part between Jimmy Page's riffs. Rumor has it that Robert Plant wrote the lyrics about the affair he had with his wife's younger sister.
The third song "The Lemon Song" brings us closer to another "lending" by Jimmy Page, this time from Howlin 'Wolf's "Killing Floor" song. In this case too there was a lawsuit and here too "Led Zeppelin" had to give credit to the artist and pay royalties. Some of the lyrics were also "borrowed" by Robert Plant from the song "Traveling Riverside Blues" by blues artist Robert Johnson. "Led Zeppelin" also recorded this song which was not included on any record but appeared on the compilation album "Coda" and in a box released by the band. It is interesting to note that the echo in Robert Plant's voice in this song was not created as a result of an effect but only from the special acoustics in the Los Angeles studio. Also in this song you can hear the Chinese gong of John Bonham who opens the song.
From here we move on to one of rock's amazing ballads and one of the most beautiful love songs ever written "Thank You". The song was written by Robert Plant for his wife Maureen and was suppose to be the first song in which he wrote all the lyrics from beginning to end. But even here there is a light "Lending", Because the lines "If the sun refuses to shine" and "When mountains crumble to the sea" are taken from the song "If 6 Was 9" by Jimi Hendrix. Interestingly, Jimmy Page sings background vocals here. You can hear him do this starting with the words "Little drops of rain". Another interesting statistic is Jimmy Page's solo played on an acoustic guitar, something Page does not do much. We have to mention John Paul Jones' work with the Hammond organ, which is among his first and most beautiful with the band.
The other side of the vinyl begins with the catchy and sweeping guitar line of "Heartbreaker". It is interesting to note that the amazing and inspiring guitar solo was recorded separately from the song itself and in another studio. During performances, Jimmy Page tends to get carried away with the solo and incorporate various pieces of music such as: "Greensleeves", "59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" and even "Bouree" by Bach.
The song "Livin 'Lovin' Maid (She's Just a Woman)" actually connects with "Heartbreaker" and sometimes the radio stations would play them together, but it was never played by the band on shows because Jimmy Page hated it. The song was written about a fan of the band who Used to bother the band members in the bands early days. The song was released as a b-side for the song "Whole Lotta Love" and features background vocals by Jimmy Page who also plays 12 string guitar.
The lyrics of the song "Ramble On" were influenced by the books of J.R.R. And The Hobbit's "Frodo Baggins" adventures and it's among the first songs to combine rock and fantasy, a combination that will gain momentum in the genre of hard rock and heavy metal. The song was recorded in New York. This song was not played in the band's live shows from beginning to end and includes John Bonham's use of percussion, some say even don an empty guitar case.
The instrumental track "Moby Dick" showcases the great abilities of John Bonham on drums. This song evolved from a drumming section called "Pat's Delight" that Bonham named after his wife. Jimmy Page used to catch Bonham jamming in the studio and he recorded parts of these pieces that were put together into this ostentatious drumming piece that sometimes lasted over 20 minutes in live performances, during which John Bonham also drummed with bare hands right up to bloodshed. Bonham's wife noted that the song was called "Moby Dick" since Bonham's son Jason Bonham would ask his father to play the "long song" and when Bonham asked his son why, the son replied that he was as long as Moby. The guitar parts at the beginning and end of the instrumental were recorded separately and later incorporated to create the final product. These riffs evolved from a track called "The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair" which the band recorded at BBC Studios in the spring of 1969. Here, too, the riffs were "inspired" by Bobby Parker's 1961 song "Watch Your Step".
The album ends with "Bring It On Home". Here, too, the opening and concluding section of the song was "borrowed" and influenced by a song of Sonny Boy Williamson written by Willie Dixon. The harmonica section was recorded in Vancouver.
This immortal album is a milestone in rock music and is considered as an influence on the development of hard rock and heavy metal genres. It helped to established the status of the band that as one of the greatest rock bands in history and gave "Led Zeppelin" its big break into the US and the world, with incredible sales figures that even managed to kick The Beatles' "Abbey Road" from the top.