Welcome to the 2nd installment of my Led Zeppelin studio album reviews! These are tandem reviews with my amazing wife, Sarah who is posting her own reviews over at Caught Me Gaming. So be sure to check out her write up on Led Zeppelin II right here!
As for me, I can sum up Led Zeppelin II like this: Perfection minus one self-indulgent-overlong drum solo. (The guitar solo break in Heartbreaker is a little much too.)
As a Led Zeppelin Album: 4.5/5
Compared to the Rest: 5/5
OK, if you NEED me to elaborate…
I played Led Zeppelin II relentlessly when I discovered it. It was still early in our relationship, but I remember asking Sarah what she wanted to listen to one day. She said anything but Led Zeppelin II. “If I have to hear Living Loving Maid one more time…” She’s the biggest Zep fan I know and I wore her out on one of their albums! *Achievement unlocked*
I love (almost) everything about it. It is 75%-ish blues, and the folky bits are just the right amount. Thank You and Ramble On are the folkiest and I get enjoyment from focusing on John Paul Jones’ bass on both.
What Is and What Should Never Be lies somewhere in the middle of the two genres. The best part is the stereo play with the guitar riff in the middle.
The rest is hard-rockin’ blues.
Whole Lotta Love and The Lemon Song are basically blues covers done in Zep’s style. I know a lot is made of how the band avoided paying royalties to the artist they took from, but these songs are completely re-arranged and hardly recognizable to the originals. I think it would have been a different story if Plant came up with his own melody and lyrics.
(That’s Muddy Waters singing, BTW.)
Moby Dick could’ve been a cool little track with a giant riff but they felt compelled to add that long drum solo. I think drum solos work better in a concert setting, especially when the drummer can make a show out of it, but make it short and sweet if you need to add one in the studio. See Black Sabbath’s Rat Salad for reference.
One blues number that is completely aped from the original is the intro to Bring it On Home:
Yeah, and not even Sonny Boy is getting any royalties from it because he had to pay Willie Dixon to use those lyrics too. But that is Sonny Boy’s arrangement they are “borrowing”.
Well, that’s Led Zeppelin for you. Especially the early years. It felt like almost every tune was “sort of ripped off, but not really” or “completely ripped off”. I wish they would have taken Cream’s approach and immediately paid props to whomever they lifted from. It would make writing praises for this album a whole lotta easier.