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Album Talk: Led Zeppelin’s Led Zeppelin II

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“You’ve been cooling
And baby I’ve been drooling
All the good times, baby”

If you recognise the song by these lyrics, you are gonna enjoy this week’s Album Talk.

‘Led Zeppelin II’ set the tone for the future of rock/metal music. The album was Led Zeppelin’s second release in the year 1969 following up on the debut album ‘Led Zeppelin 1’. Fellow cowboy, Narendra Kusnur and I invited our friend Paddy, who happens to work at Spotify, for a chat about his favourite Led Zep album.

Note: Language may be altered to suit the platform’s requirements.

Paddy: So yeah!!! Led Zeppelin! Led Zeppelin!!!

Me: The heaviest song of the time kick starts the album.

Paddy: Whole Lotta Love. When this album was released in 1969, the top journalists gave it a bad review. They felt it wasn’t real music. From that to becoming one of Rock/Metal’s most legendary album.

Kusnur: Paddy, I have a question. When you ask people about their favourite Led Zep album, most say ‘Led Zeppelin 4’. I would say ‘Led Zeppelin 3’, why is ‘Led Zeppelin’ II your pick?

Paddy: Lots of reasons. After this album, the band was matured so the rest of the albums were expected to be great works. Led Zeppelin II, according to me, is a landmark album. This is the album which decided their musical direction.

Me: The band moved from the Blues-influenced sound towards the rock soundscape in this album.

Paddy: Exactly. See we have to take into consideration the music space from 1967 to 1969. It was the whole psychedelic movement. Any album should be judged by the time it was released in. Led Zep released their first album in January 1969 and went on a massive tour. They wrote and recorded this album while on tour.

Me: Jimmy Page had gone on record saying that he wrote the majority of this album in his hotel room or in the loo.

Paddy: Ya ya. As I said this album defined their future music. You cannot say that about their first album as it was very similar to many albums that were released at that time.

Kusnur: Actually Led Zep 1 is similar to Jeff Beck’s albums ‘Truth’ and ‘Beck-Ola’.

Paddy: Yes! Also similar to the band Small Faces. So Led Zep 1 didn’t have any particular direction, this album got a new bl**dy sound to music. When Whole Lotta Love starts….MAN…..

Me: The opening riff defined the Zeppelin sound.

Kusnur: The song is highly inspired by Willie Dixon’s You Need Love.

Me: There was a plagiarism case too.

Paddy: That they settled out of court. They copied the entire lyrics! It must have happened that while jamming Page must have played a riff and Plant must have mumbled the words that were in his mind.

They were listening to a lot of music. Am sure he didn’t know the name of the song he was singing and actually he has sung it wrong. It must have happened like this. But you cannot discount the producer Eddie Kramer’s work on the song.

Me: This was his first album with Led Zep, right?

Paddy: Eddie had already worked with the top bands of the time so he knew what to do. He had also worked with Page when Page played as a session guitarist. The entire guitar part in Heartbreaker was recorded later during the mixing session. This is why the guitar solo in Heartbreaker is slightly higher in pitch and is out of tune a bit than the rest of the song because he recorded it separately.

Me: Heartbreaker ends with Plants vocals unaccompanied by any music and mergers into the Living Loving Maid. But they are two different songs.

Kusnur: They did that on purpose.

Paddy: It wasn’t like that in the original tape. Coming back to Whole Lotta Love, the middle part is said to be Page and Eddie just fiddling with the knobs. That is actually true. Eddie has said that they were just experimenting.

Me: And it worked and how! Actually this album became a benchmark for the other rock/metal bands.

Kusnur: Yeah! Jimmy Page had become a big influence on a lot of guitarists. What do you guys think about The Lemon Song?

Me: “Squeeze me, baby, till the juice runs down my leg!” Honestly, I have understood what these words meant.

Paddy: This album is not considered a lyrically great album but only a musically great one. Led Zep II was about musical passages and long interludes. The lyrics are very frivolous. Except for the 3 songs which were written by someone else.

The Lemon Song has good lyrics as it was inspired by Howlin’ Wolf’s Killing Floor.

Me: Then there was Moby Dick which established John Bonham as the greatest drummer ever with that epic drum solo. This is definitely a path-breaking album in more than one ways.

Paddy: Ya. My favourite from the album is Rumble On. I love the song for its musicality. When I started listening to the song, I used to play the bass. I think it is the greatest bass line ever written.

At this point, we mutually decided that Led Zeppelin II is one of the, if not the, greatest rock/metal album ever!

Until next week,

Adios!

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