Collaboration post! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on Led Zeppelin! Each week, we will be reviewing a Led Zeppelin album on our respective blogs! So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!
Read up on my thoughts on:
This week, we look at Led Zeppelin’s second album, Led Zeppelin II (1969)
I bought my copy of Led Zeppelin II around August 1994 during a visit to my hometown of Sudbury, Ontario. At this time, I was a “starving student” living six hours away in London, Ontario, attending Western U. Back then, I was always looking to save a buck or two, but pretty much spent my disposible income on music (sorry Mom). It was difficult since CDs weren’t cheap. Sometimes you could find some used Led Zep CDs at the local Dr. Disc in London, but that was rare. Forget Sudbury: you were hard-pressed to find ANYTHING on sale up there, let alone used. So when I strolled into Sam the Record Man (RIP) at the Southridge Mall (death imminent lol) and found it on sale for under $10, I took the precious to the counter immediately!
At this point, my Led Zeppelin collection included the Led Zeppelin Complete box set on cassette, Led Zeppelin III, Led Zeppelin IV, Houses of the Holy, Physical Graffiti and Coda on CD. When I acquired Led Zeppelin II, it was mostly a formality as I was pretty familiar with most of the songs from my Led Zeppelin Complete box set. There were just three choice songs that were new to me, namely Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman), the Lemon Song, and Bring It On Home. What was I missing not knowing these songs? Of course, I had to know!
Unlike my review of the first album, I really don’t have anything critical to say about Led Zeppelin II. I will say this: when Kevin suggested we do this series, and I reflected on each album, I couldn’t for the life of me remember from memory what was on this album! It had been a long while since I’ve listened to it in this track listing. Let’s blame the Orange box set for that…the sequence of songs on those cassettes has stuck with me so long that upon re-listening to the album, the track listing seems off.
If there was ever an album to introduce someone to Led Zeppelin’s music, just say, “here” and hand them a copy of Led Zeppelin II. Top to bottom, this album showcases the hard rock blues that Led Zeppelin is known for. Rock greats include, Whole Lotta Love, What is and What Should Never Be and Heartbreaker. They also do the “soft crescendoing into hard rock” really well – Ramble On being one example. The over-processing that I addressed in my review of Led Zeppelin’s first album is not present here. The overdubbing no doubt is, but it’s more subtle, and not on every song. Let’s once again take a look at Ramble On, one of the songs that I think really benefits from Jimmy Page’s love of the reverse echo technique. Just listen to it with headphones on and you’ll hear what I’m talking about; especially the last part at the end when Robert Plant’s voice is transferred from one ear to the other. Quite impressive!
The songs I was less familiar with before purchasing Led Zeppelin II were treats. I wasn’t the least bit disappointed in Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman); an upbeat song about a supposed band groupie, that does get some radio play these days. The lyrics used to slay me: “Alimony alimony, payin’ your bills…when your conscious hits you, knock it back with pills“. Bring It On Home is probably my favourite song on the album, with a great guitar arrangement, hefty drums and a heartbeat bass. Interestingly, I would often include these two songs on my mix tapes back in the day.
Then we have the Lemon Song. When I first saw “the Lemon Song” as a track listing, I immediately thought of my favourite Led Zeppelin song ever, Travelling Riverside Blues, a song that appears on my Complete box set. The ubiquitous lyric “squeeze my lemon” always made me giggle and I imagined the Lemon Song would be a shortened version of my favourite song. Not quite…it does use the famous lyric, but it’s in fact nothing like Traveling Riverside Blues. The song manages to switch tempo mid way leading to the chorus, and the result is an interesting blues track. But if I’m honest, it’s taken me years to enjoy the Lemon Song. It isn’t a favourite of mine, and it just comes down to personal taste, I guess.
Overall, Led Zeppelin II is a pure top-to-bottom great album.
Led Zeppelin II (1969)
Producer: Jimmy Page
Now go read Kevin’s take here!