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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II CD (album) cover


Led Zeppelin


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3.96 | 829 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Way Down Inside?You Need It

Led Zeppelin II is such a famous album that many of us know it by heart from the first insistent E chord. The familiarity that goes with this, the prototypical Zep record, makes it easy to forget just how astounding it was. Despite its enormous weight, the band did indeed fly, and on their second album the band goes beyond the New Yardbirds numbers and covers to establish themselves as the band that would become the biggest juggernaut in rock after the dissolution of the Beatles.

So often when Zeppelin is discussed, phrases like "the originators of Heavy Metal" get tossed around. To be certain, this album introduces some colossal riffage. However, the famous "Whole Lotta Love" and "The Lemon Song" riffs are still just 60's blues rock cranked louder and rawer. But with "Heartbreaker," we get something a little new. The winding line is still blues based to be sure, but rather than an ornament to the chords, the riff here is an end in and of itself. In addition, the signature riff-based, heavily distorted guitar, plenty of soloing, bombastic drums, and high-voiced front man all became the template for the next decades' music.

The magic of Led Zeppelin, especially as time passes, was not in their heaviness. This was already eclipsed by contemporaries Black Sabbath and would be exploited to every possible variation over time. What Zep did better than anyone, at least in the studio, was combine multiple textures into a sonic experience that still has not been matched. A song like "Ramble On" is a syncopated, multi-layered feast that's lasting moments are the loping bass and the Tolkien-inspired nonsensical lyrics. These lighter shades including the classics "Thank You" and "What is and What Should Never Be" are what made the heavier elements work so well. "Whole Lotta Love," which begins with a riff so simple that it is one of the first guitarists learn, evolves into a psychedelic trip producible only by the expertise of one of the best studio guitarists the rock world has ever seen. By the time the album finishes with the lazy cover of "Bring It on Home," the listener has been on a broad musical journey that can be repeated time and again without boredom.

This is by no means a prog album, but it did stretch the scope of how a rock album could sound, perhaps like no others at the time. This album was released in 1969, where very little of what we call true prog even existed. However, this is a masterpiece of rock n' roll, without any doubt whatsoever. To me, it is the second most essential Zep album, and should have a place in every rock collection. Its importance in a prog collection is a bit more secondary, as the band itself was more important than any particular album. It's a little difficult to choose the correct rating for this site so I'm going to stick to 4 for now.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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