Gimme a Reason takes classic albums celebrating major anniversaries and breaks down song by song the reasons we still love them so many years later. Today, we celebrate 50 years of Led Zeppelin’s II.
Led Zeppelin are widely hailed as one of the most important and admirable rock bands of all time, and the impact of their introductory sequence is largely to credit for that success. Released in January 1969, Led Zeppelin’s mix of blues, heavy metal, and folk-rock was a game-changer that launched a thousand careers and established its creators as some of the most distinctive and praiseworthy players in popular music.
Naturally, Led Zeppelin II — which came out less than a year later, in October — had big shoes to fill. And boy, does it. Recorded while on tour in North America and the United Kingdom during the first half of 1969, it marks the first of several collaborations with engineer Eddie Kramer (whose earlier work with legends like The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix are equally essential). Musically, it sees them sticking to their established sound and penchant for reimagining — to put it mildly — the work of others while also improving their production and expanding their stylistic palette. It’s not definitively superior to their initial LP (at least not in terms of songwriting), but its sound is certainly stronger.
As with Led Zeppelin, reviews weren’t unanimously positive at the start, yet today Led Zeppelin II is revered by many critics as downright indispensable. Likewise, many fans rank it as one of the English quartet’s top outings, as well as an exemplary instance of an artist avoiding the dreaded “sophomore slump.” How it compares to its surrounding records is up to the listener, of course, but five full decades later, Led Zeppelin II still gives us a whole lotta reasons to love it. At least 50, in fact.
Click ahead for 50 reasons we still love Led Zeppelin II…