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50 Reasons We Still Love Led Zeppelin II

on October 22, 2019, 2:00pm
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“Heartbreaker”


27. The believable notion that it was written to highlight Page’s skills. True or not, it’s a delightfully ego-driven, yet apt, motivation.

28. Add to that how its blistering guitar solo — which was recorded separately, as an addendum — inspired Eddie Van Halen’s two-handed tapping technique.

29. That it opens Side B with an iconic riff, just as “Whole Lotta Love” does with Side A.

30. The irony of Plant condemning a woman’s infidelity when earlier in the collection, he wrestles with his own.

“Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman)”

31. How it flows seamlessly out of “Heartbreaker”, like it’s the second half of a roughly seven-minute track.

32. The unapologetic, almost painful raspiness of Plant’s performance. It’s his most cutthroat singing on the whole album.

33. It’s reported role as mere filler by Page, who openly dislikes it. Although it does feel a bit superficial and rushed — even in regards to its subject matter: an annoying groupie whom they met on tour — it’s a good bit of fun nonetheless.

34. Page’s solo, while brief, is pleasingly idiosyncratic.

“Ramble On”

35. It’s another exceptional example of how well Led Zeppelin balanced acoustic and electric elements, with folksy verses separating hard rock choruses. This distinction has always set them apart from the pack, after all.

36. That it’s the first Led Zeppelin song to tie into J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, with the narrator seemingly on his own quest in Middle Earth. (The lines “’Twas in the darkest depths of Mordor/ I met a girl so fair/ But Gollum, and the evil one/ Crept up and slipped away with her” clarify this.) Obviously, they’d return to the saga on two songs from 1971’s Led Zeppelin IV: “The Battle of Evermore” and “Misty Mountain Hop”.

37. It’s among the most immediately catchy Led Zeppelin songs, plain and simple.

38. How Page’s mournful guitar lines before the second chorus are complemented by Jones’ downtrodden bass pattern. It’s very evocative.

39. The eclectic percussion. In addition to his drums, Bonham supposedly also used a plastic garbage pail and a hard guitar case.

“Moby Dick”

40. The default gustiness of essentially making a drum solo its own track. It’s a decidedly polarizing choice, but Led Zeppelin have always had the gusto to challenge audiences.

41. That said, Page and Jones’ opening and closing contributions are certainly an important part of the cumulative fire. The guitar licks, in particular, are among the most inventive and hip on the whole LP (even if they do bare a strong resemblance to 1961’s “Watch Your Step” by Bobby Parker).

42. That it took its name from another piece of literature — Herman Melville’s Moby Dick — after they decided not to call it “Pat’s Delight” (in reference to Bonham’s wife). A few years later, it would also be known as “Over the Top” when played live.

43. In concert, Bonham would extend it to around 20 minutes while the rest of the group took a break. Sometimes, his hands would even bleed afterward.

“Bring It On Home”

44. Its changes to the Willie Dixon and Sonny Boy Williamson original, including a quicker middle section.

45. Its vast stylistic differences, not only internally but also in comparison to prior tunes. It’s the final solidification of Led Zeppelin II as a very varied record.

46. How much it also conjures The Guess Who’s “American Woman” from the next year, not only in its blues patterns but also in Plant’s vocal style at the start and end. To the end, it’s like Plant is a different singer entirely during these parts.

47. The use of the harmonica, period.

Miscellaneous

Inspiration for David Juniper's Led Zeppelin II album art

Inspiration for David Juniper’s Led Zeppelin II album art

48. Page and Kramer get a couple of nods for how good the mix and arrangements are on Led Zeppelin II. It breathes more and is generally more wide-ranging and polished than Led Zeppelin. Fortunately, the same can be said for its successors.

49. The fact that it became their first record to reach No. 1 in the UK and US (famously knocking out The Beatles’ Abbey Road in the process).

50. The album cover, which is commonly called the “Brown Bomber” and was nominated in the Best Recording Package category of the 1970 Grammy Awards. Designed by guitarist Jimmy Page’s Sutton Art College schoolmate, David Juniper, it’s inspired by a military photograph from World War I. Specifically, Juniper placed the band’s faces — as well as a few others, including that of French actress Delphine Seyrig — on top of the original image. That imaginative approach, combined with its colorized visual allusion to its precursor, makes it both a surface-level treat and a symbolic nod to Led Zeppelin’s creative growth.

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