Led Zeppelin II
Pros: Better overall sound with a few stand out performances
Cons: Lyrical content gets annoying fast for me
In 1969 immediately after the release of their debut album. Led Zeppelin were hard at work recording their sophomore album on the road in which they managed to release the same year. There is obvious progression that can be heard across this release through better complicated strong structure and just overall writing. While this second album is not as ear splitting catchy as their debut; it has another identity altogether and is enjoyable in its own right. In fact, I enjoyed their debut album a lot more at one point, and this took several repeated listens for me to grow more appreciation towards it. Some people consider this their best album. At this point in my life it’s still not my favorite and perhaps never will be.
Personally I don’t think this album rocks as hard as their debut though, but the bluesy character found through out is pretty tough not to enjoy. The classic and most well known opener Whole Lotta Love opens up with possibly Jimmy Page’s most recognizable riff. There’s some good song structure with that spacy break and nice drumming. Speaking of the drumming, John Bonham has his moments as well, and the song Ramble On displays this, as I find it to be one of their better and more creative songs here. The drums are incredibly light and sound similar to a pencil eraser tapping against a notebook, then later on he gets harder on the kit that blends well with the bass parts. This is one of my favorites for sure.
Lemon is a number that definitely has the most provocative lyrics on the album; but I choose to listen to this a lot more for the technical guitar work, prominent bass work, and catchy soloing. Heartbreaker stands out for its heaviness due to that bass and guitar fusion, with some good soloing as well. They rock pretty hard here; and I love how this blends directly into Living Long Maid. This slightly sped-up, rock-poppy number couldn’t be anymore lyrically simple but it’s really catchy.
There are a few other well crafted songs on here with the closer Bring it On Home ending this thing off on the right note; this one is very bluesy with a nice melodic use of the bass and harmonica, and leads into a hard rocking finish.
The only real flaws for me on this album is the actual content which once again focuses on something to do with a woman; either it’s Robert Plants love for one or how rotten they can just be. I understand this type of content is something found in blues, but if it wasn’t for Plants vocal range in making this stuff cool, with stand out performances for me on songs like Thank You, Bring It On Home, and a few others, along with the band’s overall unit cohesion that allows me to block out the actual lyrics. I wouldn’t care for this album much.
In closing, Led Zeppelin II is a really good follow up that shows the band were progressing as a cohesive unit. Of course there are songs I like more than others, but it was due to repeated listens which leads me to say there’s nothing I actually dislike. Definitely recommended to those whom love classic rock. The album was also re-mastered and re-released last June along with the first four albums. It would be a good idea to grab them if you don’t already own them. I do recommend picking up the debut album Led Zeppelin I as well.