It's 2014, and time for a new round of re-masters of the Led Zeppelin catalog by Jimmy Page. If you don't own this album or have been meaning to replace your old, scratched-up copy, now's the perfect time. I'm replacing an old, scratched-up copy. I don't imagine anyone looking into this is new to Zeppelin, so you probably already know that their second album was an incredible, genius follow-up to their debut, continuing the bluesy hard rock with an improvisational bent they'd offered on Zeppelin I. The best-known songs from this release are “Whole Lotta Love,” “Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman),” and “Ramble On.” It also has the well-loved “Moby Dick” among the other classic tracks.
As I said, though, now is a good time to pick this up because the deluxe edition pricing is about the same price as a regular CD, but you get a bonus disc and the deluxe packaging. The bonus disc for II will appeal more to the Zeppelin aficionados than the casual classic rock radio fan. It has several rough cuts from the studio and a couple of backing tracks that are completely cool to a Zep fanatic, but might be unappealing to people who mainly like the band's hit songs. Personally, I love hearing earlier incarnations of songs, early demo versions, and alternate takes that weren't used just to hear all of the ideas that went into the finished track that ended up on the album.
However, the one gem among these miscellaneous extras is the previously unheard instrumental, “La La.” I won't claim it's a new Zeppelin classic, but it's a definite treat to hear this obviously very early version of a Led Zeppelin tune. The first half has a happy, Partridge Family kind of vibe, but a little over two minutes in, it begins to sound like the familiar blues rock of the first couple albums. It's a great bonus, and when you add it to the other songs on the bonus disc, the remastered sound, the packaging and liner notes, it adds up to a top-notch deluxe edition. Mine will end up as worn out as my last copy of this album.
on April 13, 2001
After toiling the summer of my 14th year, I finally saved enough money to buy my first turntable (an $88 Pioneer which, I am pleased to say, I still own and, 23 years later, it runs like a champ). Soon thereafter, I began assembling my record collection. Led Zeppelin II was my first purchase. Over time, I bought all the Led Zep albums, and listened to them all until the vinyl was pretty well worn out. However, Led Zep II always remained my favorite Led Zep album. Special memories of Led Zep II include the time that I invited a special young lady over to my house and, to impress her (dumb, I know), I cranked up Whole Lotta Love for the guitar jam following the relatively quiet stuff with the violin bows, only to have most of the speaker componentry of my father's hand built Heathkit speakers explode into a useless, spasmodic pile of writhing, twitching cardboard-like material and coils. It took me about four months to save enough pesos to buy a new pair of speakers.
Anyway, on to something Amazon readers might find useful:
Led Zep II is a classic rock and roll album, but what makes it particularly good is the way each song works so well with the songs around it. I've noticed other reviewers have made similar comments. You could not pull this material and drop it into a "Greatest Hits" album and have it work. Imagine going from Whole Lotta Love, straight into Stairway to Heaven! No way! Another key is to have the right stereo equipment. It is my opinion that stereo equipment is designed to complement the music of the day. Hence, one would be best served to find a vintage amplifier or receiver to play this music. You don't want some amplifier-on-a-chip setup. Also, milquetoast speakers are out. A simple rule of thumb is, if you can lift your speakers, they are insufficient for this album.
One negative, the sound quality on Led Zep II is pretty poor. Not as dreadful as on Led Zep I, but not up to today's standards. Of course, Michelangelo's cracked and faded painting of the Sistine Chapel doesn't exactly exhibit the highest "signal-to-noise" ratio ever, but it's still a classic. The reason why I bring this up is because I just bought the "digitally remastered" CD to replace my older "original CD" version of Led Zep II. In doing side by side comparisons, the improvement in sound quality is remarkable. Particularly in the quiet parts of Moby Dick, the background hiss of the older CD is much more apparent than in the new. Hiss is still there, but much less noticeable. For purists, the new mixing does not eradicate the rawness of the original. Bottom line: if you own Led Zep II, but in the older CD version or, God forbid, on vinyl, you owe it to yourself to upgrade. It's worth the money.
Finally, the obligatory ranking of my favorite Led Zep albums in order: II, I, IV, Houses of the Holy, Physical Graffiti.
As I mature and mellow (or more accurately, get older), I like III much more.
on March 21, 2008
This album is a prime example of why Bonham, Jones, Page, & Plant are legends in the Rock & Roll industry. It has everything a R & R fan could possibly want. A bluesy feel, tight Guitar riffs, solos from the soul, well constructed songs, layers of music, & passionate vocals. For me the true cohesion comes from the rythym section. Bonham's drums drives the band ever forward while JPJones is ethereal on the keyboards & perfect on the bass Guitar. There are no duds on this their Sophmore album.
These are my seven favorites in no particular order. "Heartbreaker," opens with a classic riff. The midsection flows to an improvisational section with a fine Guitar solo. Here the lyrics & music blend easily. I have always liked this one more than the more publized "Whole Lotta Love." "Moby Dick," is a fine instrumental with Bonham's drum midsection carrying it. "Living Loving Maid," is often paired in direct succession with "Heartbreaker." It's an upbeat rocker with a memorable riff & a contagious melody. "The Lemon Song," has one great bass line as JPJones moves smoothly throughout as the crescendo than picks up & takes flight. "What Is And What Should Never Be," is a very different type of song that is hard to classify. I have been told by musicians that this is one of the harder Zeppelin songs to learn. Here the interesting lyrics play as a melodic counterpoint to Plant's vocals. "Ramble On," is the driving other side of the latter song representing moving on from the angst of love. This is one of the most underated of Led Zeppelin's songs. "Thank You," clearly is the bands best ballad until "In Through The Outdoor's All My Love." This one is smooth & brings out the romantic in the listener. This is one of their three best albums. Buy it, you won't be disappointed.
After their ground breaking debut album, Led Zeppelin quickly followed the album up with Led Zeppelin II. Whereas their debut contained a few blues covers and longer jams, II is a much tighter affair. Jimmy Page was a master at coming up with memorable guitar riffs and they abound throughout II. "Whole Lotta Love" opens the album with a earth moving riff and then guitars soar and come crashing down throughout the song that is marked by a glass shattering vocal from Robert Plant. The song became a big hit and their only top ten single peaking at number 4 in early 1970. "The Lemon Song" is a bluesy jam that finds Mr. Plant scatting along with some memorable lyrics. "Ramble On" is perfectly titled as the song just kind of scuffles around with a chooglin guitar riff as its backbone. John Bonham gets to show off why they call him Bonzo on the drum workout "Moby Dick". "Thank You" has to rank as one of the prettiest songs in rock and probably the most tender number the band has ever recorded. Mr. Plant provides an almost whisper like vocal that is framed by ethereal keyboards from John Paul Jones. The song's quiet beauty merges into the stinging guitars of "Heartbreaker" which merges seamlessly into the rollicking "Living Loving Maid". Led Zeppelin II became the band's first number one album.
on June 4, 2014
The remastering of both Led Zeppelin II & III are absolutely among the best to come along in a long time. Up until recently, in my opinion, the best remastered versions of these CD's has been the SHM-CD versions from Japan. However, these new versions are heads above better. All of the previous versions that I've listened to allowed Robert Plant's voice and Jimmy Page's guitar work to come to the forefront in the mix. However, these newest CD's finally allow both the wonderful drum work and bass lines to step forward and blend with everything else as it should be, and as you I remember it. These are truly pristine and crystal clear CD's and if you have a hi-fi system that will allow it all to come through, you'll be very pleased that you made these purchases, especially at these great prices.
After the initial disappointment of the "Led Zeppelin" debut 2CD DELUXE EDITION with its questionable sound on some tracks and its rubbish-sounding live bonus disc - I'm thrilled to say that "II" is an entirely different beast. It sounds great and the 'Companion Audio' CD actually warrants the word 'bonus'.
UK released 2 June 2014 (3 June in the USA) - Atlantic/Swan Song 8122796453 breaks down as follows...
Disc 1 (41:40 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 9 is the vinyl album "Led Zeppelin II" - originally released 22 October 1969 in the USA on Atlantic SD-8236 and Atlantic 588 198 in the UK
Disc 2 (32:44 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 8 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED 'Rough Mixes' of Seven album tracks with one New Song - the Instrumental "La La"
The 3-way gatefold card sleeve features alternative colour artwork on the rear with the original LP gatefold inner spread on the inside flaps - sided by two new photos of the band during recording. There's a stuck-on track list on the rear and the artwork now reflects the Swan Song label as well as Atlantic. The 16-page booklet has gorgeous black and white/colour photos of the band live at the time - but there are only two pages at the rear that give you the basic track info - but bugger all else. There's no liner notes - no history of the album and its importance (once rated as Britain's favourite Rock album) - and nothing from Page or Plant. It's good - but it could have been great - and frankly why isn't it?
I moaned about the sound quality on some tracks on the debut - that problem doesn't appear here. From the opening wallop of "Whole Lotta Love" - it feels huge and detailed. The cymbals and bass of "What Is And What Should Never Be" are wonderfully clear and "The Lemon Song" sounds suitably grungy (as it was intended). The fade in of "Thank You" is lovely - but it's the sheer power riffage of "Heartbreaker" and its various mad guitar breaks that puts hairs on your chest. Both "Maid" and "Ramble On" have accentuated power (especially in the breaks that feature Bonzo's drums) - and of course it finishes with the lethal one-two sucker punch of "Moby Dick" (crystal clear John Bonham solo) and the Harmonica Blues Boogie of Willie Dixon/Sonny Boy Williamson's "Bring It On Home". Job done.
Disc 2 is a genuine blast - backing tracks with different guitar parts and the occasional vocal jab from Plant. It's a fascinating insight into how they worked and built a tune. It's clear these versions were good - just not good enough. The solos in "Heartbreaker" bear this out - most of the finished solo flourishes that we know and love are in there but some aren't quite 'there' - so presumably Page simply kept working them later until he got those licks to his satisfaction. And it's bizarre to hear the first guitar part of "Moby Dick" - then hear it suddenly stop (no solo) and Bonham then count in the drums as the second guitar part finishes the song. The "La La" outtake with its Motown organ bop and wild acoustic/electric guitar breaks is interesting - but feels most throwaway of the lot.
I also bought 1970's "III" this morning and frankly it's the best of the bunch - with fantastic outtakes and two cool new tracks - one of which has me drooling (see separate review).
Were Led Zeppelin really as good as we remember them? Were they even the best band in the world?
With airship-sized knobs on...and then some...
PS: see also reviews for the 2CD DELUXE EDITION versions of "I" and "III"
on June 6, 2014
Finally a new Remaster that isnt trashed by the LOUDNESS WARS. Let an artist such as Jimmy Page at the helm and you dont get that crap! What you do get is a careful thoughtful remaster! SUPERB SOUND! Clean and fresh! We all know the the Led Zep II album by now and how its a true rock classic of all time! The new bonus disc adds some insight and is good to have but the songs are works in progress and thus doesnt equal to the finished work but again its great to own and to hear a new take on an old classic! I highly recommend the first 3 Deluxe Remastered versions that have been released this week of June 2014. New record producers could learn a ton from this volume of work, like the temptation to NOT jack up the volume and totally ruin a great album as is always the case it seems these days!
on December 9, 2002
Zeppelin's "II" is simply put, the most influential hard rock album to ever be stocked on shelves. It fuses blues and straight-up rock to a perfect degree, and includes elements of folk, and even traces of metal in it as well. This album gets off to an exceptional start with "Whole Lotta Love," and its infectious riff (the electrifying guitar solo is also one of Page's best, and is worth waiting around for through the dark and imaginative midsection). "What Is and What Should Never Be" is another classic that goes from light to heavy in an instant. The slide guitar and gong are nice touches. "The Lemon Song" is pure blues mayhem with wild solos, Plant sounding annoying (as usual), and a hot bass line. "Thank You" is a surprisingly good love song that has some great drum outbreaks, all credit to Bonham. Next up are "Heartbreaker" and "Living Loving Maid"(She's just a woman). These two tracks go together perfectly, with both of them being medium-paced, blues-based rock tunes. Heartbreaker contains a superb solo, first unaccompanied, and then played together with two other guitars. "Ramble On" showcases John Paul Jones' bass playing expertise, and has some of the greatest lyrics of all of Led Zep's songs (inspired by Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings"). "Moby Dick" is built upon a fantastic guitar rhythm section, and the monster drum solo by Bonzo is a brutal dose of percussion at its finest. Finally, the album ends with "Bring It On Home" to bring the album to a close, and this song features Plant playing an electric harmonica, and Page's explosive riffs shredding through the otherwise peaceful tune, half way in. All of the songs on "II" differ from one another, which makes one view this album as more of a compilation than a one-themed release, and this variety accounts for it being considered one of the greatest albums of all time. It still sounds fresh today, due mostly to unpredictable rhythm changes and top notch recording quality. If you like rock music, or any of the other genres that branch out of it, you will not be disappointed. I strongly recommend this album.
on January 27, 2012
This is one of my favorite albums of all time! In my opinion, this album set the trend for Heavy Metal Rock as we know it today. The band utilized several recording studios in the creation of this album, with Jimmy Page ultimately receiving the credit for the entire production.
It was during this album that Robert Plant began to feel comfortable recording with the band because of the strict demands that were placed on his vocal abilities. He had actually thought about quitting the band prior to this!
The album was released on October 22, 1969 on Atlantic Records. With an advance order of 400,000 copies, it took its place as number one in the U.S., replacing "Abbey Road" by The Beatles' twice, and remained there for seven weeks.
1)Whole Lotta Love
2)What Is and What Should Never Be
3)The Lemon Song
2)Living Loving Maid(She's Just a Woman)
5)Bring It On Home
To me, this entire album feels as if it is one unending track. It should be classified as an "emotion" because of the ambience it creates when it is listened to. I have researched this album and found that it has gone platinum 12 times over-and that was in 1999!
In January 1970, "Whole Lotta Love" was released as a condensed single against the bands wishes. I can't say that I blame them much-it's like reading only the first and last page of a book. "Living Loving Maid" was released on the "B" side of the 45RPM.
The cover of the album was designed by David Juniper. The band told him to come up with something "interesting".
What he came up with, was duplicating a WWI picture of the Red Baron (Manfred von Richthofen) with the infamous "German Flying Circus". Picturing the outline of a Zeppelin on a brown background, the album was nicknamed `The Brown Bomber".
Jimmy Page is a true genius and a pioneer of rock and roll. With his contribution to music and his unique flair for creativity, he gave us "finger taps" and "neck shredding". His "riff's" have led rock and roll to new heights inspiring musicians, Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, Aerosmith, and Guns And Roses.
I never get tired of listening to this album, (and I don't feel like I'm alone here,) I somehow feel that it will never drop off the charts. Obviously, I love the album in its entirety, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would have to be "Ramble On." It's a peaceful song that fills my heart with contentment, and I hear it at least once a week on the local Rock station here in Tennessee.
on December 25, 2001
I'm a child of today. But I wish I was a child of yesterday. Yesterday's bands were better, music was real and rock ruled (today's bands do it for money (okay not ALL), music is commercialized and we have boybands, yack). But children of today have one good thing: we get good old albums remastered!
Led Zeppelin II was the first Zep album to me and I loved it immediately. The musical experience starts with Whole Lotta Love, which is incredible. The guitar riff is gorgeus and the more quiet parts make the more loud parts come out better...and the one part, you-know-what-I-mean -part just blows your mind. Lyrics are pretty simple but very suggestive (talking about giving a whole lotta love by giving you every inch of his love, well as a woman I just keep listening to this song again and again). What Is And What Should Never Be is one of the best songs in the album. The Lemon Song is quite bluesy with some unforgettable lyrics ("the way you squeeze my lemon/ till the juice runs down my leg") well well well... Thank You is from another galaxy; it's beautiful and idyllic with peaceful sounds.
Heartbreaker reminds me a little bit of Whole Lotta Love, and in a good way. And from Heartbreaker we move smoothly to Living Loving Maid (She's Just A Woman) which is a basic good rock song. Ramble On continues the same way and I have to confess that I love to sing along this song (I'm not too sure if my neighbors like it, though...). Moby Dick's the one with the fabulous (forgive these worn-out superlatives I use) drum solo...and also it made me think that is the name REALLY so dirty or is it just me? I first thought about the famous book but then I went on thinking about something else... maybe it's the influence of this album =).
Bring It On Home is a beautiful bluesy end for this diverse record...it also reminds me of Belly Button Window by Jimi Hendrix (which is a great song, Jimi rocks YEAH!). This album is very bluesy; I wouldn't call this a heavy metal album but a rock album with whole lotta blues. And, of course, the love.