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.