Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II (1969)
***AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION REQUESTED BELOW!***
At the risk of earning the nickname Captain Obvious, Led Zeppelin II (LZII) is great. Hardly breaking news, I know!
The more divisive question: is LZII, to quote Tina Turner, Simply the Best?
Because it’s perfectly normal to do so, I will present arguments for the defense, immediately followed by the prosecution’s rebuttals.
I will leave it to my dear readers, the esteemed members of the jury, to determine the verdict.
The Defense: Why LZII is LZ’s finest
Exhibit A. Whole Lotta Love is the benchmark for side one, track ones. The killer riff to kick it off, they break it down in the middle, and Bring it on Home with the Robert Plant ‘my, my’ wail.
B. The influence of this album knows no bounds. If you’ve enjoyed a single note of music since 1969, you are welcome to express your gratitude for this record.
C. Moby Dick is a mainstay on many ‘top instrumentals’ lists.
D. Question: Who rapped the following, “I don’t rap about bitches and hoes…”? If you buzzed in here, A Tribe Called Quest would be a logical answer. Though when the quote is completed, “…I rap about witches and trolls,” that could only be Flight of The Conchords in the song Frodo, Don’t Wear the Ring (at 1:44).
Robert Plant beat them to Lord of the Rings by almost 4 decades with the song Ramble On. For critics who accuse rock music of being all about sex/drugs/rock n’ roll, on LZII, Plant sings about Gollum & Mordor! Not exactly conventional subject matter, the kind of atypical material you’d expect on a top album.
E. Apart from the opener, this album contains very few of the group’s best known songs. It’s akin to Exile on Main Street in that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Take Mick Jagger’s assessment of Exile: “I’m not too sure how great the songs are, but put together it’s a nice piece.” The same could, and should, be said for LZII. This is no singles collection: like the best batting order in baseball, it’s not about having a handful of superstars. It’s about having 9 solid individual parts that work extremely well together.
The defense rests.
The Prosecution: Why LZII is, at best, second best
1. No truly epic song, à la Stairway or Kashmir.
2. No mandolin, denied! LZIII wins as a result.
3. To paraphrase the Buggles, Radio Killed The Zeppelin Single: A Whole Lotta Love is a whole lotta overplayed.
4. LZIV has more J.R.R. Tolkein references.
5. At 41:24, it is among the shortest of LZ’s studio albums. With LZ, more is more, Physical Graffiti is therefore double the fun.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, I leave the final decision in your capable hands. Beyond any reasonable doubt, is LZII the career peak for Bonham/Jones/Page/Plant?
Here’s how it will work:
In the comments section, please RANK your TOP 3 LZ ALBUMS.
You have until February 27th, 11:59 p.m. EST.
If you’re like me, your answers may change on a daily basis, so think of it as your LZ Top 3*.
(*as at the time of responding, naturally subject to change)
I practically insist you post links to reviews from your blogs to use as supporting evidence!
I’ll compile the results on Friday, February 28th in the table below:
|LED ZEPPELIN||FIRST PLACE||SECOND PLACE||THIRD PLACE||TOTAL||OVERALL|
|STUDIO ALBUM||(3 points per vote)||(2 points per vote)||(1 point per vote)||POINTS||RANKING|
|Houses of the Holy|
|In Through the Out Door|
Thanks in advance for participating, looking forward to seeing the results!