Sonic Gems: Led Zeppelin II

Love them or hate them, there is a lot to be said about Led Zeppelin.  That’s true of almost all contemporary rockers and particularly true for me.  Okay, so they were in part musical thieves.  Yes, I’ve seen that evidence.  But, let’s be honest here.  There’s probably  not one musician today who hasn’t borrowed extensively from every influence they can find.  How do I say that with such openness?  Well, let’s start with this bit of readily available self evidence. Listen to all the contemporary music you can.  Give it a few days to sink in.  Tell me something then… maybe it was expressed differently (hopefully it was and is) but isn’t it all interrelated to such an extent that it’s hard to tell where one artist begins and ends from other artists in the same genre?  Take it a step further… haven’t we now so meshed genres that the overlap is immediately and candidly noticeable.

Having at least in my mind having dispensed from the one argument that musical snobs seem to have against this band, let’s get on with discussing a band from whom I learned, borrowed and hopefully transformed every word, every note into my brief attempt at being a musician of any worth.  Those days are gone.  But, the memories linger on even in my daydreams of teaching my little angels about music and what it means to be a musician.   Sure, I tell them to avoid the excesses and try to set a decent enough example.. but to me this is where it all started and… this is the album that made me put classical, flamenco, jazz and all of that on the backburner and is the nucleus of my journey into rock n roll.

Enough said about me and silly arguments that add up to next to nothing…except to say that I have had the distinct pleasure of seeing Led Zep and then Jimmy Page in The Firm. Sloppy is as sloppy does but no one has mastered sloppiness on the guitar like Jimmy Page….  This is a 10 out of 10 and always will be.

As the Yardbirds disintegrated around him, Page formed the New Yardbirds with vocalist Robert Plant, bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones and percussionist John Bonham.  After a name change to Led Zeppelin, a contract was signed with Atlantic Records that gave this band considerable artistic latitude.  Thank goodness for that.  While the heavy, guitar driven approach has led many to cite these guys as the forebears of heavy metal, equally worthy (especially as an influence on me) were their forays into blues, psychedelia and folk.  Eyes widely opened from the first hearing of this album, I set out to model my own compositions a lot based on this open approach to all forms of music.

Led Zeppelin II was release on October 22, 1969 in the United States.  It was the first album to use sound engineer, Eddie Kramer.  This made a noticeable difference in production.  The incorporation of blues and folk into their music sonically exhibited their musical evolution in process.  The album reached number one in the charts in the UK as well as the US.

Say what you will about the noticeable borrowing going on as they rode the thunder of their initial success of Led Zeppelin I, there is no doubt that these rockers owned this material and made it their own.  That it forged a new sound that owned the rest of us for a considerable time almost goes without saying.  Please do not read this as being unqualified gushiness.  There is plenty questionable about this formidable band.  It’s just this is not the place to yet explore that.  This is about the music and its lasting and startling impression.   Listening to the album now as I write these words, I still fill that heady, almost dizzying effect that launched its own sort of life into me and has my old Les Paul waiting for my eldest to be ready to handle it in her own time.

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About alohapromisesforever

Writer, poet, musician, surfer, father of two princesses.
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