Led Zeppelin II – [Record 3]
Led Zeppelin II is the second studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, released in October 1969 on Atlantic Records. Recording sessions for the album took place at several locations in the United Kingdom and North America from January to August 1969. Production was credited to lead guitarist and songwriter Jimmy Page, while it also served as Led Zeppelin’s first album to utilise the recording techniques of engineer Eddie Kramer. With elements of blues and folk music, Led Zeppelin II also exhibits the band’s evolving musical style of blues-derived material and their guitar and riff-based sound. It has been described as the band’s heaviest album.
Upon release, Led Zeppelin II sold well and was the band’s first album to reach number one in the UK and the US. In 1970, art director David Juniper was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Recording Package for the album. On 15 November 1999, it was certified 12× Platinum by the RIAA for sales in excess of 12 million copies. Since its release, writers and music critics have regularly cited it in polls of the greatest and most influential rock albums.
1, Whole lotta love.
2, What is and what should never be.
3, The Lemon Song.
4, Thank You.
6, Living Loving Maid (She’s just a woman).
7, Ramble On.
8, Moby Dick.
9, Bring it on Home.
Background: Led Zeppelin II was conceived during a hectic and much-travelled period of Led Zeppelin’s career from January through August 1969, when they completed four European and three American concert tours. Each song was separately recorded, mixed and produced at various studios in the UK and North America. The album was written on tour, during periods of a couple of hours in between concerts, a studio was booked and the recording process begun, resulting in a sound with spontaneity and urgency through necessity. Bassist John Paul Jones recalled that “We were touring a lot. Jimmy [Page]’s riffs were coming fast and furious. A lot of them came from onstage especially during the long improvised section of ‘Dazed and Confused’. We’d remember the good stuff and dart into a studio along the way.”
Some of the recording studios used by the band were not the most advanced. One studio in Vancouver, credited as “a hut”, had an 8-track set up that did not even have proper headphone facilities. The group’s lead singer Robert Plant later discussed the writing and recording process, stating “It was crazy really. We were writing the numbers in hotel rooms and then we’d do a rhythm track in London, add the vocal in New York, overdub the harmonica in Vancouver and then come back to finish mixing at New York.”
“Thank You”, “The Lemon Song” and “Moby Dick” were overdubbed during the tour, while the mixing of “Whole Lotta Love” and “Heartbreaker” was also done on tour. Page later stated “In other words, some of the material came out of rehearsing for the next tour and getting new material together.”
Recording: Recording sessions for the album took place at Olympic and Morgan Studios in London, England; A&M, Quantum, Sunset, Mirror Sound and Mystic Studios in Los Angeles, California; Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tennessee; A&R, Juggy Sound, Groove and Mayfair Studios in New York City; and the “hut” in Vancouver.Production was entirely credited to Jimmy Page, while it also served as Led Zeppelin’s first album to utilise the skills and recording techniques of engineer Eddie Kramer, whose prior work with Jimi Hendrix had impressed the band’s members, especially Page. Led Zeppelin expert Dave Lewis wrote of the album’s production, stating “That the album turned out to be such a triumph, in particular for a production quality that still sounds fresh today, was in no small way due to the successful alliance with Page and Kramer in the control room.” This partnership was particularly exhibited in the central section of the track “Whole Lotta Love”. Kramer later said, “The famous Whole Lotta Love mix, where everything is going bananas, is a combination of Jimmy and myself just flying around on a small console twiddling every knob known to man.”
In another interview, Kramer later gave great credit to Page for the sound that was achieved, despite the inconsistent conditions in which it was recorded: “We did that album piece-meal. We cut some of the tracks in some of the most bizarre studios you can imagine, little holes in the wall. Cheap studios. But in the end it sounded bloody marvellous. There was a unification of sound on [Led] Zeppelin II because there was one guy in charge and that was Mr. Page.” Page and Kramer spent two days mixing the album at A&R Studios.