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Led Zeppelin II

All studio and live performances from Led Zeppelin II. 

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. It was released in October 1969 on Atlantic Records. 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.

Whole Lotta Love

Overview:  While Led Zeppelin I established John Bonham as an incredibly inventive composer and talented player, it wasn't until Whole Lotta Love that he established his trademark sound. Now recording with his custom Ludwig Maple Thermogloss kit and utilizing Eddie Kramer's engineering ingenuity, Bonham was able to lay down what would be the first of many iconic drum sounds for the world to hear.

 

The single entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart on 22 November 1969. It remained on the chart for 15 weeks, peaking at no. 4 and becoming the band's only top 10 single in the US. Live, the song debuted 26 April 1969. When performed live, "Whole Lotta Love" also occasionally included segments of other Led Zeppelin songs such as "I Can't Quit You Baby", "You Shook Me", "How Many More Times", "Your Time Is Gonna Come", "Good Times Bad Times", "The Lemon Song", "The Crunge", "D'yer Mak'er", "Black Dog", "Out on the Tiles" and "Ramble On". A famous show closer at Led Zeppelin concerts, it was since mid-1970 performed as a medley of blues and rhythm and blues interpolations favoured by the band. Many of these included classics by Eddie Cochran, Elvis Presley and John Lee Hooker.

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Versions Worth Checking Out: How The West Was Won (Los Angeles / Long Beach 1972)

What Is And What Should Never Be

Overview:  Recorded at Olympic Studios in 1969, What Is And What Should Never Be was one of the first songs on which Page used his soon-to-become trademark Gibson Les Paul for recording. The production makes liberal use of stereo as the guitars pan back and forth between channels. Robert Plant's vocals were phased during the verses. This was also one of the first songs recorded by the band for which Robert Plant received writing credit.

 

What Is and What Should Never Be was performed live at Led Zeppelin concerts between 1969 and 1972 (and played once in 1973).

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Versions Worth Checking Out: BBC Sessions 'Top Gear' 1969 - A good balance between the studio and live versions. I like the more song a little more up-tempo, but Bonham could go a little crazy with his fills into the chorus sometimes for such a spacious song. I enjoy them a little more when he exercises a little discretion and keeps it simple.

The Lemon Song

Overview:  The Lemon Song was recorded at Mystic Studios in Hollywood in 1969 while the band was on their second tour of North America. It was recorded virtually live in the studio, and no electronic devices were used to create the echo on Robert Plant's vocal. It was made solely by Plant's voice and the acoustics in Mystic Studios, which was a 16 × 16 foot room with wooden walls. John Paul Jones is phenomenal on the bass for this track.

 

The song borrows from Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor", which was a song Led Zeppelin often incorporated into their live setlist during their first tour of the United States. For the second and third North American tours the song evolved into The Lemon Song, with Plant often improvising lyrics onstage. The Lemon Song was performed live on Led Zeppelin's first three concert tours of the United States (on the first tour as "Killing Floor"), before being dropped from their live set in late 1969. However, the 'squeeze my lemon' sequence continued to be inserted into the "Whole Lotta Love" medley and ad-libbed elsewhere.

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Versions Worth Checking Out:  Studio

Thank You

Overview:  Thank You was recorded at Morgan Studios in London in 1969. It signalled a deeper involvement in songwriting by singer Robert Plant; it was the first Led Zeppelin song for which he wrote all the lyrics. According to various Led Zeppelin biographies, this is also the song that made Jimmy Page realise that Plant could now handle writing the majority of the lyrics for the band's songs. Plant wrote the song as a tribute to his then-wife Maureen. For the recording of this track, Page played on a Vox 12-string guitar.[1] It was also one of the few Led Zeppelin songs on which Page sang backing vocals.

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Versions Worth Checking Out:  BBC Sessions (1 April, 1971)

Heartbreaker

Overview:  Heartbreaker was recorded in May of 1969 at A&R Studios in New York, NY. The song was a crowd favourite at Led Zeppelin concerts, and the band opened many of their live shows in 1971 and 1972 with "Immigrant Song" followed by a segue right into "Heartbreaker". On later concert tours it was often played as an encore. "Heartbreaker" and "Communication Breakdown" were the only songs to be played live during every year that the band toured.

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Versions Worth Checking Out:  23 September 1971 - Tokyo, Japan