Led Zeppelin II
If the first Led Zeppelin album can be summarised as The Blues One, then the second is The Rock One. Released a mere ten months after their debut, the group are already ensconced on the treadmill of fame; there’s a palpable swagger that contrasts with the low key debut, and they’re already indulging in drum solos (‘Moby Dick’).
Jimmy Page employs magnificent riffs on the funky ‘Heartbreaker’ and the behemothic ‘Whole Lotta Love’. ‘The Lemon Song’ rides off a memorable John Paul Jones bass riff, even if the squeezing lemon references are none too pleasant. The group also explore more complex material with the mini-epic ‘What Is And Should Never Be’ and ‘Ramble On’, where Robert Plant displays his Tolkien fetish for the first time on record – although I’d argue that Sauron is the evil one and that Gollum’s merely morally ambiguous. There’s even a soppy ballad, ‘Thank You’, which is out of place among all the debauchery scattered through the rest of the record, but is full of tasty organ work from Jones. And closer ‘Bring It On Home’ starts messily, but it ends up kicking just as much butt as everything else. In fact, apart from the gratuitous ‘Moby Dick’, II is plain terrific, and a significant step up from the debut.
Led Zeppelin would get more ambitious and diverse, but this is a great place to begin an investigation into their back catalogue.