47 years ago today Led Zeppelin released Led Zeppelin II. The sophomore effort is not only regarded as their best release, but perhaps one of the greatest rock albums ever.
Featuring ‘Whole Lotta Love’, ‘Ramble On’, ‘Moby Dick’ (to just name a few) it’s a burst of psych energy that has remained relevant all these years later.
Plenty has been written about the record, but here are 10 things you don’t know…
1. Whilst the band’s first album, Led Zeppelin I was written in only 30 hours, the second one was written over eight months (between January and August of 1969) due to the band’s extensive touring schedule. This writing was done mostly on their North American tour during soundchecks, in hotel rooms and spontaneous studio sessions.
“It was quite insane, really. We had no time, and we had to write numbers in hotel rooms. By the time the album came out, I was really fed up with it. I’d just heard it so many times in so many places. I really think I had lost confidence in it.”- Jimmy Page
2. ‘What Is And What Should Never Be’ was one of the first songs which Robert Plant earned a songwriting credit on.
3. Despite selling well and being the band’s first album to reach number one in the UK and US, Led Zeppelin II was only nominated for one Grammy award; art director David Juniper for Best Recording Package.
4. The art was based on a photo of the Flying Circus, the famed WWI fighting unit led by the Red Baron. After tinting the picture, Juniper airbrushed in the faces of the band from a 1969 publicity photo, along with various other musicians, friends and pop-culture figures.
5. The album’s two most famous solos, the guitar in ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and drums in ‘Moby Dick’, were both spliced in from different recordings to the rest of the song.
6. John Bonham played the percussion part for ‘Ramble On’ on either a guitar case, the side of a drum stool, a garbage can or the soles of his shoes, no one can remember.
7. ‘Living Loving Maid (She’s Just A Woman)’ was Jimmy Page’s least favourite Led Zeppelin song and therefore the band never played it live. Plant was a fan of the song however, and so began playing it on his later solo tours.
8. The album was the first collaboration between the band and renowned audio engineer Eddie Kramer who would go on to engineer and mix five of the band’s most famous albums.
9. The trippy vocals in the middle of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ were made from a happy accident.
At one point there was bleed-through of a previously recorded vocal in the recording of “Whole Lotta Love”. It was the middle part where Robert screams “Wo-man … You need … Love” Since we couldn’t re-record at that point, I just threw some echo on it to see how it would sound and Jimmy said “Great! Just leave it.” – Eddie Kramer
10. After a 1985 lawsuit, blues singer Willie Dixon was given a co-songwriting credit for ‘Whole Lotta Love’, after Robert Plant admitted to basing the lyrics off ‘You Need Love’ (originally by Muddy Waters).
“Page’s riff was Page’s riff. It was there before anything else. I just thought, ‘well, what am I going to sing?’ That was it, a nick. Now happily paid for.” – Robert Plant