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Led Zeppelin II

Led Zeppelin


Rising rock gods find their footing by taking bigger, weirder chances.

What had sometimes felt clunky the first time around on their 1969 debut—British blues rock rendered slower, heavier, louder—felt seamless just eight months later on Led Zeppelin II. Their time on the road showed: A couple songs either originated or evolved live, while others (especially “Whole Lotta Love”) reflected a relationship between the band members that made the music much more direct, but also enabled them to take bigger, weirder chances.

While much has been made of Led Zeppelin’s liberal quotation of Black American blues, the reality—and legacy—was more complicated. Listen to Led Zeppelin II and you hear young British men absorbing blues not as a progressive pose but arcane knowledge, as gnarled and misty as the Celtic touches of “Thank You” or the Tolkien-inspired visions Jimmy Page leveraged into “Ramble On.” Led Zeppelin II marked the moment the band figured out how to make blues-based rock sound like something harder to recognize.