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Info 101: Musicbits 67: More of the same but way better

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"LED ZEPPELIN II" (1969: 2014) Atlantic Records, Deluxe Edition to be released on June 3, 2014.

In the wake of Led Zeppelin I, the band recorded "II" on the road. According to singer Robert Plant, "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 in New York." It's not the way most albums are recorded but Led Zeppelin's popularity was growing day-by-day, minute-by-minute. Between January and August of 1969, they completed four European and three U.S. tours. It was a popularity reminiscent of Beatle-mania but much more intense. They needed another album on the stands--quickly--and they delivered "Led Zeppelin II".

The music was more of the same but much better, more well-thought out. The blues-based hard rock was more visceral, more gutsy, more sexually open. The hooks were more pronounced and Page's guitar work was even more concise and prolific. "Whole Lotta Love" as the single to promote the album but FM stations pushed "The Lemon Song", "Heartbreaker" and "Living Loving Maid". The band had already been playing "Heartbreaker" and "Moby Dick" in concert so fans already had an inkling of what to expect.

Guitarists for years to come would cite this album as being the most influential on their own style of playing. Page, in discussing this album, said he got a lot of material and ideas from passages he improvised during the extended break in the live version of "Dazed and Confused". This song would run anywhere from 22 to 40 minutes in concert. Listening to various bootleg versions of this song backs his claim. One can even hear early hints of "Out on the Tiles", "Gallows Pole" and "The Immigrant Song", all from "Led Zeppelin III". "Dazed and Confused" is the lone hold-over from the Yardbird days, back when they stretched it a mere 9-16 minutes.

The Deluxe Edition of the CD includes, on Disc One: "Whole Lotta Love", "What Is and What Should Never Be", "The Lemon Song", "Thank You", "Heartbreaker", "Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)", "Ramble On", "Moby Dick" and "Bring It On Home".

Disc Two: Alternate mixes of "Whole Lotta Love", "What Is and What Should Never Be", "Heartbreaker", "Ramble On", "Moby Dick"; Backing tracks of "Thank You" and "Living Loving Maid"; and the previously unreleased "La La"

The re-mastering work was done by Jimmy Page. There are a number of options available for pre-order on www.amazon.com and are very affordable. Locally, The Electric Fetus and Cheapo Records will offer their own deals.

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