Thursday, January 12, 2012

Song #84 of 9999 - Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin

Song #84 of 9999

Title: Whole Lotta Love
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Year: 1970
Album: Led Zeppelin II

Recently, I watched the film It Might Get Loud, with Jimmy Page playing superego to The Edge's ego and Jack White's id. Almost any time I see British rockers from the seventies, I'm struck by how smart they are musically and otherwise. (Side note: Queen's Brian May recently earned a PhD in astrophysics. Can you imagine Vince Neil doing this?) 

Anyway, I think it's easy to dismiss any group of musicians who play music as powerful and occasionally bombastic as Led Zeppelin's as somewhat less than cerebral. And when you listen to "Whole Lotta Love," you're probably focusing much more on the groove or Robert Plant's wail or Page's amazing solo. Or more likely, you're not focusing at all—this is music that evokes feelings not thoughts. And that's probably what Jimmy Page, the producer, would like you to do. But take a moment to really to all the stuff going on in this tune, especially to what Wikipedia calls the "free, jazz-like" section (really??) and remember that this was 1970. Page, who was a studio guitarist for so many years (yes, that's him playing guitar on Lulu's "To Sir With Love"), obviously gained the knowledge and expertise necessary to stretch the limitations of pop music production in ways that household names like Phil Spector, Brian Wilson, and George Martin had earlier. His contributions to studio production will likely always be overshadowed by the magnificent sum of the parts that is Led Zeppelin (same with John Paul Jones's brilliant arrangements) and/or his extraordinary guitar playing. But it's interesting to step back and listen with slightly different ears to what this studio artist was able to achieve so early in Led Zeppelin's career.

No comments:

Post a Comment