Updated: May 8
Influences: American Blues, including Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Muddy Waters.
Many songs are ubiquitous in our days; one of them is "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin. As a young teen starting my music journey, I was already familiar with it, and I asked a friend who was a fan of the band which album I should buy first; he recommended Led Zeppelin II. Being a "Scorpions-kind-of-guy," I hated it. I was mad I had spent my Sunday money savings on it, the cover was ugly and boring and the music so strange.
It took some time until I got more familiar with the blues; starting with its British version, that I started to "dig it" and today is one of my all-time favorite albums. Many bands started by adopting the American blues; examples of this are John Mayall's Bluesbrakers, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Eric Burdon and the Animals, and, of course, the Yardbirds. The Yardbirds started with Eric Clapton (who later joined John Mayall), who was replaced by Jeff Beck and later added Jimmy Page. With this line-up, they started to push the blues and experiment with psychedelia. The addition of John Paul Jones turned the band into the New Yardbirds and later into Led Zeppelin. The first LZ album was pretty much an extension of the Yardbirds with many blues covers, but this new style is basically a pressure cooker that would explode with Led Zeppelin II. The best representation of this blues-to-hard-rock perfect evolution is "Bring it on Home," bass and harmonica perfection with an explosive guitar solo to close this perfect album.
This is one of those beginning-to-end kind of albums; the transitions are impeccable; not sure if it is that they planned them so well or that over the years, you get used to them, and they seem perfect. Notably, "Heartbreaker" into "Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)", which is my favorite section of the album.
Led Zeppelin II is another one of those milestones in rock history that sealed the transition from Rock and Roll into Rock. Along with Black Sabbath's Paranoid, it would become the foundation that inspired many late 70s and 80s heavy metal bands. A must-listen for any rock-music lover.