Album Review: Led Zeppelin II [Remastered] by Led Zeppelin
Fantastic, Based on 8 Critics
American Songwriter - 100 Based on rating 5/5
Led ZeppelinLed Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin ll, Led Zeppelin lll-Deluxe Editions(Rhino/Atlantic)5 out of 5 stars Don’t let the non-descript titles of Led Zeppelin’s first three albums, or the short two year span that spawned them, distract you from their significance in the rich legacy of rock. Jimmy Page’s “new Yardbirds” project hit the ground running mixing acoustic folk with thunderous blues rocking and a dose of psychedelia, remarkably none of which has aged over the four decades since their 1969-’70 release. Little more needs to be emphasized about the lasting importance of these prototypes other than this third reissue tweaks the sound with Page’s new remastering revealing nuances in the playing and arrangements that further enhance their already substantial historical cachet.
As time moves on and "The 60s" and "The 70s" become not so much historical periods as media creations, it's harder to take for granted what the significant cultural touchstones of those eras actually mean to current-day society. Some of the artists that were once universally appreciated are slipping from memory, while others are having difficulty translating to new generations. The furor greeting each new Beatles enterprise shows their music and image are indeed proving timeless, and they remain relevant for teenagers and septuagenarians alike"”but other giants from the late 1960s and early 70s aren't having it so easy.
Clearly, with their hot streak of three LPs, Creedence Clearwater Revival had the most impressive multi-album year of 1969: Bayou Country in January, Green River in August, and Willy and the Poor Boys in November. But still. Still: Led Zeppelin II, which came out in October ’69, just nine months after its almighty, self-titled predecessor, must have benefited from the fast turnaround.
It's easy to forget at this distance that Led Zeppelin's first three albums, the foundation of their titanic legacy, were the most divisive hit records of their day. This magazine is still living down 1969 pans of Led Zeppelin and II as brutal blues ham; III shook fans and enemies alike with its dedicated swerve into acoustic textures and restraint. The music is now beyond reproach.
[Led Zeppelin launched a massive reissue campaign in 2014, supervised by Jimmy Page. The album proper has been remastered but the centerpiece for this deluxe edition, as it is for its companion reissues, is an additional disc of unreleased bonus material. Page dug through the Zeppelin archives to find rare -- and often un-bootlegged -- recordings, relying on alternate mixes and backing tracks but occasionally excavating unheard songs.
For all the tantalising and salacious stories – some apocryphal, some not – of debauchery, drugs, destruction, mud sharks, groupies, whips, private jets, violence, black magic, transvestites, hard business dealings and death, it's become all too easy to forget what actually set it all off: the ….
Led Zeppelin (Atlantic/Rhino) Led Zeppelin II (Atlantic/Rhino) Led Zeppelin III (Atlantic/Rhino) With the Beatles – sophomore slump? Revisit McCartney frill "Hold Me Tight," ersatz Harrison cover "Devil in Her Heart," and Lennon throwaway "Not a Second Time." Even the Mop Tops shed filler. There's a case to be made for Great Britain's other Fab Four having produced the leanest, meanest catalog of all time, eight studio LPs with virtually no waste. ("Carouselambra," maybe?) As such, Jimmy Page's two-year dig of the Led Zeppelin archives yields no grails for the first triptych of double discs from a yearlong, nine-title rollout (posthumous 1982 scrapper Coda caps the campaign).