Sound — 10
Led Zeppelin's second album is exponentially better than their already amazing debut. The sound quality has also definitely improved this time around. Though some would say it is too heavy on the bass, I like it because it's easier to hear the creative basslines of John Paul Jones, one of my favorite bassists of all time. His biggest chances to shine on the album are on the almost lounge-styled ballad "What Is And What Should Never Be," the funky blues number "The Lemon Song" in which he has a bass solo, and the radio hit "Ramble On" in which guitarist Jimmy Page almost seems to hide behind Jonesy's innovative playing. The band also starts to become more diverse on this album, whereas their debut was mainly blues-based with a few folkish numbers. The aforementioned "What Is And What Should Never Be" and "Ramble On" both have mystical-styled lyrics, the latter containing well-known references to Lord Of The Rings. The popular ballad "Thank You" is also found here, with some beautiful organ and guitar playing from Jones and Page. "Bring It On Home" starts out as a laid-back blues number and features singer Robert Plant on harmonica, but soon goes into an energetic hard rock section with one of the band's greatest riffs. "Living Loving Maid (She's Just A Woman)," which is popular on classic rock stations, is a short, humorous number about a persistent groupie Zeppelin encountered. There is also another instrumental track, "Moby Dick," which contains a drum solo by John Bonham. While the majority of his live solos were more impressive, most fans prefer the short, 4 minute original version. The most blues-based songs on the album are the aforementioned "The Lemon Song" and "Bring It On Home," as well as what are probably the two most popular tracks, "Whole Lotta Love" and "Heartbreaker." The former has one of the most well-known riffs in rock history, as well as a trippy middle section including strange theremin tricks, courtesy of Jimmy Page. "Heartbreaker" has a better riff in my opinion, and is a better song, also in my opinion. About 2 minutes into the track, the band stops and Jimmy Page plays an insanely fast guitar solo, which was amazing at the time. This album is a big improvement over the debut, which showed that the boys could reach out to other styles and at the same time create their own unique, yet approachable sound.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics here are an improvement over the debut, but Robert Plant's skills as a lyricist still haven't reached their peak. Songs like "Living Loving Maid" and "The Lemon Song" show that the band has a sense of humor, and "What Is And What Should Never Be" and "Ramble On" prove that Plant was already interested in mysticism. "Thank You" has some of Plant's cheesiest lyrics; however, they were originally written for his wife, so at least they're sincere I hope. While the lyrics on Led Zeppelin II still aren't amazing, they're an improvement over the first album.
Overall Impression — 10
Led Zeppelin II is one of my favorite albums by the band. While some fans are probably tired of hearing "Whole Lotta Love" and "Ramble On" on the radio, I still enjoy hearing each song. This is one of the albums that resulted in the creation of hard rock as we know it. If my copy of Led Zeppelin II was lost or stolen, I'd definitely buy it again.