As I opened YouTube today, I saw it offered up a few suggestions of videos by American record producer and educator Rick Beato, whose “What Makes This Song Great?” series I quote in several posts on this blog.
I watched episode 43, which profiles and breaks down today’s selection, “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin. I don’t listen to this former London, English band much, though I have most of their studio albums: Led Zeppelin (1969), Led Zeppelin III (1970), an untitled record often referred to as Led Zeppelin IV (1971), Houses of the Holy (1973), Presence (1976) and In Through the Out Door (1979). The first four come from a collection I bought from an older brother, the last two I purchased on one of my weekly downtown record shopping trips. I’m pretty sure I also used to have Physical Graffiti (1975), but it’s not with my collection; I must have given it away. On the digital side, I have the 2007 compilation, Mothership.
I have a lot of childhood memories of hanging out in my brother’s basement suite, hearing his (now my) Led Zeppelin and other rock records played when he had friends in to visit. Like I mentioned in my post on Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” they were a really friendly bunch. It always looked like they were enjoying each other’s company, the music, and bottles of Mateus wine. I also remember having a crush on the girlfriend of one of the friends; it always felt like she was genuinely interested in talking with the awkward, bespectacled and early-teenage me.
“Whole Lotta Love” comes from Led Zeppelin II, the only early album I don’t have. It also appears on Mothership.
When I watched Beato’s video, I was interested to hear his analysis of the bridge in the middle of the song. There is a sound I had always assumed was an electric guitar with effects on it but, turns out, it is the theremin, an unusual musical device that a person plays without actual physical contact with it. There’s an excellent article on this device in Wikipedia. I found some serendipity in learning this little factoid, as a variation of the instrument, the electro-theremin, is used in yesterday’s song choice, The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations.” (And, while I’m here, both songs are on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”)
Beato’s videos are always entertaining, insightful and educational. I recommend checking this one out… it’s posted beneath the official music video.
Led Zeppelin released “Whole Lotta Love” in 1969, and, at first, airplay was difficult as radio stations shied away from experimental/psychedelic sounds like the theremin-enriched bridge. The label released a shorter edit for radio. (I’m not too fond of those; hearing a favourite song on the radio, often there’s that moment of an audible edit, and I find I’m disoriented for a second or two, while my mind catches up and skips the edited-out part). The band’s guitarist, backing vocalist, and thereminist Jimmy Page produced the song and album, and all other Led Zeppelin albums.
In addition to the band, a writing credit for “Whole Lotta Love” went to American blues musician Willie Dixon (1915-1992) along with a payment, a result of Led Zep basing parts of their song on Dixon’s composition “You Need Love” (which American blues singer-songwriter Muddy Waters recorded in 1962).
After the death of drummer John Bonham (1948-1980), Led Zeppelin disbanded. Bonham’s son Jason, also a drummer, played with the surviving members of the group on some reunion shows. He also played here in Winnipeg, Canada, in June 2014 as part of a show with the Seattle, Washington band Heart. Sweety and I and two dear friends attended the concert and had a fabulous, rocking time.
Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.
Here’s the video for the song from Led Zeppelin’s official YouTube channel:
And, here’s the Beato breakdown:
Full, unofficial lyrics for the song are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.