Whole Lotta Love

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“Whole Lotta Love” is a song by English rock band Led Zeppelin. It is featured as the opening track on the band’s second album, Led Zeppelin II, and was their first hit single. In 2004, the song was ranked #75 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and in March 2005, Q magazine placed “Whole Lotta Love” at number 3 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. It is also the last track the band ever played as a whole.

It was recorded at various studios in New York and Los Angeles during the band’s second concert tour of the United States and assembled by Jimmy Page at Olympic Studios in London. Already part of their live repertoire, it saw its first official release on the LP Led Zeppelin II on October 22, 1969 (Atlantic LP #8236). Muddy Waters recorded “You Need Love” by peer Willie Dixon.

In 1966 British soul band The Small Faces recorded the song as “You Need Loving” for their debut Decca LP. Some of the lyrics of Led Zeppelin‘s version were borrowed from the Willie Dixon song, a favorite of Robert Plant‘s. Plant’s phrasing is particularly similar to that of Steve Marriott’s in the Small Faces’ version. Similarities with “You Need Love” (and “Bring It On Home”) would lead to a lawsuit settled out of court in favor of Dixon in 1985. The song does incorporate lyrical nods to other influences, however, including Dixon’s “Back Door Man” and “Shake for Me”, the latter recorded by Howlin’ Wolf.

Robert Plant, a huge fan of blues and soul singers, regularly quoted other songs, especially live. The practice of borrowing others’ lyrics has long been integral to the blues style. To quote Robert Plant: “ Page’s riff was Page’s riff. It was there before anything else. I just thought, ‘well, what am I going to sing?’ That was it, a nick. Now happily paid for. At the time, there was a lot of conversation about what to do. It was decided that it was so far away in time (it was in fact 7 years) and influence that…well, you only get caught when you’re successful. That’s the game. Song construction Page played the loose Blues riff for the intro, on a Sunburst 1958 Les Paul Standard through a 100W Marshall “Plexi” head amp with distortion from the EL34 output valves, which ascends into the first chorus. Then, beginning at 1:24 (and lasting until 3:02) the song dissolves to a free jazz-like break involving a theremin solo and the moans of Robert Plant (sometimes called the “orgasm section”). Plant did the vocals in one take. As audio engineer Eddie Kramer has explained: “The famous Whole Lotta Love mix, where everything is going bananas, is a combination of Jimmy and myself just flying around on a small console twiddling every knob known to man.” Kramer is also quoted as saying: “ At one point there was bleed-through of a previously recorded vocal in the recording of “Whole Lotta Love.” It was the middle part where Robert Plant screams “Wo-man. You need it.” Since we couldn’t re-record at that point, I just threw some echo on it to see how it would sound and Jimmy Page said “Great! Just leave it.” ” Led Zeppelin‘s bass player John Paul Jones has stated that Page’s famous riff probably emerged from a stage improvisation during the band’s playing of “Dazed and Confused”. Alternatively, Jimmy Page has vehemently denied that the song originated onstage: “

Interviewer: Is it true “Whole Lotta Love” was written onstage during a gig in America, when you were all jamming on a Garnett Mimms song? Page: No. No. Absolutely incorrect. No, it was put together when we were rehearsing some music for the second album. I had a riff, everyone was at my house, and we kicked it from there. Never was it written during a gig–where did you hear that? Interviewer: I read it in a book. Page (sarcastically): Oh, good. I hope it was that Rough Guide. That’s the latest one, the most inaccurate. They’re all inaccurate, you know.” For this track, Page employed the backwards echo production technique. Release Upon release of the LP, radio stations looked for a track that would fit their on-air formats from the quickly successful LP with the pulsing, skronk-raunch lead track “Whole Lotta Love” being the prime contender. However, because many radio stations saw the freeform middle section as unfit to air they simply created their own edited versions. Atlantic Records was quick to respond and in addition to the release of the regular single in the US (coupled with “Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman)” from the same LP as the B-side) released a 3:10 version of the track with the freeform section cut and an earlier fade-out on November 7, 1969. Both versions were released as Atlantic #45-2690. The edited version was intended for radio station promotional release but some copies were apparently released commercially in the US and are a collector’s item for fans.

The song was released as a single in the US, France, Germany (as No 1), Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium and Japan (countries where the band had less control). The edited version was withdrawn. In the United Kingdom, Atlantic Records had expected to issue the edited version themselves, and pressed initial copies for release on December 5, 1969. However, band manager Peter Grant was adamant that the band maintain a “no-singles” approach to marketing their recorded music in the UK, and he halted the release. An official statement from the band added that they had written a special number which they intended to be their first British single. This never materialised, and despite much record company pressure, they declined to issue official singles in the UK throughout their career. Several years later, Atlantic Records reissued “Whole Lotta Love” (with its original B-side “Living Loving Maid”) on its Oldies Series label (OS-13116) with a slight error. The edited 3:10 version was used for the reissue, but the labels were printed with the unedited running time of 5:33. In 1997 Atlantic Records released a CD-single edited (to 4:50 this time) from the original 1969 recording of the song. This version charted in the UK where the band had maintained control over single releases during their existence.

The song entered the Billboard Top 40 singles chart on December 6, 1969. It remained on the chart for 13 weeks, peaking at #4 and becoming the band’s only Top 10 single in the US. A famous show closer at Led Zeppelin concerts, it was usually performed as a medley of blues and R&B covers favored by the band. This included 1950s and 1960s standards such as: * “Let that Boy Boogie”, “Boogie Chillen” and “I’m in the Mood” all by John Lee Hooker * “I’m Movin’ On” by Hank Snow * “Hello Mary Lou” written by Gene Pitney, a hit for Ricky Nelson * “Mess o’ the Blues” written for Elvis Presley by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman * “Cumberland Gap” written by Lonnie Donegan * “Bye, Bye, Baby (Baby Goodbye)” written by The Four Seasons * “Rave On” written by Sonny West and popularized by Buddy Holly * “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” written by Lloyd Price, a hit for Elvis among others * “Hideaway” by Freddie King * “Fixin’ to Die” and “Shake ‘em on Down” by Bukka White * “Killing Floor” and “Dust My Broom” by Howlin’ Wolf * “Voodoo Chile” by Jimi Hendrix * “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield * “The Hunter” by Albert King * “That’s Alright Mama” by Arthur Crudup; popularized by Elvis * “Honeydripper” by Joe Liggins * “Blueberry Hill” by Vincent Rose, a hit for Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino * “Trucking Little Woman” and “I Can’t Be Satisfied” by Big Bill Broonzy * “Let’s Have a Party” written by Jessie Mae Robinson for Elvis; a hit for Wanda Jackson * “Drop Down Mama” written by Sleepy John Estes and covered by Big Joe Williams * “Some Other Guy” written by Leiber/Stoller/Barrett; popularized by The Beatles * “Susie Q” by Dale Hawkins * “Everybody Needs Somebody” by Solomon Burke; written by Russell/Burke/Wexler * “(Your So Square) Baby I Don’t Care” written by Leiber & Stoller; recorded by Elvis * “Licking Stick” and “Sex Machine” by James Brown * “Long Distance Call” and “Honey Bee” performed by Muddy Waters * “Going Down Slow” by St. Louis Jimmy Oden * “Heartbreak Hotel, Jailhouse Rock, and Mystery Train by Elvis Presley * “Only the Lonely by Roy Orbison When performed live, “Whole Lotta Love” also occasionally included segments of other Led Zeppelin songs such as “I Can’t Quit You Baby”, “You Shook Me”, “How Many More Times (inc. The Hunter)”, “Your Time Is Gonna Come”, “Good Times, Bad Times”, “The Lemon Song”, “The Crunge”, “D’yer Mak’er”, “Black Dog”, “Out On The Tiles” and “Ramble On”. Live versions of “Whole Lotta Love” were released officially on the following titles: * The Song Remains the Same; 2xLP (September 28, 1976; Swan Song #SS2-201; from a 1973 concert and movie soundtrack) * Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions; 2xCD (November 11, 1997; Atlantic #83061; from a 1971 concert) * How the West Was Won; 3xCD (May 27, 2003; Atlantic #83587; from a 1972 concert) * Led Zeppelin; DVD (2003; from a 1979 and a 1970 concert) “Whole Lotta Love” was the last song Led Zeppelin ever played live in their original lineup. It was however performed again at the band’s reunions in 1985 and 1988, as well as at the Ahmet Ertegün Tribute Concert at the O2 Arena, London on December 10, 2007, with Jason Bonham sitting in on drums for his late father. Source – Wikipedia

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