What I Love About Led Zeppelin’s Live Version Of Whole Lotta Love

While my first post was about the band that started my love for music (and which was behind my initial inspiration for creating this website), this one will be about the song behind my initial inspiration for creating this website.

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me well that I love Led Zeppelin. To me there was just a perfect chemistry among them – something special.

Without a doubt, anyone who would consider themselves a true Zeppelin fan has heard their live version of Whole Lotta Love as featured on The Song Remains the Same. As such, I probably won’t really say anything here that you Zeppelin fans out there don’t already know. It’s 14 minutes and 24 seconds of musical bliss, or as mentioned in my Welcome post, what I like to call “Aural Sex“.

My purpose here though is simply to point out what I think makes the song so cool. Some may agree, others may not. Music is subjective that way. The best version I could find on YouTube is a bit chopped up and is not the same as in the film or accompanying album. However, as those of us who have dug around into Zeppelin’s (sometimes black market) discography are aware of, many of their performances around that time were similar from show to show and all of the elements are there. This may be a good time to mention that the best way to listen to this song (and music in general) is with the volume and bass cranked up or with a great pair of headphones. This is the only way to really enjoy music as it is meant to be enjoyed, but that is for a different article.

So here are some parts that I think are particularly cool. These are the things that I often focus on every time I listen to this song. I’ll mention specific times from this YouTube video. It wouldn’t let me embed it so just use the link to open in another tab.

  • 1:22 Here we have what I always refer to as ripping things up – When a band drifts away from how the song was recorded in the studio and goes off into a different and unrecognizable direction (or several) for a while. Zeppelin wasn’t the only band to do things like this, and it is something I really enjoy about live versions of songs, especially from the 70s. Not many bands these days seem to do this kind of thing anymore and I wish they did. I had a conversation with a younger guy not too long ago and I had mentioned how some live Zeppelin songs were 30+ minutes long. He asked, “What did they do for 30 minutes?,” to which I replied, “Everything! They did everything!” Some people just don’t get it, but I digress.
  • 1:47 The theremin part begins. So. Freaking. Awesome. Especially drowned in echoes and delayed reverb as is much of this section of the song. Page and Plant really shine and work together well here. This is where those headphones sure come in handy!
  • 3:20 And speaking of really shining, give a listen to Jones & “Rabbit Foot” Bonzo laying down the bass and drums while Page & Plant are doing their thing. It’s noticeably tight and punchy here as it comes to the foreground momentarily and it’s killer.
  • 3:42 Off in yet another direction.
  • 4:25 Always nice to get back to the original song every now and then.
  • 5:30 Time for a blues break & medley section.
  • 7:23 I’ve always loved this part of the song. Yes, I know they’re covering other artists’ songs here.
  • 9:21 Man… those drums, bass & guitar!
  • 10:16 I love the way it all just explodes here.
  • 10:45 Back to the original song.
  • 12:41 That gong just isn’t cool enough by itself. Light that shit on fire! True, you don’t experience that when only listening to the song, but it’s still pretty cool.

So, those are some of my favorite parts. I wound up listing more than I originally intended – I suppose just to pad it out a bit. I’d have to say that the theremin (1:47) and rabbit foot (3:20) parts are really the ones that put me over the edge every time I listen to it. Just some really awesome stuff right there.

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