Jimmy Page’s Behind-the-Scenes Work on the ‘Whole Lotta Love’ Freakout Was Totally Worth it

Led Zeppelin created some top-tier songs, however “Whole Lotta Love” must be one in every of the finest. It’s one in every of the band’s most experimental songs, one in every of it’s most-streamed, and it nonetheless packs a punch a long time later. “Whole Lotta Love” can be one in every of Jimmy Web page’s crowning achievements. The guitarist labored laborious on the psychedelic midsection, and it was so price the effort.

Led Zeppelin Jimmy Web page enjoying the theremin, which he did on the studio model of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ | Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

‘Studio brat’ Jimmy Web page rehearsed the ‘Whole Lotta Love’ psychedelic midsection

The lead observe on 1969’s Led Zeppelin II, “Whole Lotta Love” begins with an easy Web page riff and Robert Plant’s lustful lyrics. Led Zeppelin offers the listener a glimpse of the looming sonic weirdness simply previous the 30-second mark. That’s when a backtracked guitar that pans from left to proper on the stereo throughout what serves as the music’s refrain. 

Lower than a minute later, “Whole Lotta Love” twists right into a psychedelic freakout. What appears like spur-of-the-moment experimentation was really a rigorously orchestrated passage. The “studio brat” in Web page helped the “Whole Lotta Love” midsection come collectively. And it wasn’t essentially straightforward, per mixing engineer Eddie Kramer (by way of Anatomy of a Track):

“On the break after the first chorus, where the song gets quiet and we hear Bonzo’s cymbals and percussion and Jimmy’s distortion, Jimmy and I went nuts on the knobs. We had eight dials controlling the levels on eight individual tracks, so we rehearsed the choreography of what we were going to do to create the far-out sounds … Because Jimmy was a studio brat, he really understood how we could push the limits. When you have limitations in the studio, you go for it and stretch your imagination.”

Led Zeppelin II mixing engineer Eddie Kramer

It’s nearly unbelievable that Kramer and Web page rigorously orchestrated the “Whole Lotta Love” freakout and made it sound so spur-of-the-moment. Their work was completely price it.

Web page’s laborious work on ‘Whole Lotta Love’ was so price it

Because of Web page and Kramer’s efforts, the psychedelic freakout in the center of “Whole Lotta Love” stays a mind-melting expertise greater than 50 years later.

John Bonham kicks issues off with a restrained drum solo, and you may clearly hear each cymbal hit and tabla faucet as if he have been enjoying proper in entrance of you. Web page seemingly tortures his guitar whereas moonlighting as a theremin participant, and each string pull and swipe close to the theremin’s antenna comes by crystal clear. Plant’s echoey howl floats in the background, and every time his voice comes by the speaker, it appears like it’s about to emerge from the ether.

In brief, Web page put in a ton of labor on “Whole Lotta Love” to make sure the freakout in the midsection sounded good. The additional effort was price it. 

Kramer and Web page labored on “Whole Lotta Love” in an period the place digital recording strategies have been however a pipedream. It was all analog, and so they needed to be exact with their knob twists to get it proper. It’s laborious to argue they didn’t completely nail it. The music and its midsection hit simply as laborious a long time after its launch. If something, enhancements in constancy and sound tools in the years since make us admire Web page’s work on “Whole Lotta Love” much more.

One group of individuals didn’t admire Web page’s further effort — Atlantic Data executives. They launched “Whole Lotta Love” as an edited single that omitted the midsection. Given how laborious he labored to get it proper, it’s little shock that Web page hated that model of Led Zeppelin’s standout music.

The guitarist made the better of a mistake close to the finish of the Led Zeppelin traditional 

Web page’s opening riff on “Whole Lotta Love” is a part of the cloth of traditional rock, and the wild instrumental part in the center might be Led Zeppelin’s most psychedelic second. He additionally made the most of a mistake that he couldn’t erase.

After a false ending close to the four-minute mark, the music cuts off, and also you hear what appears like Plant’s voice singing dozens of ft from the mic. His faint “Way down inside” is adopted by a full-throated “WAY DOWN INSIDE.” The identical factor occurs on the subsequent line. 

Plant’s vocal echo occurred as a result of Web page and Kramer couldn’t do away with the vocal he laid down on one other observe. So that they turned the quantity down on the undesirable observe that didn’t sync up with the desired one, added reverb, and made the better of an unanticipated mistake. “That’s the beauty of old recording equipment,” Web page stated, per Anatomy of a Track. “Robert’s faraway voice sounded otherworldly, like a spirit anticipating the vocal he was about to deliver.”

Jimmy Web page labored like a mad scientist on the midsection in “Whole Lotta Love.” The additional effort was price it, as the freakout got here collectively fantastically. It wasn’t essentially straightforward, and never everybody appreciated it (we’re you, previous Atlantic execs), however it’s laborious to argue the guitarist and Kramer didn’t create a psychedelic symphony with their efforts.

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