Whole Lotta Love (live) // Led Zeppelin
This is the version from How The West Was Won, clocking in at over 23 minutes long, but if you’re tempted to hit the scroll bar and move on because you don’t need 18 minutes of a violin bow guitar solo, you’d be making a mistake. That’s not the deal.
In the middle, they do a medley that consists of a few minutes each of:
- Boogie Chillun // John Lee Hooker
- Let’s Have A Party // Elvis Presley
- Hello Mary Lou // Ricky Nelson
- Goin’ Down Slow // Howlin’ Wolf
And in so doing, they present a master class in all the key genres that comprised the roots of rock and roll up to that point, as well as a preview of what was going to happen next. Honest to god, an entire semester-length class in modern music history could be devoted to deconstructing what they did on this song alone. This was the point where they took everything that came before them and synthesized something completely new, something that would inspire the next generations to reinvent further. Teenaged Eddie Van Halen and Angus Young were clearly paying attention.
And, of course, in 1972, they were also at the absolute peak of their performative powers, very simply the best band in the world. Part of that music history class would be to take apart each performance here and marvel, Plant’s and Bonham’s in particular. No one had ever before done what those two were doing here, and few have matched it since.
I go on about the Beatles and FOW and other power pop, and I love lots of other bands and kinds of music fiercely, too. But if I could only take one catalog to the desert island with me, there’s not even a choice: it’s Led Zeppelin, the greatest rock band of all time.