Whole Lotta Love

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"Whole Lotta Love"
Wllsingle.jpg
French single picture sleeve
Single by Led Zeppelin
from the album Led Zeppelin II
B-side"Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)"
Released7 November 1969 (1969-11-07)
StudioOlympic, London
Genre
Length5:33
LabelAtlantic
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Jimmy Page
Led Zeppelin singles chronology
"Good Times Bad Times"
(1969)
"Whole Lotta Love"
(1969)
"Immigrant Song"
(1970)
Audio sample

"Whole Lotta Love" is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin. It is the opening track on the band's second album, Led Zeppelin II, and was released as a single in 1969 in several countries; as with other Led Zeppelin songs, no single was released in the United Kingdom. In the United States, it became their first hit and was certified gold.[4] Parts of the song were adapted from Willie Dixon's "You Need Love", recorded by Muddy Waters in 1962; originally uncredited to Dixon, a lawsuit in 1985 was settled with a payment to Dixon and credit on subsequent releases.

In 2004, the song was ranked number 75 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and in March 2005, Q placed "Whole Lotta Love" at number three in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. It was placed 11 on a similar list by Rolling Stone. In 2009 it was named the third greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1.[1] In 2014, listeners to BBC Radio 2 voted "Whole Lotta Love" as containing the greatest guitar riff of all time.[5]

Composition and recording[edit]

Jimmy Page came up with the guitar riff for "Whole Lotta Love" in the summer of 1968, on his houseboat on the River Thames at Pangbourne, Berkshire, England.[6] 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".[7] Page denied that the song originated onstage and that he had the riff and the rest took it from there.[8]

The song is in compound AABA form.[9] Playing the loose blues riff for the intro, on a Sunburst 1958 Les Paul Standard guitar,[10] 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 a drum solo and the orgasmic moans of Robert Plant. Audio engineer Eddie Kramer explained that he and Page experimented with mixing the album and left in some audio tape bleed through from an earlier vocal take.[11] Page also employed the backwards echo production technique.[10]

Release[edit]

On 7 November 1969, "Whole Lotta Love" was released as a single in several countries, with "Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)" as the B-side.[12] Billboard described the single as a "powerful, commercial swinger that should have no trouble putting [Led Zeppelin] up the Hot 100."[13] In the UK, Atlantic Records expected to issue an edited version, and pressed initial copies for release on 5 December 1969, but this was cancelled by request of manager Peter Grant.[10]

Similarities to "You Need Love"[edit]

In 1962, Muddy Waters recorded a blues vocal, "You Need Love", for Chess Records.[14] As he had done with "You Shook Me", Waters overdubbed vocals on an instrumental track previously recorded by blues guitarist Earl Hooker and his band.[14] Willie Dixon wrote the lyrics, which Dixon biographer Mitsutoshi Inaba describes as being "about the necessity of love":

You've got yearnin' and I got burnin'
Baby you look so ho sweet and cunnin'
Baby way down inside, woman you need love
Woman you need love, you've got to have some love
I'm gon' give you some love, I know you need love[14]

In 1966, British band the Small Faces recorded the song as "You Need Loving" for their eponymous debut Decca album. According to Steve Marriott, the group's vocalist and guitarist, Page and Plant attended several Small Faces gigs, where they expressed their interest in the song.[15] Plant's phrasing is particularly similar to that of Marriott's, who added "he [Plant] sang it the same, phrased it the same, even the stops at the end were the same".[15] Similarities with "You Need Love" led to a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin in 1985, settled out of court in favour of Dixon for an undisclosed amount.[10] On subsequent releases, Dixon's name is included on the credits for "Whole Lotta Love".[16] Plant explained in an interview with Musician:

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 and influence that ... well, you only get caught when you're successful. That's the game.[17]

Accolades[edit]

Accolades
Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Spin US "100 Greatest Singles of All Time"[18] 1989 39
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame US "The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll"[19] 1994 *
Classic Rock UK "Ten of the Best Songs Ever!.. (Bubbling under)"[20] 1999 30
Rolling Stone US "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time"[21] 2003 75
Rolling Stone US "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time"[22] 2021 128
Q UK "100 Greatest Guitar Tracks Ever"[23] 2005 3
Toby Creswell Australia "1001 Songs: the Great Songs of All Time"[24] 2005 *
Grammy Awards US "Grammy Hall of Fame Award"[25] 2007 *
Rolling Stone US "100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time"[26] 2008 11
VH1 US "The 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time"[27] 2009 46
VH1 US "VH1 Greatest Hard Rock Songs"[1] 2009 3
BBC Radio 2 UK "Radio 2's Top 100 Greatest Guitar Riffs"[5] 2014 1

(*) designates unordered lists.

Charts and certifications[edit]

The single entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart on 22 November 1969. It remained on the chart for 15 weeks, peaking at no. 4 and becoming the band's only top 10 single in the US.[28]

Performances[edit]

Led Zeppelin first performed "Whole Lotta Love" on 26 April 1969. Other live versions were released officially:

"Whole Lotta Love" was the last song Led Zeppelin played live. It was however performed again at the band's reunions at Live Aid in 1985 (with drummers Phil Collins and Tony Thompson), at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary concert in 1988, and at the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert at the O2 Arena, London, on 10 December 2007 (both with drummer Jason Bonham).[63]

In 2008, a reworked version by Jimmy Page on guitar, with Leona Lewis on vocals, was performed in the "London 2012" presentation during the closing ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Both Lewis and the organisers requested that some of the lyrics be changed, notably "I'm gonna give you every inch of my love". Lewis felt that the line made little sense coming from a female singer.[64]

Cover versions[edit]

"Whole Lotta Love" has been recorded by several artists. Versions that reached the record charts include:

  • 1970 – CCS (or C.C.S.), a band fronted by blues guitarist Alexis Korner.[65] Billboard described their version as a "blockbuster instrumental treatment of the Led Zeppelin hit",[66] while Nick Coleman of The Independent thought that the cover "succeeded in ameliorating the tune's sexual specificity without stripping it of its rutty throb".[65] An alternative recording by CCS was used as the theme music for the long-running television programme Top of the Pops.[10][67] Released as a single on the RAK label, it reached No. 13 on the UK singles chart in November 1970.[68] Elsewhere, it reached No. 26 in Belgium (Flanders);[69] No. 37 in Canada;[70] No. 58 on the US Billboard Hot 100;[71] and No. 58 on the US Cash Box Top 100 Singles.[72]
  • 1996 – British band Goldbug, including a sample of "Asteroid" (the Pearl & Dean advertising music).[77] It reached No. 3 in the UK singles chart,[78] No. 24 in Ireland,[79] and No. 9 in the Netherlands.[80] In 2000, band member Richard Walmsley sued his former label Acid Jazz over unpaid royalties relating to the song.[81] Walmsley received thousands of pounds following the battle.[82]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]