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

<p><a href=”https://www.cheatsheet.com/tag/led-zeppelin”>Led Zeppelin</a> created some top-tier songs, but “Whole Lotta Love” has to be one of the best. It’s one of the <a href=”https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/experimental-led-zeppelin-songs.html/”>band’s most experimental songs</a>, one of it’s most-streamed, and it still packs a punch decades later. “Whole Lotta Love” is also one of <a href=”https://www.cheatsheet.com/tag/jimmy-page/”>Jimmy Page</a>’s crowning achievements. The guitarist worked hard on the psychedelic midsection, and it was so worth the effort.</p>

<figure class=”wp-block-image size-custom-image-1200″><img decoding=”async” loading=”lazy” width=”1250″ height=”824″ src=”https://www.cheatsheet.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Jimmy-Page-Whole-Lotta-Love.jpg?w=1200″ alt=”Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page wears a white outfit while playing a theremin during a 1977 concert.” class=”wp-image-3449396″ srcset=”https://www.cheatsheet.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Jimmy-Page-Whole-Lotta-Love.jpg 1250w, https://www.cheatsheet.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Jimmy-Page-Whole-Lotta-Love.jpg?w=150&h=99 150w, https://www.cheatsheet.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Jimmy-Page-Whole-Lotta-Love.jpg?w=640&h=422 640w, https://www.cheatsheet.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Jimmy-Page-Whole-Lotta-Love.jpg?w=768&h=506 768w, https://www.cheatsheet.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Jimmy-Page-Whole-Lotta-Love.jpg?w=1024&h=675 1024w, https://www.cheatsheet.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Jimmy-Page-Whole-Lotta-Love.jpg?w=1200&h=791 1200w, https://www.cheatsheet.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Jimmy-Page-Whole-Lotta-Love.jpg?w=91&h=60 91w” sizes=”(max-width: 1250px) 100vw, 1250px”><figcaption class=”wp-element-caption”>Led Zeppelin Jimmy Page playing the theremin, which he did on the studio version of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ | Richard E. Aaron/Redferns</figcaption></figure>

<h2 id=”h-studio-brat-jimmy-page-rehearsed-the-whole-lotta-love-psychedelic-midsection”>‘Studio brat’ Jimmy Page rehearsed the ‘Whole Lotta Love’ psychedelic midsection</h2>

<p>The lead track on 1969’s <em>Led Zeppelin II</em>, “Whole Lotta Love” starts with a straightforward Page riff and Robert Plant’s lustful lyrics. Led Zeppelin gives the listener a glimpse of the looming sonic weirdness just past the 30-second mark. That’s when a backtracked guitar that pans from left to right on the stereo during what serves as the song’s chorus. </p>

<p>Less than a minute later, “Whole Lotta Love” twists into a psychedelic freakout. What sounds like spur-of-the-moment experimentation was actually a carefully orchestrated passage. The “studio brat” in Page helped the “Whole Lotta Love” midsection come together. And it wasn’t necessarily easy, per mixing engineer Eddie Kramer (via <em>Anatomy of a Song</em>):</p>

<blockquote class=”wp-block-quote”>
<p>“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.”</p>
<cite><em>Led Zeppelin II</em> mixing engineer Eddie Kramer</cite></blockquote>

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<p>It’s almost unbelievable that Kramer and Page carefully orchestrated the “Whole Lotta Love” freakout and made it sound so spur-of-the-moment. Their work was totally worth it.</p>

<h2 id=”h-page-s-hard-work-on-whole-lotta-love-was-so-worth-it”>Page’s hard work on ‘Whole Lotta Love’ was so worth it</h2>

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<div class=”jetpack-video-wrapper”><iframe loading=”lazy” title=”Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love (Official Music Video)” width=”925″ height=”694″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/HQmmM_qwG4k?feature=oembed” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share” allowfullscreen></iframe></div>

<p>Thanks to Page and Kramer’s efforts, the psychedelic freakout in the middle of “Whole Lotta Love” remains a mind-melting experience more than 50 years later.</p>

<p>John Bonham kicks things off with a restrained drum solo, and you can clearly hear every cymbal hit and tabla tap as if he were playing right in front of you. Page seemingly tortures his guitar while moonlighting as a theremin player, and every string pull and swipe near the theremin’s antenna comes through crystal clear. Plant’s echoey howl floats in the background, and each time his voice comes through the speaker, it sounds like it’s about to emerge from the ether.</p>

<p>In short, Page put in a ton of work on “Whole Lotta Love” to ensure the freakout in the midsection sounded just right. The extra effort was worth it. </p>

<figure class=”wp-block-embed is-type-video is-provider-youtube wp-block-embed-youtube wp-embed-aspect-4-3 wp-has-aspect-ratio”><div class=”wp-block-embed__wrapper”>
<div class=”jetpack-video-wrapper”><iframe loading=”lazy” title=’Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains the Same – “Whole Lotta Love” Clip’ width=”925″ height=”694″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/KPhXm-UPfEU?feature=oembed” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share” allowfullscreen></iframe></div>

<p>Kramer and Page worked on “Whole Lotta Love” in an era where digital recording techniques were but a pipedream. It was all analog, and they had to be precise with their knob twists to get it right. It’s hard to argue they didn’t totally nail it. The song and its midsection hit just as hard decades after its release. If anything, improvements in fidelity and sound equipment in the years since make us appreciate Page’s work on “Whole Lotta Love” even more.</p>

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<p>One group of people didn’t appreciate Page’s extra effort — Atlantic Records executives. They released “Whole Lotta Love” as an edited single that omitted the midsection. Given how hard he worked to get it right, it’s little surprise that <a href=”https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/jimmy-page-hated-version-led-zeppelin-classic-he-was-right.html/”>Page hated that version</a> of Led Zeppelin’s standout song.</p>

<h2 id=”h-the-guitarist-made-the-best-of-a-mistake-near-the-end-of-the-led-zeppelin-classic”>The guitarist made the best of a mistake near the end of the Led Zeppelin classic </h2>

<p>Page’s opening riff on “Whole Lotta Love” is part of the fabric of classic rock, and the wild instrumental section in the middle is probably Led Zeppelin’s most psychedelic moment. He also made the most of a mistake that he couldn’t erase.</p>

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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-width=”550″ data-dnt=”true”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Watch the new video for “Whole Lotta Love (Rough Mix With Vocal)” from the companion audio of Led Zeppelin II <a href=”http://t.co/2j5e9seyCd”>http://t.co/2j5e9seyCd</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/ledzep?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#ledzep</a></p>— Led Zeppelin (@ledzeppelin) <a href=”https://twitter.com/ledzeppelin/status/471292434312613888?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>May 27, 2014</a></blockquote><script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

<div class=”related-article related-article–simple”>
<span class=”related-article-flag”>Related</span>
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Led Zeppelin ‘Love’ Songs Ranked </a>
<p>After a false ending near the four-minute mark, the music cuts off, and you hear what sounds like Plant’s voice singing dozens of feet from the mic. His faint “Way down inside” is followed by a full-throated “WAY DOWN INSIDE.” The same thing happens on the next line. </p>

<p><a href=”https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/led-zeppelin-why-you-hear-robert-plants-vocals-echoing-on-whole-lotta-love.html/”>Plant’s vocal echo</a> happened because Page and Kramer couldn’t get rid of the vocal he laid down on another track. So they turned the volume down on the unwanted track that didn’t sync up with the desired one, added reverb, and made the best of an unanticipated mistake. “That’s the beauty of old recording equipment,” Page said, per <em>Anatomy of a Song</em>. “Robert’s faraway voice sounded otherworldly, like a spirit anticipating the vocal he was about to deliver.”</p>

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<p>Jimmy Page worked like a mad scientist on the midsection in “Whole Lotta Love.” The extra effort was worth it, as the freakout came together beautifully. It wasn’t necessarily easy, and not everyone appreciated it (we’re looking at you, past Atlantic execs), but it’s hard to argue the guitarist and Kramer didn’t create a psychedelic symphony with their efforts.</p>

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