Few songs are more difficult to cover than Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’. On the track, John Bonham, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and Jimmy Page express their limitless talent to produce one of the finest slices of rock ‘n’ roll majesty ever to be created.
You have to be a brave artist to take on ‘Whole Lotta Love’, make a misstep, and you’ll end up looking like more of a Led Zeppelin tribute act than Greta Van Fleet. It takes an enviable level of boldness to try to mould ‘Whole Lotta Love’ into a new shape, rather than following the path that Led Zeppelin created to forge the behemoth of rock, however, if anybody was up to the task of reinventing the bonafide classic then it’s Prince.
The track is unequivocally Led Zeppelin’s career-defining moment and epitomises everything spectacular about the four cornerstones of rock inside six minutes. When it comes to perfect head-banging songs, you don’t need to look any further than ‘Whole Lotta Love‘.
Every single element of the song is electrifying. Jimmy Page’s bone-shattering opening riff combines deliciously with Robert Plant’s scorching vocals, John Paul Jones’ understated genius. All of which is underpinned by the unadulterated power of the inimitable John Bonham.
Page later told Wall Street Journal: “For the song to work as this panoramic audio experience, I needed Bonzo to really stand out, so that every stick stroke sounded clear and you could really feel them. If the drums were recorded just right, we could lay in everything else.”
John Paul Jones revealed to Uncut in 2009 how this was the moment that Jimmy Page indeed came into his own as a producer and how making ‘Whole Lotta Love’ was a pivotal moment for Led Zeppelin. “The backwards echo stuff. A lot of the microphone techniques were just inspired. Using distance-miking… and small amplifiers,” the bassist said.
“Everybody thinks we go in the studio with huge walls of amplifiers, but he doesn’t. He uses a really small amplifier and he just mikes it up really well, so that it fits into a sonic picture,” he added.
Prince was open about his love for Led Zeppelin and once remarked: “Led Zeppelin, for example, would make you feel differently on each song.”
The love between the two acts was mutual, with Robert Plant later commenting, “I’m not really intimidated by too many people, but I’m very impressed by people,” he said. “Prince is probably the most impressive single person … he’s incredibly inventive, but he’s using a lot of old … he’s coming from all sorts of areas of the past, and he’s really pushing them all through a blender. So they come out oozing and dripping with honey – sex.”
If you ever need a pick-me-up to brighten up your day, then a little helping from The Purple One is always a guaranteed way to make everything seem alright with the world. Prince’s version of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ is mesmeric and will leave you transfixed by his lustre for the entirety of the performance.
Do yourself a favour, and watch it below.