The 50 Greatest Led Zeppelin Songs
Guitar World presents a critical analysis of Led Zeppelin's 50 best tracks.
05. “Whole Lotta Love” (Led Zeppelin II)
This song has one of the coolest intro and verse riffs ever written. Not content to play it “straight,” as his blues-rock contemporaries might have done, Page inserts a subtle, secret ingredient into this part, giving it that x factor and a spine-tingling quality.
Instead of playing the riff’s second and fourth note—D, on the A string’s fifth fret—by itself, he doubles it with the open D string (akin to the way one would go about tuning the guitar using the traditional “fifth-fret” method), then proceeds to bend the fretted D note approximately a quarter step sharp by pushing it sideways with his index finger.
The harmonic turbulence created by the two pitches drifting slightly out of tune with each other is abrasive to the sensibilities and musically haunting, but the tension is short-lived and soon relieved, as Page quickly moves on to a rock-solid E5 power chord. “I used to do that sort of thing all over the place,” said Page. “I did it during the main riff to ‘Four Sticks’ too.”
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