Song of the Week – Whole Lotta Love, Led Zeppelin; You Need Love, Muddy Waters; You Need Loving, Small Faces

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

Today’s post is yet another in the ongoing Evolution Series.

Led Zeppelin left a huge influence on the development of Rock and Roll.  It seems ironic, then, that they’ve been accused so often of plagiarism.

I first wrote about this in February 2009 when the subject was “Dazed and Confused,” an obvious and undisputed rip off of Jake Holmes “I’m Confused.”  In June 2016 I posted about the lawsuit by the estate of Randy California that claimed the intro to “Stairway to Heaven” was lifted from Spirit’s “Taurus.”  I defended Zep on that one because, although there are similarities, there just wasn’t enough to justify calling it plagiarism (at least IMHO).

But let’s move on to “Whole Lotta Love.”

Most people attribute Robert Plant and Jimmy Page’s song to an original by Muddy Waters.  His 1962 release, “You Need Love,” was written by Willie Dixon and has lyrical similarities to “Whole Lotta Love.”

You’ve got yearnin’ and I got burnin’
Baby you look so ooh 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

Although Page and Plant were steeped in the traditional American blues masters, I don’t think the Muddy Waters track was their inspiration.  Instead, it may have been the Small Faces “You Need Loving,” released in 1966.

The Small Faces recording clearly copped the same lyrical phrases from Waters/Dixon, but they modernized it into a blues-rock version.  Ronnie Lane and Steve Marriott took writing credits for their song.  But aside from the lyrics, it is undeniable that Marriott’s vocal approach was an influence on Plant.  If you’re not convinced, check out the breakdown near the end of the Small Faces cut at about 3:35 in.  If that doesn’t seal the deal, I don’t know what will!

Enjoy… until next week.

One thought on “Song of the Week – Whole Lotta Love, Led Zeppelin; You Need Love, Muddy Waters; You Need Loving, Small Faces

  1. Remember that in most cases, Willie Dixon didn’t write those songs either. Willie used to hang around the Chicago train station looking for musicians coming up from the south, buy them a meal or two and find them a place to stay, and see what they had in their songbooks. Most blues riffs and lyrics had been around for years and even decades, with this guy adding this and that guy subtracting that until someone recorded it and that became the “original.” Hell, Sonny Boy Williamson II stole another guy’s NAME, and nobody cares because SBW II was better than SBW I. Indeed, the blues as a whole renders the very concept of intellectual property doubtful. I mean, I’m glad that Zeppelin had to pay SBW II and Howlin’ Wolf, that seems only fair, but the key to me is that Zep put their stamp on everything they did. My two cents.

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