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Led Zeppelin II Vinyl question

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This might be better suited for the stevehoffman forum, but I'm trying to snag a copy of the second album on vinyl, preferably an original or early seventies pressing. Now I'm not really willing to drop $100 on an RL copy, but I'd also like to avoid any crappy ones. I've read that some copies (with a gold sticker) had tracking problems. Also that the 1977 reissues aren't great. So what are the midrange pressings?

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There are some early copies of Zep II with "LH" in the matrix instead of "RL" on one or both of the sides. In 2016 a discogs member emailed about this with Robert Ludwig himself, and here's what he wrote - the discogs member's preface is first, followed by Ludwig:

[Discogs member:] I wrote Robert Ludwig in the last week and he wrote me back. All the versions from sterling are the same hot mix. The subtle variances between them are all simply from the slight differences in making a hand-made analog lacquer disc, at least one of which was sent to all the pressing plants at the time. The CTH plant got a lacquer that was half RL and half LH (Lee Hulko, his partner) but was of the SAME MIX AND MASTER, based on RL's notes. THEY ARE ALL THE SAME, aside from subtle variances and should be valued the SAME no matter who's initials are in the dead wax. They are all the same master from STERLING SOUND! Here is my reply from Robert Ludwig. Let this be the final word in this debate. Thanks! 

[Ludwig:]Hi Jim,
I'm surprised about Lee Hulko's initials being on some of the parts. In all these years I had never come across any copies with his initials before.
When there were big orders of certain titles and there wasn't physically enough time for one person to crank out the lacquers as fast as the record company wanted, sometimes we would help each other out.
For instance, my initials might appear on a Beatles record that Lee mastered. 
In every case, compared to now, those titles were relatively easy to master. Once one of us mastered an album and it was approved, we made careful notes, either one of us could cut it and it should come out the same. Back then, Lee and I shared the one room and worked different hours so it is possible one of the plants blew a part and needed a replacement right then with no delay.
So after I mastered the album (which Eddie Kramer & Atlantic approved) it was shipped to all the radio stations and the initial pressing was all from me and Sterling Sound.
Amhet Ertegun at Atlantic heard the album (which Eddie demanded be as hot as possible) and apparently it skipped on his daughters little turntable. Instead of calling us at Sterling and asking us to lower the level a little and telling us where it skipped, they had the disk cutters at Atlantic use my EQ'd cassette file copy and they cut it WAY lower than my original cut plus, in my opinion, it sounded dull and generally not very good sounding in comparison.
So all the disks that were played at the radio stations and all the initial pressings world wide came from me (and apparently Lee cut a part or two) and that was what "sold" the record and made it a hit. A year later, whenever I visited someone I would look at their Zeppelin II album to see if it was my cut or Atlantic's cut. It was easy to see by eye, the Atlantic cut ended much farther from the label and the grooves to the naked eye looked very conservative.

So... sometimes you can find a "LH" cut for less money than the RL ones go for. According to the above, it might not sound identical to the RL, but it should sound very close and have the same basic sonic qualities that everyone loves.

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In January this year I was at a antique store and found a Zep II record with RH on one side and LH on the other. Not in the best shape, but not the worst either. Plus for $10 bucks it was a steal! I've never heard the "hot mix" until then and you can really tell a difference. I also grabbed a super minty fresh Houses RL mix. Now the search begins for a minty fresh Zep II RL mix for side one and side two! 

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  • 4 months later...

An older thread that IMO should have seen more action....anyway, my 2 cents.

There is nothing better than the RL cut, but at $200 and up it may be out of reach for some?

Second in line would be a UK plum label press, not the RL by any means, but a truly sweet press!!! Pricing however is not attractive at this time.

Third in line would be the Prios (GP) cut. $50, at the most, should buy you a very nice copy. It is sorta' like a little brother to the RL. Get 'em while you can!

And the sticker has nothing to do with tracking issues, don't worry about that.


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  • 4 years later...

I picked up an RL/LH this weekend for $149. Of course we all know even if scratched, it still plays excellent. In my opinion, the RL Side A is louder and deeper while the LH is slightly quieter and less deep. However, LH side B is still better than most pressings. The Discogs listing for the RL/LH pressing is lower than the RL on both sides. However, some research has found that RL/RL is essentially the same exact pressing as RL/LH.

Anyone else agree? 

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