Whole Lotta Love might be one of the best known Rock riffs ever recorded, but outside the UK this version released by CCS in 1970 is not so well known. CCS (Collective Consciousness Society) was a studio project put together by arranger John Cameron, producer Mickie Most and the father of British Blues Alexis Korner. The band was made up of well known session musicians of the day, some of them members of Blue Mink. At different times the band might have included, Danish guitarist and singer Peter Thorup, Alan Parker on guitar, Harold McNair on flute and woodwind, Herbie Flowers on bass Roger Coulam on keyboards, Barry Morgan on drums and Don Lusher and Bill Geldard on trombone and of course Alexis Korner. If you are English and of a certain age you will know this version very well as the song was used as the theme tune for Top Of The Pops for many years – but you may not know who it was by. Originally the B-side of the single Boom Boom, it was flipped and reached No.13 in the British charts.
The song is credited to Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham but a lawsuit brought by songwriter Willie Dixon in 1985 resulted in the credit being changed with his name included on future releases. Interestingly, the riff, the most iconic part of the song, isn’t in question, it was Plant that appropriated lyrics from his love of old Blues songs and rather disturbingly is quoted here:
“Page’s riff was Page’s riff. It was there before anything else. I just thought, ‘well, what am I going to sing?’ That was it, a nick. Now happily paid for. At the time, there was a lot of conversation about what to do. It was decided that it was so far away in time and influence that…well, you only get caught when you’re successful. That’s the game.”
Willie Dixon had originally written the song, You Need Love for Muddy Waters but what Plant doesn’t say here is that The Small Faces version of You Need Love, slightly changed to You Need Loving, is where credit might have been due (wait till you hear it!), but he knew where they got it from and consequently couldn’t credit them – he knew they didn’t really write it.
Hear’s the song in question, Muddy Water’s You Need Love written by Willie Dixon and released in 1963.
Although Plant would of course have been familiar with the Muddy Waters version, The Small Faces appropriated Willie Dixon’s original idea first in 1966, called it You Need Loving and credited it to Marriott and Lane. What’s really quite unbelievable is how close this version is to Led Zeppelin. (The Small Faces were not sued by Willie Dixon).
The song was a hit in England for CCS as an instrumental version, although the vocal melody is played by a flute and a vocal does come in at the end to sing that famous “Way down inside” line. But the CCS version is about the riff and the riff is original and a classic Jimmy Page moment.