“Whole Lotta Love”, the opening track from Led Zeppelin II, employs a rather conventional compound AABA structure. The verses and choruses combine to constitute the compound A sections, while the break and solo combine to create the compound B section.
While The Beatles employed AABA structures frequently (121 of their 211 songs use some type of AABA design), they used relatively few compound AABA structures. The most famous of that handful is “Magical Mystery Tour”, which, though not identical to “Whole Lotta Love”, is strikingly similar in form.
So what does this mean? It's an example of how Led Zeppelin grew out of what came before them. Of course this doesn't necessarily mean that Jimmy Page and Robert Plant were deliberately mimicking John Lennon and Paul McCartney – I highly doubt they were – but here we have an early Zeppelin recording that employs a similar structure to a late Beatles track. Just a few years later, Zeppelin would record “Black Dog” and “Stairway To Heaven” and “Kashmir”, all of which use much more experimental and innovative formal designs which depart from and build off of structures employed by The Beatles. And I'll look in detail at those songs soon.
Aaron Krerowicz, pop music scholar
An informal but highly analytic study of popular music.