Robert Plant More Than Three Decades Ago

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I suspect I wasn’t alone among Led Zeppelin fans in enjoying Robert Plant’s first solo album, Pictures at Eleven, because it was clear that he wasn’t taking a lot of chances.

No, there are no songs that “sound like Zep” on the album, but Plant’s voice was still what we had come to expect from late Zeppelin records.  And the songs, with a few exceptions (for example, the hit “Pledge Pin”), were pretty darned heavy, his backing band (including two great drummers, Phil Collins and Cozy Powell) bringing the heaviosity.  If you’re a fan of Zeppelin’s brand of the blues, check out the video below; it proves that Plant still had the voice for that kind of music (and we won’t mention the nod to “Kashmir” at the end and, really, throughout the song).

How Are The Songs?

Even after all these years, I don’t hear a weak song on the album (though, to be honest, “Pledge Pin” was always my least favourite – it’s a bit too, I dunno, peppy for a Robert Plant album!).  Well, we all know now that Plant sees, and at this point (1982) obviously already saw, Zeppelin as only one part of his career.  And indeed, a distinguished career it’s been.  I have kept up with everything he’s done (full disclosure: he has, for about forty years, been hands down my favourite singer in the world), and in some ways – some ways, I say – he’s still getting better.  Anyone who’s seen the footage from the O2 concert knows that he’s still up to the Zeppelin material, but the maturing of his voice has been a lovely thing to hear.

And So. . . .

And so, if you’re one of the (apparently many) people who discovered or rediscovered Plant only with his Raising Sand collaboration with Alison Krauss, you ought to examine his back catalogue.  The Principle of Moments, the album that followed Pictures at Eleven, is perhaps a better album, if only because it represents a step farther away from that heavy Zep albatross, but this is a fine, enjoyable, un-dated album.

GW

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