Robert Plant

Robert Plant was always my fave Led Zep guy (Page was cool as guitar players go, except for that dorky bowing solo bit, sheesh, and I never was a Bonham fan), but Bobby Plant nailed it, though for years the Bilbo Baggins hippie shit drove me up the wall. As I hated everything they did after Houses of the Holy anyway I paid no attention to all his missteps early in his solo career, tho’ I remember a good Little Sister (which Elvis absolutely nailed in ‘56 or whenever, one of his best songs) and I have a vague memory of cut out bins full of something with Robert Plant in a late period spangly doo woo get up on the cover, smiling a lost hippie smile, but I was so fucking punk rock at the time Robert Plant might as well have been from another planet. Hell, I don’t know if they were missteps, everything by older rock musicians qualified as a misstep to me at the time, even Bowie. Those were revolutionary years, things had to burn.

But the years passed and one night I was bored or maybe just stoned and staring at the TV, a million channels and nothing to watch and suddenly there was Robert Plant on the normally underwhelmingly alt hip Austin City Limits. He looked great, one of those rare Englishmen over six feet tall, sounded great if a little shy of the high notes he once screamed about the wrath of the gods in, and had this amazing band that swung from outish ethnic alt into old timey into a killer Led Zep tune—I can’t remember which—and ending with some remarkable melange of Malian sounds with everything else. I was hooked. Watched that show several times. Said to Fyl we gotta go see Robert Plant! We’d get primo seats, of course, free to the press, and green room access and I’d ask him about Festival of the Desert instead of some stupid Led Zep question because I was a jazz critic. Then I’d see Patty Griffin and be so star struck I couldn’t talk. Homina homina homina…. Anyway, it never happened. The best laid plans of moose-like men, etc.

Then last night I was doing the million channels nothing to watch thing again unstoned and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t Robert Plant on Austin City Limits again, this time from 2016, still tall and looking great and sounding even better (and they’ve done a little audio trickery to stretch out the high notes a bit, but it barely shows). Robert Plant and the Sensational Shape Shifters I think he’s called it, fine musicians all, and the set was as old timey ethno Malian (or maybe Gambian) blues as before, but half the set was Led Zep tunes (I keep saying Led Zep covers) that are rearranged and jazzed up and weirded out but then kick into that classic babe I’m gonna leave you fury, the audience undulating to a hard and sinewy and groovily fucked up Whole Lotta Love like the gods never intended and the whole scene was beautiful and left me sort of nostalgic for an age yet to come.

It was good.

Communication breakdown

What exactly is the breakdown in communication described in the lyrics of Communication Breakdown? Plant seems to be expressing himself with no problem. Does his girlfriend not speak English?

My friend Bob brings up an excellent and timely point. Though personally I’ve always wondered if Led Zeppelin’s English fans understood the Aw Shucks just before the guitar solo, or if that was on the American release only. They don’t say Aw Shucks in England or in any of the dominions or even Ireland, not now and not in 1969. Indeed, on the much rarer English version single, Robert Plant says We Will Nevah Surrender while in a dress, on the even rarer Irish 78 he screams Faith and Begorrah as Bonham does a clog dance on the drums, and on the strictly imaginary Australian 8-track Plant and a herd of freshly sheared sheep bleat Tie Me Kangaroo Down as Jimmy Page plays a classical part on the 12 string. They had to, as Aw Shucks was completely indecipherable to them.

OK, maybe I haven’t always wondered that.


I was a couple years too old back in the seventies to think they were any good. All the junior high and freshmen kids in my neighborhood loved them though. We juniors and seniors were way too hip. KISS were just stupid. Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, however, had depth and meaning. Purple even had classical parts. Though listening recently to Made In Japan, I couldn’t tell where the classical parts were. In any case, I soon heard the Ramones and the Pistols, and KISS seemed more bogus than ever. And the Ramones didn’t even have any classical parts.


Wicked Lester–Gene Simmons (standing on left) and Paul Stanley (seated in center)–in their folk rocking hippie pad, 1971. 

Robert Plant

Watched Robert Plant on Austin City Limits tonite. Pipes sound great, he looks good, and he has a killer band. Love the old Led Zep covers done anew, love the new stuff, love the roots and stuff that goes over big at WOMAD. Nothing too mellow, either, no pop crap or power ballads. This is probably the best band he’s had since Houses of the Holy. Fuck rock star reunions anyway, you should always do something new. If people want old bands playing old tunes the old way let them buy the CDs. The past is done, it’s dead, it was already, and life is far too short to waste on nostalgia.