Over the next few weeks I’ll be reviewing a few Robert Plant solo albums along the way. Hope you all dig it..
The cool thing about Used Record Shops are when you walk into those kinds of places you have no idea or I have no idea what I’m looking for as you don’t know what you will come across.
Case in point…
I had a week of holidays and since life is somewhat getting back to normal here in Thunder Bay I thought it may be time to hit local shop “Comix Plus” and see whats in the bins..
A few weeks back I reviewed Robert Plant’s “Knebworth” release and in those used bins was the first three Robert Plant solo releases starting with “Pictures at Eleven” .
The lightbulb in my noggin went off…
I already own Plant’s stellar 1988 release “Now And Zen” and before my eyeballs were Roberts previous three solo albums there for the taking the used record bins.
So I took!
Why not finish off my Plant vinyl collection with one stop shopping!
Bought all three (the other two being ’83’s Principle of Moments and ’85’s Shaken N Stirred) which are in great shape and along with a copy of Cheap Tricks ‘All Shook Up’ I was out the door with said purchases in hand.
I have to admit I originally bought “Pictures At Eleven” back upon its release almost four decades ago. At the time I was 15 and upon first hearing Led Zeppelin around that time I was expecting a huge bombastic rock sound from Plant as that what Zep was known for right?
Instead what I heard was not too much bombastic rock on the albums eight songs which is no fault of Roberts as he wanted to distance himself from the sonic fury and musical chops of Zeppelin.
After all he was going solo…
In 1982 I didn’t get it but now a revisit and another go round with “Pictures At Eleven” in 2021 I get it.
First of all Robert put together a studio/live band that pretty much stayed together for the first three solo Plant records.
Robert Plant – Lead Vocals, Harmonica
Robbie Blunt – Guitars
Jezz Woodroffe – Keyboards
Paul Martinez – Bass
Phil Collins – Drums
Yup! That Phil Collins who drums on six of the albums eight tracks and the two that Phil isn’t on the late very great Cozy Powell drummed on the other two. (more on that shortly).
Even though its Roberts band and his deal all the songs are a collaberative effort as Blunt basically is the the co writer on all the tracks. In case you’re wondering Collins is just the drummer on this album and Phil plays some great drums.
With Plant producing (along with Benji LeFerve and Pat Moran) you know the sonics would be great on this album as listen to those drums courtesy of Bonzo(RIP) on the Zep albums. Safe to say Robert picked up a trick or three of studio wizardry along the way.
“Burning Down One Side” opens the album and basically could have fit on Zeppelin’s final album “In Through The Out Door”. From there some songs go into a different territory for Robert like “Pledge Pin” which has a different vibe but some nice drumming by Phil and a sax solo to boot!
Guitarist Robbie Blunt became Plant’s new songwriting partner and together they cook up a pretty cool batch of tunes overall.
“Moonlight In Samosa” is a whole different feel almost ballad like but if Roberts footing the bill for this whole shebang I guess he can do as he pleases.
One thing I notice all theses years later is that Pictures At Eleven is an atmospheric record. No two songs sound alike and if you look at the song lengths many of them are pushing the five minute mark.
One tune that pushes the eight minute mark is the closet to Zep sounding track on here which is “Slow Dancer”. The drums are huge sounding and you have Powell to thank for that as he lays back but provides a huge sound. Just listen to those bass drums. Dude was a monster on the kit.
Not to be outdone Collins and Blunt hook up on the tune “Worse Than Detroit” where Robert even pulls out the harp as the song goes off into a jam at one point.
Cozy returns for “Like I Never Been Gone” which is another ballad like tune but Cozy as you know can lay down some huge drum sounds even on the slower tracks.
In the big picture of things this is a pretty good debut record from Plant. Such a great listen and to my ol rocked out ears it doesn’t sound dated!
So there ya have it folk’s, 2021 and I have seen the light and it only took 39 years!
Give Robert credit though as his best friend (Bonzo) passed away in September 1980 yet Plant kept his feet moving in by putting together a new band and releasing a pretty decent debut in “Pictures At Eleven.”