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Robert Plant - The Principle of Moments CD (album) cover

THE PRINCIPLE OF MOMENTS

Robert Plant

 

Crossover Prog

3.54 | 61 ratings

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Atavachron
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Robert Anthony Plant had come a long way from his childhood in the West Midlands and plans of being an accountant. Once he hit 16 and the Midlands blues scene, there was no looking back. Crawling Kingsnakes, Band of Joy, Hobbstweedle, and a little act called Led Zeppelin were just the beginning for Plant, evidently. Not even rock deism and unbridled success would stop this skinny, generally quiet kid from Halesowen from making music. Nor a severely shattered foot, the tragic death of a child, the irreplaceable loss of his close friend John Bonham, Zeppelin's retirement, divorce, repeated accusations of musical poaching, and an unclear future for an icon whose persona was rapidly going out of style. There was also any older singer's biggest challenge: a marked change in range and tone.

But 'Percy' Plant (a nickname he doesn't care for) knew what being a rock singer meant. He knew what it was to work your heart out on a record only to have it panned; The years of touring questionable venues and ill-kept accommodations; Having to perform sick or with a shot voice; Unreceptive and brutish audiences; Thievery; Broken dreams. He is a true survivor, and he turned that ethic of survival into one of the greatest careers in rock history. And he's still going, as resolute and inspired as he's ever been.

The Principle of Moments was a mint example of Plant's new direction. Released in the summer of 1983, Robert kept the primary band from the debut (the good though less developed Pictures at Eleven) but pushed at the walls of the sound they'd cultivated, ending up with a unique and romantic departure from his hard bluesing days with Jimmy Page that showed restraint and subtle artistry. The elegant Spain-infused guitars of Robbie Blunt, Phil Collins' & Barriemore Barlow's percussives, bassist Paul Martinez's foundry, and Jezz Woodroffe's synth washes provided Plant a platform that was different enough from his past to be significant, and yet compatible with his newly-explored lower registers to work. One of moods, colors, temperatures, and emotions. 'Other Arms' pumps out the intro with Plant's pleas for reconciliation and Blunt's ringing scalene breaks, but 'In the Mood' seals the deal, a gently seductive, honey-smooth piece, the paradiddles between Plant and band giving us one of the best love songs that year. Really lovely, and a triumph of pop stylings. 'Messin With the Mekon' teases with odd rhythms, 'Wreckless Love' does the same with Eastern chords, dovetailing for the deeply felt lyrics of 'Thru With the Two Step' as a rock 'n roll king pays a fond adieu to the craziness of bigtime show business, climaxed by an utterly soaring slow cry from Robbie Blunt. 'Stranger Here..' reflects influence of 80s artists as the Police, and the disc caps with a cut thats reputation precedes it, the sublime 'Big Log', a humid, often hypnotic ride down a night road with a lyric that dances effortlessly between car-driving symbolism and sexual suggestion.

Perhaps too soft a pill to swallow for some of Plant's old fans but his hardcore supporters knew they heard something special. Robert Plant had become something more interesting than 'progressive'-- he was digressive, and he continues to be. Sensual, delicate but strong, clean but complicated, The Principle of Moments is one of the quiet treasures of the early '80s, and is an album that gets better as both it, and the listener, ages.

Atavachron | 4/5 |

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