Robert Plant – “Now and Zen” (1988)

robertplantnowandzenRobert Plant was one of the very first concerts Holly and I went to together.  It might in fact have been the first, but in talking it over while we listen to 1988s Now and Zen we’re just not sure.  Other candidates are INXS and Tin Machine (<– the only way I ever managed to see Bowie… but at least I saw him).  I remember that we went to the Plant show with my future father-in-law, since similar taste in music was about the only thing a mullet sporting teen and a middle aged dude could possible have in common other than their interest in the same girl… albeit approaching the girl part of the equation from completely different directions.  Mind you, he was more Pictures at Eleven and The Principle of Moments, while I was more Now and Zen.  But we both agreed on Led Zeppelin IV, so when Plant and company pulled out the mandolins and played some Zep tunes including “Going to California” we could finally see eye to eye.

I’d forgotten how good this record is.  Yeah, I remember the hits – “Heaven Knows,” “Tall Cool One,” and “Ship of Fools.”  But damn, the whole thing is pretty solid.  Plant is one of those singers who aged well, changing his style as time went on and finding new and interesting ways use his changing voice.  From the Honeydrippers to his work with Alison Krauss, even when I haven’t liked it a lot it’s been near flawless.  As Advancement Theory teaches us… when I haven’t enjoyed Plant’s work, most likely the problem is me, not him.

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