The album Robert Plant thought didn’t hold up

Robert Plant

The last thing an artist wants to do after finishing a record is listen to what they just finished. One of the most agonising things they have to go through is going back over the work to give it a critical evaluation because they invested so much time in making it come to life. Even when everything appears to be going well, they don’t always feel that way. When speaking about Zen and Now, Robert Plant acknowledged as much.

It appeared as though Plant would spend the remainder of his life under the shadow of his “Golden God” reputation. This was during the first few years of his solo career. He seemed much happier to just create the music he wanted to make. He didn’t try to replicate the success of his previous band. This was especially considering how he eventually came back around to reforming the Band of Joy. He was also far more content to live life without the other members of his hard rock brotherhood.

However, Now and Zen might have one of the few Zeppelin solo albums. It can stand up to some of their less strong performances for the uninitiated fan. Although the album is not on the same level as Houses of the Holy or even Physical Graffiti. Plant’s adaptability to the changing times produced the closest thing to a Zeppelin album from the 1980s, complete with blues influences.

Plant felt that the album could have benefitted from a slight reduction in production. Even though it contains many of his best moments. He later told Uncut, “By the time Now and Zen came out in ’88, it looked like I was big again.” Across the Atlantic, it peaked at number one on the charts. However, listening to it again now, I can hear that many of the songs were lost in the era’s technological advancements.

Admittedly, in comparison to modern technology, some of the “technology” Plant is discussing is essentially analogue equipment. Although there are a lot of synthesisers and they could have been toned down a little, the band still has a great opportunity to show off their skills in between everything.

If anything, it’s possible that Plant benefited somewhat from his disorganised output as he made his way into the 1990s. Hearing him team up with Jimmy Page for a duo album was the kind of musical union that fans had been waiting for. Especially considering how much he wanted to avoid that kind of sound.

Even though it wasn’t nearly as good as Zeppelin, it at least had the potential to be really good. Especially when they started focusing on the classic blues standards. Once Page and Plant started dating, the nostalgia for the Zeppelin seemed even sweeter. If Percy never got into it, it was probably because he made Now and Zen seem like such an overdone affair.

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