Friday, October 17, 2008

Why Plant's right not to tour

The former Zep frontman isn't Planting his feet in a reunion tour.

Photo courtesy of

Former Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant has perhaps the most perfect post-supergroup career in rock history. Last October, duetting with Alison Kraus, he appeared on"Raising Sand", a collection of earthy, moody covers impeccably produced by T-Bone Burnett. If this album was released by any artist at any time, it would be hailed as a masterpiece of vibe, color and feeling. That 60-year-old Robert Plant is half of this duet makes it all the more compelling.

There isn't a trace of Zep on "Raising Sand", but the album once again proves Plant's unique color, phrasing and intonation are inevitably overshadowed by his famous screams immortalized on the 84 million albums Led Zeppelin has sold worldwide. Listen, even on Zeppelin's debut, to Plant hitting a note a half-step above the root at the breakdown of "How Many More Times" on the line "Cause I've got you in the sights of my gun" and you'll hear the choice of a master. His genius, also, frequently came not only in a song's melody, but in his ad libs, most of which have become signature parts equally as recognizable as any guitar riff.

"Goin' down---goin' down, now."

"Do be do, bop bop a doo whoah."

"Hey! Oh! Hey! Oh! Hey! Oh! Hey! Oh! Oooooooo!"

"Keep a'coolin', baby. Keep a'coolin', baby. Keep a'coolin', baby.

After an ecstatically recieved Led Zeppelin reunion show at London's 02 Arena November 26, 2007, the surviving members were game to tour.

Plant refused, and continues to refuse. He doesn't need the money; he said so. But there is a another reason for him not to tour other than not needing the money and that he's got another project that's wildly successful.

Even at last year's reunion, the instruments were tuned down a whole step to accomodate 40 years gone. The person who sang "I come from the land of the ice and snow/From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow" has left the building and isn't coming back.

The one-off concert was a chance for fans to express their thanks and to raise funds for the Ahmet Ertegun Education Fund, and it didn't matter that Plant's voice isn't what it was in 1970. Is anybody's?

If Plant did an entire tour, screaming over the Zeppelin jet, he'd have nothing at the end but a big(ger) bag of money, a year of his life gone, an even more shot voice and dozens of videos out there on YouTube that would be available in ten years, twenty, fifty from now.

I would not want to leave that to the world.

No comments: