Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Robert Plant 2: The Principle Of Moments

Almost immediately after finishing and promoting his first solo album, Robert went back to work with mostly the same crew on a follow-up. The Principle Of Moments duly arrived about a year later, delivering much the same formula with more emphasis on synths. And as before, none of the tracks could be accused of nostalgia.
If anything, the songs were even catchier. “Other Arms” was a decent radio hit, from the “lay down your arms” hook suggesting nothing less than a soldier of love to the hearty backing vocal troupe. “In The Mood” wafts in on a fluffy bed of synthesizers*, for one of the hookiest songs he’s ever recorded. Along with a diabolical time signature, the title of “Messin’ With The Mekon” appears to be a phonetic mishearing of whatever the chorus is. A quiet bass interlude sets up the extended ending, taking us to a pleasant place before the clattery Arabics of “Wreckless Love” take out the side.
“Thru’ With The Two Step” is a complicated one, with about three or four sections cobbled together, but the bridge with Robbie Blunt’s bent guitar gets us every time, just like his embellishments on the final verse do. “Horizontal Departure” opens with a neat riff, then matches a near-reggae verse to a more conventional chorus, while the aptly titled “Stranger Here… Than Over There” features Robert straining the top of his range over a bass line later borrowed by Mike Mills for “Old Man Kensey”, with another minute-long coda of oddness. Finally, there’s “Big Log”, another installment in the tradition of a man at the end of his album, contemplating the road he’s already on and where it may take him. Built around one of the most robotic drum machines ever committed to tape, wax or aluminum, it’s still a terrific tune, and a nice showcase for Robbie Blunt’s dexterous, understated touch.
Being 1983, MTV put the videos for “In The Mood” and “Big Log” in heavy rotation, and both would remain Classic Rock radio staples for the rest of the decade. The production on The Principle Of Moments does evoke a distinct time and place, of billowy polkadot shirts and Aquanet, but the album is still strong. (The remastered CD added three live tracks, including a cover of Bob Marley’s “Lively Up Yourself”, and one studio outtake, not exactly hidden treasure.) With this one-two punch, Plant’s solo career was off to a good start. These remained his most consistent records for the better part of two decades, during which he’d experience greater success and try his fans’ patience, as we shall soon see.

Robert Plant The Principle Of Moments (1983)—
2007 remastered CD: same as 1983, plus 4 extra tracks

2 comments:

  1. ahhhh man - now don't go knocking Death Wish 2 - LOL

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  2. Here’s a wacky sidenote: the song stops mid-way for another rush of computerized keyboards that hang in the mix before the drums come back again. We recall one intrepid DJ playing the song on our beloved WNEW-FM, taking that moment to segue into Foreigner’s “Waiting For A Girl Like You”, which ran in its entirety, and going back to the Plant track where he originally left off. What makes it wacky now is that the Foreigner track included contributions from Bob Mayo, famous from Frampton Comes Alive (you know, “Bob Mayo on the keyboards, Bob Mayo), and while he didn’t play on this album, he would go on to play in the band that toured with Robert supporting it.

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