Sunday, October 26, 2014

Worship at the Alter of Robert Plant

Robert Plant – A Life – Paul Rees (Dey St./Harper Collins Books)

To be clear upfront…I approach Led Zeppelin from a different direction then most; having spent over a decade working as a disc jockey at a variety of rock radio stations I reached the let me up I’ve had enough point when it came to Zeppelin. The thought of playing or even hearing those magical opening chords of Stairway to Heaven can set my gag reflex to shuddering.

That being said I was curious what longtime Brit music journalist Paul Rees might have uncovered and had to say about the band’s front man in Robert Plant – A Life. Rees has plied his trade as a writer and journalist for over twenty years for publications ranging from rock mags like Q and Kerang! And newspapers like the Evening Standard, the Telegraph and the Independent, so I was interested to read a firmly British perspective on the singer/band who are beloved by fans and bemused by critics.

Unfortunately, Plant continues to be an elusive figure when it comes to granting fresh interviews to writers and apparently was a non-participant in the process of the writing this book. That left Rees, who had interviewed Plant on prior occasions to recycle much of the material that went into this tome. While that is clearly a disappointment for fans of the band hungry for new insights, Rees does have a flair for imaginative prose and he writes of Plant with distinctive style. He also captures the not only the tales of the evolution of the singer/band, he sets up well against the backdrop of what was taking place in the world and in music in the era that the band rose to the heights of their success.

I am always amazed at the level of infighting that takes place when bands reach new levels of fame and fortune. Some of the things that deliver them to the success that they fought so hard to achieve end up becoming a proverbial albatross around their necks. There is a certain level of satisfaction that I take away from Plant’s apparent distain for the all consuming success of Stairway to Heaven.  

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