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porgie66

Robert's peak or prime?

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porgie66   

Following on the heels of the recent thread, Jimmy's peak in '73?  I'm interested to hear the opinions here on Robert's peak, or more specifically , his prime. For me,  its 70-71. He had unreal power and ferocity, which was evident from the beginning , but also came into his own as a distinctive vocal stylist.  By '72 his range was already diminishing and with the alleged throat surgery late in '72,  it never was the same after that. '73 and '75 were mostly rough, lots of cracking notes and vocal wear evident. 77-80 was a bit better but the range and power were gone. This is an incredibly rapid decline , considering we are talking about only a few years and he was still in his 20's!  I often cringe at the sound of his strained voice in the 90's to now. The old lion has a hoarse roar.

Edited by porgie66

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rm2551   

It's an astounding loss of range and power along with a real distinctive change. Thing is, live, yeah, it stands out like dogs balls. But the LP releases, he sounds brilliant - EVERY release.

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porgie66   
4 hours ago, rm2551 said:

It's an astounding loss of range and power along with a real distinctive change. Thing is, live, yeah, it stands out like dogs balls. But the LP releases, he sounds brilliant - EVERY release.

Yes, in the studio it's much less of an issue because he sang in a range appropriate to the songs which was much more limited due to his voice issues. He simply didn't attempt much in the high register after Houses of The Holy. It's painfully apparent when he would try to sing the older tunes live, but he sounds fine usually on live versions of tunes from Physical Graffiti or Presence. He basically blew that incredible range and power out by 1972. Barely 3 years! 

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Personally, I think Plant ripped his voice to shreds by opening up with Immigrant Song for two years straight. Im pretty sure Plant never did pre-show vocal warmup exercises and it took its toll. The last time they played Immigrant Song was in Tucson AZ. 6/28/72, and it was the first show where I heard Plants voice start to struggle during Immigrant Song (it was permanently dropped right there forever). They took a break and came back for the final leg of the tour in Japan & England and his voice was cracking all over the place. I think Plant blew his wad in San Bernardino & L.A. in 1972, but it was one hell of a wad and thank god those shows were multi tracked because Plants voice would never be the same again after that. 

 

 

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IpMan   

70' -72' was Plant's vocal peak however is was damn good in 77' as well. He had regained much of the range he lost in 75' and was clear. His mids were actually ore powerful and strong vs. the early 70's but yes, he never got those high's back again. I actually like Plant's 77' live voice vs. any other year but then again I prefer his mids to his highs in general. I am not much of a fan of screaming and howling no matter how well someone can do it. Kinda like the Mariah Carey dog whistle. Its tolerable once in a while but I can definitely live without it.

As Willie and others have pointed out, Plant took his vocal gift for granted and turned into Kim Karnes or Bonnie Tyler for a period as a result. The cigs, the screaming, the lack of warm up, and the partying almost destroyed his voice. Then, singing with the flu for two months in early 75', only a few months after vocal surgery, was really, really stupid. Plant was one lucky dog that he did not completely ruin his voice right then and there, for good.

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porgie66   
50 minutes ago, IpMan said:

70' -72' was Plant's vocal peak however is was damn good in 77' as well. He had regained much of the range he lost in 75' and was clear. His mids were actually ore powerful and strong vs. the early 70's but yes, he never got those high's back again. I actually like Plant's 77' live voice vs. any other year but then again I prefer his mids to his highs in general. I am not much of a fan of screaming and howling no matter how well someone can do it. Kinda like the Mariah Carey dog whistle. Its tolerable once in a while but I can definitely live without it.

As Willie and others have pointed out, Plant took his vocal gift for granted and turned into Kim Karnes or Bonnie Tyler for a period as a result. The cigs, the screaming, the lack of warm up, and the partying almost destroyed his voice. Then, singing with the flu for two months in early 75', only a few months after vocal surgery, was really, really stupid. Plant was one lucky dog that he did not completely ruin his voice right then and there, for good.

Good points. Jan 75 was brutal. Pages finger woes too, and it seems he never quite regained the fluency he had after that. I guess it's a trade off because I agree with you about Plants stylistic maturity in 77 . Earlier on, his ayeeee, ayeee,  and shrieks do get old real fast. 

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My personal opinion is the ITTOD era for just pure mature tone. And I know I'm in the minority. 

Cannot stand to listen to those early shrieking monkey days. Like nails on a chalk board in the early early days. 

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porgie66   
3 minutes ago, StringBender said:

My personal opinion is the ITTOD era for just pure mature tone. And I know I'm in the minority. 

Cannot stand to listen to those early shrieking monkey days. Like nails on a chalk board in the early early days. 

? Push, push!!

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zooma   

I think Plant hit his prime right around the time of the honeydrippers and principle of moments. His voice had matured for sure, but I don't think you can measure his worth by vocal abilities alone. 

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Wow, StringBender and Zooma....

I agree, some of the earlier music is embarassing with all the screechiness...

LOVE Principle of Moments...I agree, very smooth voice, very mature.

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I agree that Robert's peak was in 1970-1971. If we're going to be super specific, I'd say from Montreux 1970 to 8/21/71. He had an amazing range which he had learned to control (unlike in 1969), and his power was incredible. This version of Immigrant Song from 9/19/70 never ceases to amaze me. It sounds downright SCARY with the kind of power that he had. He hits every note flawlessly, never cracking or breaking once:

If there's one date where we can definitively say he began to lose it, it was 8/21/71. He really went over the top at that show, putting in 110% through a long concert with many encores. Problem was, it was only the beginning of the tour! He had no real time to rest his voice, and as time marched on, he had more ups and downs. By the 1972 tour, his range was still there, but his power was diminished. He sounded much thinner and the effect wasn't quite as devastating. Of course it would only get worse from there.

On 2/8/2017 at 2:39 AM, porgie66 said:

By '72 his range was already diminishing and with the alleged throat surgery late in '72,  it never was the same after that.

I thought he had throat surgery in late '73/early '74 due to nodules and damage his throat had gotten from touring. Is this date incorrect or is the throat surgery you're referring to a separate surgery that he had? It would explain why his voice drastically declined in the four month break from June to October of 1972. I've often wondered how that happened, as they weren't (to my knowledge) recording an album. The HOTH sessions could at least explain the decline his voice underwent from the Australian tour to the American tour that year.

Regardless, it's a shame he never got that range back. Although I do think he (and the rest of the band) did a good job writing songs to adjust to his new range. I can't imagine the Robert of 1968-1972 singing Kashmir or the Robert of 1977-1980 singing Out on the Tiles, for example.

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Personally, this version of The Immigrant Song from Newcastle 11/11/71 always blows me away. I can't recall his voice ever being stronger than it was here.

 

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18 minutes ago, Balthazor said:

Personally, this version of The Immigrant Song from Newcastle 11/11/71 always blows me away. I can't recall his voice ever being stronger than it was here.

 

Wow! That was excellent! Thanks for that! :)

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porgie66   
2 hours ago, ZepHead315 said:

I agree that Robert's peak was in 1970-1971. If we're going to be super specific, I'd say from Montreux 1970 to 8/21/71. He had an amazing range which he had learned to control (unlike in 1969), and his power was incredible. This version of Immigrant Song from 9/19/70 never ceases to amaze me. It sounds downright SCARY with the kind of power that he had. He hits every note flawlessly, never cracking or breaking once:

If there's one date where we can definitively say he began to lose it, it was 8/21/71. He really went over the top at that show, putting in 110% through a long concert with many encores. Problem was, it was only the beginning of the tour! He had no real time to rest his voice, and as time marched on, he had more ups and downs. By the 1972 tour, his range was still there, but his power was diminished. He sounded much thinner and the effect wasn't quite as devastating. Of course it would only get worse from there.

I thought he had throat surgery in late '73/early '74 due to nodules and damage his throat had gotten from touring. Is this date incorrect or is the throat surgery you're referring to a separate surgery that he had? It would explain why his voice drastically declined in the four month break from June to October of 1972. I've often wondered how that happened, as they weren't (to my knowledge) recording an album. The HOTH sessions could at least explain the decline his voice underwent from the Australian tour to the American tour that year.

Regardless, it's a shame he never got that range back. Although I do think he (and the rest of the band) did a good job writing songs to adjust to his new range. I can't imagine the Robert of 1968-1972 singing Kashmir or the Robert of 1977-1980 singing Out on the Tiles, for example.

Very good points made here, thanks.  I don't recall where I read it but the surgery was sometime after the US '72 tour, so yes, that would explain why his range was so diminished on the Oct '72 Japan dates. If someone more knowledgable about this can comment that'd be helpful.   I love Roberts singing on the studio recordings from '74 - '79. The quality of his voice and more restrained approach was great, but partly a result of damage done to his voice. Basically the songs from Physical Graffiti and Presence they did live are for the most part fine...it's the earlier songs with their high range parts which often painfully highlight his limitations. I feel like he resorted to oh yeah, baby, push, push, my, my, my etc to compensate for the lack of power and range. From 69-71 he was without peer...he could just scream like a banshee , sustaining incredibly powerful notes , with volume, and didn't need to do all that other bullshit. 

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John M   
21 hours ago, zooma said:

I think Plant hit his prime right around the time of the honeydrippers and principle of moments. His voice had matured for sure, but I don't think you can measure his worth by vocal abilities alone. 

I agree with this.  His voice was really good on the Honeydrippers.  I was also glad to see some folks mentioning ITTOD.  In my view, Fool in the Rain is some of his finest singing ever, along with All My Love.  I just wish his vocals had been as strong on the whole album.  He is not mixed well on In the Evening or maybe he is tentative in his delivery, as he was in so maddening a fashion on his first solo album.

Hot Dog has very strong vocals as well -  even though he lost his early Live voice after 1971, he could still bring it in the studio.  If only he had sung South Bound Saurez and In the Evening with the projection and power he had on Fool in the Rain and Hot Dog.

As an aside, one of my very favorite Plant vocal moments is the gritty, raspy second half of Night Flight.  That is just an amazing performance.

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blooze   

I'd have to agree that his peak vocally was 1970 to 8/21/71. Showed restraint but could also be very powerful  when needed. However, I get more of a feeling that it was more 8/19/71 (the Vancouver show that we don't have a recording of) that did him in.  Why? When I listen to the first 71 LA show, he sounds a bit hoarse to begin with. Something tells me that he went all out at the Vancouver show and tried to do it again in LA.  However, it didn't work out so great, as you can just hear him tear his vocal cords up

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10 hours ago, blooze said:

I'd have to agree that his peak vocally was 1970 to 8/21/71. Showed restraint but could also be very powerful  when needed. However, I get more of a feeling that it was more 8/19/71 (the Vancouver show that we don't have a recording of) that did him in.  Why? When I listen to the first 71 LA show, he sounds a bit hoarse to begin with. Something tells me that he went all out at the Vancouver show and tried to do it again in LA.  However, it didn't work out so great, as you can just hear him tear his vocal cords up

It doesn't help that at the end of the 8/21 show he's just screaming his fool head off. But I think you're right, it seems like after this period is when the cracks started to appear.

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On 2/8/2017 at 5:43 PM, zooma said:

I think Plant hit his prime right around the time of the honeydrippers and principle of moments. His voice had matured for sure, but I don't think you can measure his worth by vocal abilities alone. 

He sounded better in 2007 at the O2 show than the "No Quarter" gig in 1994.

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Quote

He sounded better in 2007 at the O2 show than the "No Quarter" gig in 1994.

That was because most of the tunes at the O2 gig had their keys lowered. You can tell that on most of the tunes Jimmy had his guitar tuned down at least a step.

 

I agree with the poster who mentioned that Robert probably blew out his voice sometime in the 1972 era due to singing the Immigrant Song. It just seemed from post-Houses of the Holy, Robert was never the shame. He also seemed to be constantly sick during the 1975 and 1977 tours, which will screw up anybody's voice.

 

I think a large part of the reason why harmonizer and echo effects were applied to Robert's voice from 1977 onward were to cover up his vocal limitations. Once he got to his solo career, the music seemed to be written in keys that were more agreeable with voice at the time.

 

 

Edited by ThreeSticks

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Honestly, after Pictures at Eleven, RP's solo career has been completely downhill and the stuff that he does today is completely distasteful. I'm sorry, but he is no composer.  iMO

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Unfortunately I sort of 80% agree with riffs. In fact I saw Robert on his first solo tour at MSG in83'. He sounded incredible

and actually whether it was falsetto or some healing in his vocal chords, a bit of the high range seemed restored. In fact

singing no Zep, "Burning Down One Side", and "In The Mood"and so on, Plant was singing live higher than anything

Zep 77' on. And strangely enough in his 90' tour the first song was The Immigrant Song, so Plant was either lip Synching

or fully capable of the real high notes there.

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3 hours ago, riffsofpage said:

Honestly, after Pictures at Eleven, RP's solo career has been completely downhill and the stuff that he does today is completely distasteful. I'm sorry, but he is no composer.  iMO

I liked his first three solo albums, then sales plummeted, he panicked, and reverted back to character until the naughties when he found his muse again with Mighty Rearranger.

From then on in it's been consistently good.

If there's one thing I wouldn't level at solo Plant, it's that he's "distatesful", aside from some of the cliched posturing in the late 80s, he's always tried to be original and transcend the preening rock God.

 

 

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John M   

While not perhaps a vocal performance peak, Mighty Rearranger is by far my favorite Plant album, and clearly one of his best.  There is a great variety of interesting material, light and heavy, some great lyrics, some edgy moments.  I think it shows Plant accepting his Zeppelin roots.  In many ways it is his most Zeppelin album.  That is why it is my favorite.  It is not a Zeppelin ripoff but it has the adventurous spirit of Zeppelin with all of Plant's best qualities.

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