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BRIEFLY Led Zep appeals to true early birds

The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 23 Sep 1980: P.17
Led Zeppelin, the British group that plays the kind of heavy rock that shakes every bone in the body, isn't playing the Forum until Oct. 17, but people are already camped outside on the sidewalk waiting for tickets.

Peter Deegan, a 22-year-old art student from Bristol, Conn., has made his bed on the sidewalk since Saturday even though tickets are not yet on sale. "I'm feeling strong," he says. "I can wait right here until Oct. 17 for good seats to the show." According to Dusty Bingham, of Oakville, Ont., "There's going to be a huge crowd for this show because this is the first stop on Zeppelin's North American tour. It's a horse race between these guys and the Rolling Stones as to who's the best rock and roll band in the world. They're really amazing." About dozen youngsters are taking part in the vigil and seem reasonably happy with their lot. "If you've got the time and the money, why not?" Deegan said.

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Led Zeppelin to disband

The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 05 Dec 1980: P.15.
The rock group Led Zeppelin said yesterday that it is disbanding because of the death in September of its drummer, John Bonham.

''We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as were,'' a statement by the group said.

Bonham, a co-founder of the band 12 years ago, was found dead Sept. 25 at the mansion owned by the group's lead guitarist, Jimmy Page, in Windsor, 48 kilometres west of London. The group was recording an album there on the day he died. The mansion has its own recording studios.

The 32-year old Bonham, affectionately nicknamed Bonzo, died as a result of inhaling vomit after drinking about 40 shots of vodka in 12 hours, a coroner's inquest heard two weeks after his death. The coroner ruled that the death was accidental.

The drummer was reported to have earned about $10-million a year with Led Zeppelin.

The remaining members of the band, in addition to Page, are vocalist Robert Plant and keyboard player John Paul Jones.

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INSIDE THE SLEEVE POP Death Wish II The Original Soundtrack Jimmy Page

falseNiester, Alan. The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 27 Mar 1982: F.6.

Saturday, March 27, 1982

Alan Niester

Swan Song XSS 8511 Anyone spending the trace elements of the grocery money on this soundtrack album in the hopes of having a bona fide Jimmy Page solo album may have a death wish of his own. While this soundtrack album proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is much more to Jimmy Page than dazed and confused Led Zeppelin guitar solos, it is indeed a soundtrack album, and therefore of only limited musical interest.

Naturally, there are a few straight ahead rock cuts tossed in, meaning that no respectable Led Zep collector can afford to be without the album. City Sirens is the best, with Page playing vintage Physical Graffiti licks over Dave Mattacks' purposefully John Bonham-styled drumming. But the rest of the album is a hodge-podge of symphonic MOR, big band jazz, free-form electronic and bulbous, dated rock (the latter courtesy of a veteran belter named Chris Farlowe, to whom English rockers seem to feel some sort of mysterious debt which I've never been able to understand).

If you simply must have every single piece of effluvium even vaguely connected with Led Zeppelin, then no amount of invective will discourage you, but personally I'd save my money for something more interesting.

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Does Stairway to Heaven hide an invitation to hell?

The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 25 May 1982: P.14.

Is the Led Zeppelin classic, Stairway to Heaven, really a coded invitation to hell? Did the rock band, Styx, secretly pay homage to the devil in a song that criticizes drug use?

California Assemblyman Phil Wyman isn't sure, but he is convinced that ''backward masking'' - the recording of messages backward onto records and tapes - does exist.

Wyman has proposed a state law that would require any records containing messages discernible when played backward to be labelled accordingly. Records would bear warnings ''I don't care, as a legislator, what the message is,'' he said. ''What the bill would require is a warning, and this is what (it) would say: 'Warning: This record contains backward masking which may be perceptible at a subliminal level when the record is played forward.''' Hundreds of people have been fiddling with their stereo equipment to try to duplicate Wyman's much-publicized presentation at a hearing of the assembly's consumer protection and toxic materials committee last month.

When Styx's Snowblind - a cut from the group's bestselling Paradise Theatre album - was played backward, Wyman said he heard the words, ''O Satan move in our voices.'' On ELO's El Dorado, the alleged backward message is ''Christ, you're the nasty one, you're inferno.'' But No. 1 in the Top 10 of backward masking is said to be the 1971 Led Zeppelin standard, Stairway to Heaven, a lengthy and melodic heavy-metal opus that has long been a staple of FM rock radio stations. Wyman said it contains nine examples of backward masking, including ''Here's to my sweet Satan,'' which is repeated twice, and ''I sing because I live with Satan.'' Modern multi-track recording equipment allows an artist to record a sound in one direction and then splice it in backward. The Beatles pioneered that kind of sound montage experimentation on records such as the White Album. Music buffs have long traded tales about backward messages of a non-controversial nature on records by groups such as Pink Floyd and ELO.

The music industry's response to suggestions about Satanic messages has ranged from laughter and incredulity to outrage. ''Our turntables only play in one direction,'' Led Zeppelin's record company, Swangsong, said in a statement read to callers with questions about backward masking.

Howard Mylett, author of two books on the group, said in a telephone interview from Sussex, England, that Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, who has a great interest in the occult, did have a saying by the late occultist Aleister Crowley etched on the vinyl of one of the band's albums.

But when asked about Stairway to Heaven, Mylett said, ''I've never heard a thing about it. I've honestly tried to hear it (the backward masks) and I've not yet been able to hear a thing.'' Lewis claims it's balderdash Wyman's star witness at the hearing, self-described ''neuroscientific researcher'' William Yarroll of Aurora, Colo., says he believes the backward messages are deciphered by the brain's right or ''creative'' hemisphere. He said this same thought process makes it easier to make a good handwritten copy of a mirror image of a drawing or signature, as opposed to the original. ''Professional forgers have known this since 1950,'' Yarroll says.

But Dr. Donald Lewis, chairman of the University of Southern California's psychology department, says there is no research to support Yarroll's claim. ''I think it's sheer balderdash,'' Lewis said.

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Rockabilly revival resurrects Jack Scott

falseLacey, Liam. The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 29 May 1982: E.3.
WHO WAS THE first Canadian rock star? Paul Anka is the obvious answer, though rock historians might prefer The Diamonds, whose 1957 hit, Little Darlin', is a doo-wop classic. Another equally correct answer, though, could be a Windsor-born rockabilly artist named Jack Scott.

Although he is hardly a household name today, in the late 1950s Scott was one of the most successful songwriters and hit-makers around. He was already a successful Detroit region recording star by 1957, and in one period of less than three and a half years (from 1958 to 1961) he scored 19 singles on the U.S. charts. That pace has only been surpassed once - by The Beatles, who arrived on the scene three years after Scott, who holds dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship, was drafted into the U.S. army.

Those early hits are rarely played these days, but songs such as Leroy (dedicated to a friend who was sent to the Guelph Reformatory), The Way I Walk, A Little Feeling Called Love or Burning Bridges stand with the best music of the era, with Scott's easy baritone hiccuping along over the wall of background vocals from The Chantones, a talented Chatham trio that even the The Jordanaires (Elvis Presley's back-up vocal group) acknowledged they admired and borrowed from.

Later, when he finished with the army, Scott switched to country music, writing and singing a million-seller, What In The World's Come Over You (re-recorded recently by Tom Jones), and for the past 15 years, he has made a comfortable, if obscure, living as a country and western singer around the Detroit area. Always a shy and consciously low-profile personality, it's only recently that Scott has been able to reap some of the rewards of his earlier popularity.

His song, Goodbye Baby, is included as the closing tune on the superb soundtrack of Diner, a film about coming of age in the very early sixties. Recently he obtained master tapes of all his records from 1958 to 1961; he came to Toronto last week (at the bequest of his friend and champion, CHUM's special projects director Warren Cosford) to talk to record companies about re-releasing the old material. There's no shortage of interest with the current rockabilly revival: Robert Gordon recorded The Way I Walk in 1978; Scott's original 45s have become collector's items, selling for anywhere from $3 to $35, while his albums sell from $35 to $75.

The upward turning point for Scott came five years ago, when he was invited to England to play at a rockabilly concert at The Rainbow; to his astonishment, he saw 20,000 people, dressed in fifties clothes, calling for songs such as Midgie or Go Wild Little Sadie, songs that Scott had recorded in his early twenties and had been embarrassed to sing since. "It was a strange experience," he recalls. "It was in another country, and I just came out of my shell. I really felt like myself out on the stage." At another London gig, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin came backstage asking for autographs; Plant offered to fly him to New York with them in their private jet. When he saw the band later in New York, they insisted he stay at their hotel, treated him to champagne and a concert, and asked if they could record his song, Geraldine. It may be a coincidence, but the rockabilly song, Hot Dog, on the In Through The Out Door album seems to owe a lot to the sound of Jack Scott.

The transition back to rock, though, has been gradual, and when Scott appeared at The Edge a couple of years ago, he was still somewhere between the country and rockabilly worlds. From June 14 to June 16 he'll be here for a three-night run at the Horseshoe Tavern, but he promises his energies will be aimed in one direction this time - his old rock material, which he says "is really the most magical thing I've ever done." What stopped his first career, he says, was the vogue of psychedelic rock: "I was working with a few musicians for a while but I couldn't hire a guitar player or a sax player that could do the music properly. Everyone wanted to play psychedelic music and use strobe lights, so I switched to ballads and country, which I'd always loved anyway." His career could have gone a radically different course: in the mid- sixties, Scott found himself with two suitors, Chet Atkins of RCA, who wanted him to become a country singer and, bizarre as it sounds, Berry Gordy, president and founder of Motown Records, who wanted to make pop hits for him. "I'd met Berry back in 1959. My publishing company was Southam Music, at 49th and Broadway in the Brill building. One day I went in and there was this guy standing on the sidewalk peddling songs. He knew me, but I didn't know him. Later he called me and asked me if I remembered him, and he asked me if I'd join the label, and he said he was sure we could do some good things, but I just didn't feel as if I'd fit in." So he went to Nashville and recorded several more albums, until he began picking up on the current rockabilly revival - although he explains, in a friendly but definite way, that he sees little kinship at all between current rockabilly and the original form. Rockabilly is conscious of sounding like rockabilly today: the first time around, it just happened. "When I went to England two years ago, they had a great concert by the sea, Carl Perkins and myself, and about 15 or 20 English rockabilly bands who were dressed in fifties style and playing the slap bass and everything. To tell you the truth, I don't hear these guys that say they sound like the fifties sounding like the fifties to me." He credits the sound of rockabilly to the spontaneity of the music: "I wasn't as critical - today you go to a studio, it's 'Oh, too much bass, take it down' and everything. Then it was one track, everyone was in the studio together: you listen to that stuff today, all you can hear is guitar, bass and vocals. But the energy was high. We broke up sometimes in the studio. The sound was coming through and it sounded so good I choked up on my own song, I was so excited, so we had to splice over it. "When we first came out there, I was working at a small shop and doing Saturday night barn dances. Ernest Tubb and Bill Haley and then Elvis came along - I was doing his stuff as well as the country. I didn't try to write country and we didn't think 'Let's do a rock and roll record.' We just thought, 'Let's do a song.' "

Edited by kenog
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MP says rock records carry hidden messages

The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 10 June 1982: P.8.
There are hidden messages about Satan, sex and drugs on rock records and it's high time record companies came clean and told the world about it, Liberal backbencher Jack Burg-hardt told the Commons yesterday. Many rock records contain subliminal messages advocating Satanic worship, drug use and promiscuity, he said. The MP for London West, a former broadcaster, wants the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs to investigate the matter and force record companies to label recordings bearing hidden unsavory messages. Mr. Burghardt said such popular groups as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Queen all have made subliminal recordings. He said playing Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven backwards will reveal such lines as: ''I sing because I live with Satan'' and ''Here's to my sweet Satan.'' A spokesman for Led Zeppelin's Canadian record company in Toronto said Mr. Burghardt is over-reacting
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Plant back on track

falseLacey, Liam. The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 26 June 1982: E.1
A S THE elevator slides open, the group of journalists, photographers, disc jockeys and hangers-on steps out into the hotel hallway looking both directions at once in an effort to figure out the numbering systems. A door to the left swings open, and a head, blond hair neatly trimmed at shoulder length, appears. "Come straight through gentlemen," says the newly-coiffed Robert Plant, in an English circus barker voice. "Come see how many people it takes to run a record company." He waves them into the room, then retires into the bedroom, while about a dozen and a half record people mill about, sipping at green Perrier and Heineken bottles, introducing themselves to each other and sending small teams of journalists into the bedroom for interviews at half-hour intervals.

Curiosity is naturally high. The Led Zeppelin singer has not offered interviews promiscuously in the past, and the Toronto visit is only one of two stops in North America; the other was in New York; and before this, he has given only one previous interview to the British heavy metal fanzine, Kerrang! The four members of Led Zeppelin, probably the biggest selling rock group of the seventies, were the founding fathers of the still flourishing heavy-metal movement, and the originators of every nuance of the heavy-m etal style - not only Plant's stratospheric vocals and Jimmy Page's self- parodying excesses on lead guitar, but also their habit of trashing hotel rooms as well.

Led Zeppelin's 12-year existence came to an abrupt end in September, 1980, though, when drummer and wild man, John (Bonzo) Bonham was found dead in Jimmy Page's home, killed by a massive drinking bout. The remaining members of the band have been in seclusion since, except for an ambiguously worded statement released in December, 1980, which explained that, out of respect for the group and and for Bonham's family, "we can no longer continue as we were." Plant, who is in his early thirties, sits crossed-legged on his bed, looking tensely bemused and tautly fit in his white T-shirt, ready to fill in the answer a little further. "Come a little closer," he suggests. "I don't have a very loud voice," which, as ridiculous as it sounds, happens to be true.

The first question, of course, is about the future of Led Zeppelin and Plant answers in a tone of patient weariness: "I think I've gone through this before. Led Zeppelin was a four-man band, we played as a four-man band and recorded as a four-man band. And now that's over." He acknowledges that there may be "scraps of tape around, but "Led Zeppelin will never play or record again." The point of his current talks with the press, after "eight or nine years of not talking to anyone," is to promote his first solo album, Pictures At 11. The title, he says, "is about information - as in the news." He is also concerned about "clearing up the image we had over the past few years," and, he adds, "I kept in the closet because I was overweight. Now I'm feeling fit again." At the other inevitable question - about the recent accusations from California evangelists that secret "satanic messages" were subliminally buried in the music of a number of rock songs, including Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven, Plant looks even more pained: "Negativity of any kind is best to be avoided. Even asking that question encourages this kind of negative speculation. "How could anyone sing backwards? It's complete bunkum. It can't be done. It's like one of those Superman-Bizarro comics you used to read as a kid where everyone did everything backwards and said 'thank-you' when they meant 'please.' Only Americans could come up with something that ridiculous. Nobody in Europe would understand the point of doing anything backwards; it's hard enough to do it forewards." "I didn't mind for us so much," he adds magnanimously, "but why on earth did they pick on poor bands like Styx? Next it will be Abba, Pat Boone and Rosemary Clooney. Why don't people take up swimming or squash if they're bored?" When someone mentions the Moral Majority movement, Plant responds: "I have nothing against the Moral Majority. I have no loose morals; I'm clean in my body and my mind, if you like. Do I sound like Billy Graham? Well, I don't mind." He skirts over his reaction to Bonham's death, only saying that he kept to his home for a while, playing his rockabilly tapes and avoiding performing. But eventually, a rag-tag collection of musical friends convinced him to go back to the stage, playing other people's songs in bars and travelling in a van, under the name The Honeydrippers. After two or three months of playing, and recording bits of songs with guitarist Ronnie Blunt in his spare time, Plant decided to do his first solo album, using mostly unknown musicians, with the exceptions of his drummers, Phil Collins and Cozy Powell. "When I started, I was like this weak-kneed pale-faced scared kid, but Phil and Cozy insisted on making it fun, and helped bring me out of myself." Asked if he was ready to leave Led Zeppelin's Swan Song label at the time, he quips. "I was ready to change everything in my life, but I ended up just changing my socks . . . I think it's worked out. It sounds like record liner hype to say it, but I'm proud of what I've done. I still view myself as competitive - I'm not an icon. I don't accept this attitude of 'Oh yes, he was from the Led Zeppelin era, but that day's gone though he can still play a few sports and get about.' " Plant also mentions that his 13-year-old daughter has recently adopted his fascination with rockabilly. "She kissed Brian (Setzer) of The Stray Cats right on the lips after a concert, so she's been gone on it ever since. She makes me feel like I've spent this last 12 or 13 years just wasting my time. We've reversed roles; I steal her Human League singles and she steals my old Sun rockabilly records." If such a domestic picture seems a little tame for one of the seventies' high priests of excess, Plant has plenty other of other disappointments in store for the Led Zeppelin faithful. Nowadays, he plays on a local soccer team to keep fit and has recently taken up squash. "I like doing things that are healthy," he says, fondly patting his stomach. "It seems that everybody I know these days is doing sit-ups."

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Pictures at Eleven Robert Plant

Niester, Alan. The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 07 Aug 1982: F.6.
Swan Song XSS 8512 Granted, no single element made Led Zeppelin the band that it was.

Jimmy Page's archetypal heavy metal riffs were no more or less a key element of the sound than were John Bonham's heavily rhythmic drumming or Plant's galvanizing, electric and electrifying vocalizing. But as fundamental to the sound as all four were (or at least all three - John Paul Jones was never an original on his bass, as was, say, Jack Bruce) an argument can be made that only Plant was irreplaceable.

This comment could not have been made before the release of Pictures at Eleven, but it seems feasible now. Pictures at Eleven may not have been intended this way, but it shows that Plant, had he the notion, could well have carried on the Led Zep name by himself. By putting together a studio band which includes Robbie Blunt on Page-styled guitar, and veteran session player Cozy Powell on Bonham-like drums, Plant has created a set of songs that can easily stand with most (although certainly not the best) of Led Zep's repertoire.

Squeezed into a typical FM "super-set," numbers like Plant's Burning Down One Side and Slow Dancer would fit without a hitch. Credit is due not only to Plant's searing vocal approach, which has lost nothing over the past decade, but to Blunt's studied, Page-style, low-register riffing. Blunt may not be an original, but what he steals, he steals well.

Although there are few really original ideas on this album, there are no dull moments either. Each cut is an example of the kind of intelligence and care that Led Zeppelin brought to virtually every effort it undertook, and no real Led Zep fan can afford to be without it.

Edited by kenog
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Robert Plant eager to get on the road

Lacey, Liam. The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 08 July 1983: E.8.
"I 'VE WAITED this long, patiently, and worked very hard, so now I'm anxious to get back on the road," said Robert Plant yesterday in his suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto. The visit from the hale and chipper former lead singer of Led Zeppelin is part of a promotional round for his second solo album and for a tour that has Phil Collins coming along to play drums. (Tickets go on sale today for the forthcoming tour, which will bring him to Maple Leaf Gardens on Sept. 10.) Plant said he will rely on his new record (Principles Of Moments) and his 1981 solo record (Pictures At 11) to fill up "a good bellyful of music with lots of variety" for his concert, but it would be "tasteless" to include Led Zeppelin songs. The point of such promotional tours is to shed the image of the past. "Right now I'm a member of a different band, which happens to have my name attached to it. The next time we do interviews, it will be the whole group, but for now, I have to do the explaining." The most prominent new musician who has risen with Plant's second incarnation is guitarist Ronnie Blunt, and Plant is anxious that Blunt should not be compared with his former partner, Led Zeppelin's histrionic guitarist Jimmy Page. "It wouldn't be fair to Ronnie to ask him to play Black Dog or Whole Lotta Love every night on stage. The keyboards are more prominent on this album for exactly that reason - so we don't fall into that trap of having me sing with another guitar hero. I don't want any musicians who are there as a singer's moll; we're not the Bonnie and Clyde Quintet." Out from under the Led Zeppelin umbrella, Plant found he was considered unusually demanding in the studio. "The guys were intimidated initially, not so much by me but by people's expectations of the past. I knew what I wanted, and it took some time to get them to understand that. One of the problems is that my paths of concentration have developed very well from working all those years with Jimmy (Page) in the studio. I found other musicians would get exhausted after two or three hours of work, and I was ready to go on for five or six hours." His parting crack was a topical shot at the spate of reunions that has plagued the rock market lately. "Do you think I could possibly be this honest with people if I were trying to take a lot of ex-rock stars on the road?" Next week, the hosts of CFNY-FM's Sounds From The Streets, Liz Janik and Peter Goodwin, will bring some of the music back to the streets where it came from. The showcase of 15 independent recording artists (the first 15 that agreed to play) will take place at Larry's Hideaway from July 19 to 23. On July 19 the line-up is: Scott Merrit, Jane Siberry and Brent Titcomb, followed by The Cee Dees, Aaron Davis and the Gayap Rhythm Drummers on July 20. On July 21 it's Bobby and Synthia, Canadian Aces and Phase IV. The July 22 line-up includes The Palace at 4 a.m., Fifth Column and Breeding Ground. On July 23 there's Terraced Garden, Kinetic Ideals and L'Etranger.

Joan Jett and The Blackhearts' current album (generically entitled Album), folds out to reveal dozens of pictures of Miss Jett and her band on tour through Europe, Japan and the United States. It's not a tour album, but it does help bolster Miss Jett's reputation as a heck of a hard worker. "We figured it had been a year and a half since I Love Rock and Roll," says Miss Jett. "We wanted the kids to know we'd been busy in the meantime. There's a few places we haven't made it to yet - like South America and western Canada - but we'll get there." One of the two cover tunes is Bobby Lewis' 1961 hit, Tossin' and Turnin', a song which is about the same age as Miss Jett. "I don't remember exactly how I heard Tossin' and Turnin' - it was probably on one of those TV greatest hits of the sixties' ads. At the time, we were staying up all night writing, and were really exhausted. I got hooked by those opening words 'I couldn't sleep at all last night." With the Synchronicity album going into the number 1 slot on the charts across North America, The Police is keeping busier than ever. On the basis of sales in the first five weeks, the album is the fastest selling record A&M Canada has ever had on its roster.

Lead singer-bassist Sting is about to begin playing in the film Dune, based on Frank Herbert's sci-fi trilogy about a future universe in which good triumphs over evil. The $50-million film, produced by Rafaela De Laurentiis, begins shooting this month in Mexico and is directed by David Lynch (who previously directed Eraser Head and The Elephant Man). Sting described his role in an interview in England's Sounds magazine, as "a villain with a huge codpiece." The Police are about to begin a concert tour through North America and Europe which brings them to Montreal on Aug. 3 and Toronto on Aug. 6. By the end of the month, look for three more Canadian dates to be announced - in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver. Look out for REM, the Athens, Ga., band which plays at Larry's Hideaway tomorrow night. The band is one of the most critically acclaimed new groups to come out of the United States since X emerged in Los Angeles three years ago. REM (which stands for Rapid Eye Movement) has received rave reviews from the Village Voice, Trouser Press and the Los Angeles Times . . . Sony of Canada will bring out a four-pound portable record player by the end of the month that is the album-playing equivalent of the Sony Walkman. It will retail for about $390. There is already one mini- portable record player on the market called the Soundburger (which retails for about $200), but it uses an inexpensive tone arm, has a poor sound and, according to the hi-fi stores, is a little rough on records . . . Harbourfront begins a series of free outdoor dances tonight at 9 with Shox Johnson and The Jive Bombers, followed by Professor Piano and the Rockin' Deltoids (July 15 and 16), and The Bopcats (July 22, 23 and 30).

Edited by kenog
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Led Zeppelin dogs Plant's steps

falseLacey, Liam. The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 12 Sep 1983: P.16.

How do you follow a career in Led Zeppelin? The return of former Led Zeppelin star Robert Plant to the stage of Maple Leaf Gardens on Saturday night turned out to be a strange experiment in answering that question.

With his flowing Viking locks, rafter-raising screams and dramatic presence, Plant was one of the truly iconic figures of 1970s hard rock, and for many of the fans in the capacity crowd last night, that was the Robert Plant they came to see.

Plant could retire for life on the money he made from Led Zeppelin, but he has chosen, after a series of personal crises, to stick with a career in rock music. He has also decided to disassociate himself from his former band entirely. Nearly all the material played in Saturday night's show was from his two solo albums released in the last two years and the result was a capacity audience listening to material with which they were almost entirely unfamiliar.

In many respects, the relationship between the performer and the audience was more interesting than the actual music. By and large, the audience was the same as for any hard rock show - the kids with the hair in their eyes, the hacked-off denim vests and black T-shirts - but there were also more couples, people in their thirties. The fans did everything possible to make Plant feel welcome. In turn, he thanked them, politely and repeatedly, for their applause.

Plant has come a long way since his days as high priest of excess. The new songs are mostly introspective art rock, still obviously based in the propulsive Zeppelin sound but tempered now with a pensive tone and less erotic-mystical trappings. At his best - Thru With The Two-Step, and Big Log - Plant comes very close to an interesting synthesis of primitive excitement and lyrical intelligence, though the sound is still hampered by the ponderous arrangements he favors. Guitarist Robbie Blunt makes no direct attempt to sound like Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, but he does sound like every arena rock guitarist you've ever heard. Bassist Paul Martinez and keyboardist Jezz Woodroffe are capable, if unexceptional, sidemen and no more. The major sop to the audience was the presence of Genesis' guitarist Phil Collins on drums.

Each time Plant came remotely near the old sound last night - when his voice went high on Wreckless Love, for example - or when the Blunt started one of those big brutal, Zeppelin-style riffs, the crowd roared with enthusiasm; the rest of the time, they were politely interested, though clearly frustrated at not having anything familiar to wave their fists and shout about. It took a stinging version of Bob Marley's Lively Up Yourself before the crowd really came alive. If you can't get Stairway To Heaven, you take the next best thing, right?

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Page leaves Zeppelin behind

falsede Atley, Richard. The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 11 May 1985: M.8.
RICHARD DE ATLEY LOS ANGELES GUITAR MASTER Jimmy Page, late of Led Zeppelin, and now a senior partner in The Firm, likes what he doesn't hear from concert audiences.

''We don't get any shouts for the old stuff, so we must have something going,'' said Page during a recent appearance here by the group which includes former Bad Company lead singer Paul Rodgers.

Though the 41-year-old Page and Rodgers, 35, wrote most of the group's music, there's barely enough original material for a two-hour concert. Still, Page is determined not to trot out any Led Zeppelin or Bad Company chestnuts.

The Firm, which also includes young bassist Tony Franklin and drummer Chris Slade, breaks no new ground with its first album, but harvests its popularity from some well-tilled rock 'n' roll fields. It is music that is not likely to attract the spiky-haired or the studded- leather-wristband set.

The solid musicianship of Page and Rodgers' distinctive vocals are the group's chief assets, and their presence alone may have generated their debut album's success on the charts. But it may take a second LP to judge where The Firm actually fits in the rock scene.

Released by Atlantic Records, the LP titled after the group's name was No. 21 on Billboard Magazine's top pop album chart for the week of April 27. It had reached a high of No. 17 and was certified gold - 500,000 records and cassettes sold - on April 15.

Radioactive, a single released from the album along with a video clip, was listed No. 46 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles, down from two weeks at the No. 28 spot.

The Firm's members are masters of their trade, know how to produce good sounds and put on a show for concert crowds.

Page did studio sessions 20 years ago for The Who and Van Morrison's old group, Them, including guitar work on Gloria, which was to 1960s radio play what Stairway to Heaven was to the '70s.

Rodgers' association with Page goes back at least to the early '70s, when Bad Company's albums were released in the United States on Led Zeppelin's Swan Song label. His first U.S. hit was All Right Now recorded in 1970 when he was with the short-lived British group, Free.

Bad Company's biggest hits include Can't Get Enough in 1974 and Feel Like Makin' Love in 1975.

Led Zeppelin, with its strong sexual messages derived from early American blues songs and Page's interest in the occult and mysticism, was the first rock group termed ''heavy metal'' by critics. ''I know that we were labeled 'heavy metal,' and we certainly fit that category in some areas,'' Page said. ''But in some of our sounds, you could hear a pin drop between notes. That's not how I see heavy metal music now. But I guess we were embryonic of that whole thing.'' Page said he likes current heavy metal groups ''because its not polite music.''

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Plant's concert exudes style and imagination

Lacey, Liam. The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 18 July 1985: E.5.
FIRST THINGS first: no, Robert Plant does not belong to a band that creates elephantine musical dreck with thumping drums and screaming guitar leads. Anyone who imagines that this is what the former Led Zeppelin singer is still up to, should have seen and heard his riveting performance at the CNE Grandstand Wednesday night before more than 20,000 fans. Let's take it one step further: if the anti-pop brigade needs a new champion, Plant may be just the man for the job.

Rock radio, inspired by rock video, is going through a painfully goo- goo period these days, with cartoon idols and sappy intentions. In contrast, Plant has emerged in the past three years as a recording artist with artistic integrity, a willingness to experiment and a genuinely personal style. Over the course of his three solo albums, you'd be hard pressed to find four songs that qualify as well-crafted, three-minute pop tunes you can hum along to, which makes him bracingly fresh. It's hard to imagine, thank goodness, Howard Jones or Wham] covering any Robert Plant material.

For those who saw Plant and his band at the Grandstand, the old shadow of Led Zeppelin seemed pretty much forgotten. The songs they cheered the loudest and longest for were video hits of recent vintage, such as I'm In The Mood For A Melody and those from Plant's most recent album, such as Little By Little and Too Loud.

The elements that set the concert apart worked on several levels: Plant's hip-shaking, jiving and casual good humor and intensely expressive singing; the expert and compactly powerful work of his band, propelled by former Little Feat drummer Ritchie Hayward's monstrous sound; even the floral lighting patterns created across the stage emphasized that this was a show with class, not just flash.

The most singular achievement of the concert, though, was the sound. Usually, the sound at a rock concert is only remarkable if it's exceptionally terrible; ordinarily, terrible is to be expected. The sound at Plant's show was a thing of wonder: loud enough that you could feel your chest shake with the rumble of the bass, but never so loud that it hurt the ears.

Full to the point of overwhelming, but never physically oppressive, this was real aural sculpting, using volume and sonority to create physical effects on an audience in a way that evoked Led Zeppelin without the usual associations of eardrum damage.

Plant, who recently mentioned the English soundscape album, This Mortal Coil, as one of his favorites, has not allowed his music to petrify the way so many of his contemporaries have. His songs showed elements of the aggressive percussion of rap, hints of rockabilly, heavy metal and progressive rock. There was even some generic adult-oriented rock; as he said in his tongue-in-cheek introduction to Other Arms, "Here's a song that could be competing with REO Speedwagon's latest." The truth is, unlike REO Speedwagon and the like, Plant really doesn't seem to be trying to do anything commercial. The most accessible music he has done of late, the nostalgic Honeydrippers material, was left until the show's encores.

By all current accepted wisdom of commercial music, what Plant does is folly: five- and seven-minute soundscapes rather than songs, brooding, obscure themes and a staunch refusal to rely on his talent for ear- splitting screams. The truth is, Robert Plant is doing what he likes, and it puts him above and beyond the mass of performers who only do what they think their audiences want.

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The Firm in danger of being viewed as dinosaurs: [FINAL Edition]

falseErskine, Evelyn. The Ottawa Citizen [Ottawa, Ont] 28 Feb 1986: D5.

The Firm combines the talents of two supergroups of the 1970s in the form of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and bad Company vocalist Paul Rodgers. As it has in the past, the group on this album meshes bits and pieces of the sounds of both bands, but it has to do more than that. The Firm must also find new ground for itself. Mean Business indicates that this mission remains a challenge that has still not been met.

Some songs involve the process of this search and hold some attraction for the experimentalism involved. They are loose, free-form and in their best moments, haunting. They can also be scattered and chaotic.

Other tracks take a stab at a more defined musical idea, but miss the mark more often than they should. There are also some dated ideas such as with All the Kings Horses. The theme belongs to the storybook mysticism of '70s techno-rock - something The Firm ought to clearly avoid. The band is in danger anyway of being viewed as dinosaurs without drawing unnecessary attention to it.

This project is still looking for a reason to exist. There is little contained in Mean Business to indicate the band has found that niche.

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Deborah J,

Thanks so much - you are always so beautifully mannered. :drinks: I'll be bringing more to this thread, or if I find an article which relates to a specific topic, I'll post it under the appropriate thread.

I can't believe I have not looked at this thread in ages. :slapface:

kenog...and anyone contributing here a huge thank you. Between this and Roger Berlins thread..marvelous :peace:

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Plant grows on you, while T-Bone gets tough:

Greg Quill Toronto Star. Toronto Star [Toronto, Ont] 26 Feb 1988
Now And Zen Robert Plant (Es Paranza/WEA): It lacks focus, genuine excitement and the kind of incendiary vocal dynamics for which Plant became famous all those years ago, but Now And Zen is a sneaky little record whose simple charms insinuate themselves only after two or three spins.

Something might be made of the fact that guitarist Jimmy Page, Plant's former Led Zeppelin colleague, lends a hand with solos on "Heaven Knows," this album's first single, and "Tall Cool One," one of only three mild rockers in this set. It's their first collaboration since Plant undertook a solo career, and has fuelled rumors that the singer is now willing - after years of resistance - to embrace his past and to perform Zeppelin songs in concert.

That said, Page's contributions are neither particularly inspired nor characteristic, but then it could be argued that these subdued, meandering songs, mostly co-written by Plant and keyboardists/ programmers Dave Barrett and Phil Johnstone, aren't exactly up Page's alley.

Nevertheless, "Heaven Knows," "Ship Of Fools" and "Tall Cool One" (with its rockabilly-period catchline, "Lighten up baby, I'm in love with you") all have subtle little hooks that will dig in long enough to make them hits.

Elsewhere, Plant contemplates the problems of trying to maintain a cutting edge while surrounded by luxury ("The Way I Feel"), the salubrious effects of sugary pop music on his distant childhood ("White, Clean And Neat") and the dangers and pleasures of sexual games.

An album with limited reach, Now And Zen is also the one Plant solo project that reconciles his considerable musical intelligence with the disposable nature of the pop medium. It's no classic, but it's quirky and full of personality.

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The return of Robert Plant; Led Zeppelin singer has made peace with his past:

By JOHN GRIFFIN Gazette Pop Music Critic. The Gazette [Montreal, Que] 01 Mar 1988

Robert Plant came to town yesterday with the legend of Led Zeppelin in hot pursuit.

An afternoon press conference had been called to tout the British rock singer's new solo LP, Now and Zen, and a North American tour that begins in Quebec City May 4, with Montreal dates to follow. But the ex-Zep frontman spent most of his time talking about a band that self-destructed almost eight years ago.

Tanned, fit, funny and framed by the rippling blond mane that has become standard heavy-metal issue since he introduced it with Led Zeppelin in 1969, Plant sounds like a man who's finally come to terms with his own past.

Tongue in cheek

"I've had years and years of struggling along selling maybe 1 million, 2 million-plus solo LPs each issue," says Plant with tongue placed firmly in cheek. "But my pride has been that I am struggling along to make something for my own self-expression. And all the time I have to talk about bloody Led Zeppelin!

"There's no denying that whatever I do or whatever Paul McCartney does, we're never going to reach the kind of historical appeal of something that's come and is gone forever. Even if I become Phil Collins, I'm still not going to do (Led Zeppelin's) kind of business. But I can still have fun."

Fun has not always figured large in the life of 39-year-old Robert Anthony Plant.

His public image during the hell-raising Led Zeppelin decade was that of a singularly serious post-Flower Child with a mystical bent, while his personal life was marred by tragedy - a son, Karac, died in 1977, and the drinking death of Zep drummer John Bonham effectively ended that band's career in 1980.

Loudest band

Now, with six solo albums under his belt and a 9-year-old son, he's discouraged with the music business - "there's no future in it!" But Plant feels ready to take a wry look at those strange days when Led Zeppelin ruled as the loudest, most popular and arguably most pretentious band in all of rock.

The jacket photo of Now and Zen is a classic piece from the occult universe of Led Zep - especially that of his spacey old bandmate, guitarist Jimmy Page.

Plant stands draped in gold brocade against a barren Himalayan background, with one heavily bejewelled arm pointing towards a cosmically significant arrangement of flags, masks, runic symbols and other witchy Led Zep fashion accessories from that hallucinatory era.

"When it came time to do the record, co-producer Phil Johnstone and cronies in the band said, 'For Christ's sake, stop denying Led Zeppelin ever existed. If you wrote all those lyrics and melodies, you might as well accept that they're there, and enjoy them.'

"So I figured the ideal thing to do would be to have an album cover that looks kind of deep and mysterious and also incredibly meaningless, plus bits and pieces of Led Zeppelin songs scattered throughout the album," Plant said.

Once Plant accepted the inevitability of his own past, "the floodgates opened. The possibilities are dumbfounding! You can have violin bows onstage, laser triangles - a complete Spinal Tap, live and on the road!"

Messianic appeal

Plant doesn't really need any of the props from that hilarious rock n' roll cinematic spoof to boost his upcoming concert attendances. Quite apart from his own appeal, which is messianic in parts of the world like Montreal, Plant's new album comes at a time when the hard rock he's been making for 22 years has suddenly come back into vogue.

If Led Zeppelin-esque bands like Bon Jovi and Whitesnake can sell millions of records while Plant clones wail before thousands of kids in stadiums across Europe and North America, there's surely enough room for the original - especially when he's promised to intersperse Led Zep tunes with his own material during the new tour.

"If a lot of people want Led Zeppelin, then I'm here. I was only a part of it, but an essential part.

"Really, though, I don't have to worry about trends any more, though it does seem to have come right back around again," says Plant with a wry laugh. "I'm not as self-conscious as I was. I'm not so self-analytical about the whole thing. I'm not denying my glorious past!"

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Plant's ready to howl again:

Greg Quill Toronto Star. Toronto Star [Toronto, Ont] 02 Mar 1988
"I wrote the words, I wrote the melodies and I sang the songs. Where's my problem? If everyone else can get into the Led Zeppelin thing, why can't I?"

Robert Plant must have asked himself these questions long before he started work on Now And Zen, his fourth solo album and the one that clearly links him to the British progressive blues-rock band that made him famous in the early 1970s.

Plant will perform in Toronto in mid-May with a new band that, he believes, isn't intimidated by Led Zeppelin's weighty reputation. And he'll perform Led Zeppelin songs in concert for the first time since 1980.

During an interview in Toronto yesterday, the 40-year-old singer asked himself those same questions again, as if daring us to remind him that for the seven years since Led Zeppelin's demise he has been trying quite passionately to distance himself from his loud, electric past.

Curled mane

Plant has steadfastly refused to perform Led Zeppelin material, claiming it couldn't be reconstructed without the original members.

And in three previous solo albums (Pictures At Eleven, The Principle Of Moments and Shaken 'n' Stirred) he seemed to prefer experimenting with electronic, computerized forms than revelling in primal rock 'n' roll. He'd matured, he told us then. He was more sophisticated. He crooned and wore short hair.

That was zen.

That was before heavy metal and crunchy guitar rock re- established itself in the mainstream, before Plant realized his old, patent siren scream and blond, curled mane had become symbols again of serious rock 'n' roll rebelliousness. It was before the pain of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham's alcohol-related death in 1980 had subsided, allowing Plant and his old partner, guitarist Jimmy Page, to reunite on Now And Zen's "Heaven Knows" and "Tall Cool One," songs that most vividly recall their illustrious past and most closely resemble Zeppelin classics.

"You know, if you play 'Heaven Knows' slowly and listen to it sideways, it's 'Kashmir' all over again," Plant said, recalling one of his and Page's most enduring collaborations. "I didn't realize that until Phil Johnstone (who co-wrote most of the material on the new album and helped produce it) pointed it out. Smart lad, Phil."

This is now.

Now Plant's hair is long, blond and crimped again. He's cocky and cheeky again. Now he no longer feels compelled to ignore his past.

He has even recorded a couple of vocal tracks for Page's first bona-fide solo album, which is being prepared in Los Angeles with drummer Jason Bonham, their old friend's son; it's an odd reunion of sorts, and somehow ghostly.

"Jason would laugh if he heard that," Plant said, grinning mischievously. "First time I heard him play, he was four. 'Louder, Jason, louder!' his dad would shout.

Likes to shock

"Boy's a real wimp. But he's coming along."

Plant isn't so kind about the fourth Led Zeppelin member, bassist John Paul Jones, who isn't part of his former partners' projects and hasn't been consulted about the singer's intention to revive the Zeppelin spectre.

"Jonesy? He can fish! He's producing a band called The Mission UK and frankly, I don't like him adding Zeppelinisms to everything they do. Have you heard their song, 'Tower Of Strength'? It's another 'Kashmir', a dead rip.

"Are you listening, John? Any port in a storm, eh?"

Plant likes shocking people, he admitted. "As much as I like being shocked. I'm out whoring myself for this new record and band because I believe this is the best music I've made in years, and the best band I've had; it's clean as a whistle.

"I'll do my favorite Led Zeppelin songs but I promise you this won't be the parody express."

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Robert Plant Now and Zen
Dafoe, Chris. The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 10 Mar 1988
Bob the Shrub, in spite of having been written off 10 years ago as a crotch-tugging dinosaur by most sensible folks, has done remarkably well since the breakup of Led Zeppelin. With the current renewed interest in the band (a new act, Kingdom Come, has become the darling of radio programmers because it "sounds just like Zeppelin"), his fortunes can't help but improve.

Which is fair enough, because Plant's latest record is probably his strongest as a solo artist. Although the high-gloss production seems a bit sterile at times, Now and Zen is playfully eclectic - running from synthesized roots rock and R&B to Eastern motifs - and Plant's pseudo- blues wail remains strong, if more restrained than in the past. Plant even displays a hitherto well-hidden sense of humor as he swipes a little bit of the Zeppelin chestnut, Whole Lotta Love, as an epilogue for the electro-rockabilly of Tall Cool One.

More a tickle than Hammer of the Gods, perhaps, but amusing after a fashion.

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After Zeppelin, Plant comes to terms with past, present:

O'Connor, Tim. The Ottawa Citizen [Ottawa, Ont] 11 Mar 1988
Robert Plant strides into the hotel room, swinging his long arms freely, and sits down quickly like someone who's bursting to tell his story.

Plant has let his curly blond mop hang to his shoulders again, as in the days when he was the dynamic vocalist with Led Zeppelin, the monster metal group that ranked with the Who and the Rolling Stones in the 1970s.

His carefree manner, his new album Now and Zen, and even his hair, all confirm that Plant no longer feels compelled to do everything possible to distance himself from Zeppelin, a group whose songs include Stairway to Heaven, a rock classic that still gets plenty of radio airplay.

"I feel a lot less self-conscious in all areas than I have in quite along time," the youthful-looking 39-year-old said in a recent interview.

"I feel cleansed of some of the self-inflicted analysis I've gone through. And I'm quite happy to be just plain, simple Robert Plant again - at last."

After Zeppelin drummer John Bonham died of a heart attack in 1980, Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist John Paul Jones decided to ground Zeppelin.

Of the three, only Plant has enjoyed post-Zeppelin success: Page's band the Firm failed and Jones has gone into production work. Page is trying to make a comeback with an album to be released in May that features Bonham's son Jason on drums.

Plant's first three solo albums were arty and self-consciously different from Zeppelin.

However, with his fourth album, Now and Zen, Plant has come to terms with the present and the past. He's still moving forward, using a lot of electronics, but now he's not afraid to rock with a heavy guitar or sing a basic melody.

Plant said Now and Zen is such a big change in direction, "it almost compromises my integrity." But he says he has never been one for following formulas, even with Zeppelin.

"You need change and stimulation," he said. "It's very healthy.

" And (that way) you don't actually join the rank and file of the pop circus. But the pantomime is not for me, really. "

He's referring to the legions of thriving metal bands that have torn pages from the Zeppelin catalogue, mimicking its metallic crunch and even Plant's stage appearance.

Most heavy metal bands will admit that Zeppelin's muscular rock is their main influence, but Plant said groups like the Cult, Whitesnake, the Beastie Boys and the Mission have stooped to outright " thieving. "

He said the Cult's Electric album sounds like a remake of Led Zeppelin II.

Was he irked when he heard all those Zeppelin parts on the Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill album?

" Yeah, licensed to irk, " he said, laughing.

Plant said he asked them to do a rap in the song Tall Cool One but changed his mind. " I got cold feet because I didn't think I wanted to include the Beastie Boys on my record. "

He's particularly snarky about Whitesnake's David Coverdale, calling him David Conversion.

" I'm not flattered because I don't think thieving is something that is worth going over the moon about, " he said.

" I know that if I was still in Led Zeppelin, we'd go around and smack everyone's ear - real hard, " he said, referring to the days when the band had a reputation as hotel demolishers and fighters.

While Zeppelin used to overwhelm listeners with its power, Plant said he wants to concentrate on writing decent melodies.

He said the key to " finding the chorus again " was replacing his old band. In particular, he notes that keyboardist Phil Johnstone kept urging Plant to keep things simple and melodic.

" I looked for somebody who could stand up to me and say, 'I think you're wrong,' because I've always gotten away with this desire to be obscure for no particular reason. "

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Plant grows passionate:

Erskine, Evelyn. The Ottawa Citizen [Ottawa, Ont] 18 Mar 1988

Now And Zen

(SARANZA ST-ES-876701)

It has taken Robert Plant a long time to leave the legacy of Led Zeppelin behind and make an artistic contribution that stands on its own legs. With Now And Zen he has done it.

Over time, Plant has honed his voice to meet the demands of the new music he has forged. Long gone are the soaring histrionics. Instead there is a passionate singer with nearly as suave romanticism as Bryan Ferry, but more earthy and gutsy. This is often an album of feverish passions.

With its mix of jazz and quirky rhythms, Now And Zen has more to do with art-rock than techno-rock. Plant draws on alternative rock as well as uptown blues and urban funk for a sound that fits neatly together and is executed by a superlative band.

The odd fleeting riff, usually from guest and former band-mate Jimmy Page, seems to quote Led Zeppelin, but these are gone before any positive identification can be made. At this point, they are more of a glib tease, than a crutch. Plant hardly needs to rely on the past. On his own, he has created a flawless record.

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PREVIEWS JAZZ & POP Ex-Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant is back in gear, but judging by the retro sound of his new music, it's reverse gear

Miller, Mark. The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 29 Apr 1988

WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND. EIGHT years and four albums into his post- Led Zeppelin years, the once hard-rocking Robert Plant is heading back to where it all started. Plant's first three solo efforts featured a more mature image and a more moderate style. But he has come to terms with his Zeppelin lineage and with the inestimable contribution his blond tresses and banshee vocals made to the British quartet's success during the 1970s.

On his fourth release, Now and Zen, he has Zeppelin's Jimmy Page helping out (and Plant, in turn, has contributed vocals to the guitarist's upcoming album). Still, they're taking this only so far, well aware of the difference between "now" and, if not zen, certainly "Zep." As Plant hits the road with a new band and at least a few Zeppelin favorites, history may be revisited, but it will not be repeated. Robert Plant, May 10. Maple Leaf Gardens, 60 Carlton St., BASS, 872- 2277. THE FACE OF BEN VEREEN IS THE FACE OF surprise - of delight and amazement. It has served him well on the small screen, in the TV docudrama Louis Armstrong - Chicago Style as the great trumpeter himself, in Roots as Chicken George, and in a variety of other series as a variety of other characters. The face may not be so effective on the public stage, but this young Broadway veteran ( Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Pippin) is blessed with a few other physical attributes with which to work. At 41, he remains as light on his feet as he was when he cracked the business as a teenage dancer out of New York. And he can call up a tenor as well suited to light opera as heavy gospel. If, as one wag has put it, Vereen is "six talents in search of an offer," what could be an agent's nightmare may be an audience's delight. Ben Vereen, May 9 to 21. The Imperial Room, 100 Front St. W., 368-6175. IT'S A CLASSIC CASE OF CAUSE AND EFFECT. First, Greek songstress Nana Mouskouri begins a multi-evening series of concerts in town. Then, skeptical reviewers attempt to come to terms with her prim, bespectacled image, her angelic voice, her adoring audience, her multilingual repertoire of pop, folk and classical songs, and her rock band with its bouzouki player. Finally, even before this latest run is up, loyal fans rise to her defence in the letters-to-the-editor column. A year later, maybe two, the process begins again. This time around, at least the venue is new. Nana Mouskouri, May 13 to 17. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., 593-4828.

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He's plain Robert Plant again -- at last:

The Ottawa Citizen [Ottawa, Ont] 06 May 1988
Robert Plant strides into the hotel room, swinging his long arms freely, and sits down quickly like someone who's bursting to tell his story.

As he sits cross-legged, leaning forward, his body seems to be humming with electricity. When making a point, his hands sweep the air fluidly.

Plant has let his curly blond mop hang to his shoulders again, as in the days when he was the dynamic vocalist with Led Zeppelin, the monster metal group that ranked with the Who and the Rolling Stones in the 1970s.

His carefree manner, his new album Now and Zen, and even his hair, all confirm that Plant no longer feels compelled to do everything possible to distance himself from Zeppelin, a group whose songs include Stairway to Heaven, a rock classic that still gets plenty of radio airplay.

''I feel a lot less self-conscious in all areas than I have in quite a long time,'' the youthful-looking 39-year-old said in a recent interview.

''I feel cleansed of some of the self-inflicted analysis I've gone through. And I'm quite happy to be just plain, simple Robert Plant again _ at last.''

Plant plays the Civic Centre Sunday, with opening act Stevie Ray Vaughan.

After Zeppelin drummer John Bonham died of a heart attack in 1980, Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist John Paul Jones decided to ground Zeppelin.

Of the three, only Plant has enjoyed post-Zeppelin success: Page's band the Firm failed and Jones has gone into production work. Page is trying to make a comeback with an album to be released in May that features Bonham's son Jason on drums.

Plant's first three solo albums were partly and self-consciously different from Zeppelin.

However, with his fourth album, Now and Zen, Plant has come to terms with the present and the past. He's still moving forward, using a lot of electronics, but now he's not afraid to rock with a heavy guitar or sing a basic melody.

Plant said Now and Zen is such a big change in direction, ''it almost compromises my integrity.'' But he says he has never been one for following formulas, even with Zeppelin.

''You need change and stimulation,'' he said. ''It's very healthy''.

While Zeppelin used to overwhelm listeners with its power, Plant said he wants to concentrate on writing decent melodies.

He said the key to ''finding the chorus again'' was replacing his old band. In particular, he notes that keyboardist Phil Johnstone kept urging Plant to keep things simple and melodic.

''I looked for somebody who could stand up to me and say, 'I think you're wrong', because I've always gotten away with this desire to be obscure for no particular reason.''

Plant said he's aware many people would rather hear an album by a reunited Plant-and-Page team than his solo work but he cautions fans not to hold their breath.

A reunion is unlikely because Plant isn't pleased with Jones's production work with the Mission.

''At such a point where Jimmy feels he's led his own musical renaissance, maybe we'll get back together then.''

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