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Mattmc1973

What did fans in the 70's think of Plant's voice change?

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In hindsight, all of us bootleg nerds are keenly aware of the evolution of RP's voice. How from 69-72 he was hitting high notes like crazy, on albums and in concert. In late 72 he started struggling and it evolved from there. He sang in lower registers, was no longer a "screamer" like early on. But what did fans at the time think of it?

Say you were a Zep fan in 75 and went to a concert. Maybe you'd seen them in 71 when his voice was in full force, or maybe it was your first time. As you sat there listening to the concert, did you think "man, what's up with his voice? LZ IV only came out 4 years ago and he totally can't sing like on the album. What happened?!" As they're sitting there listening to live versions of 'Rock and Roll', 'Stairway to Heaven', or 'Black Dog' being sung in much lower registers, were they keenly aware of it? Did they not care and were just pumped to be seeing Zep in concert, or did they all leave and in the parking lot have discussions about Plant's voice?

Anyone here who saw them live, was it a topic of conversation, or did you not care?

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When I went to Zeppelin concerts in the 70's, it was not to hear Robert sing "high-pitched".

Robert always sung with emotion, with feeling, as only Robert can do....He gave it his all.

It never bothered me, and I gave no thought to any song not being sung in the register it was recorded.

I pity all the fans that obsess with Robert's upper register.

As long as the band was healthy, then that was a good show for me. :)

Edited by The Rover

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He always sounded fine to me, it's just a natural progression that he will not be able to hit the high notes like he did at the beginning. Just enjoy his voice.

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When I went to Zeppelin concerts in the 70's, it was not to hear Robert sing "high-pitched".

Robert always sung with emotion, with feeling, as only Robert can do....He gave it his all.

It never bothered me, and I gave no thought to any song not being sung in the register it was recorded.

I pity all the fans that obsess with Robert's upper register.

As long as the band was healthy, then that was a good show for me. :)

100% agree.

Kinda like his voice alot right now.

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It's hardly surprising his voice changed when you consider the songs he sung, the length of their shows. The probelm remains is that there are still plenty of people out there who still think he should be able to sing like he did when he was in his 20's. Listen to Daltrey, Jagger, McCartney, Ian Anderson, Gillan, R Stewart et al. Do any of them have the same register these days? Obviously not, Anderson sadly can hardly hit any decent notes live these days.

Robert himself acknowledges that he screamed a bit too much way back then. His voice has matured and I think in many ways he has become a much better singer with age putting more feeling an emotion into his songs and knowing when he can go for it and when to hold back without spoiling the song..

Don't forget there was some speeding up of his vocals on HOTH so no way could he match the recorded versions live. It's surprising some of these guys still have a voice as they push towards 70. I guess without the opportunity to listen to boots and to be able to compare from different tours we wouldn't have noticed as much. Plus he had some sort of operation at some point.

There are so many excellent vocalists still around but none can sing like they did. But there's only one out there who can make the hairs stick up on the back of my neck and thats Plant.

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There are so many excellent vocalists still around but none can sing like they did. But there's only one out there who can make the hairs stick up on the back of my neck and thats Plant.

For the most part I agree

Paul Rodgers, Sammy Hagar, and the late Ronnie James Dio sound (ed) as strong now as they did in their 30's..

Ronnie James Dio was incredibly consistent ...

Ann Wilson as well.. amazing.

That's about it.

Led Zeppelin should have postponed shows when Robert was sick...singing with the flu can do permanent voice damage.

Same thing happened to Tony Martin..

Smoking doesn't help either...

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Yeah, I'm not talking about comparing Plant's voice now to his voice in the 70's. I'm talking about his voice in '72 then in '73. From '69-'72 he could hit the notes, from '73 on he couldn't. I would think that if I went to a concert in '73 or '75 I would've noticed he was singing much different than he did a year or two earlier, and much different than on the records. Of course the shows would've ruled anyway, but it wouldn't have gone unnoticed.

And it's not like NO ONE noticed back then. I recall a bootleg, I believe from '75, where the taper is heard saying near the microphone "his voice sounds like shit, man!!" Lol.

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"Back in the day" there was no internet so rumors abounded. Plant's vocal cord surgery was one such rumor, no one was sure but the gossip was that the Zeppelin couldn't "bring it" anymore. This used to piss me off, and I would play bootlegs for the naysayers to try to prove RP could still make the magic. But some would accept nothing less than the 1971 Robert. Personally I think he sings with greater feeling than ever, but you know how people are: they love to put their heroes up on a pedestal then knock then down.

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When I went to Zeppelin concerts in the 70's, it was not to hear Robert sing "high-pitched".

Robert always sung with emotion, with feeling, as only Robert can do....He gave it his all.

It never bothered me, and I gave no thought to any song not being sung in the register it was recorded.

I pity all the fans that obsess with Robert's upper register.

As long as the band was healthy, then that was a good show for me. :)

Agreed. I too pity the fans that think singing well is all about hitting the highest notes all the time.

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Did people in the 70's really notice? Europe had a 6 / 7 year absence (besides Earls Court) & most of the older fans i've ever spoke to about the shows were fucked up on some kind of drug.

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The whole high register deal is bullshit anyway. Hitting those notes are more of a gimmick than a style, especially for a man. I remember when Mariah Carey came out in 1990 and she would hit those dog whistle notes. Thought that was cool for about five minutes and then I thought, ok, you can hit high notes, now sing the fucking song!

The point is this shit ain't opera, its rock and roll and rock and roll is all about passion, not precision. You want precision jam on some Sarah Brightman, King Crimson, or Maria Callas. Those fuckers can sing and KC can play like mad but none of that is rock and roll, not to me at least. Now I like all those artists but none of them, except Callas, can really bring the passion, the balls! When I am in the mood I will put on some Fripp and the boys but just like Yes its not really rock and hits me similar to Charles Mingus or Miles Davis, great music and I love it but again it ain't rock baby.

I agree Robert's voice, to me, is better now than ever, it just drips passion and feeling and like a fine wine has gotten better with age. Though to my ears his best vocal performances in Zeppelin were during 77', I like the early stuff too where he could wail but, he almost sounded out of control and un-polished on occasion and the wailing got old real quick for me. Again, enough with the vocal pyrotechnics, sing the fucking song!

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A lot of these responses surprise me. All other things equal, wouldn't everybody rather Plant have a bigger range instead of a smaller one?

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One of the music critics opined that Billie Holiday was one of the greatest jazz singers of all time (probably better than Sarah Vaughn or Ella Fitzgerald) not because she had a

better voice or could hit higher notes(her range was only ONE OCTAVE) but she sang with so much emotion that audience could feel it.

I think the same with RP, of couse watching that RAH gig is a kick because Plant hitting high notes and screaming is so beautiful

but singing is much more than that... and don't we all age with time?

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i think by the 70's most people realized that a rock band's sound changes over the years of their career. I'd guess that most people thought it was cool, or intentional, for US 73-77, minus the really bad shows (flu, cracks on every note on his worse nights, etc.) Those early Winter 73 shows and some of the early 75 shows were god awful, but I guess people just enjoyed the other 3 members.

It seems that people who went to their shows hardly noticed the bands rough nights. Based on a few reviews I've read. (example, Seattle 77)

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Robert's voice sounded really strong and clear at the shows I saw in 1977. Having owned several shows from the 1975 tour where his voice was shot I didn't know how he would sound. Especially after they cancelled the 1st leg of the tour when he had throat issues.

Edited by Chicago

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Agreed. I too pity the fans that think singing well is all about hitting the highest notes all the time.

Hitting the notes in tune would be an advantage, if not don't sing the songs, just give Celebration Day a good listen, his voice is awful. God knows why he even attempted Good Times, Bad Times, it sounded as though he had forgotten the words.

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Hitting the notes in tune would be an advantage, if not don't sing the songs, just give Celebration Day a good listen, his voice is awful. God knows why he even attempted Good Times, Bad Times, it sounded as though he had forgotten the words.

I don't agree with that assessment at all though you are welcome to your opinion. Sure, some songs were better than others but as a whole I think he sang damn brilliant overall, better than expected actually. In particular his voice during Kashmir was very good and, considering his age, I give his performance for the show an A-.

Edited by Sagittarius Rising

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Man, we were too busy enjoying the show(admittedly, sometimes in an altered state) to bother with such trainspotting nonsense as whether Robert's screeches were as banshee-like as in 1971.

My first exposure to Zeppelin in concert was in 1972. And with the exception of maybe the 1975 "Rock and Rolls" I didn't really notice nor was I really paying attention to how well Plant's wails compared to earlier times. For one thing, seeing them in L.A., I had the advantage of seeing Zeppelin at their best...even in 1975, we got a better and healthier Plant than most other cities.

Another thing to remember is that natural reverb of the arena and Plant's increased use of the echoplex from 1973 onwards helped mask any vocal deficiencies he might have had. The audiences state of inebriation did the rest.

From my personal experience, there wasn't one Led Zeppelin concert where people bitched about his voice after the show.

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His voice changed so radically because

1. He was aging naturally and everyone's voice changes as they get older. Also, you have to consider he started singing in Led Zeppelin when he was 20.

2. He rarely ever warmed his voice up before shows (by his own account). That's extremely detrimental to maintaining a healthy voice box.

3. He smoked and drank while he sang. Beer is terrible for your throat (singing) and cigarettes are obviously bad for your entire throat/lung/chest area.

4. The combination of all those examples added to their grueling first 5 years and throw in singing when his voice was worn out or if he was sick, it will damage your voice.

He said himself when the 1973 tour concluded, he didn't really talk for the month of August because his voice was simply gone. He had his surgery in the fall of 1973 (I believe).

It's a shame his voice was in shambles during the 1975 tour. He sounded great on the new tracks for Physical Graffiti. As he said, "I guess having your chest exposed in the middle of winter in Chicago wasn't the smartest move." Luckily, Jones/Bonham were spot on 98% of the tour and Page, showing signs of 'sticky finger syndrome,' still had consistent performances most nights. The difference for the 77 tour was Robert finally sounded great but Page's consistency was a thing of the past.

Edited by zeppy668

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It seems that people who went to their shows hardly noticed the bands rough nights. Based on a few reviews I've read. (example, Seattle 77)

Seattle was not a "rough night."

My first exposure to Zeppelin in concert was in 1972. And with the exception of maybe the 1975 "Rock and Rolls" I didn't really notice nor was I really paying attention to how well Plant's wails compared to earlier times. For one thing, seeing them in L.A., I had the advantage of seeing Zeppelin at their best...even in 1975, we got a better and healthier Plant than most other cities.

I'm very jealous of you. :

Edited by Melcórë

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Melcórë said: Seattle was not a "rough night."

Your opinion is bad, and you should feel bad. :) Kidding.

Honestly, I consider it a rough night. Yes, the recording makes it seem much worse, but how often does Robert make up excuses for him AND Jimmy's shape? Seems to be an apology in advance. Seattle is where one of, or apparently "the best '75 show" was played. I think they should have held it together for Seattle, like they seemed to do in the past. It had some great moments, though, and I watch&listen quite regularly.

Listen to Robert on OTHAFA. Just sayin'.

Everybody has different opinions. If all of our opinions were the same, this would be a boring site.

Edited by wilsoncb420

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:P

It's so easy for us to judge -- we're so far removed, and (for the most part) we only use a dry video soundtrack to judge the performance.

I don't know...I just can't pinpoint any moments from the concert that detract (severely) from my overall enjoyment of it...and I also wouldn't elevate it to the zenith that we so often ascribe to the L.A. run. It's middle of the road -- you want rough, go to Tempe...

Edited by Melcórë

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it's the abuse plain and simple. Geoff Tate, who could have been possibly the best metal singer ever, completely ruined his voice by repeatedly touring while sick. He's a pathetic joke nowadays. Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson and, until his death, Ronnie James Dio all still have it. I saw Priest's farewell tour in Rochester, NY and Halford was amazing. I was weeping in joy. Dickinson is far better now than when he was young. He's consistent across a tour, something he never was before he left and rejoined Maiden (unless you count consistently bad like most of 85 and 86). Even on their definitive live album Live After Death Bruce is bloody horrible, screaming and screeching, cutting corners all the time. He doesn't do that now. And Dio has sounded the same since he joined Rainbow. As mentioned above An Wilson still has it too. I saw her in 2012, then a few months ago, and am going to see Heart twice in July. Annie got a standing ovation for Alone she sang so good.

Plant may have been amazing at the start, but he's alway pushed himself beyond what is his optimal singing range, and in the process he's basically juist hurt himself. Add to that singing while sick, smoking and a wide assortment of partying (and not sleeping) and RP's performances were never consistent. His voice changed at least 3 times in Zeppelin's career, never for the better.

BTW, has anyone noticed that when he started with LZ and had the blues voice his phrasing and technique were very much the same as Janis Joplin's? They must have owned all the same blues records

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BTW, has anyone noticed that when he started with LZ and had the blues voice his phrasing and technique were very much the same as Janis Joplin's? They must have owned all the same blues records.

I suppose he was still in the latter stages of finding his voice and his style, and maybe he was a little influenced by her (perhaps unwittingly).

Personally, I think his voice changed a lot, but not necessarily in a bad way. It is true he gave more bad performacnes towards the end of the 70s, but I think his voice just matured more. I don't see that as a terrible thing, per se.

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I have to agree with Haywood, Plant gave us some incredible stuff in the early years, but it was at a pretty high cost to his voice. Honestly, as much as I love the earlier albums and live work, Physical Graffiti is the alter at which I bow. Plant's voice really hit a sweat spot on that album in my opinion. In the Light and Kashmir are probably the pinnacle for me. The power in his voice is amazing - not the register, or "high notes," but just that raw "Hammer of the Gods" power that makes Zeppelin not just a great band, but it makes them epic.

Since PG was recorded primarily in 74' and Plant was sick for the start of the 75' tour, I don't know that there is a "show" that ever captured what ended up on vinyl. Plant sites PG as his favorite Zeppelin album, although I don't necessarily recall him attributing that to his own performance specifically.

From 75' on Plant's voice took on what I like to call the "Elvis effect" You can hear a lot of this on Presence where the rockabilly influence really becomes noticeble. Presence is such an interesting album because for me there's no better place to see the change, not only for Plant, but the band as a whole. Achilles Last Stand and Tea For One sound like they could have been from the 74' era recordings, whereas the rest of the album has that rockabilly thing going on (For Your Life might be somewhere in between these two worlds).

I never got to see them live. My parents wouldn't let me go when they last came to Seattle in 77' (I was 10 at the time). My cousin went and what she remembers was the firecrackers (and whatever else that was being lit off), being tossed from the 300' level of the Kingdome and Plant asking the crowd to stop (and the loooong drum solo). I did get to see Page for what ended up being the last ever Firm show in Seattle 86'

I'm new here and just wanted to say how cool it is to have others who "get" what these four amazing musicians created together.

Cheers!

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