Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Robert Plant - The Principle of Moments

Following 1982’s Pictures at Eleven (click here for that review), legendary Led Zeppelin front-man Robert Plant released his second solo studio album in 1983. This week (July 11th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of The Principle of Moments.

It charted at number 41 in Sweden, number 8 on the US Billboard Hot 200, number 7 in the UK and number 1 in New Zealand.

Joining Plant on this album were Robbie Blunt (guitars and co-writer on all tracks), Paul Martinez (bass), Jezz Woodroffe (keyboards), Genesis’ own Phil Collins (drums), Barriemore Barlow (drums), John David (backing vocals) and Ray Martinez (backing vocals).

Side one opens with “Other Arms”; released as the second single, it went to number 1 on the US Mainstream Rock chart. On this mid-tempo rocker, Plant pleads to his lover that they stop fighting and try to work their issues out. I particularly like the vocal harmonies on the chorus; it gets stuck in my head.

“In the Mood”, the third and final single from the album, only got to number 81 in the UK. Here in the US, it went to number 39 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 4 on the Mainstream Rock chart. The lyrics on this one are not that complex; it is mostly the repetition of three phases. But Plant delivers them in such a way that, along with the music, it creates a hypnotic effect.

The B-side to the first single, as released in the UK, was “Messin’ with the Mekon”. The song focuses on someone going through a recovery and trying to get a handle on things. He can’t be bothered to take the take to explain how it all makes him feel. The Mekon happens to be the name of the arch-enemy of the British comic book hero Dan Dare, which was first published in the 1950’s. The British science-fiction weekly comic 2000 AD, which began publishing in 1977, revamped the Dan Dare series for a new audience.

“Wreckless Love” opens with a bit of an exotic guitar flare. Lyrically, this one has a bit of a trippy feel, like a drug induced haze. I think the implications are that a dangerous love can be like a bad drug, addictive and destructive.

Side two begins with “Thru with the Two Step”, where quite metaphorically Plant is dancing with the subject of relationship commitment. This intimate track has a strong synth element to it.

“Horizontal Departure” was a popular track on the US Mainstream Rock charts, where it peaked at 44. The chorus is definitely the memorable part of this one for me.

“Stranger Here… Than Over There” is next. As the title suggests, the music does take a bit of an odd turn during the last minute and a half of the song.

The album closes with “Big Log”, which was released as the first single from the album. It charted at number 20 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 11 in the UK, number 7 in New Zealand, number 6 on the US Mainstream Rock chart, and number 4 in the Netherlands. I like the lonely, haunting mood that the opening guitar and drum beat set. The lyrics spin some wonderful imagery too.

In doing this review, there were a number of tracks that I had not heard in a long time. Back in the day, The Principle of Moments songs played quite a bit on both the album-oriented rock stations where I lived and on the college radio station when I went to Rochester in the fall of 1983.


HERC said...

Been waiting for this one although I am a bit surprised you featured it a day early. Is this a dead giveaway you're gonna give Shalamar the look?

For me, Plant's first solo album was good but Principle Of Moments surpassed it in every way: songwriting, performance and production.

You nailed it right on the head when you said the lyrics of "In The Mood" were "hypnotic" - they are almost a mantra.

And the quietly epic "Big Log" calms and soothes my soul in ways very few other songs can. The guitar sound, the pulsing rhythm track and Plant's vocal all combine in a perfect storm of mellow, chilled out vibes.

I pair those two songs together with "Ship Of Fools" from Now & Zen whenever possible for a triple dose of laid back, late night driving tunes.

Don't forget to get out and snag your free Slurpee tomorrow on 7-11 Day.

Martin Maenza said...

Thanks, Herc, for the always welcome comments. Tomorrow? You could be on to something...