Surprise, surprise, Led Zeppelin is back in the news these days, and is it any wonder when you consider they are the only big name classic rock band that has yet to reconvene for a major money-making reunion tour. The band is poised to start a major reissue campaign, for the first time plundering the vaults for the deepest of deep cuts. Of course these means interviews with the band’s two leading lights, guitarist and sonic architect Jimmy Page and the mercurial Golden God, lead singer Robert Plant. Word is Plant nixed a possible world tour in 2007 after their one-off performance in London and the two sides are now going public with the news and its ensuing fallout. Well, at least we’ve still got the music, and speaking of music VH1 Classic will be airing Robert Plant: Live From The Artists Den tonight at 9/8 C so we felt it was high time to review Percy’s back catalog and count down his top 10 vocal performances of all time.
Plant resurrected his pre-Zeppelin band name and delved deep into rustic world blues on this track from 2010.
9. “In My Time Of Dying” (Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti, 1973)
The last of Zeppelin’s blues epics, shows Percy going from plaintive to proud to pleading over the course of 10-plus intense minutes.
8. “Big Log” (Robert Plant The Principle of Moments, 1983)
Reflective and subued, as is much of his solo output, this track finds Plant still in full mastery of his vocal powers but no longer trying to shred his larynx and is best known solo song.
7. “Black Dog”(Led Zeppelin IV, 1971)
When the hard rock competition of the era heard this opening song off the band’s landmark fourth album they must have said “….damn.” A prime example of Percy at his most lustful, the blues shouting rock God at the peak of his ascent.
6. “Polly Come Home” (Robert Plant and Alison Krauss Raising Sand, 2007)
Though it did derail the Zeppelin reunion, there’s no doubt the Raising Sand album was a career highlight for Plant and his hushed vocals and harmonized leads with bluegrass star Krauss were something fans had never heard from him before.
5. The Honeydrippers “Sea of Love” (Volume One, 1984)
Plant went incognito for this ’84 project which found him revisiting some of his favorite R&B standards from his youth. This song, which became a hit, shows his increasing mastery of the ballad form, which he would ride into the future as his voice matured.
4. “Since I’ve Been Loving You” (Led Zeppelin III, 1970)
Though they had a true love for the form, Zeppelin’s exercises in the blues, though thrilling, were always undercut by the band’s innate grandiosity and bluster. Not so on this most-convincing of slow blues where Percy shows a new sense of subtly before going for the high notes and rock nirvana.
3. “Gallow’s Pole” (Page and Plant No Quarter, 1994)
Led Zeppelin’s leading lights reunited in the ‘90s under the Page and Plant moniker to deliver a world music spin on classic from their catalog.
2. “Whole Lotta Love” (Led Zeppelin II, 1969)
Perhaps most famous for the feigned orgasms of the extended middle part, this song in many ways truly announced Plant’s arrival as one of rock’s great vocalists with his sexually charged blues belting.
1. “Stairway To Heaven”(Led Zeppelin IV, 1971)
He may hate it now, and even reportedly had to be cajoled into playing it at the 2007 Led Zeppelin, but Robert Plant’s legacy will forever by intertwined with this greatest of rock epics, between the mystical Tolkien-inspired hippie ponderings of the lyrics to his confident vocal performance, going from the lulled intro all the way through to full hard rock cataclysm and back again.