Plant’s second solo LP spawned the hit Big Log.
Barney Hoskyns 2010-09-07
Robert Plant's second solo outing shares more than a few things with its predecessor. It was recorded at the famous Welsh studio Rockfield and featured most of the Pictures at Eleven band, including a moonlighting Phil Collins on drums. As with Pictures, its production was as polished and clinical as the early Led Zeppelin sound was primal and thunderous.
But this time Plant managed a big hit – with Big Log – and promoted it with a clip for the now-essential televisual shop window that was MTV. He even performed the song on Top of the Pops, that biggest of Led Zeppelin no-nos.
Big Log was radically un-Zeppelin-like, a piningly slow song of aching love that combined ancient and modern – Roy Orbison with a drum machine. Robbie Blunt's Spanish-tinged guitar shapes sat somewhere between Ennio Morricone and Mark Knopfler as the drum machine clacked and Jezz Woodroffe's keyboard hummed sweetly in the distance. John David and Ray Martinez provided warm vocal harmonies.
Similarly low-key though far funkier was second single In the Mood, an invitation to dance and a hypnotic musing on the spell of music itself. Blunt's flaking fills again provided the track's melodic hook. Woodroffe's wafty keyboards were the star on the pretty, slow-dance Thru’ with the Two-Step. On all of these, Plant's vocals were striking for their mature restraint; but then he probably couldn't have belted out Immigrant Song in 1983 if he'd wanted to.
More strained and contrived as declarations of post-Zeppelin independence were the Indian-imbued Wreckless Love and the jerky sub-Police semi-reggae of Messin' with the Mekon. Stranger Here… Than Over Here is clunkily percussive, a melodically limp 80s experiment that fails to take off meaningfully.
The Principle of Moments got Plant back on the road for the first time since Zeppelin. Backed by the band that played on it – including Collins – he toured America on an old propeller plane through the summer and early fall of 83. Come November, he walked on to a British stage, at the Glasgow Apollo, for the first time since Zeppelin's Knebworth concerts in 1979.