Robert Plant: A Life

This is really the first biography of Plant. On balance it’s decent enough but still a pedestrian effort that doesn’t really add much more to what we already know. To Paul Rees’ credit he keeps the speculative temptation that Zep always courted to a minimum. I think that a bio by the very excellent rock journalist Chris Welch would have made for a more elegant and richer account.

Though there is mention of Plant’s appreciation of New Orleans’ musical tradition what’s conspicuously missing from this account is Plant’s wonderful renditions of Fats and Dave’s (and Bobby Charles’) “It Keeps Rainin'” with Lil’ Band O’ Gold and “Valley of Tears” with The Soweto Gospel Choir.

The upshot (and this we already know) is that Plant doesn’t live in the past and relentlessly pursues musicality with the curiosity of a pilgrim and adventurer, his so-so efforts still very interesting, his successes glorious. None of his superstar contemporaries come anywhere close – at worst they are still flogging the old franchise, at best stylistic dilettantes.

What we really need is an autobiography a la Keef but as Plant says that would be premature – he’s got a long way to go yet. Of course the ultimate rock autobiography would be Jimmy Page’s but me thinks that ain’t ever going to happen. I think his recent photo-autobiography, as good as it is, is really a fudge – and who could blame him given the prevailing sanctimonious, shrill and illiberal climate we now live in.