Jeff Lybarger's Song OF The Day

Subj: Song of the day XXVI
Date: 97-02-05 14:26:12 EST
From: OUTRIDERJL@AOL.COM (Jeff Lybarger)

Greetings all! Hope you are having a wonderful day. Well I think it's time to change things up a bit here. Those of you on the list when this little idea of mine first took flight may recall that I mentioned not only covering Zeppelin songs, but songs from the three surviving members solo careers as well. So after 25 of these trips to the past, and a few amusing little ramblings ala the Kingdom of the clone, I felt that since we're almost a quarter way through the Zep catalog, that this would be a good oppurtunity to change direction, but ever so slightly. When considering the solo stuff, one thing I've noticed with the younger people on DG is that a lot of them know Zep, but are not as informed on some of the solo albums. What I will attempt to do is go a little more in depth on each album, and the artists playing on the specific albums. With Zep you all know it by heart, hopefully you'll enjoy the solo stuff as well. So, to the first solo outing we go, Robert Plant's "Pictures At Eleven", side one, track one, clocking in at 3:55, "Burning Down One Side".

For his first solo release post Zeppelin the pressure was certainly on, and Robert responded with a very excellent album. "Burning Down One Side" kicks things off with a thunderous intro, not too far removed from the might Zep. Guitarist Robbie Blunt plays a simple but very cool riff and Phil Collins occupies the drum chair. As the song winds it's way out of the intro and into the verse we hear the first lyrics from Mr. Plant following the end of Led Zeppelin, nearly two years prior.

       Slipped through the window by the backdoor
       caught short in transit with my love
       Jumped up fell back cut off from romance
       How could I fall without a shove?

Man, the power in his voice. Those opening lines just GRAB your attention. Mr. Cool is back in town. Right after the last line, we have a very dramatic pause, then everything kicks right back in and we're off and going.

       Tiptoed like thunder on my feelings
       You rock me gently with your sighs
       My knees are weak my head is reeling
       consumed by the fire in your eyes
       ( Don't you know I could be so right)

       Slipped in and shattered my defenses
       just playing hooky with my heart
       Slipped through the window by the backdoor
       and took a piece of my poor heart
       yes my poor heart

At this point the music shifts back to the intro and Robert comes in with the "Try as I might, try as I may" part, the music creating a good tension behind him. As the song builds to the solo Robert is looking for his girl:

      I'm looking high I'm looking low
      trying to find where did my baby go
      Gotta find out why she ran away
      I don't know, where did my baby stay?

When Robbie kicks in with the guitar solo it's very concise and to the point, and then right back to the main riff. Speaking of Robbie Blunt, here is a guy who had HUGE shoes to fill: the guitarist for Robert Plant. And rather than try to immitate Jimmy, he plays HIS style, and does things his way, and in the end, Robert's solo career is so much the better for that. Certainly "Pictures At Eleven" doesn't take some of the chances that later Plant solo albums would, but for a musical statement, it is very strong.

As the song exits the solo and launches back to the main riff we find Robert still searching for his girl. I'm printing so many of the lyrics here because they can be difficult to understand, but they are also very cool.

       Fire down boulevard De Amour
       shoot through the neon light
       Hot foot through alleys check the doorways
       try that old parking lot on ninth

       The three-course kissing in the same place
       Ah but that don't help me none no more
       I've been away so long and dreaming
       Little girl ain't I seen you before

Robbie exits with a blistering solo, much different in his approach than Jimmy, but very emotional and well executed. I've heard a lot of talk about Doug Boyle and Charlie Jones on DG, but not much about Robbie. I will say this, I found him to be an exceptional guitarist. His songwriting abilities gave Robert the support to think seriously about a solo career. Think of the pressure that Robert must have felt, to produce an album that would not remind people of Zeppelin, and yet not alienate Zeppelin fans either. Having Robbie to write with and share ideas with was monumental to Robert. In interviews at this time Robert spoke very highly of the partnership that had been created between the two. Robbie was in the Honeydrippers with Robert just prior to this initial solo outing, and it was when Robbie announced he was bored playing old blues songs that Robert suggested they start writing.

Robert has said he was very nervous at this prospect, but at the same time he felt it was exciting and definately challenging. "Burning Down One Side" was an excellent live song as well. I remember seeing Robert on his first solo tour and rocking this song very well. It does have that Zep flavor, with just enough differences to keep things interesting.

For those of you who have "Pictures At Eleven", you might try to revisit it. For those who don't, I would suggest you check it out. Plant steps out on his own, and does so very succesfully.

The next couple songs of the day will be taken from this album. Rather than jump around from solo album to solo album I thought it would make more sense to concentrate on several songs from each one, and hopefully give those who don't have the particular album a chance to get a feel for it.

Hope you've enjoyed this, I know "Pictures..." sure has a special place in my heart. See you in a couple of days with more from this wonderful first solo outing by Robert. Till then...

Rock on,


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