REVIEW: The Honeydrippers – Volume One (1984 EP, 2007 reissue)

scan_20161017THE HONEYDRIPPERS – Volume One (1984 Atlantic, 2007 Rhino reissue)

In 1981, Robert Plant felt like playing some old fashioned rock and roll again.  He assembled a group of friends including Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Nile Rodgers, Dave Weckl and Paul Shaffer.  With a handful of covers ready to go, The Honeydrippers Volume One EP went top ten in the US and Canada.  I have now officially bought this EP four times: First time on cassette, then vinyl, then CD, and now finally this remastered CD with one bonus track.  One bonus track is all they could be bothered to beef this up by.  A grand total of 22 minutes, up from 18.

Originally released in 1984, in a lot of ways this was as close to a Page/Plant reunion as we were likely to get in the 80’s, although this is very different from Led Zeppelin.  These are classic golden oldies, rock and roll and R&B hits: the sound like guys like Plant and Page grew up with.  So get up, get down and dance!

“I Get A Thrill” is an excellent track with which to open the EP.  It’s a great song with wonderful backing vocal harmonies.  A nice fast one to dance to.  Everybody should know “Sea of Love”, the lush, elegant slow-dancer. Today it is better known than the Phil Phillips original. The music video might be most notable for the speedo-wearing Frank Zappa lookalike on the xylophone.  Ray Charles is last for side one:  “I Got A Woman”.  It’s breakneck fast, and might be too much for those on the dance floor cutting a rug!  Don’t go and break a leg….


Does humour belong in music?

Plant croons his way through “Young Boy Blues”, a Phil Spector oldie done justice by Robert’s rich voice.  It’s as lush and brilliant as “Sea of Love” and easily as good as the better-known single.  Back to cutting a rug though, you’d better get up for “Rockin’ At Midnight”, another hit single for the Honeydrippers.  Jeff Beck nails the perfect guitar solo in the midst of a boppin’ horn section.  Rock perfection!

The one measly bonus track is a live version of “Rockin’ At Midnight”. It’s shorter than the studio version of the song by two minutes.  It’s hard to fathom how Rhino only had one bonus track to include.  Plant performed live with the Honeydrippers numerous times.  To think they only ever recorded one track live is pretty hard to believe.

This remaster (released in 2007 as part of the Plant remasters) sounds great, and despite the short running time, is worth your cash as long as you’ve never bought it on CD before. It’s fun, it’s warm, it’s a great listening experience and every one of these tracks is a bonafide classic. It’s kind of odd hearing Plant’s distinctive squeal on some of these songs, but it actually works.

4/5 stars, but only because they could have included more bonus material.

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45 comments

  1. This has been my preferred Plant solo effort for many years precisely because it sounds like they had fun, totally unselfconscious fun. Not to say there are not other great moments in his catalogue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Neil, thanks for this comment!

      You’re right, and unselfconscious is the perfect word. It sounds loose and like they were just making music for the sake of enjoying themselves. Not for a budget or a market.

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  2. I’ve always loved Plant’s solo work, with more of a love of everything before ‘Now and Zen’. My older brother had The Honeydrippers on cassette. I always gravitated to “Sea Of Love”. Maybe because I always liked the original, or maybe because I watched the video on Friday Night Videos so many times in 1984. Either way, nice choice here.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I still remember buying this on the day of release, as I do with every Zeppelin-related record. Anyone who has questioned Plant’s recent musical directions can look back at The Honeydrippers EP to see his wide-ranging influences. I love that he wanted to distance himself from the ’70s “golden god” persona in his early solo career and my only complaint about this EP is that it wasn’t longer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Day of release! That’s very cool very serious commitment.

      You know, Zeppelin in many ways opened the doors to musical diversity in hard rock bands. You didn’t have to be Sabbath and rock out all the time. You can go folky. You can go middle-eastern. You can have synth.

      In my mind, I see things as a continuity. The Beatles pioneered true diversity. Their mission was continued on by Queen and Led Zeppelin who continued to push the boundaries beyond what the Beatles did. It’s a neat discussion topic.

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  4. I’m with Rich as I bought this almost upon release and it was almost a Guilty Like Pleasure. Plants vocals soar on this and as Rich points out Robert wanted out of the Golden God persona….
    My parents must have wondered when one minute I’m blasting Freewheel Burning by Priest one minute and the next it’s the Honeydrippers…….hahaha
    Miss Good Ol 1984!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah dude! My parents were kind of the same with me. He’s listening to what now? Last week it was screamy metal!

      But you know, I’m a music freak and it was nice to have albums in the house that the parents liked too. That made road trips easier for everyone, we could listen to stuff like this in the car with no complaints.

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  5. Don’t know much about this one, but it sounds pretty good. I only have a couple of Plant’s post-Zep albums – Now and Zen, Strange Sensation, Raising Sand, and Band Of Gold. I’ll keep a look out for this one…

    … I assume there was never a Volume Two? Also, they’re saving all the bonus tracks for the Super Deluxe 35th Anniversary reissue!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There was never a Volume Two, and I suspect it’s one of those jokes like Plant knew it was a one-time affair.

      As for the super deluxe 35th…you may have seen some of my rants lately…don’t trigger me! LOL

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Well man, I was small minded musically too. It was records like this that actually opened my mind a bit. The Plant thing made it accessible to me as a rocker, and that helped get me into other kinds of music. Same with Neil Peart and jazz actually.

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