RECORD STORE TALES #1011: The Principle of Moments, 39 Years Apart
A short while ago, the Contrarians did a discussion on Best Albums by Artists Who Left a Band in Their Prime. Uncle Meat participated in this discussion, and selected Robert Plant’s 1983 album The Principle of Moments for his pick. As most readers know, Uncle Meat has done a lot of music discussions but has never had an album to show off like other participants tend to have. He decided to do something different for this special episode, and went looking for a used CD copy to show.
The Meat Man took a walk over to Encore Records, who did have a copy in stock. Meat was pleased, purchased the CD and brought it home with him. Only then did he realize something very unique about this specific CD purchase.
Meat originally bought the album back in 1983 on vinyl, at Sam the Record Man in downtown Kitchener. He actually went in looking for Metal Health by Quiet Riot. Approaching the counter, the legendary Al King was working that day and was opening a box of new arrivals. “New Robert Plant is in,” he said. So Meat bought that too. A lifelong love affair with The Principle of Moments had begun.
Meat realized that he bought The Principle of Moments in 2022 from the same man who sold it to him in 1983: Al King. Today Al works at Encore, still selling great music to the masses, a public service we are grateful for. But what are the chances? 39 years apart, the same man sold the same album to the same guy. Different format, different store. Same album, same two guys. One in a million?
During the summer of 1988, we were lucky to have some cottage visits with the Szabo family. They had been friends for years. Robert Szabo is now a successful guitar player/singer/songwriter. Back then he was a neighbour from school, but his younger siblings Steve and Michelle were also good friends. They came to visit us at our cottage, and then we went to go and visit them at their place in Grand Bend. A much busier beach town.
When they came to visit us, we treated them to a backyard barbecue and some fun and amusements. Steven and Michelle came; Rob was busy elsewhere. We busted out the games and, as usual, improvised. We played a drawing game based on the TV show Win, Lose or Draw. You had to draw sketches and people guessed the words you were trying to draw. We used coloured markers and went to town on good ol’ lined paper.
We were having a great time but after a few rounds, people were guessing too easily. I decided to throw a curve ball and pick something to draw that would be harder to guess. A musical artist but an obvious one that people associated with me. I chose “Robert Plant”, because I thought it was a recognizable enough name, but not an obvious pick. Young kids in 1988 were not all familiar with Robert Plant, but some of us were.
Two words. First word!
I drew Steven and Michelle’s family, with Robert as the tallest. They successfully guessed “Robert” as the first word. I hoped this wasn’t too easy.
Second word. I grabbed a green marker and started drawing plants. They were having trouble guessing the second word. Shrubs, weeds, and….
“ROBERT GRASS!” yelled my sister Kathryn, seemingly in victory.
I laughed. “Who the hell is Robert Grass?” I asked.
“I don’t know!” she answered.
A logical answer I suppose since I did draw some grass with my plants. After much laughter and giggling, they eventually got the correct guy, Robert Plant, which made a lot more sense than Robert Grass. And within a year or so, my sister even owned Now and Zen on cassette! That more than made up for her wrong guess.
LED ZEPPELIN – “Rock and Roll” / “Friends” (2018 Atlantic Record Store Day single)
The hype for Record Store Day exclusives is as strong as ever, but most of these releases are just empty cash grabs. Coloured vinyl reissues of this, that or the other thing…nothing will compete with a mint original. Sometimes you’ll see vinyl releases for albums that used to be exclusive to CD, but rarely will you be able to buy exclusive music.
Led Zeppelin saw to it that your Record Store Day dollars did not go to waste.
And as if you thought Led Zeppelin had “cleared the vaults” of unreleased material! Here’s two more unheard mixes. These cannot be found on the Zeppelin deluxe editions. If you’ve collected all those already, then prepare to add two more tracks to your collection. This is a pretty clear indication that Jimmy Page is not finished dusting off old tapes to sell.
There are no liner notes to explain when these mixes were done or by whom, but “Rock and Roll” was mixed at Sunset Sound. Alternate mixes are fun for a fresh sound on an old favourite. You can hear different nuances. “Rock and Roll” has a nice clear heavy sound and maybe a little more echo. “Friends” (from Olympic Studios) has a harsher sound, with the percussion part prominent in the mix. The old intro is trimmed off in favour of a clean start with the acoustic guitar.
The yellow vinyl is a gorgeous bonus. Add it to your Zep treasure chest.
Thanks toMr. James for picking this up for me. You are a true gentleman, with a creepy Facebook avatar.
How rock and roll are shoes? Not very. But certainly some rock bands have had some exceptional footwear over the years. The wild, multi coloured cowboy boots of Poison, Cinderella, Bon Jovi, and the gang…remember those?
In a world where image matters, you needed a cool pair of shoes to complete the look. Glam rock bands went with cowboy boots, while thrashers and punks tended to go for skate shoes. But who has the best shoes in rock?
Robert Plant? For reals? Yes, for reals! Robert is about the only rock star to make sandals cool. Sandals are about as un-rock as shoes can get. But if you’re Robert Plant, it matters not. A bare-chested long-haired blonde blues screamer in sandals is still rock and roll. The sheer un-rock-ness of sandals combined with Robert Plant makes them infinitely rock and roll.
You might not consider her very rock, but she did perform with Metallica. Her outrageous footwear hasn’t caused her any broken ankles…yet. Hiking in high heels? Why not. She’s done that. In a Gaga world, anything goes.
Before there was Kiss, there was Elton John. People remember the outfits, wigs and glasses, but don’t forget the silver platform kicks!
I had my own pair of goth platform boots in the Record Store days. I remember I had them delivered right to the store, because I was never home to receive packages. When they arrived one of the bosses asked “Where do you think you’re going to wear those?!” Fuck you, that’s where! The boots were the centerpiece of my Paul Stanley costume.
At work, running shoes were the most comfortable. We were not allowed to sit, so you had to stand for your whole seven hour shift. The first time, it takes a little getting used to. After that you’re golden, but comfy kicks are the key. Lady Gaga could not work a shift at the Record Store.
When I was hit with a 12 hour shift, which was more frequent than you might imagine, I discovered that changing your shoes halfway through the shift helped. I’d bring a spare pair with me and change at the middle point of the day. It helped with the pain and felt like a fresh burst of energy.
Today I have a pair of heavy steel-toed boots at work and they’re great for the leg muscles. They are nice heavy shoes. Walk around in those all day and you will build some pretty awesome leg muscles. Not very rock and roll, but definitely heavy metal.
THE 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.
RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale #358: The Personal Impact of Led Zeppelin
Christmas 1990 was another major turning point in my musical life. I know others who can say the same thing for the same reason. Led Zeppelin had released their first box set, a 4 CD collection of 54 essential tracks, remastered by Jimmy Page himself. This was the impetus I needed to finally take the Zeppelin plunge.
Prior to this, I had stayed away from Zeppelin. I only knew a couple live videos from MuchMusic, which didn’t appeal to me at all. A rock band wearing sandals? The fuck was this? I couldn’t wrap my head around the violin bow solo, nor the band. I remember watching the old live “Dazed and Confused” video with my friend Bob. “You can tell that guy’s on drugs,” he said of Jimmy Page.
That was in the 1980’s. By the turn of the decade, I was starting to tire of plastic sounding pop rock bands. I was craving authenticity, and I know I wasn’t the only one. Bands like Warrant were wracked by controversy, when it was revealed that they employed two guitar teachers to write their guitar solos and teach the members how to play them. Too much fakery for me — at that point I decided to stop listening to them. I sold my Warrant tapes. Warrant in turn accused Poison, the band they were opening for, of using backing tapes live. All kinds of bands were accused of using backing tapes. Sebastian Bach was quoted as saying, “The only band out there that doesn’t use backing tapes live today is Metallica, and that’s a fact.” (I am fairly certain Iron Maiden are above such tom foolery as well.)
The old “Dazed and Confused” video that Much used to play
I didn’t want backing tapes, I wanted authentic pure rock music. There was a bustle in my hedgerow. I wasn’t satisfied with the new releases coming out either. A lot of groups that I really liked released disappointing albums in 1990. From Dio to Iron Maiden to Winger, there were too many bands that failed to impress that year. A band like Zeppelin seemed to have not only authenticity, but solid consistently. They were hailed as the greatest rock band of all time by just about every rock group I heard of!
I received the box set from my parents on Christmas day 1990. The following day, Boxing day, I had set aside to listen to the entire box set from start to finish – about five and a half hours of listening. I took a brief lunch break between discs 2 and 3. I emerged from my room that afternoon, dazed, but not confused at all. There were some songs that I didn’t care too much for – “Poor Tom”, “Wearing and Tearing”, “Ozone Baby” – mostly songs from Coda. They were vastly outnumbered by the songs that absolutely blew me away, even though I had never heard of them before: “Your Time Is Gonna Come”, “Immigrant Song”, “Ramble On”, “The Ocean”, “All My Love”…I could not believe the sheer quality of the music.
Sure, Led Zeppelin’s songs weren’t produced as slick as I was used to. They were a far cry from Whitesnake. Jimmy Page wasn’t a shredder like Steve Vai, but I felt a personal shift. I thought bands like Whitesnake and Cinderella had been exhibiting the epitome of integrity, with the ace players and incredible musicianship. Like athletes, musicians only seemed to achieve loftier heights over the decades with their playing. This was exemplified by a guy like Steve Vai who pushed guitar into entirely new frontiers. Cinderella, on the other hand, had even worked with Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones, who provided strings to their bluesy Heartbreak Station LP. I thought Cinderella were the blues! But now, my eyes were really opening. It was like Obi-Wan Kenobi had prophesized: “You’ve just taken your first step, in a larger world.”
Led Zeppelin (and also ZZ Top) were talking about blues artists I never heard of. Muddy Waters? Lightning Hopkins? Robert Johnson? Who were these people that were so influential that Zeppelin were known to lift entire songs from them?
I had a thought: “From this moment on, I will never be able to listen to rock bands the same way again. I used to think Cinderella were authentic blues. How can I ever go back to listening to Cinderella with the same feeling of passion? How can I play bands like Slaughter and Judas Priest, and think for a second that these guys are any better than the old guys like Zep?”
Fortunately I found that eventually Cinderella, Whitesnake and Led Zeppelin could co-exist in my collection. Liking one does not mean you can’t like the others. Even though Led Zeppelin raised the bar to extraordinary heights, I found it wasn’t too hard to “lower my standards” sometimes and enjoy a little “Slow An’ Easy” with David Coverdale. Zeppelin simply opened my eyes: that there was an entire history of blues that I hadn’t really been aware of before. My musical life journey was about to expand exponentially.
T-Rev has always been talented at building things. He built for me my first two CD towers, not to mention my cassette storage shelves built into my closet doors. No design was too elaborate. I liked a simple CD tower myself, just some shelves and some stain. T-Rev was always pushing himself to build something cooler. One of the best towers he ever built had side doors for VHS compartments, and a big black light to illuminate the whole thing. Inside the doors were stickers from some of his favourite bands. The whole thing was painted gray, it was a masterpiece.
By coincidence, T-Rev also owned a semi-rare copy of Robert Plant’s 1990 solo album, Manic Nirvana. Both of us liked to collect “rare” versions of albums. T-Rev had a red digipack copy, with symbols embossed on the cover. It’s pretty hard to find, although we did see a couple copies float by in the Record Store. There’s weren’t any bonus tracks, but the rare packaging made it something desirable.
So what’s the connection between the CD tower and Manic Nirvana?
T-Rev was checking out the Plant CD one day, and happened to take a look at it under his black light. Lo and behold, suddenly symbols appeared on the cover, previously hidden! The front cover showed what appeared to be a big “H”. The back and inside covers had their own symbols that showed under black light.
It was a mystery! The symbols didn’t seem to have any meaning that we could discern. Maybe they were intentional, maybe not? Maybe they were just a byproduct of the manufacturing process. Other similar digipacks did not show anything special under a black light.
My questions regarding this CD are as follows: 1) Have you ever owned the red digipack version of Manic Nirvana?* 2) Have you ever looked at it under a black light? 3) WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
*Aaron discovered via the Discogs listing that this seems to be a promo release.
RECORD STORE TALES Part 277.5: Klassik Kwote – The Dandy Douche Strikes Back
I’m a pretty big Led Zeppelin fan, having bought all their albums more than once (and at least once more) over the years. When this Robert Plant CD came out in November 2003, it was high on my radar. I didn’t own any Plant solo albums (beyond The Honeydrippers), but wanted something of his in my collection. This compilation of hits and rarities was perfect for my needs.
I was listening to it in the store one afternoon when Dandy sauntered in. Always eager to criticize my musical selections on any given day, he had this to say about Robert Plant’s Sixty Six to Timbuktu:
“I was talking to my dad about why Led Zeppelin sucked,”he said. “Now I know. It’s not Led Zeppelin that sucked, it was just Robert Plant all along.”