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.