The Principle of Moments – Robert Plant (1983)

The Principle of Moments album cover
The Principle of Moments album cover

It had only been a few years since Led Zeppelin disbanded. While I never learned to appreciate the legendary classic rock band until well into adulthood, I was taken by the second of Robert Plant’s solo albums. Even the title The Principle of Moments suggested a easy going Zen. With the now contrived look to the left while standing against a wall with blurr b/w album cover, it was very much a product of it’s time with Robert Plant bring just enough of the old Led Zeppelin sound into his low key Zen near masterpiece.

Like the last Led Zeppelin studio album acknowledging disco, The Principle of Moments payed some respect to emerging dance and urban styles with subtle rhythmic influences. The first single,”In The Mood” featured a backbeat with surprising hip hop dance ability – as two poppin and lockin youth would attest. Plant would acknowledge technology in the form of keyboards that helped produced a Miami Vice ready melancholy. Add talented musicians like Phil Collins and former Jethro Tull drummer Barriemore Barlow  and you have a formula for hits that cover a broad spectrum.

The two most recognizable singles “Big Log” and “In the Mood” exemplify the Zen centric aspects of much of the album, perhaps only half og it’s focus. Other songs show clear prog rock influence like the wonderful “Thru With the Two Step”. Plant’s abstract lyrics and wondering singing style work perfectly here where he evokes some of the mysticism Phil Collins was know for before he started singing Motown pop songs.

The two most melocolinic songs were the album’s biggest hits, crossing over to the pop Top 40, but it was the two mainstream rock singles “Horizontal Departure” and “Other Arms” that scored with the motorcycle and Camaro crowd. Other Arms reached #1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart.  

The success of “The Principle of Moments” spawned a tour that included Phil Collins playing drums (even has his own work was dominating the charts of the time). Plant had also toured with The Honeydrippers in the same year “The Principle of Moments” was released.

There was just something about The Principle of Moments that was never quite captured in any of Plant’s subsequent work. I lost interest in his music until his album with Alison Krauss was released a few years ago.

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