Robert Plant’s Instrumental Work on Led Zeppelin Albums Continues To Be Underrated

by Jeremy Spirogis
Robert Plant playing a harmonica

On “Good Times Bad Times,” the primary observe of the debut Led Zeppelin album, listeners bought an earful of the band shaped by Jimmy Page after the demise of The Yardbirds. And straight away the kick-drum work of John Bonham caught individuals’s consideration. So did the hovering guitar work of Page.

But by the tip of that first Led Zeppelin reduce, a powerhouse new rock voice had emerged. “I know it means to be alone!” Robert Plant wails on the shut of “Good Times Bad Times.” “I sure do wish I was at home!” Then he adopted it with one other massive vocal efficiency on “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You.”

Page knew he’d struck gold with Plant, who hadn’t damaged by with any of his early bands. And earlier than the third observe of Led Zeppelin, Plant confirmed he did greater than sing. Plant’s sturdy harmonica work on “You Shook Me” was a preview of his instrumental work on Zep data that is still underrated to this present day.

Robert Plant performed harmonica on 5 Led Zeppelin studio albums

Robert Plant playing a harmonica
Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin in February 1970 | Jorgen Angel/Redferns

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After Page opens “You Shook Me” along with his lead guitar line, Plant’s harmonica enters the combination alongside Bonham’s drums and John Paul Jones on bass. The band runs by a couple of verses earlier than Jones takes off on an organ solo (at 2:07).

Once Jones concludes his solo, Plant takes his activate harmonica. Along the way in which, Plant solutions the honks of the harp with vocal grunts, moans, and shouts. Then Page takes a guitar solo, leaving loads of area for Bonham fills. In quick, this band exhibits off various deadly weapons on the observe.

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It’s pretty simple for listeners to put in writing off the harmonica with Plant’s bandmates acting at such a excessive stage. But Plant saved turning out superb performances on future Zeppelin albums. All advised, he performed harmonica on 5 of the band’s eight studio albums.

After “You Shook Me,” Plant adopted with “Bring It on Home” on Led Zeppelin II. Though he didn’t have any harmonica elements on Led Zeppelin III, he had maybe his most interesting hour on the instrument on the band’s basic fourth album.

Plant’s swampy harmonica shines on ‘When the Levee Breaks’

Zeppelin performing liveZeppelin performing live
Led Zeppelin performs on stage in 1969. | Michael Putland/Getty Images

Led Zeppelin delivered its share of masterpieces through the years, and “When the Levee Breaks” ranks up there on the listing. The observe begins with Bonham’s epic drumbeat, which Page and his engineer recorded within the corridor of an outdated nation home.

But on this observe we don’t hear Page’s guitar or Jones’ keyboard take the lead; it’s Plant’s harmonica out in entrance. He brings all of the sounds of the swamp out along with his growling half throughout the lengthy intro. When it lastly ends (at 1:23), Plant begins his vocal.

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But Plant has way more harmonica to come back on “Levee.” Following the opening verses, he carries the lead half once more all the way in which from 3:05 to the “Crying won’t help you” verse (4:08). It may be his finest instrumental work on a Zep observe.

Plant saved it coming with “Custard Pie” on Physical Graffiti (1975) and the searing “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” on Presence (1976). His taking part in on these data is a side of Zeppelin that usually will get neglected — and underrated.

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