Charlie Patton Highway (Turn it Up, Pt 1) – Robert Plant

Did you sense the spoiler in yesterdays post? This is like writing a goddamned boxset Ah tells’ ya. Ole Percy. Robert Plant man. That dude has lived a life hasn’t he? Now I have liked a lot of Percy’s solo records in the past, in real time. Only now though am I at an age where I can truly appreciate The Principle Of Moments. I’ve had it for years. I never realised I owned a Phil Collins record by stealth.

Lock Down Podcast Give It A Name. There’s a reason I have been spending so much of 2020 listening to a type of music I have always considered the nadir of rock and roll. The excellent Podcast Digging Deep did two wonderful things. Number one: It made you feel like you’d gone for a pint and a bite of lunch with one of the greatest front men rock and roll ever knew. Listening to Posh Percy talking about trips to the desert and going to see the football in the same inclusive way rich people talk about going to the South of France this summer (you simply must drop by the château if you’re there) and Number two: It helped you reappraise what essentially sounded like yacht rock at the time and in the decade (or two or three) that followed. The way he talks about the players, influences, sessions and vibes of each track on Digging Deep makes Big Log sound like a masterpiece of restrained passion and virtuoso skill at ease. He makes the cringey doo-wop of The Honeydrippers sound like a punk rock tribute and he makes Charlie Patton Highway sound like the song he held back from us for too long.

Now I’ve been more than happy with Hurting Kind in the late 80’s, 29 Palms in the 90’s, The whole Unledded album (got to finally see Zeppelin live ((((sort of)))) when he & Page headlined Reading Festival in the 90’s) The duet record with Alison Krauss is absolutely responsible for me getting into modern country. His 21st century albums have been quite the deal for me. No longer chasing cool. His deep connection with Eastern rhythms and thick moods have made albums like Mighty ReArranger, Band Of Joy and Carry Fire stand out to my ears. It’s got the red thread back to Zeppelin but it’s doing something different to all the derivatives.

You didn’t get that with Coverdale/Page…

‘It’s a sensitive Delicate Deal, dragging new songs out of the sky’ says Robert in the intro to every episode of Digging Deep. He goes on to talk about all types of things I talk about when I’m writing SteveForTheDeaf. The where, the when, the how and the why. That’s what I love about music. It really is a time and place machine. Imagine (if you will) SteveForTheDeaf but by someone who has actually been there and actually done that. That’s Digging Deep. Get on it.

Charlie Patton Highway is by all accounts related to Turn It Up from the album he did with The Sensational Space Shifters in 2014 … The Ceaseless Roar. There’s a song on there called Turn It Up. Same Lyrics and yet… This ain’t it. This is lower, groovier, funkier. This one has been down to the crossroads at midnight… If you know what I mean.

Now, I know we’re way past Robert Plant’s best at this stage. He’s been squeezing lemons since your Grandma was a Groupie. Vintage carries some heft though. When he sings

“I’m calling 1800, I ain’t leaving it chance”

On Charlie Patton Highway it sounds as vital as any ‘Hey Hey Marmoset’ he ever Hey Heyed.

I grew up worshipping Zeppelin after the fact. They were the crowned kings of Rock. But already Ten Years Gone. I knew people who saw the 2007 Celebration Day show. People for whom this was not their first Zeppelin concert. They came back blubbering wrecks and when the DVD hit in the Christmas of 2012… Well I reveled in it too. It will never happen again, and nor should it. The thing that was and never should be.

While we’re here and on a Podcast tip. You should also check out the amazing Apple Podcast Series Wind Of Change all about the Scorpions song and the fall of the Berlin Wall and how the FBI may or may not have engineered the whole thing. Try Off The Beat And Track to hear people I actually went to college with talking music with legends like Chuck D, Tommy Lee and Frank Turner and people from bands as varied as The Smiths, Idles and Madness.

Or you could just have pint with Percy on Digging Deep.

A vital sounding groove
Start at the beginnning
A Frikkin’ masterpiece
About as slick as AOR gets
As heard on The Ceaseless Roar

9 thoughts on “Charlie Patton Highway (Turn it Up, Pt 1) – Robert Plant

  1. “Now, I know we’re way past Robert Plant’s best at this stage. He’s been squeezing lemons since your Grandma was a Groupie.” This made me laugh. I listened to all of these videos. Very very interesting to hear him talk about this that and the other you’re right. Interesting that he thinks of himself as an entertainer foremost. I’m guessing you’ve heard this one before. It’s the last song on Encomium. I remember the first time I heard it I thought what the heck is this!? It grew on me though and now I love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brilliant. What a sense of contented balance he brings in Digging Deep. My former hero, with his ego tempered by age. I watched him out of his head at Earls Court in 74. So wasted he forget the lyrics to Stairway to Heaven. A West Midlands friend told me 20 years later that Percy loved nothing better than a cuppa and to talk about his chickens.
    Thanks for Big Log. I’d forgotten that one.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s funny, I’ve had Frank Turner’s Reasons Not to Be An Idiot in my head this morning with the line, “I bet she sits at home and listens to The Smiths” – so seeing them in the same sentence here was a nice surprise!

    Liked by 1 person

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