Publication date 16th February 2024.
When John Bonham died, Led Zeppelin icon Robert Plant quickly picked up the pieces and moved on. His creative spirit was too restless to hang it up, although he seriously had considered it. Instead, Plant set about building one of the most remarkable second act careers in the history of rock. It would be inaccurate to compare his trajectory to the chameleon-like zigs and zags of David Bowie, but as a straight-line evolution, the pace of change proved to be just as rapid.
Pictures at Eleven: Robert Plant Album by Album attempts to make sense of Plant’s musicologist-level canon, with author Martin Popoff assembling a panel of experts to roll through the records one by one, no stone unturned, no songs left unaddressed. Popoff’s used this structure before, and it’s proven to be a productive and effusively received device. Here the effect is intensified, as there’s been little written about Plant’s journey from solo icon of the ‘80s through to his repeated deep-dives into Americana, world music, tributes to other writers, and the singular symphony of sounds that results when he mixes these parts.
This book attempts to remedy that void in the critical history, with Martin calling upon a core team from his YouTube channel The Contrarians (along with some esteemed honorary Contrarians!) to help deconstruct each of Plant’s 11 thought-provoking albums. It’s hoped by the author that the reader emerges with a new and nuanced appreciation for what Robert’s been trying to achieve over the decades since the retiring of the Led Zeppelin brand.