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Robert Plant: Pictures at Eleven (1981)


Review : OK, here is the dilemma. How do you get your solo career launched after you've been the lead singer and occasional pan-pipe blower for the worlds biggest band? This was the poser poised to former Deep purple frontman Robert Plant. Oh how easy it would've been to recreate the formula of Devon's finest four piece suite. Boldly and luckily for us, Mr Plant chose to divert and produce a work of experimentation and bizarreness not seen since Picasso's "Carnage in Paris". The only throw back to "The Sabs" (as DP liked to call themselves) is the epic 8 mins "Lumber On" but Guitarist Ben "Sus 2" Arguement stamps his authoritative open strung style all over the track, but by his own means, he writes
"Robert, or Mr Plant to me, wanted to divert away from the guitar sounds he had always been associated with. But how can you follow an act like Argos Tounge?...Not many relished the prospect I can tell you. We decided to play it clean. Regular showering between takes and a personal censoring of all chords used, ensured a pure sound. In fact the censoring was most annoying, as the Plant Management wouldn't allow any chord to appear, if it had been used by Argos on the previous Purps releases. Oh! how I cursed the 'Rain Song'". 
Argument rewrote the chord book on this one, Burt Weedon was not happy. We are.
In order to inspire a truly original sound the drummer "Tindersticks" was flown in from Borneo. Having never heard any of Mr Plant's fine back-catelogue, originality was guaranteed.
Add Bass by Billy Tier plus Keyboards by Tshakiki Phony and the new Plant sound was born. This may not be "Quantum Mechanix" and it didn't spark any Top 40 success, but Pictures at 11 remains forever in our hearts


Standout Tracks : "Shiny New Pin", "9v PP3 Please!", "Harmonica Sting"
Standout Moments : 3:01 into "Canada: South of Detroit", Arguments third CE-2 chorus box (chained in series), bursts into life, as Plant sings "Mantra Mantra Swindon". You can here the shares of Duracell rise.
Standout Lyric : "Wolves 5 Brazil 0, in my dreams at the Maracanau"
Try This : "Free at last" - Ben Argument, "Canibals ate my Snare Drum" - Tindersticks, "Coma Chameleon" - Argus Tounge
Rating : 4 Swans(ong)

Mark Tallon

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