In The Mood: Robert Plant’s The Principle of Moments at 40

Remembering the former Led Zeppelin frontman’s breakout solo venture

The Principle of Moments tour shirt ’83 (Image: Etsy)

Released on July 15, 1983, Robert Plant’s second solo album, The Principle of Moments, offered assurance that Plant’s ability to succeed outside the realms of Led Zeppelin was firmly entrenched.

Granted, there are those that will always think of him solely as Zeppelin’s frenetic front man, but with The Principle of Moments he pivoted away convincingly and proved once more that he was capable of offering a more subtle form of expression, flush with added tone and texture. 


VIDEO: Robert Plant “In the Mood”

To his credit, the album provided Plant with a perfect combination of authority, swoon and swagger. That’s best exemplified by “In the Mood,” a song that remains a standard in his set even now, cowritten with Robbie Blunt and bassist Paul Martinez. Blunt, who stepped into the role of guitar foil previously occupied by Jimmy Page, took part in co-writing all the songs in the set. “Big Log,” a collaboration between Plant, Blunt and keyboardist Jazz Woodroffe, proved to be another distinctive diversion from Plant’s previous repertoire, a memorable offering that gave him a one of the biggest hits of his solo career.

Blunt, a principled player in the otherwise obscure outfits Silverhead and Bronco, had, of course, big shoes to fill, but if he was intimidated by the challenge, it didn’t show. His riffing is dramatic and dynamic throughout, and while it may have lacked the forward thrust that helped provide Zeppelin with its fully-fueled undertow, it’s solidly effective regardless. 

Robert Plant The Principle of Moments, Es Paranza/Atlantic Records 1983

Plant also gets an able assist in the percussion department, courtesy of two especially notable names, Phil Collins and an early Jethro Tull prime player, Barriemore Barlow. Credit Plant with giving these classic rockers a new lease on life.

The other musicians that play prime roles in this particular backing band — Martinez and Woodroppe — also provide an able assist, doing well to avoiding intimidation factor while filling Zeppelin’s former role in terms of the sonic support. Certain songs — “Stranger Here” and “Horizontal Departure” in particular — do, in fact, bring echoes of Zeppelin, but they remain distinctive enough as to not detract from Plant’s efforts to establish an independent approach that avoids the shadow of his former band.


VIDEO: Robert Plant “Big Log”

Plant would further diverge with future efforts, outings that found him fronting a revived version of his seminal group, Band of Joy, helming various new outfits, Strange Sensation, the Sensational Space Shifters and the short-lived Saving Grace, and, perhaps most notably,  participating in a short-lived reunion with Jimmy Page. More recently, he’s devoted himself entirely to this efforts alongside bluegrass chanteuse Alison Krauss, in effect, reinventing himself as an Americana auteur. That shift in stance is hardly unexpected; his solo efforts have found him veering from the exotic environs of North Africa to the rootsy realms of America’s heartland Americana, with ample doses of hard rock, folk, and psychedelia added as well. Whatever the format, Plant’s passion and purpose are never in doubt. 

Nevertheless, Plant had to start somewhere and with The Principle of Moments he made it clear he was confident, credible and wholly engaged while venturing out on his own. 





Lee Zimmerman
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Lee Zimmerman

Lee Zimmerman is a writer and columnist based in beautiful Maryville, Tennessee. Over the past 20 years, his work has appeared in dozens of leading music publications. He is also the author of Americana Music: Voice, Visionaries, and Pioneers of an Honest Sound, which will be published by Texas A&M University Press early next year.

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