Now and Zen

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Now and Zen
Studio album by
Released29 February 1988
RecordedNovember and December 1987
StudioSwanyard Studios and Marcus Studios, London, UK
LabelEs Paranza
Robert Plant chronology
Shaken 'n' Stirred
Now and Zen
Manic Nirvana

Now and Zen is the fourth solo album by Robert Plant, released 29 February, 1988 by Es Paranza Records. The album made the top 10 in the US (No. 6) and UK (No. 10). The album was certified triple platinum by the RIAA on 7 September 2001. The album was produced by Tim Palmer, Robert Plant and Phil Johnstone.

Background and recording[edit]

With a new band and a new perspective on his music, Plant returned in late 1987 with more of the sound that had previously defined him in Led Zeppelin. Although Plant continued to utilize computerized audio technology in a similar fashion to his previous solo albums, for this album Plant integrated the blues that had all but been abandoned on his most recent album Shaken 'n' Stirred (1985). A prominent guitar sound and an exotic feel to the recordings also marked another change in direction for the artist, who now added Middle Eastern tones in songs like "Heaven Knows". This is a direction that he would eventually follow in the 1990s with Page and Plant.

The tracks "Heaven Knows" and "Tall Cool One" feature Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. (On the liner notes, Page's participation on the songs is noted with a Zoso symbol.) In response to the Beastie Boys' unauthorized sampling of some Led Zeppelin songs on their 1986 album Licensed to Ill, Plant also used samples from Led Zeppelin songs ("Whole Lotta Love", "Dazed and Confused", "Black Dog", "Custard Pie", and "The Ocean") on "Tall Cool One", additionally singing words from "When the Levee Breaks".

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[1]
Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal9/10[2]
Kerrang!4/5 stars[3]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[4]
The Village VoiceB[5]

The original released copies of the CD and Album version contained a wolf motif mini-flag in satin red. This is a tribute to his favorite association football team, the Wolverhampton Wanderers (Wolves by fans). This mini-flag is also a rare collector's item. "Walking Towards Paradise" was originally as a bonus track available only on CD versions of the album and as the B-side of the single "Heaven Knows". Rhino Entertainment released a remastered edition of the album, with bonus tracks, on 3 April 2007.

Now and Zen was received positively by both Plant's fans and professional music critics.[6] In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone, Kurt Loder hailed Now and Zen as "some kind of stylistic event: a seamless pop fusion of hard guitar rock, gorgeous computerization and sharp, startling songcraft."[4] Robert Christgau found it superior to his previous two attractive but forgettable solo albums, writing in The Village Voice that "at its best, it's far from forgettable. Overall effect is a cross between his former band and the Cars."[5]

In an interview he gave to Uncut magazine in 2005, Plant commented that "by the time Now and Zen came out in '88, it looked like I was big again. It was a Top 10 album on both sides of the Atlantic. But if I listen to it now, I can hear that a lot of the songs got lost in the technology of the time."[7]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Robert Plant and Phil Johnstone, except where noted.

Side one
  1. "Heaven Knows" (Johnstone, David Barratt) – 4:06
  2. "Dance on My Own" (Plant, Johnstone, Robert Crash) – 4:30
  3. "Tall Cool One" – 4:40
  4. "The Way I Feel" (Plant, Johnstone, Doug Boyle) – 5:40
Side two
  1. "Helen of Troy" – 5:06
  2. "Billy's Revenge" – 3:34
  3. "Ship of Fools" – 5:01
  4. "Why" (Plant, Crash) – 4:14
  5. "White, Clean and Neat" – 5:28
  6. "Walking Towards Paradise" (Jerry Lynn Williams) – 4:40 (CD edition bonus track)

2007 remaster bonus tracks

  1. "Billy's Revenge" (live) – 6:00
  2. "Ship of Fools" (live) – 10:35
  3. "Tall Cool One" (live) – 5:07

Appearances in other media[edit]

  • "Ship of Fools" was also featured on the final two-hour episode of Miami Vice, "Freefall". It is the musical accompaniment to Crockett and Tubbs return to Miami via motor yacht after rescuing General Bourbon (a thinly veiled Manuel Noriega-type character) from the fictional Central American nation of Costa Morada.


Additional musicians
  • Tim Palmer – producer
  • Rob Bozas, Martin Russell, Dave Barrett, Michael Gregovich, Tim Burrell, Jonathan Dee – engineers
  • Richard Evans – design and art direction
  • Davies and Starr – photography



  1. ^ Iynegar, Vic. "Robert Plant - Now and Zen review". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  2. ^ Popoff, Martin (1 November 2005). The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 2: The Eighties. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Collector's Guide Publishing. p. 264. ISBN 978-1-894959-31-5.
  3. ^ Johnson, Howard (13 February 1988). "Robert Plant - 'Now and Zen'". Kerrang!. No. 174.
  4. ^ a b Loder, Kurt (10 March 1988). "Robert Plant - Now and Zen". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  5. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (30 August 1988). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  6. ^ Daniels, Neil; Stening, Paul (2008). Robert Plant: Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page and the Solo Years. Independent Music Press. p. 121. ISBN 0955282276.
  7. ^ Williamson, Nigel. "Good Times...Bad Times", Uncut, May 2005, p. 62.
  8. ^ "RPM Albums Chart - 9 April 1988". RPM. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  9. ^ "Robert Palnt Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  10. ^ "Robert Plant - Now and Zen (album)". Media Control Charts. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  11. ^ a b c "Robert Plant - Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  12. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. p. 234. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. N.B. The Kent Music Report chart was licensed by ARIA between mid-1983 and 19 June 1988.
  13. ^ "Top 40 Albums - 6 March 1988". Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  14. ^ "Top 60 Albums - 16 March 1988". Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  15. ^ "Robert Plant - Now and Zen". Dutch MegaCharts (in Dutch). Media Control Charts. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  16. ^ "Album - Robert Plant, Now and Zen". (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  17. ^ a b c d e "Robert Plant Chart History: Mainstream Rock". Billboard. Retrieved 19 January 2009.
  18. ^ "Robert Plant - Heaven Knows (song)". Media Control Charts. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  19. ^ "RPM Singles Chart - 9 April 1988". RPM. Retrieved 19 January 2009.
  20. ^ "RPM Singles Chart - 9 July 1988". RPM. Retrieved 19 January 2009.
  21. ^ a b "Robert Plant Chart History: Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved 19 January 2009.
  22. ^ "Top 100 Singles - 9 July 1988". Cash Box. Archived from the original on 22 November 2008. Retrieved 19 January 2009.
  23. ^ "Top 50 Singles - 26 June 1988". ARIA. Retrieved 19 January 2009.