Now and Zen

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Now and Zen
Studio album by Robert Plant
Released 29 February 1988
Recorded Late Fall, Early Winter, 1987
Genre Rock
Length 46:59
Label Es Paranza
Producer Robert Plant
Tim Palmer
Phil Johnstone
Robert Plant chronology
Shaken 'n' Stirred
Now and Zen
Manic Nirvana
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[2]

Now and Zen is the fourth solo album by Robert Plant, released in 1988 (see 1988 in music) under the label Es Paranza. The album made the top 10 in both the US and the UK, reaching #6 in the former, and #10 in the latter. The album was certified triple platinum by the RIAA on September 7, 2001. The album was produced by Tim Palmer, Robert Plant and Phil Johnstone.

Description and background[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".

"Walking Towards Paradise" was originally 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.

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."[3]

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.

Track listing[edit]

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

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

Chart positions[edit]


Chart (1988) Peak Position
Norwegian Albums Chart[4] 12
UK Albums Chart[5] 10
Swedish Albums Chart[6] 18
Canadian RPM Top 100 Chart[7] 4
US Billboard The 200 Albums Chart[8] 6
Australian ARIA Top 50 Albums Chart[9] 27
German Albums Chart[10] 48


Year Single Chart Position
1988 "Heaven Knows" UK Singles Chart[5] 33
1988 "Heaven Knows" US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart[11] 1
1988 "Heaven Knows" Canadian RPM Top 100 Chart[12] 65
1988 "Tall Cool One" US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart[13] 1
1988 "Tall Cool One" UK Singles Chart[5] 87
1988 "Tall Cool One" Australian ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart[14] 47
1988 "Tall Cool One" US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart[15] 25
1988 "Tall Cool One" Canadian RPM Top 100 Chart[16] 15
1988 "Tall Cool One" US Cash Box Top 100 Singles Chart[17] 31
1988 "Dance on My Own" US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart 10
1988 "Ship of Fools" US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart 3
1988 "Ship of Fools" US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart 84
1989 "Walking Towards Paradise" US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart 39



Additional musicians[edit]

Technical personnel[edit]

  • Tim Palmer – Producer
  • Rob Bozas, Martin Russell, Dave Barrett, Michael Gregovich, Tim Burrell, Jonathan Dee – Engineers
  • Richard Evans – Design & Art Direction
  • Davies and Starr – Photography

In other media[edit]

Plant performed "Ship of Fools", "Tall Cool One" and "Heaven Knows" at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary concert in 1988.

"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.


  1. ^ Allmusic review
  2. ^ Rolling Stone review
  3. ^ Williamson, Nigel. "Good Times...Bad Times", Uncut, May 2005, p. 62.
  4. ^ "Top 40 Albums - 6 March 1988". Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  5. ^ a b c "Robert Plant - Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  6. ^ "Top 60 Albums - 16 March 1988". Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  7. ^ "RPM Albums Chart - 9 April 1988". RPM. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  8. ^ "The Billboard 200 - 21 May 1988". Billboard. Retrieved 2009-01-17. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Top 50 Albums - 3 July 1988". ARIA. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  10. ^ "Top 100 Albums - July 1988". Archived from the original on January 8, 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  11. ^ "Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks - 20 February 1988". Billboard. Archived from the original on November 1, 2015. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  12. ^ "RPM Singles Chart - 9 April 1988". RPM. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  13. ^ "Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks - 9 April 1988". Billboard. Archived from the original on November 1, 2015. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  14. ^ "Top 50 Singles - 26 June 1988". ARIA. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  15. ^ "Hot 100 Singles - 2 July 1988". Billboard. Archived from the original on September 4, 2013. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  16. ^ "RPM Singles Chart - 9 July 1988". RPM. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  17. ^ "Top 100 Singles - 9 July 1988". Cash Box. Retrieved 2009-01-19.