Now and Zen
|Now and Zen|
|Studio album by|
|Released||29 February 1988|
|Recorded||November and December 1987|
|Studio||Swanyard Studios and Marcus Studios, London, UK|
|Robert Plant chronology|
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
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
|Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal||9/10|
|The Village Voice||B|
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. 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." 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."
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."
- Side one
- "Heaven Knows" (Johnstone, David Barratt) – 4:06
- "Dance on My Own" (Plant, Johnstone, Robert Crash) – 4:30
- "Tall Cool One" – 4:40
- "The Way I Feel" (Plant, Johnstone, Doug Boyle) – 5:40
- Side two
- "Helen of Troy" – 5:06
- "Billy's Revenge" – 3:34
- "Ship of Fools" – 5:01
- "Why" (Plant, Crash) – 4:14
- "White, Clean and Neat" – 5:28
- "Walking Towards Paradise" (Jerry Lynn Williams) – 4:40 (CD edition bonus track)
2007 remaster bonus tracks
- "Billy's Revenge" (live) – 6:00
- "Ship of Fools" (live) – 10:35
- "Tall Cool One" (live) – 5:07
Appearances in other media
- 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.
- Robert Plant – vocals
- Doug Boyle – guitars
- Phil Scragg – bass
- Phil Johnstone – keyboards, programming
- Chris Blackwell – drums and percussion
- Additional musicians
- Jimmy Page – guitar solos on "Heaven Knows" and "Tall Cool One"
- Marie Pierre, Kirsty MacColl, Toni Halliday – backing vocals
- Robert Crash, David Barratt – programming
- 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
- Iynegar, Vic. "Robert Plant - Now and Zen review". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
- 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.
- Johnson, Howard (13 February 1988). "Robert Plant - 'Now and Zen'". Kerrang!. No. 174.
- Loder, Kurt (10 March 1988). "Robert Plant - Now and Zen". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
- Christgau, Robert (30 August 1988). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
- Daniels, Neil; Stening, Paul (2008). Robert Plant: Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page and the Solo Years. Independent Music Press. p. 121. ISBN 0955282276.
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