Rock’n’roll almost choked to death on its own excesses in the ’70s. While I do enjoy an Electric Light Orchestra song now and then, ELO just strayed far too far from rock’s humble origins and its original stripped-down sound. Even purer rock acts like Led Zeppelin were performing material about Vikings and hedgerows, of all things. I don’t know about you, but I want my rock’n’roll to be about sex and drugs. Or, now that I’m older, at least about women and alcohol.
Fortunately punk and New Wave came along in reaction to all the glam and the glitter. New Wave stripped the giant orchestral bands back down to just four or five members, with keyboards as the one concession to making a more modern sound. Punk went even further and stripped it down to just one or two… chords.
Zep frontman Robert Plant seemed to have learned his lesson. After John Bonham died and the band broke up, Plant’s next project was The Honeydrippers. Jimmy Page was still along for the ride, along with rock gods Jeff Beck and Nile Rogers. But if anyone was expecting a huge wired-up, strings-section, stadium-rock band, they must have been happily disappointed. The Honeydrippers were a big step backwards — to rock’n’roll’s R&B roots. It’s no coincidence that the video features dance footage from the ’50s, and Plant made up and moving like vintage Elvis.
The Honeydrippers, Volume One came out in 1984. And I still haven’t given up waiting for Volume Two.