The four quarters of Led Zeppelin are, individually, perhaps four of the strongest corners of a singular band. The group, comprised of the rocking rhythm section of John Paul Jones and John Bonham were expertly accented by Jimmy Page’s virtuoso guitars. But perhaps the crowning piece of the puzzle was Robert Plant, a rock singer would define a generation with his soulful wail.
Simply put, though many have tried since, with Plant providing a blueprint for every rock singer that followed him, nobody could match Robert Plant’s iconic tone. He managed to skirt the edge of gravel while always hitting his notes with a regularity which many thought impossible. Listening to his isolated vocals on the Led Zeppelin song ‘Ramble On’, it’s clear to see why he’s so hugely revered by his peers and onwards.
Taken from the iconic sophomore album Led Zeppelin II, the album the quartet released in 1969, the vision for ‘Ramble On’ was one of fantasy from Robert Plant. The singer, like many other artists his age, had become inspired by the work of fantasy fiction writer J.R.R. Tolkein and with the track makes reference to its impact on him.
The singer used moments throughout the lyrics to express his connection, lines like “the darkest depths of Mordor” and “Gollum and the evil one” are both doffs of the caps to the writer. It’s a section of lyrics that Plant later confessed to being embarrassed about.
One of Zeppelin’s more obviously joyous songs, the upbeat tone of the cut is perfectly complimented by guitarist Jimmy Page’s silky solo which saunters in around the one minute 47-second mark. It swirls and spirals like a magician’s spell and there is something entirely hypnotic about it. But, of course, that’s not why we’re here. We are here’s to marvel at Plant’s vocal power.
‘Ramble On’ may not provide the searing power of songs like ‘Whole Lotta Love’ which provides a platform for Plant to do his thing. But the consistency of his tone and the juggernaut energy of his vocal performance demands attention. When you remove Page’s guitar, Jones’ bounce and Bonham’s pounding drums, Plant’s vocal comes to the fore with devastating effect.
Robert Plant is undoubtedly one of the all-time great rock vocalists but, on this track, his incredible voice is somewhat overshadowed by the instrumentation that surrounds him on many Zeppelin trackds. However, this isolated version that only features Plant’s vocals proves exactly why he is respected so highly as well as that we sometimes take his immense talents for granted.