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(Credit: Man Alive)

Music

When Robert Plant pilfered Led Zeppelin for a solo single

@TylerGolsen

Solo careers are a dicey proposition, especially if you come from an already-beloved band. It doesn’t always work out: Grace Slick, Mick Jagger, Roger Daltrey, and even Freddie Mercury couldn’t really find their footing outside of their day jobs. Compared to these singers, Robert Plant actually did relatively well in the solo sphere.

That’s partly because he didn’t really have a choice: Led Zeppelin were such a solid unit that when John Bonham passed away in 1980, the other three members couldn’t see a path forward without him. Out of respect of their fallen comrade, Led Zeppelin disbanded permanently. But the world never stopped loving Zeppelin, and no one was more aware of that fact that their lead singer.

So what is the appropriate course of action? Maybe make a stirring tribute song to one of your best friends? Do a tasteful cover of one of your own songs from the past? Robert Plant decided that those options were in too good taste and decided to simply pilfer samples from Led Zeppelin’s catalogue for a new song, 1988’s ‘Tall Cool One’.

Complete with ridiculous 1980s production gloss, overly-gated drums, and a piano that couldn’t sound more synthesised if you shoved it through the Matrix, ‘Tall Cool One’ already has all the hallmarks of a questionable track. But Plant decided to double down by shoehorning in unnecessary guitar tracks from across Led Zeppelin’s catalogue, reproducing Jimmy Page’s eerie slide and monster riffs from tracks like ‘Whole Lotta Love’, ‘Dazed and Confused’, ‘Custard Pie’, and ‘Black Dog’.

Plant even got Page himself to record a new solo for the song. As if it wasn’t bad enough, there’s even a low rumbling spoken word section, clearly fake brass, and vocal samples of both ‘Black Dog’ and ‘When the Levee Breaks’. It’s a song that was made for bad ’80s commercials, as evidenced by the fact Coco-Cola swiftly picked up for some of their own ads. The song’s end, when a bunch of Zeppelin samples are haphazardly jumbled up and thrown in, is enough to get Bonham rolling in his grave.

‘Tall Cool One’ wasn’t even one of Plant’s biggest hits. It got to number one on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts, but only got as high as number 25 on the Hot 100 and only peaked at number 87 in Plant’s native UK. ‘Tall Cool One’ stands today as more than just an embarrassing example of what the ’80s did to legendary singers like Plant. It’s an actively bad song that robs the grave of one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time.