Robert Plant is hands-down one of the greatest frontmen and vocalists in rock ‘n roll. There’s hardly any argument in that. The thing is, at a time when most rockers were just a bunch of screamers, he was more than that. There’s no contesting his range and power but dang, his vocals are just outrageous. And although there’s absolutely no way to simply confine his finest performances in a list (it’s like summarizing his long and illustrious career), we’ll give it a shot.
Alison Krauss described Plant’s voice as ‘picturesque’ with a ‘crazy European mystery’ and “Kashmir” perhaps is the solid proof. It has that mystical and hypnotic feel to it that you can’t help but put it on loop no less than five times the first time you hear it on the radio. It’s so dang easy to get hooked to it and it’s partly because of Plant’s artistic touch. It’s like you get transported to another world in another time. The riffs and drum lines are unbelievable and yes, it’s probably one of the greatest poetic masterpieces from Led Zeppelin but somehow, hearing Plant’s vocals gives you a taste of the ‘70s spirit. He makes the song come alive and it’s just outrageous. Every song tells a story, true, but Plant is more than your average storyteller. He makes you totally ‘feel’ it. It’s strangely beautiful but powerful nonetheless. It’s one of Plant’s finest performances for sure.
Plant’s high pitch vocals are baffling to say the least. If anything, it constantly reminds you that he’s either a god or a superhuman. Either way, he’s easily up there with the greatest rock ‘n roll artists. He’s the gold standard for ANY type of singing – soft rock, upbeat pop, and folk. In “Dazed and Confused”, he goes hard rock. This song is divine, surreal and just arresting. Page’s use of a violin bow on his guitar was a stroke of creative genius but let’s not forget Plant’s vocal performance. His roar is the perfect voice to complement Bonzo’s eerie drumming. It gives you goosebumps as the song builds momentum. This classic hit features Plant at his best. Although to be fair, he does give a piece of himself in every song. The voice can be imitated but the soul he puts into his music is not something any singer can just pull off.
One of the most otherworldly things Plant does is when he talks and mimics Page’s guitar almost to the point where you can’t tell which one’s the instrument and which is the voice. How does he do that?! And he always tries to fit his voice to the song – flawlessly at that. Plant is a versatile singer and he can go from rock to something bluesy like “Since I’ve Been Loving You.” His screechy, pleading voice and spine-tingling wailing is quite possibly the greatest vocal performance ever recorded. This is perhaps Led Zeppelin’s most touching song. It’s nothing but pure perfection and it will literally stop you in your tracks. It’s Plant at his rawest and most compelling. You can’t help but fall under the spell of his gritty and edgy voice charged with so much emotional strain you can almost feel the pain and darkness in the song. It’s like every pore in Plant’s body is singing in harmony.
Many singers can only aspire to have Plant’s unique and versatile voice. The man can go from being aggressively loud to soft in a matter of seconds and the transition is just flawless. He’s so talented he can wail, whisper and croon all in one song. Really, how many vocalists can manage to sing an entire spectrum of moods perfectly? In “Black Dog”, Plant busts out his a capella chops and boy, he didn’t disappoint one bit. The lyrics and vocals are so raw and visceral, it really hits you right in the feels. If it’s possible to get lost in the music, the song would have to be this. You can trace some of Plant’s bluesy influence and he is just so out there. And when you hear this live, you wouldn’t know how to feel because it’s epic on so many levels. It’s plain eargasm. Yep, he’s a legend among legends.
What makes Robert Plant great? His voice doesn’t just fit the tune and rhythm like a glove but he practically morphs into the persona or character in his song. And “Going To California” shows us another side of plant – it’s like we get to see and hear something new with every track. Also, this is unlike anything Led Zeppelin ever did – not that they weren’t always trying to test the limits. It may be laid back and chill but Plant’s vocal performance is outstanding. Aside from his versatility, he also shows how much control he has on his voice. He can scream and wail and still do it with finesse. And with this song, he goes slow and soft but captivating all the same. It’s pure, unadulterated perfection. At the pinnacle of his career, he was unrivaled and unmatched. He can make you feel the pain or sadness but with this one, it’s just so calming. It’s like he bathes your senses with serenity. That’s Robert Plant for you, ladies and gentlemen – a certified musical genius.