The next Led Zeppelin reissues (IV and Houses of the Holy) are out October 28 and they're essential for fans of the group—and of good music in general. Revered for its musical bona fides, the band was equally famous for its legendarily over-the-top antics—involving everything from mud sharks to pacts with devil, depending on who you ask. At the center of it all was frontman Robert Plant, who plays three NYC-area gigs this week with his current band, the Sensational Space Shifters. To get you prepped for the shows, we look back at some of the more flamboyant moments in the golden god's career:
"The Song Remains the Same"
Let's start at the beginning. This clip from Zeppelin's 1973 concert film The Song Remains the Same shows the band at its peak, capturing Plant's moans, groans and super-sensual performance style. The interstitial clips feature Plant epically posing at the stern of a ship, receiving a glorious sword and generally being a medieval-fantasy-world badass. Of course, all this comes without any sort of narrative or context, making it all the more awesome.
"Sea of Love"
In 1985, Plant put together an in-studio supergroup, including former bandmate Jimmy Page and revered ax man Jeff Beck, to work on an R&B-infused project, the Honeydrippers. "Sea of Love," a cover of a Phil Phillips tune, was the group's biggest hit. Check out this version from German TV in which Plant serenades an old lady at an in-studio beach. Yes, you read that right.
Plant's solo career has been marked by experimentation with many sonic styles, especially of the Middle Eastern variety. (Check out his documentary Zirka, about a gig at a Malian festival.) This music video from 1988's Now and Zen features Plant doing... something. It's hard to tell just what's going on here, but there's definitely desert dancing, forbidden love and lots and lots of scarf action.
He's got his eyes on you. This video from 1990's Manic Nirvana is a rock & roll–er coaster. As in, this boardwalk/theme-park based vide literally features Plant doing his signature moves on a roller coaster. It also features balloons, creepy clowns and a fantastically billowy rainbow shirt. This video is both totally ’80s and totally disconnected from the song's scorned-lover lyrics.
Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters
Plant has mellowed out since the ’80s, done excellent solo work with Jimmy Page and Alison Krauss, and become one of rock's most beloved elder statesman, as well as a continually vital performer. So we thought we'd leave you with something a little less… much. To get a taste of Plant's gigs this week, check out this Glastonbury performance of "Little Maggie," a traditional song that appears on his latest album, lullaby...and the Ceaseless Roar.