Mood For A Melody (Wardour-034)
NEC, Birmingham, England – September 8th, 1985
Disc 1: In The Mood, Pledge Pin, Pink And Black, Little By Little, Burning Down One Side, Too Loud, Thru With The Two Step
Disc 2: Messin’ With The Mekon, member introduction, Slow Dancer, Rockin’ At Midnight, Young Boy Blues. Bonus tracks, Gaumont, Ipswich, England – December 7th, 1983: Burning Down One Side, Big Log, All Your Love, Stranger Here…Than Over There
Robert Plant once described his third solo LP Shaken ‘N’ Stirred as a sojourn into the land of spook. Not wanting to imitate the hair metal bands or new wave he took inspiration from Peter Gabriel and produced his most adventurous, progressive and unpopular solo album to date. The songs relied heavily upon keyboards and resembled tone poems more than pop songs.
Although he has been criticized for this a strong argument can be made that this is his most creative and exciting music. Mood For A Melody, the latest release on Wardour, presents two previously undocumented and incomplete soundboard recordings. The bulk of the release is Plant’s September 8th show at the NEC in his hometown Birmingham. Most of the show is included but the rest of the Honeydrippers’ set “Sea Of Love” and “Honey Hush” and the encores “Like I’ve Never Been Gone”, “Big Log” and “Easily Led” are missing.
The tape used for the Birmingham show is on the whole a phenomenal three-dimensional stereo soundboard recording. The audience is very distant but all of the instruments and vocals are clear and detailed and every subtle nuance is captured perfectly. The quality of the tape changes for the between song Plantations, however, going into a hissy mono and for “Thru With The Two Step”. I don’t think this is from a different tape source but sounds like someone switching between mono and stereo on the equipment.
An audience tape also circulates for this date that is more complete, missing only “Easily Led”. This title might have been improved if Wardour edited this source with the soundboard to give a more complete document of the concert. Instead the label chose to fill the space with the other soundboard fragment from Gaumont. Birmingham is the first of only two shows in the UK for the third album’s tour and was the penultimate show with his first band.
The opening tape is missing and the tape begins with a version of “In The Mood” that reaches nine minutes and segues directly into “Pledge Pin”. After saying he has “mixed feelings” playing in Birmingham they play the first new song of the night “Pink And Black”. “Little By Little”, which was the current single, is extended to ten minutes. “That’s probably even more extended than the 12″” Plant says at the song’s conclusion.
“Burning Down One Side” is the song they all came to hear and has a great solo by Robbie Blunt. Plant describes “Too Loud” as a “personal favorite…that nobody plays on the radio”. It is an interesting song for Plant, but is a bit derivative with its techno beats. “Slow Dancer” is the actual set closer and includes lyrics from “Since I’ve Been Loving You” (“Doncha remember when I knocked around your door / You had the nerve to tell me you don’t want me no more”).
The Gaumont fragment comes from his first tour of the UK for his second solo LP Principle Of Moments. It sounds more dull with more hiss than the Birmingham but is still very enjoyable. “Big Log” sounds great as does the final song “Stranger Here…Than Over There”. But the interesting point of this is the very rare cover of the Otis Rush song “All Your Love”. This song was played several times on this tour most notably at the November 29th show in Newcastle.
Overall it is a nice bonus to have this previously uncirculated soundboard too and Mood For A Melody is a great compilation of some mid eighties Robert Plant. The inserts are thick glossy paper used by the label for the past couple of releases. Wardour have focused mostly upon Queen in their catalogue but their first two releases were Robert Plant titles. Since the Led Zeppelin labels don’t produce many solo titles hopefully they will continue to find and release these tapes.