Friday, June 14, 2002

'Last Time I Saw Her': Robert Plant song review of the day (No. 2 of 10)

This news originally appeared in an edition of the newsletter "On This Day In Led Zeppelin History."

Today's song is "Last Time I Saw Her." I chose to review this song right away because I thought there might be people who thought Dreamland was an album of all covers. Well, it's not. This track shows the creativity of Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation.

Plant deserves a lot of credit for his performance on this one. His voice may have changed a lot throughout his career, and his voice gets a lot of criticism for being breathy these days. Still, Plant never fails to conjure up vocal energy when it's needed. And this track is one of those times when he comes through with flying colors.

His performance in the upbeat verses of this track reminds me of the Presence track, "Hots on For Nowhere." He sounds like he's having some fun on this track, and with a great band behind him, how could he not be? The rhythm section lays down a funky, syncopated backbeat to support the song. Crazy effects from guitar and synthesizer show why this five-piece backing band might be called "the Strange Sensation" in the first place. Some of Plant's energy throughout the song could be attributed to the inspiring noises behind him.

When Porl Thompson spoke with Lemon Squeezings last month, he described his own guitar sound on the album as "over loud" and "uncontrolled." Well, that's only half of it! Does anybody remember laughter? Squeaks, growls, trills and howls are just some of the describable noises throughout the track. Then there are the indescribable ones, too; I won't even get started on them.

Plant himself gets into the groove with his own repeated words and phrases and improvised hollers. The song fades out with a battling exchange between guitar and keyboards. (I turned up the volume so I could hear the last sounds before they fades away completely; I won't spoil it for you which one wins.)

"You can probably hear the great future for this band lurking on the fade-outs of the tracks," Plant said recently. No kidding! But there's a lot to be heard within this dynamic four-and-three-quarter-minute track, and every second counts in Dreamland.

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