Now and Zen

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Now and Zen
NZalbum1988.jpg
Type Studio album
Artist Robert Plant
Release Date 29 February 1988
Recorded October - November 1987 at
Swanyard Studios, London
Marcus Studios, London.
Mixed at Swanyard Studios, London.
Genre Hard rock, rock
Language English
Length 46 minutes 59 seconds
Label Es Paranza Records
Catalogue Es Paranza 90863-1 (US)
Es Paranza 790 863-1 (UK)
Producer Robert Plant, Tim Palmer, and Phil Johnstone
Engineer Rob Bozas & Martin Russell

Now and Zen is an album by the former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant, released in 1988 via the record label Es Paranza. The album generated two mainstream rock hits, 'Heaven Knows' (Number 1 for six weeks) and 'Tall Cool One' (Number 1 for four weeks), and earned Plant his first solo multi-platinum honour with RIAA.[1]

Overview

With a new backing band and time to rethink the direction of his career, Plant returned in late 1987 with more of the material that had historically defined him in Led Zeppelin. Although Plant persisted in utilising computerised audio technology, in a comparable fashion to his anteceding solo issues, for this release Plant re-integrated blues-rock that had all but been relinquished on his 1985 release Shaken 'n' Stirred.[2] Plant, who often uses mysterious and mystical lyrics, composes some of his most coherent songs, and the manner in which the writing complements the melodic arrangements are partially responsible for the commercial success of Now and Zen. A prominent guitar and an exotic aural texture to the recordings also marked another transformation in Plant's sound, who now added Middle Eastern colouration in compositions like 'Heaven Knows'. This is a musical direction that he would eventually re-engage with in the mid-1990s with the Jimmy Page and Robert Plant project.

This album is also notable in that it marks his first collaboration with keyboardist Phil Johnstone, who would continue to play and write with Plant on subsequent albums, and song-writer producer Dave Barrett. Plant's lifelong loyalty to his favourite football team Wolverhampton Wanderers (The Wolves) is expressed in the form of wolf motifs on the front cover. The working title for this recording project was in fact Wolves. In another symbolic return to his past, Plant's feather from Led Zeppelin IV in encapsulated in a crystal, next to the wolf motifs. The charting singles 'Heaven Knows' and 'Tall Cool One' features Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page (On the liner notes, Page's participation on the recordings were signified with a ZoSo symbol)[3], underpinning a riff similar to the Yardbirds-era standard 'The Train Kept a-Rollinˈ'. In retort to the Beastie Boys' unauthorised sampling of Led Zeppelin songs on their 1986 album Licensed to Ill, Plant also sampled Led Zeppelin tracks ('Whole Lotta Love', 'Black Dog', 'The Ocean', and 'Custard Pie') on 'Tall Cool One', furthermore singing lyrical refrains from 'When the Levee Breaks'.[4] Plant reflects with 'White, Clean and Neat', a song evoking teen life in the mid-1950s, when the arrival of rock 'n' roll divided families and whole generations. 'Walking Towards Paradise' was initially a bonus track obtainable only on the CD version of the album. Rhino Entertainment eventually issued a remastered edition of the album, with additional tracks, on 3 April 2007.

Plant performed 'Heaven Knows', 'Tall Cool One', and 'Ship of Fools' at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary concert in 1988. 'Ship of Fools' was also used on the final two-hour episode of Miami Vice entitled 'Freefall'.

In an interview he gave to Uncut magazine in 2005, Plant commented:

By the time Now and Zen came out in '89, it looked like I was big again. It was a Top 10 album on both sides of the Atlantic. But if I listen to it now, I can hear that a lot of the songs got lost in the technology of the time.[5]

Track list

Album information

1988 Track listing:

  • Side One:
  1. 'Heaven Knows' (Phil Johnstone, David Barrett) – 4:02
  2. 'Dance on My Own' (Robert Plant, Phil Johnstone, Robert Crash) – 4:31
  3. 'Tall Cool One' (Robert Plant, Phil Johnstone) – 4:37
  4. 'The Way I Feel' (Robert Plant, Phil Johnstone, Doug Boyle) – 5:39
  • Side Two:
  1. 'Helen of Troy' (Robert Plant, Phil Johnstone) - 5:03
  2. 'Billy's Revenge' (Robert Plant, Phil Johnstone) – 3:33
  3. 'Ship of Fools' (Robert Plant, Phil Johnstone) – 4:59
  4. 'Why' (Robert Plant, Robert Crash) – 4:12
  5. 'White, Clean and Neat' (Robert Plant, Phil Johnstone) – 5:28

Chart positions

Album

Chart (1988) Peak Position
Norwegian Albums Chart[6] 12
UK Albums Chart[7] 10
Swedish Albums Chart[8] 18
Canadian RPM Top 100 Chart[9] 4
US Billboard The 200 Albums Chart[10] 6
Australian ARIA Top 50 Albums Chart[11] 27
German Albums Chart[12] 48
New Zealand RIANZ Top 40 Albums Chart 7

Singles

Year Single Chart Position
1988 'Heaven Knows' UK Singles Chart[13] 33
1988 'Heaven Knows' US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart[14] 1
1988 'Heaven Knows' Canadian RPM Top 100 Chart[15] 65
1988 'Tall Cool One' US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart[16] 1
1988 'Tall Cool One' UK Singles Chart[17] 87
1988 'Tall Cool One' Australian ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart[18] 47
1988 'Tall Cool One' US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart[19] 25
1988 'Tall Cool One' Canadian RPM Top 100 Chart[20] 15
1988 'Tall Cool One' US Cash Box Top 100 Singles Chart[21] 31
1988 'Ship of Fools' US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart[22] 3
1988 'Ship of Fools' US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart[23] 84
1988 'Dance on My Own' US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart[24] 10
1989 'Walking Towards Paradise' US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart[25] 39

Certifications

Album

Country Sales Certification
United States (RIAA) 3,000,000+ 3× Multi-Platinum[26]

Credits

Personnel
  • Musicians:
    • Robert Plant - vocals, producer
    • Jimmy Page – lead guitar ('Heaven Knows' and 'Tall Cool One')
    • Phil Johnstone - keyboards, producer
    • Doug Boyle - guitar
    • Phil Scragg - bass guitar
    • Chris Blackwell - drums, percussion
  • Additional musicians:
    • David Barrett - programming, keyboards, engineer
    • Robert Crash - programming
    • Marie Pierre - backing vocals
    • Toni Halliday - backing vocals
    • Kirsty MacColl - backing vocals
    • Jerry Wayne - background voice ('White, Clean and Neat')
  • Production:
    • Tim Palmer - producer
    • Bob Bozas - engineer
    • Martin Russell - engineer
    • Jonathan Dee - engineer
    • Michael Gregovich - engineer
    • Tim Burrell - engineer
    • Richard Evans - design, art direction
    • Davies & Starr - photography

Notes

  1. Pesselnick, Jill (October 2001). "Certifications: Beasties Toasted in Latest Certifications". Billboard 113 (43): 54. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved on 5 June 2009.
  2. Daniels, Neil (2008). Robert Plant: Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page & the Solo Years, 1st. Church Stretton, Shropshire: Independent Music Press, 122. ISBN 0-9552822-7-6. 
  3. Case, George (2007). Jimmy Page: Magus, Musician, Man - An Unauthorized Biography. New York: Hal Leonard, 174. ISBN 1-4234-0407-1. 
  4. Lewis, Dave (2004). Led Zeppelin: The Complete Guide to Their Music. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 1-84449-141-2. 
  5. Williamson, Nigel. 'Good Times...Bad Times', Uncut, May 2005, p. 62.
  6. Top 40 Albums - 6 March 1988. norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved on 17 January 2009.
  7. Top 100 Albums - 12 March 1988. chartstats.com. Retrieved on 17 January 2009.
  8. Top 60 Albums - 16 March 1988. swedishcharts.com. Retrieved on 17 January 2009.
  9. RPM Albums Chart - 9 April 1988. RPM. Retrieved on 17 January 2009.
  10. The Billboard 200 - 21 May 1988. Billboard. Retrieved on 17 January 2009.
  11. Top 50 Albums - 3 July 1988. ARIA. Retrieved on 17 January 2009.
  12. Top 100 Albums - July 1988. charts-surfer.de. Retrieved on 19 January 2009.
  13. Top 100 Singles - 13 February 1988. chartstats.com. Retrieved on 19 January 2009.
  14. Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks - 20 February 1988. Billboard. Retrieved on 19 January 2009.
  15. RPM Singles Chart - 9 April 1988. RPM. Retrieved on 19 January 2009.
  16. Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks - 9 April 1988. Billboard. Retrieved on 19 January 2009.
  17. Top 100 Singles - 30 April 1988. chartstats.com. Retrieved on 19 January 2009.
  18. Top 50 Singles - 26 June 1988. ARIA. Retrieved on 19 January 2009.
  19. Hot 100 Singles - 2 July 1988. Billboard. Retrieved on 19 January 2009.
  20. RPM Singles Chart - 9 July 1988. RPM. Retrieved on 19 January 2009.
  21. Top 100 Singles - 9 July 1988. Cash Box. Retrieved on 19 January 2009.
  22. Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks - 11 June 1988. Billboard. Retrieved on 20 April 2009.
  23. Hot 100 Singles - 3 September 1988. Billboard. Retrieved on 19 January 2009.
  24. Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks - 13 August 1988. Billboard. Retrieved on 20 April 2009.
  25. Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks - 14 January 1989. Billboard. Retrieved on 20 April 2009.
  26. RIAA.org Now and Zen - 7 September 2001. RIAA. Retrieved on 20 April 2009.