Robert Plant “Live At Knebworth 1990” (2021 Record Store Day EP)

For the first Drop Date of Record Store Day 2021, scheduled for June 12th, a live EP by Robert Plant will be issued, featuring four songs performed by the legendary Led Zeppelin frontman at the 1990 Knebworth Festival. The Live At Knebworth 1990 EP will be limited to 4,700 colored vinyl copies. It contains the same four songs that were included on the Knebworth various artists compilation album from the event.

The Knebworth Festival was a recurring summer event in Knebworth, England during many of the years between 1974 and 2014, but the 1990 festival (which was broadcast worldwide on MTV) is remembered for its particularly stellar lineup of performers, which included Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Phil Collins and Genesis, Dire Straits, Cliff Richard, Status Quo, and Tears For Fears. Robert Plant’s rocking set during this festival featured a surprise appearance by Jimmy Page, and the reunited Led Zeppelin legends were heard to better effect than they were during their infamous Live Aid reunion in 1985.

The two songs on this EP’s first side are selections from Plant’s 1990 solo album Manic Nirvana. (No relation to Kurt Cobain; the Seattle grunge trio was a largely unknown indie-label band at the time). Plant was backed by many of the same musicians who played on that album, including guitarist Doug Boyle, bassist Charlie Jones, keyboardist Phil Johnstone, and drummer Chris Blackwell. The exciting opening song “Hurting Kind” duplicates the lurching metal guitar riffs of its studio version, while the acoustic “Liar’s Dance” improves on its studio version with an added solo by Boyle, and also benefits from a more natural sound in the live setting.

The second side begins with Plant’s 1988 Top 40 hit “Tall Cool One”, complete with recordings of the Zeppelin samples that the song stole back from the Beastie Boys. The strong instrumentation makes the song sound tough and not too technology-based; ending it with a passage from Led Zep’s “Custard Pie” was a nice touch. “Wearing And Tearing” was a song recorded by Led Zeppelin in 1978, but was released on the 1982 Coda album after the band’s breakup. Jimmy Page plays guitar on this smoking number, as he did on two other songs during Plant’s set. This song shows good chemistry between the former Zep members, allowing Page to strut his guitar stuff while Plant does some of his trademark howling. It also helps that the song has not become overly familiar, as so many other Led Zep songs have.

So, why not go all the way and issue Plant’s full Knebworth set, as a limited edition item or otherwise? Running approximately 50 minutes in length, the ten-song set found Plant in all-around good form, performing other Zeppelin songs (“Misty Mountain Hop” and “Rock And Roll” with Page, “Going To California” and “The Immigrant Song” without Page) and two other solo numbers from Manic Nirvana. If they need to omit a song due to length restrictions, “Tie Dye On The Highway” is the one that could be left off such an LP without being lamented by many.

Robert Plant “Live At Knebworth 1990” EP (Eagle Rock) 2021

Track Listing:

1. Hurting Kind (I’ve Got My Eyes On You)
2. Liar’s Dance
3. Tall Cool One
4. Wearing And Tearing (featuring Jimmy Page on guitar)

Robert Plant’s full Knebworth 1990 set list:

1. Hurting Kind (I’ve Got My Eyes On You)
2. Immigrant Song
3. Tie Dye On The Highway
4. Liar’s Dance
5. Going To California
6. Nirvana
7. Tall Cool One
8. Misty Mountain Hop (with Jimmy Page)
9. Wearing And Tearing (with Jimmy Page)
10. Rock and Roll (with Jimmy Page)