Robert Plant and the Commando Lunge
Here’s one way I know I’m getting to be an old fart:
I first saw Led Zeppelin’s concert movie The Song Remains the Same when I was 15, waaay back in 1978.
Theater sound systems weren’t much better than a cheap AM radio back then, but although I didn’t own Charles the Deep Breather or the legendary underdash Pioneer Supertuner yet, I had some friends with decent stereos and I had a pair of Koss headphones at home, which no doubt contributed to my old fart hearing, but they did a far job of pounding “Whole Lotta Love” and “Heartbreaker” and “Dazed and Confused” into my skull, so my brain could fill in the sonic gaps.
It was, however, the first time I’d seen what anyone in the band looked like.
I remember thinking how wicked cool they looked, especially Jimmy Page’s embroidered black/silver kimono-jacket-bell-bottom-whatever-the-heck-it-was outfit.
I thought Robert Plant’s hair was cool, but I also thought then, and do now, that his package-bulge, which had white bleach marks or dried splooge or liquid paper kanji surrounding it, was either a cucumber stuffed down his pants a la This Is Spinal Tap, or it was his real package and he had to spend time in the dressing room every show rearranging his junk so the white crap surrounded it just so, but either way it looked uncomfortable as hell—not to mention that he was obviously singing commando, given that the jeans were tighter than a stripper’s G‑string, which might have helped him gain an octave or two more range on the higher notes.
I also remember thinking the camera spent an inordinate amount of time focused on Plant’s crotch, lovingly capturing for posterity his pelvic thrusts for future generations to study.
Anyway, earlier today I came across1 a listicle of interesting facts about the movie, including that the movie was shot over a three-day gig at Madison Square Garden, during which everyone in the band wore the same outfit for all the shows except John Paul Jones, who wore different clothes each day and horked up the movie’s already shaky continuity.
Zeppelin’s concerts were famous for lasting four hours or more, so I thought Man, those clothes took a serious beating.
This got me to thinking about other photos and video of their concerts I’d seen here and there, and after some Googling I verified that Robert Plant’s bolero-style shirt and package-strangling pants, along with Jimmy Page’s kimono-gi-kung-fu-pajamas thing, appear in dozens of their concerts from about 1970 up till 1980, when they broke up after John Bonham died.
This brought me back around to the trivia factoid about 75% of the band wearing the same clothes for three days in a row. Which in turn made think those outfits (especially Plant’s jeans, which by all rights should have had externally-visible permanent skid marks in back by then) would have been god-awful funky enough to kill the first 20 rows of fans at their concerts.
Watch Smell Remai—I mean, Song Remains the Same and you’ll notice they’re all drenched in sweat, and given their notoriety for debauchery and partying on the road, the mundane swamp-crack fragrance suffered by we mere mortals had to be an epic, eye-watering melange of sweat, booze, tobacco, pot, hotel carpet/drapes, smegma/sanitary napkin/splooge/swamp crack/smog/overflowing toilet/mace/sewer/sushi/caviar/effluvia abomination that would gag a vulture.
I mean hell, when I was still healthy enough to train in Kempo and work out almost every day, my cup and gi pants (even though I had several of each, washed them after a single use and wore a clean one every day) got so funky so fast I had to ditch them every couple months.
All that to say I’m sure glad John Waters’ Smell-O-Vision idea never got off the ground.
- “Came across”! Uh-huh-huh-huh-huh! He said “Came across”! It’s a post about Robert Plant’s wedding sausage and he said “Came across”!