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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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The blurb surrounding this new biography of Robert Plant from its publisher declares proudly that "Paul's close professional relationship with Robert is going to make for a revealing read and we can't wait to bring one of the greatest untold rock n' roll stories to the world." The nature of Paul Rees "professional relationship" is an interesting one. As a former Editor of Kerrang and Q, he has certainly interviewed Plant on a couple of occasions although the last time was in 2010. He also points out that "our paths crossed a number of times during the years that followed". This seems to amount to nothing more than bumping into him at "assorted television and music show awards". The result is essentially one of those biographies written by a rock journalist that is unauthorised and makes uses of no new material in its production. This in itself is not always a bad thing. Think of the unauthorised biography of Tom Waits by Barney Hoskyns or The Smiths leading lights Morrissey and Marr by Johnny Rogan where great rock writers delve into the most intricate levels of available evidence and do huge research work around their subject to produce a great read.

Paul Rees, unfortunately, fails on a number of counts and the book reads like one long Q magazine piece. It is littered on every page with writing that can be excruciating and would embarrass a GCSE psychology student. Thus, the author imagines himself in Plant's mind prior to the historic Led Zeppelin reunion gig in London on 10th December 2007 and proposes in language befitting a "Hello" celebrity portrait that for Plant "there would be ghosts in the room. Those of his first born son, of his best friend and of the ...others lost along the way. For each of them he wanted to be the Golden God one last time". Even with basic biographical detail Rees is clumsy, hence we have a remarkable insight that "the thing that Plant thought most on the morning of 10th September 1959 was not music but how little he liked his new school uniform". Worse than this is the sheer amount of padding that occurs throughout in the form of potted histories of events and people in order to fill pages. Thus, we learn that the West Midlands played a role in the Second World War and was tied to it by politicians like "Neville Chamberlain the British Prime Minister at the time of the Wars outbreak who had misguidedly attempted to appease Adolf Hitler, was born into one of Birmingham's great political dynasties". In essence, the book divides into thirds with one of these dealing with Zeppelin, another Plant's post-Zeppelin years and more latterly his recent resurgence. The analysis of his work with both Alison Krauss and Patty Griffin is very thin and holding the book (even in hardback form) you feel its lightness, and quickly plough through the book as the text also seems double spaced.

If this book was cast as an introductory portrait it would have some merit, but as a serious study which proudly claims to be "The definitive biography" of Robert Plant one of rock music's key figures it ​fails. You will note in hardback this book cost nearly 14 pounds? If you do want to find out more about Robert Plant a better use of your spending power would be to get Mick Wall's "When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography Of Led Zeppelin" and Barney Hoskyns superb "Trampled Under Foot: The Power and Excess of Led Zeppelin". Purchased together they will cost you less and render purchase of Paul Rees's flawed book unnecessary.
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I really enjoyed Robert Plant's set on 2014's Glastonbury and bought this book on the back of that. I was not really a fan of Led Zeppelin having unwittingly seen them for the first time when I went to Liverpool University to see what was billed as 'the last performance by the Yardbirds' and was in fact one of the first British dates by Zeppelin. I always found their records too 'heavy' and too 'bombastic'.

I am amazed that this unauthorised biography has so many five star reviews, I'm afraid that I found it workman-like at best. I presume that the excellent reviews represent peoples' love of Plant himself rather than an appreciation of the book. I did enjoy the early part of the book dealing with his struggles to become a rock star and the post-Zeppelin career is also dealt with in great detail but there is no direct access to Plant and the book is built around old interviews and padded out with speculation. Nevertheless, Plant has an interesting story and Paul Rees tells that story in an ordered and accessible way that I imagine will be interesting for people coming to Plant for the first time. However, I did not feel that this book was of the same standard as insightful, well-researched biographies by writers such as Peter Guralnick, Michael Lydon and Barney Hoskyns.
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on 20 October 2014
I cannot understand some of the negative reviews this book has received on this page. I think Paul Rees has written a very decent biography of Robert Plant. The book is particularly strong on Plant's pre-Zeppelin years, the author has obviously done lots of research and persuaded many of RP's old buddies to talk. The Led Zeppelin years are well covered here too, although of course the basic narrative is so well known now that there is little new to read here.

I suppose this will only change when Plant, Page or Jones actually puts pen to paper themselves. That said, Rees has done well to speak to so many of the LZ crew from the old days, not just Richard Cole again!! Plant's career after the break up of LZ is also well covered and there are lots of interesting glimpses into the love life of the man - which are informative rather than salacious. Rees has a slight tendency to unnecessarily embroider his writing style at times and I could have done without the social history lessons every now and then but overall this is a very solid and informative biography.
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on 9 October 2014
A Fascinating profile of one of the great musical figures through my life. Warts and all
I enjoyed reading this well written book
The author as a respected journalist has used his own past interviews and other source material to put together a full biography of Plants life to date.
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on 24 January 2015
I also enjoyed the early part of the book, like one of the other Reviewers, Robert Plant did obviously struggle initially to become a rock star , not sure why as I have always liked his music. Giving my age away now! The post-Zeppelin career is also dealt with in great detail and also some of the bad things that have happened in his personal life that he has had to come to terms with. After that I found it a bit mundane and tedious. There is a lot of name dropping but no real story there! He comes across as some sort of nomad who cannot settle anywhere and puts everything into his music. Which I still cannot fault even after all these years! But it all seemed a bit sad in the book. Perhaps it was because it was not coming from Robert Plant himself but from interviews etc.
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on 15 January 2015
I absolutely LOVED this book about the Golden God himself! I have been a big Robert Plant/ Led Zep fan since the 1970's where I saw them LIVE in 1973 in Pittsburgh and I have to say, living over here across the pond in London for the last 30 years has made me get this book even more. I have both perspectives of what it is like for them all to go to the States and make it in another country. I also loved the little details the author offers up about Planty and all his shenanigans and the way he left the O2 centre here in London after their momentous gig in 2007 and Plant left it all behind and jumped in his car and went to have some hummus in a little kebab shop he frequents in Primrose Hill! lol I laughed out loud when I read that. He is something else! The author captures it all, good times, bad times "you know he's had a few" so dive in and find out about this musical enigma and all his amazing talents and ideas. It's called," Robert Plant: A Life" but what a life!! Check it out.
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on 25 November 2014
Q. Who is the only person to actually know Robert Plant ??
A. Robert Plant ....the man himself
Until the man himself writes either his memoirs or an autobiography, dispatch all other attempts to the dustbin.
They are generally sketchy, ill planned and poorly written efforts which offer no new or relevant facts.
This one regrettably falls into this category.
Good try but falls well short of interesting.
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on 10 July 2014
I have been looking forward to reading this book for some time. I was not disappointed although it was far more down to earth than "Hammer of the Gods" and other books about the Greatest rock and roll band in the world. It draws you into the personal life ,likes and loves of RP. You feel a lot more aware of what makes him tick and his real relationship with Led Zeppelin and where he wants to go. I recommend this book to anyone who knows a bit about RP or Led Zep. If not you may find it a bit dull.
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on 27 June 2015
Not a great work really. It's all, Robert did this, Robert did that which is fine if you're a fact geek. No real insight into the depth of the man but, sigh, Percy likes it that way and he clearly had nothing to do with the book.
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on 7 June 2016
I tried to spring some facts on my younger die hard zep brother but he already this rehashed old stuff. Nothing new here, although I didn't know about the Birmingham roots of metal and his connection to Christine Perfect. Clearly a celeb hunter caught up in his own ego most of his life who has since gone out of his way to undermine the very thing that provided all that success. He is nothing without Page really and rather lacks the courage to come out about the life unlike his contemporaries Fleetwood, Clapton etc.
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