Saturday, February 6, 2021

The Honeydrippers - Volume One E.P (1984)

 (U.S 1984 - 1985)

Originally formed in Worcestershire by Robert Plant, the Honeydrippers was also composed of fellow former Led Zeppelin member Jimmy Page; Jeff Beck (a former Yardbirds member like Page); close friend Robbie Blunt and others.

The band released only one recording, a 12" E.P entitled 'The Honeydrippers: Volume One', on the 12th November 1984. They performed in a concert at Keele University in 1981. The Honeydrippers peaked at number 3 in early 1985 on the Billboard Hot 100 with a remake of the Phil Phillips' tune "Sea of Love", and hit number 25 with "Rockin' at Midnight", originally a Roy Brown recording and a rewrite of "Good Rockin' Tonight."

With the 12" EP's success, Plant stated that a full album would be recorded, but it never was. The band appeared on Saturday Night Live on 15 December 1984, performing "Rockin' at Midnight" and "Santa Claus Is Back in Town." The band featured Brian Setzer and George Wadenius on guitar, Tom Barney on bass, Paul Shaffer on piano, Buddy Williams on drums, Michael Brecker, Lou Marini, and Ronnie Cuber on saxophones, Jon Faddis on trumpet and Tom Malone on trombone.On 23 December 2006, Plant performed a charity show at Kidderminster Town Hall under the title 'The Return of the Honeydrippers' to raise money for his neighbour Jackie Jennings, who was undergoing treatment for a brain tumor. [extract from]

The Honeydrippers - Saturday Night Live

"Revisiting the Day Robert Plant Debuted the Honeydrippers"

Once you’ve been to the mountaintop, where can you go for a follow-up? That’s the question the surviving members of Led Zeppelin had to ask themselves when they disbanded following drummer John Bonham’s death in 1980. After you’ve become the biggest band in the world, defining over-the-top rock stardom, what do you do next?

For a hot minute, it looked like the band’s front line might merge with the rhythm section of another iconic ‘70s band that had come to a fork in the road. Jimmy Page was cozying up to bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White of Yes in a band tentatively dubbed XYZ (for Ex-Yes and Zeppelin, of course) – and he wanted Robert Plant to join in.

The leonine lead singer, however, ultimately demurred. It would have been easy for Plant to go from Zeppelin to another big, flashy bunch of arena rockers, but the singer would spend much of his post-Zep career flouting expectations at every opportunity. And that practice began in 1981, when Plant put together the Honeydrippers.

Now, these weren’t the Honeydrippers that most of the world would come to know through the 1984 album Honeydrippers Vol. 1, which contained two Top 40 hits. That all-star outfit – which featured Plant, Page, Jeff Beck, Paul Shaffer and other heavyweights – came into existence at the behest of Atlantic Records chief Ahmet Ertegun, who had caught a concert by the short-lived, considerably less star-studded 1981 lineup.

Reeling from both the death of his longtime friend Bonham, with whom he’d played in the Band of Joy before Led Zeppelin, Plant sought out a place of comfort, both musically and personally. In order to escape his recent past he pursued a more distant, almost mythological past. He began convening with musicians he’d known since he was a schoolboy hanging around Midlands blues clubs, and together they proceeded to jam on the kind of early rock & roll/R&B tunes that Plant loved when he was a kid.

Instead of storming the stage amid lengthy solos and epic tunes, Plant began bopping atop bouncy ‘50s-style jump blues and rockabilly rhythms, and having the time of his life doing it. He first brought guitarists Robbie Blunt (ex-Bronco and Silverhead) and Andy Silvester (formerly of Chicken Shack and Savoy Brown) over to his home at Jennings farm, followed in due course by bassist Jim Hickman, drummer Kevin O’Neill, harmonica player Ricky Cool and saxophonist Keith Evans.

The man who had become an avatar of everything larger-than-life in the ‘70s rock scene was now engaging in a shocking about-face. Ironically, Plant shook off the psychological shackles of the last decade by returning to the same well of post-World War II American music that inspired Led Zeppelin, but instead of amping those sounds up to gargantuan stature, he and his Honeydrippers – whose name came from either from the nickname of bluesman Roosevelt Sykes or the song and backing band of ‘40s R&B star Joe Liggins, depending on who you ask – stuck to the material’s original sonic dimensions.

Plant and his pals worked up a rootsy repertoire that encompassed not only rockabilly romps like Gene Vincent’s “She She Little Sheila,” Carl Perkins’ “Your True Love,” and the Elvis Presley classic “Little Sister,” but old-school R&B wailers like Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford’s “I Need Your Loving,” blues stompers like Muddy Waters’ “I Can’t Be Satisfied” and Lazy Lester’s “Sugar Coated Love,” and even the Western swing standard “Deep in the Heart of Texas.” And when it was time to take it on the road, the Honeydrippers’ modus operandi was just as lean as their sound.

Starting either at Keele University in Staffordshire on March 3 or at a bar in Stourbridge on March 9, depending on the source, the Honeydrippers hit a string of small venues including pubs, colleges and small clubs, each show unadvertised – and all well clear of London, either in the Midlands or points north. It wasn't just that they took the stage with their amps stacked on beer crates, in stark contrast to the convoy of trucks that hauled Led Zeppelin’s gear around, or that Zep’s outsized hard-rock extravaganzas been replaced by the two-and-a-half-minute wham-bam of classic blues and rock ‘n’ roll tunes. A more symbolic but equally striking alteration had occurred.

Even Plant’s long, curly locks (surely one of the most legendary heads of hair in rock history) had gone under the chopper. Granted, he wasn’t sporting a crew cut or spiky New Wave ‘do, but the sweeping changes he was instituting to put the past behind him clearly extended all the way to his stylist. And in rock ‘n’ roll, of course, image counts as much as anything – maybe even more.

The original Honeydrippers’ lifespan would be brief. By 1982, Plant (with Robbie Blunt by his side), would return to a mainstream rock feel for his first solo album, Pictures at Eleven, but the precedent had been established for the kind of mercurial moves Plant would continue to make throughout his career. From his Alison Krauss collaboration to his repeated refusals to reunite with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, no one would ever accuse Robert Plant of resting on his laurels [Article taken from]

This post consists of FLACs ripped from my pristine Vinyl, purchased the same day I heard Sea Of Love being played on my local radio station 3XY in December of 1984. If it were not for the radio publicity, I probably would not have known who the Honeydrippers were and the association with Robert Plant, as the album artwork contains no credits or band details. Needless to say, I was surprised with the musical path that Plant had chosen to take post Zeppelin, but still enjoyed the E.P immensely.
Full album artwork for both vinyl and CD is included along with label scans and alternative covers.

I Get A Thrill 2:39
Sea Of Love 3:03
I Got A Woman 2:58
Young Boy Blues 3:30
Rockin' At Midnight 5:57

The Honeydrippers were:
Lead Vocals – Robert Plant
Bass – Wayne Pedziwiatr
Drums – Dave Weckl
Guitar – Jeff Beck (tracks: 3, 5), Jimmy Page (tracks: 1, 2), Robbie Blunt ?
Piano – Paul Shaffer
Rhythm Guitar – Nile Rodgers
Saxophone – Keith Evans (tracks: 5)

The Honeydrippers Link (120Mb)

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