Sometimes Taking The Wrong Side Is The Right Move.

Robert Plant

Unreleased B-Sides are the musical equivalent of finding the last beer in the back of a refrigerator at a party. It could be it is back there for a reason...like a Zima. However, if it's a legitimate beer, the satisfaction of having the last real drink in the house is better than the actual beer itself. When you are Robert Plant you don't need to be fishing around some stranger's ice box for stray brews, so why release a non album B-Side not once, but 3 times?

Being in a big name band will create initial excitement about a solo album, however, if the record's no good, the excitement will only last about as long as it takes to fold a 12'' vinyl platter and flush it down the toilet. Plant was wise enough to know for every Pete Townshed solo record, there are 5 Greg Rolie and Jimmy Destri flops (WHO?...exactly). With this understanding, Plant knew he had to make an album that would make his own mark without alienating the existing fan base, as well as providing the clout to go in other directions in the future.

Plant eventually started playing around London with a band that carried the foreshadowing name, The Honeydrippers. During this time, he started to write and record with the band guitarist, Robbie Blunt. Blunt gave Plant a powerful sound to accompany his hookah smoke covered lyrics, and his guitar playing style was adept and different enough from his predecessor to give the record the cache it needed.

All this brings us to why "Far Post" was not included on the "Pictures At Eleven" album. The answer is: I don't know. Good enough to be a single, it was the B-side of the 12" "Burning Down One Side/Moonlight In Samosa", It was the B-side to the 1st single ("Big Log") off his next album and was included on the "White Nights" soundtrack. Like a baby you find waiting for you on your doorstep, this song's playful mystery finally found a home on the re-released version of "Pictures At Eleven".

Listen to "Far Post"

The Cars

In 1984 The Cars were poised to become one of the biggest bands in the world. Starmaker "Mutt" Lange was about to do for The Cars, what he did for AC/DC and Def Leppard--give them a multi-platinum across the board smash album. That summer when people flocked to see The Cars perform live, they saw a show with all the excitement of watching a steak cook at room temperature. Everything they played sounded just like the record and no one in the band moved from where they were standing. You can't be the biggest band in the world if you introduce every song by saying "you're getting VERY sleepy..."

While The Cars' live show could never be described as "putting the needle in the red"--the glossy, but dark, pop record "Heartbeat City" could. Reoccurring underlying themes of the perils of drug use, make the needle in question not for RPM's but for "H". "Hello Again" leads off the album as a wake up call to someone out of touch with reality due to a chemical vacation. You have the self-medicating tone of "Drive" and the title track plus the song about going from the monotony of the bad, to excitement of the worse "Breakaway"

"Breakaway" was rightfully left off of the album because it did not sound like anything on Heartbeat City. The production polish was not there either, leading me to believe it was a leftover from Rick Ocasek's solo effort "Beatitude" ("Drive" also came from that session, but it fit better with Ben Orr's vocal style.), or possibly they need some more songs about girls...

"Breakaway" was released as the B-side to "Why Can't I Have You". Radio programmers looking for something upbeat to play from this album gave the song a run of about 2 weeks.

Listen to "Breakaway"