The Glorious Corner: Robert Plant, TV’s “Instinct”, Patti LaBelle and More

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Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters
G. H. Harding

PLANT’S SURPRISE — (Via Ultimate Classic RockIt’s no secret that Robert Plant isn’t into the whole “nostalgia” thing — it’s a big reason why the legendary singer hasn’t helped facilitate a Led Zeppelin reunion over the years.

No, he’s out touring the world as an accomplished solo act with his band, the Sensational Space Shifters. But he still manages to add in a few Zeppelin classics when the mood strikes … and recently, he dusted off one he hadn’t performed live in 23 years.

“Immigrant Song” is one of Zep’s most recognizable, signature songs, Plant’s howl ripping through the air as the hard-charging song plows ahead, telling tales of Valhalla and viking worked wonders. Plant busted it out at Iceland’s Summer Solstice Festival recently, which is great given the whole lyrical bit about “the land of ice and snow”:

From the rather rough video (’s clear Plant can’t quite hit those screeching high notes anymore, but so what? Hearing him sing the song is great regardless. Rolling Stone noted that the most recent time he’s performed the song in any form was 1996 with Jimmy Page, so it’s been quite a while.

In Jeff Slate’s 2018 interview with Plant, he discussed how much he is enjoying his current creative period with the Sensational Space Shifters — and how it differs from what he did with Zeppelin:

“In those times we just used everything we had available to us. There were, you know, the guitar effects, keyboard stuff. Fantastic. Ludwig’s amazing work for John.

But now we have this mesh of sound. A huge wall of sound. It’s an exotica. It’s a place to be. It’s almost like an empire of sound and it’s not for the squeamish some of the time.”

“Instinct’s” Alan Cumming and Bojana Novakovic

CUMMING’s INSTINCT RETURNS — It wasn’t a big hit by today’s TV-standards, but last summer’s Instinct, on CBS, toplined by Alan Cumming and Bojana Novakovic, was a delight in every way. Cumming, a novelist who has written a book about criminal masterminds – and, catapults it to the top of the New York Times Best Seller List is drafted by the NYPD with Bojana as his boss. Also, it turns out that Cumming was an ex-spy, still cavorting at times with his friend Julien (Lost’s Naveen Andrews), who still is a spy. Now, I’d say that was some plot-line, wouldn’t you? 

Monday night was its first night back and though all the players are the same, the script, while good, was not great. Not even in the same league as any Elementary.

Still, to watch Cumming is a delight. I love him and think he can do no wrong. Bojana, with shortened hair, was great too.

If you haven’t this show, give it a whirl … you may not love it, but you’ll enjoy it.

Gamble and Huff with Patti LaBelle 

PHILADELPHIA FREEDOM —Legendary Sound of Philadelphia architects Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff joined the celebration of homegrown R&B living legend Patti LaBelle with a street naming dedication, by issuing the following joint statement: “We congratulate our very dear friend Patti LaBelle on her street naming honors today. Patti is one of the greatest music legends to come out of Philadelphia, and she is beloved around the world. This could not happen to a better, and more well-deserved, person and friend! Congrats, Patti!”

The block of Broad Street between Spruce and Locust streets will be renamed Patti LaBelle Way, not far from the section of Broad Street that was renamed Gamble & Huff Way several years ago. 

It also is close to the former location of Gamble & Huff’s Philadelphia International Records offices, which stood for decades at 309 S. Broad St. That is where LaBelle, who grew up with Kenneth Gamble in West Philadelphia, signed with PIR in the midst of her superstar solo career following worldwide success leading the vocal groups Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles and later, Labelle. 

Her solo hits with Gamble & Huff include “Somebody Loves You Baby” and “If Only You Knew.” More recently, LaBelle collaborated with Gamble & Huff for a pair of 2008 projects, the Labelle reunion album Back to Now, and Mr. Gamble’s patriotic anthem, “I Am An American.”

David Salidor and Garland Jeffrey
Courtesy: Jeff Smith/Reflections

SHORT TAKES — A new band, fronted by sons of two famous fathers came out last week. One of them did a bad, bad thing to a good, good friend of this column. Reviews have been mixed to say the least, so we can only guess karma is working it’s uncanny magic …WNBC’s weatherman Chris Cimino abruptly announced yesterday morning that he’d be leaving his post after years. Talented, funny, most affable … we wish him nothing but the best … There’s a Neil Diamond musical in the works. Interestingly, both he and Carole King hail from the East Coast. Who’s next? … I hear that the next big app music wise is Triller. Heard of it? You will … Last weekend’s big  music news was the fact that indie-Big Machine Records (home of the original Taylor Swift recordings) was sold to Ithaca Media, which is owned by Scooter Braun; Justin Bieber’s manager. Swift immediately called foul, although rumors abound that she was given ample opportunity to save those recordings. For the record: she just left Big Machine for a very lucrative contract with Universal. Truth is … when you get into this business, get a good (very good) lawyer. Say what you will, but the music industry, for all its ups and down … is a business that still makes millions. The #1 export of America is entertainment, so find someone who can navigate through it. In Swift’s case, the truth will eventually come out. But remember, there is, you know, a right time to sell … Garland Jeffreys (a big favorite of ours) officially retired this week after a show at the City Winery. Read colleague Roger Friedman’s reporting on a farewell event at Steve Walter’s Cutting Room: …Garland, thank you for all the fine music and fine times … A Kelly Clarkson talk show? She’s great, but I question whether she’ll have the gravitas to carry the whole hour. The promos have her supposedly in a recording studio … but, then she walks into an live audience. We’ll see … Sad about the Cher Show closing on August 19. I saw it late, but loved it … but, like Cher, it’ll go on. A rumored Vegas-stand is very doable … Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it out to last weekend’s NKOTB Mix Tape Tour at the Nassau Coliseum. As we’ve reported, the show is reported to be great; with great pyro, lights and two stages at either side of the room. We’ll catch it next time for sure … Social-influencer Wendy Stuart Kaplan was interviewed by Zach Martin for his Big Fat American podcast; take a listen: …Happy 4th!

Randy Jones (Village People) with Wendy Stuart Kaplan 

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Steve Dunleavy; Cory Robbins; Mark Bego; Barry Zelman; Van Dean; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Danny Heaps; Clive Young; Eppy; Judy Cachese; Andrew Fuhrman; August Darnell; Lydia Lunch; Mark Kamins; Lee Jeske; and, CFS.

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