Robert Plant has been a musically restless soul since his youthful days with some big British band. His solo work since they split has echoed elements of the last five decades of music without ever pandering to current fads or trading on his past glories. He is a musician first, a music lover, and from all reports a nice guy. And, for a brief time, he worked with a decidedly different guitarist.
After a post Zep fling in partnership with Jimmy Page, Plant retreated to the countryside and put together a band of locals, including former original Band of Joy mate and Bronco guitarist Kevyn Gammond, at the time a senior professor in the music education department at Kidderminster College.
Called Priory of Brian, the repertoire in the main consisted of tunes Plant played with his early-’60s group, Band of Joy. According to him, the name derived from an “amalgam of the Priory of Zion, an ancient French secret society, and The Life of Brian by Monty Python.” In addition to Plant, the group included aforementioned guitarist Gammond, bassist Paul Wetton, drummer Andy Edwards, and, on electric piano, Hammond organ, and guitar, Paul Timothy.
It was my friend Colette Timothy (Paul’s sister) that hipped me to these videos. On the evidence of the live performance and these two rare recorded singles, Gammond’s style had evolved to contain many musically dissonant elements and even a bit of Arto Lindsay-esque skronk. His giant finger-stretches on a big Gibson arch-top, along with the professorship, hint at a sophisticated musical education.
Plant would later work with Doug Boyle on his Now and Zen record. Boyle once mentioned in an interview that Robben Ford and Bill Frisell were his two favorite guitarists, but his playing with Plant, while excellent, reflected little of either’s adventurousness.
It is a shame Plant’s restless nature (or perhaps a perceived lack of commercial potential, caused him to quickly move on from Priory of Brian to other musical endeavors. It would have been fun to see how far out he could have taken the music with Gammond’s aid and his own powerful personal style.