Friday, 5 April 2019

Robert Plant - Manic Nirvana (1990)


Released March 1990

While this album suffers from some of the late eighties blight that was all over its predecessor, 1988's "Now And Zen", it is, for me, the better album. It is more powerful and rocky, less synthy. It still has a few echoes of some of the contemporary Mick Jagger solo albums in there, but not as many as on the previous outing. There is far more crunching rock on here. The title and the cover are, unsurprisingly, questionable.


1. Hurting Kind (I've Got My Eyes On You)
2. Big Love
3. SSS & Q
4. I Cried
5. She Said
6. Nirvana
7. Tie Dye On The Highway
8. Your Ma Said You Cried In Your Sleep Last Night
9. Anniversary
10. Liars Dance
11. Watching You                                  

"Hurting Kind (I've Got My Eyes On You)" is a storming, riffy opener with shades of Led Zeppelin in places and latter-day Rolling Stones. "Big Love" is a pounding, in-your-face slow burning rock number. "SSS & Q" (what does that mean) is a riffy, Stonesy number with some "proper" drums, thankfully. The riffs are guitars not synthesisers, which is a good thing. It also has a Big Audio Dynamite-style vocal "rap" part too. Robert showing how contemporary he was, I suppose. Fair enough.

"I Cried" has a gentle, acoustic "Led Zeppelin III"-influenced, ethereal intro. It is beguiling, slightly mournful slow number. Half way through, in true Zep fashion, it bursts into some heavy rock bombast before swirling back into the mysterious verses once more. "She Said" is a muscular, pounding rocker. This is far more powerful stuff than on the previous album. "Nirvana" continues the rock assault, using a U2-style riff and Robert doing his best Bono.

"Tie Dye On The Highway" has a bit of a sixties, psychedelic feel beneath its power, plus some excellent blues harmonica thrown in there. The oddly-titled "Your Ma Said You Cried In Your Sleep Last Night" is sort of rockabilly meets heavy rock thing. It also has a few of the scratchy, dubby hints that 1985's "Shaken 'N' Stirred" used a lot plus some vocal debt to Zeppelin's "Black Dog". "Anniversary" is a slow mish-mash of martial drums, slashing guitar and Zeppelin wailing vocals. It doesn't quite get there for me. The short-ish, acoustic "Liars Dance" evokes the spirit of "Led Zeppelin III" and then the folky rock attack of "Watching You" ends the album.

As I said, this is a better album than "Now And Zen", but I prefer the first three solo albums and the post 2000 ones. This one forgoes a bit of subtlety in its quest to rock as hard as possible.


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