Burning Down One Side/Moonlight In Samosa/Pledge Pin/Slow Dancer/Worse Than Detroit/Fat Lip/Like I've Never Been Gone/Mystery This
This was Robert Plant’s first solo album and came as something of a surprise to Led Zeppelin diehards. It is very much a product of its time and it features Phil Collins on drums for six of the eight tracks (Cozy Powell on the other two). It is culturally at odds with early eighties genres like post-punk, two tone and new romantic, but it is in line with the direction that mainstream rock was taking - all programmed synthesisers and drums and riffs played on keyboards instead of guitars at times. It is still early eighties enough to have not bowed completely to the great god synthesiser, however, and I much prefer it to some of Plant’s subsequent eighties work.
The lengthy Slow Dancer gives us our first serving of that familiar Led Zep vocal and Kashmir-style drum backing and orchestration. This will have satisfied the Zep fans somewhat, probably for the first time on the album so far. It has some good guitar riffs, but they are matched by keyboard ones. It is still a powerful number, though, Cozy Powell giving his best John Bonham on drums. He is the better rock drummer than Collins. You can tell.
Worse Than Detroit has a bit of a "Zep funk" feel about it, like Trampled Under Foot. It is the first track on the album, thus far, to feature a blues influence (that comes the harmonica/guitar instrumental interplay). The track rocks, considerably, in a grinding, industrial way.
The final track is another chunky Zep funker, Mystery Title. I read someone say, and it is true, that Plant frustrates because often his song titles bear no relation to the actual lyrics, therefore they don't stick in one's head as much as they might. It is a valid point. Take as a whole, however, this is still a strong debut solo offering. The songs are all good whether they individually catch your attention or not. The overall feel of the album sticks.
Other Arms/In The Mood/Messin' With The Mekon/Wreckless Love/Thru' With The Two-Step/Horizontal Departure/Stranger Here...Than Over There/Big Log
Robert Plant's second solo album is quite a solidly rocking affair, not as synthesiser-dominated as one might expect from an eighties album, with "proper" drums (from Phil Collins on six tracks) and some bona fide rock guitar riffs. By the end of the eighties, these had been somewhat swamped on occasions by synthesisers. Not here, though, this is, for me, very much a rock album.
Wreckless Love has an Eastern influence to its intro and once more a bit of a Zeppelin vibe to its folky but powerfully strong beat. It has a great instrumental ending.
Stranger Here...Than Over There is an odd sort of track, pretty difficult to categorise, while the Zeppelin-like titled Big Log is one of the album's strongest tracks - an almost soulful, laid-back but mournful track that sees Plant, not for the first time, sounding a lot like Freddie Mercury. The guitar backing is sumptuous. It is a unique-sounding track.
Overall, it is a bit of a myth that Plant's eighties albums are dreadful. I really like the first three, although I find 1988's Now And Then less good. This is definitely a good one.
I Get A Thrill/Sea Of Love/I Got A Woman/Young Boy Blues/Rockin' At Midnight
This was a surprise experiment between Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Nile Rodgers - a brief, five track EP of bluesy/early rock 'n' roll done to present Atlantic Records' President Ahmet Ertegun with recordings of some of his favourite late fifties songs. Apparently, Plant was appalled that the crooning Sea Of Love became a hit, instead of the upbeat Rockin' At Midnight, thinking it would ruin his solo career. He needn't have worried, people just enjoyed it for what it was. The EP is only a short blast, but it is a pleasure from the first note to the last.
Ray Charles' I Got A Woman is a delight as well, with another addictive rhythm and some strong horns and saxophone driving it along. It rocks from beginning to end, superbly.
As I said at the beginning, this short collection is just very enjoyable - loose, fun and immaculately executed.
Hip To Hoo/Kallalou Kallalou/Too Loud/Trouble Your Money/Pink And Black/Little By Little/Doo Doo A Do Do/Easily Led/Sixes And Sevens
This was Robert Plant's third solo album and is dismissed by many as being too experimental and keyboard-dominated. Personally, I am pleasantly surprised by it and much prefer it to the polished synth-pop of 1988's Now And Zen. It is a bit of an underrated gem in his catalogue, for me. Innovative and brave and like nothing much Robert Plant had done before (or since, really).
Trouble Your Money is great - drenched in dubby bass rhythms and loads of atmosphere. Plant is really trying his hand at new sounds here and he has to be commended for it. The bass is superb on here. Very Paul Simonon-esque.
Little By Little has a wonderful, big rumbling bass line, and, although it has a surfeit of keyboards, they are good ones. It has a pulsating rock/funk sound with a few of those dubby effects in there too. It is actually quote revelatory stuff. Listening to this after Now And Zen, I like this album much more.
This is most definitely an underrated, often overlooked Robert Plant album that is considerably different to much of his other solo albums. It is a clever, experimental and bassy album that really appeals to me.
Heaven Knows/Dance On My Own/Tall Cool One/The Way I Feel/Helen Of Troy/Billy's Revenge/Ship Of Fools/Why/White, Clean And Neat/Walking Towards Paradise
Despite not being quite as computerised in its instrumentation as previous solo albums, this is still very much an "eighties album". Its tracks are largely upbeat, poppy (comparatively) and lively. It reminds me very much of Mick Jagger's solo albums , She's The Boss and Primitive Cool, from the same period, or Elton John's late eighties output. It has a sharp, fresh, clear production, but it is all very sanitised and polished. There is precious little gritty blues-influenced material on here. From the title and the cover, I expected an album full of Eastern influences and bluesy spiritualism. It is anything but, I'm afraid. There are still strong bits of guitar on it, though, but only here and there. Synthesiser and muffled drums are still the order of the day. One dreads to think what John Bonham would have made of it all. It is certainly a pleasant enough listen, but nowhere near "down and dirty" enough for me. Plant himself admits, in retrospect, that "a lot of the songs got lost in the technology of the time".
Tall Cool One samples several Led Zeppelin numbers (almost surreptitiously) beneath a throwaway, awful eighties beat and some dreadful vocals. It sounds like one of those "filler" Rolling Stones numbers from Dirty Work or Steel Wheels. Look, it is lively enough, but something about it irritates me slightly.
The Way I Feel has a bit of good guitar, but it basically sounds like The Eurythmics. Helen Of Troy has an upbeat rock/funk feel to it with a few vague echoes of Trampled Under Foot about it.
Why should probably have been left back in 1988. It has a Euro-poppy rhythm and an uninspiring vocal. White, Clean And Neat, apart from a bit of searing guitar, is even worse. The muscular Walking Towards Paradise redeems things a bit. For me, this is the album's strongest offering. It is still at the mercy of its production, though.
Give me Plant's gritty, post-2000 solo work any day, that's for sure.
Hurting Kind (I've Got My Eyes On You)/Big Love/SSS & Q/I Cried/She Said/Nirvana/Tie Dye On The Highway/Your Ma Said You Cried In Your Sleep Last Night/Anniversary/Liars Dance/Watching You
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.
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.
Tie Dye On The Highway has a bit of a sixties, psychedelic feel beneath its power, plus some excellent blues harmonica thrown in there.
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.
Calling To You/Down To The Sea/Come Into My Life/I Believe/29 Palms/Memory Song (Hello Hello)/If I Were A Carpenter/Colours Of A Shade/Promised Land/The Greatest Gift/Great Spirit/Network News
I write this review not as an absolute copper-bottomed Robert Plant fan, although I have all his solo albums. I am more in the position of someone who likes his music, but doesn't hang on every note of it, so my take maybe more of a slightly detached one. Looking at contemporary criticism I have seen this album described as "misunderstood" Listening to it, I don't quite get that. I think it has quite a lot going for it. Thankfully, the synthesisers that overwhelmed some of his work in the eighties have disappeared and we get a return to a traditional rock guitar blended with acoustic and a solid "proper" drum sound, always a good thing in my book. Many have described it as light, airy and acoustic. I have to disagree. It packs quite a punch to my ears - plenty of electric guitar and muscular drums, all the way through.
I Believe is a catchy, melodic number that finds Plant confronting the loss of his son many years before, but in an appealing, beautiful rock song, which is a little incongruous, thematically, but not detrimental in any way. It is a great song. Again, it features some impressive electric guitar parts. The power and thump is still with us on the gritty, nineties Springsteen-esque 29 Palms, electric and acoustic guitars merge perfectly. It is a really good rock song, nothing light or folky about it, really. Similarly, Memory Song (Hello Hello) is introduced by some searing electric guitar and driven along by some sledgehammer Bonham-esque drums. It is a very Zeppelin-influenced number.
If I Were A Carpenter is a cover of Tim Hardin's song made famous by The Four Tops. It is beautifully delivered with acoustic guitar, bass and grandiose strings. Plant's voice is superb on this, proving that he can sing in a soulful, gentle style. He is more adaptable than many think.
The Greatest Gift is a slow-burning rock number with some excellent guitar half way through. The violin/strings backing enhances the song rather than detracts from it.
Funny In My Mind (I Believe I'm Fixin' To Die)/Morning Dew/One More Cup Of Coffee/Last Time I Saw Her/Song To The Siren/Win My Train Fare Home (If I Ever Get Lucky)/Darkness, Darkness/Red Dress/Hey Joe/Skip's Song/Dirt In A Hole
This is an invigorating album largely made up of covers (not all well-known, though) and is mainly blues and rock, with folky and worldbeat influences, probably as you would expect from Robert Plant. I always seem to find that his solo albums get a bit of an unfair press, simply because they are not Led Zeppelin. To use an awful contemporary phrase - "get over it". Enjoy it for what it is, and that is an eminently listenable, enjoyable album. I also have to praise the fact that it discards the synthesisers that were used in many of his previous solo albums. The instrumentation is far more aesthetically pure. In many ways, the haunting, mystical nature of this album is the closest thing to evoking that Zeppelin spirit as he had done on any solo album this far.
Last Time I Saw Her is a slightly psychedelic-sounding blues rock number, with some Zeppelin-esque vocals and superb guitar. The funky guitar/drum interplay at the end is impressive.
Red Dress is a cookin' fuzzy guitar-driven blues. Lord almighty, this is good stuff. Hendrix's Hey Joe is stripped down to sound like an old, authentic Delta Blues. Then the rock guitar slashes and the drums kick in. Wonderful. This is an innovative and inventive cover, for sure.
This is a very fulfilling album and is definitely up there as one of the best solo albums Robert Plant has released.
Another Tribe/Shine It All Around/Freedom Fries/Tin Pan Valley/All The King's Horses/The Enchanter/Takamba/Dancing In Heaven/Somebody Knocking/Let The Four Winds Blow/Mighty Rearranger/Brother Ray
This album builds on the quality of 2002's Dreamland, keeping most of the band together and adding more musicians. Again, the album is a mix of rock, folk, blues, world music and some of the spirit of Led Zeppelin's mysticism (which was often Plant's anyway). It is another strong, interesting and inventive album.
All The King's Horses is a laid-back Led Zeppelin III meets Paul Weller folky, acoustic ballad. While it certainly has the spirit of Goin' To California and Over The Hills And Far Away, it is still very much its own unique entity. It is not just a nostalgic retrospective. It breathes in its own right.
Dancing In Heaven has a beautifully deep and melodic bass line underpinning its sensual, catchy ambience. Eastern guitar runs through the track too, with some Beatles-inspired drumming.
Somebody Knocking has even more of an Eastern influence in its hypnotic groove. Let The Four Winds Blow is packed full of atmosphere - blues, slow rock, rock 'n' roll guitar. It is another one with an entrancing sound to it.
This album is as enjoyable as its predecessor was - proper music. Love it.
Angel Dance/House Of Cards/Central Two-O-Nine/Silver Rider/You Can't Buy My Love/Falling In Love Again/The Only Sound That Matters/Monkey/Cindy, I'll Marry You Someday/Harm's Swift Way/Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down/Even This Shall Pass Away
By 2010 Robert Plant's music was a merging of rock with British and US folk styles and this is very much in that vein and has a sort of communal "band of musicians" feel to it as Plant and his band play their stuff with enthusiasm and attack. It is very much what was known as contemporary folk/roots music. If you're looking for "the hammer of the gods"-style rock, you won't find it here. Plant has a different home these days one feels, and it is one that he is very comfortable in. Of all the Zeppelin members, it is Plant who went on to have the most consistent and innovative post-Zep career. At the beginning, one would have thought it would have definitely been Jimmy Page.
Silver Rider is a slow, atmospheric number with Plant sharing vocals with Patty Griffin's ethereal ones. It is a track packed full of enigmatic, beguiling atmosphere. It is a cover of a song from the band Low (who I admit to knowing nothing about). Its heavy guitar at the end is one of the album's few genuine rock moments.
The Only Sound That Matters is a catchy piece of solid folky rock. Monkey is the the other song by Low. It begins with a U2 meets psychedelia buzzy guitar riff. Indeed, the whole song sounds like something off U2's Pop or Zooropa. It is these two Low songs that have the album's only real deep rock sounds.
Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down is a beautifully sombre, folky blues. Even This Shall Pass Away has a delicious, shuffling rhythm and an odd but addictive feel to it. Once again, it is very U2-esque.
This was an inventive, thoughtful album that deserves the critical praise it got. Plant has consistently surprised many throughout his long, varied musical career. Long may he continue to do so.
The May Queen/New World.../Season's Song/Dance With You Tonight/Carving Up The World Again/A Way With Words/Carry Fire/Bones Of Saints/Keep It Hid/Bluebirds Over The Mountain/Heaven Sent
This is very much an album from an artist in Robert Plant who is now very comfortable in what he puts out, bowing to no trends and just doing what he wants to do. It is an engaging mix of folky rock, Americana with bits of blues influence, world music, Eastern music and is very much an intelligent, cerebral album. It is largely laid-back, but not without considerable power and "oomph". There are still muscular, visceral moments on here. On the cover, Plant looks craggy, charismatic and wise. That feeling is all over this excellent album.
A Way With Words, for me, is such a Ferry-esque number, with that stately, grandiose stark and slow backing and gracefully ageing vocal. Lovely violin underpins the song at the end.
Bluebirds Over The Mountain by little-known late fifties rock 'n' roller Ersel Hickey, was previously covered by The Beach Boys on their 1968 20/20 album. Here, Plant gives it a punchy Paul Weller-style chunky folk rock makeover.
Rich Woman/Killing The Blues/Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us/Polly Come Home/Gone Gone Gone (Done Move On)/Through The Morning, Through The Night/Please Read The Letter/Trampled Rose/Fortune Teller/Stick With Me Baby/Nothin’/Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson/Your Long Journey
Highlights :- Rich Woman, Killing The Blues, Gone Gone Gone (Done Move On), Fortune Teller, Stick With Me Baby
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