Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Robert Plant & Alison Krauss [extended]

  • Pictures at 11 [Swan Song, 1982] B
  • Now and Zen [Es Paranza, 1988] B
  • Manic Nirvana [Swan Song, 1990] Dud
  • No Quarter [Atlantic, 1994] Neither
  • Now That I've Found You: A Collection [Rounder, 1995] A-
  • Walking into Clarksdale [Atlantic, 1998] Dud
  • Dreamland [Universal, 2002] *
  • Mighty Rearranger [Sanctuary, 2005] Dud
  • Raising Sand [Rounder, 2007] ***

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Robert Plant: Pictures at 11 [Swan Song, 1982]
Plant's recreations of Led Zep's sonic feel with more mundane musicians is quite impressive, always the operative superlative with him. It's also more insinuatingly hooky than Led Zep ever was. But the insinuation makes one wonder what's being insinuated, which brings one to the question of meaning, which brings one full circle back to almost nowhere. B

Robert Plant: Now and Zen [Es Paranza, 1988]
Plant's two earlier solo albums were striking and forgettable--bankable self-indulgences that turned a profit on brand loyalty alone. Because they had the virtue of existing, they inspired loose talk about who "really" led his former band, probably from people who secretly believed pomp made the band artistic. This time he looks to solidify his future by imitating his past--even sampling it, an idea he says he got from Rick Rubin (what a card), or hiring his former band's guitarist for a solo. At its best, it's far from forgettable. Overall effect is a cross between his former band and the Cars. B

Robert Plant: Manic Nirvana [Swan Song, 1990] Dud

Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Unledded: No Quarter [Atlantic, 1994] Neither

Alison Krauss: Now That I've Found You: A Collection [Rounder, 1995]
Even with the greatest voices, tastes are personal--where you might prefer Aretha's Diane Warren song, I'd probably go for Al Green's. Krauss isn't quite in that class, but after this compilation-plus overcame my personal penchants, I began to think she was only a notch below. However much fans appreciated the child prodigy for her fiddle, they love the woman for her kind, precise, intent soprano. And not only is this a singer's showcase, it's a pop singer's showcase. Sure she's still country--bluegrass, even. She's nothing if not principled. But she also ropes in not just the Beatles but the Foundations and, believe it or not, Bad Company. And by reclaiming guest tracks from specialist albums by Jerry Douglas, Tony Furtado, and the Cox Family, she oversteps the sonic boundaries of her admirable but specialized band. Best in show (after the Beatles, the Foundations, and Bad Company): a sexy little sacred number. A-

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant: Walking into Clarksdale [Atlantic, 1998] Dud

Robert Plant: Dreamland [Universal, 2002]
gonna give you every inch of my erectile dysfunction ("One More Cup of Coffee," "Darkness, Darkness") *

Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation: Mighty Rearranger [Sanctuary, 2005] Dud

Raising Sand [Rounder, 2007]
Folk-leaning guy and pop-leaning gal sip iced tea on the veranda of their platinum-plated studio ("Killing the Blues," "Please Read the Letter"). ***

See Also