Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Robert Plant

  • Pictures at 11 [Swan Song, 1982] B
  • Now and Zen [Es Paranza, 1988] B
  • Manic Nirvana [Swan Song, 1990] Dud
  • Dreamland [Universal, 2002] *

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

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

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

Manic Nirvana [Swan Song, 1990] Dud

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