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Robert Plant 

Sixty Six to Timbuktu (Atlantic)

There's some godawful stuff on this double CD, the first anthology of Zeppelin throat Robert Plant. Among the most embarrassing tracks: "Upside Down," a later effort, never before committed to CD, that should have remained unreleased; an unhinged, barely listenable take on Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth"; and "Our Song," an early track that will pain those who lived through the most excessive and sentimental music of the '60s. The good news is Plant's own sensibility, revealed in his charming liner notes and a handful of very cool tracks, such as the mesmerizing, mystical, and bluesy title cut; the indelible "Tall Cool One"; and an over-the-top version of "Hey Joe," one of the signature tunes of the mid-'60s.

This idiosyncratic, self-indulgent package collects selections and outtakes from Plant's eight post-Zep solo albums, along with older stuff, some dating to Band of Joy, the late-'60s group Plant had with John Bonham. All the Plant signatures were there early: a glass-shattering, rangy voice, a flexible sense of rhythm and genre, that androgynous, paradoxically masculine sensibility. In the '90s, however, Plant seemed to lose direction; his last album, the calculatedly retro Dreamland, was downright lazy. Sixty Six to Timbuktu shows how animated and original Plant can be. Perhaps it will hot-wire him for a fresh spell of creativity.

More by Carlo Wolff


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