Jimmy Page: Outrider - Album Of The Week Club review

After the demise of The Firm, Jimmy Page roped in some old friends for his only solo album, Outrider

Jimmy Page: Outrider cover art
(Image: © Geffen Records)

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Jimmy Page: Outrider

Jimmy Page: Outrider cover art

(Image credit: Geffen Records)

Wasting My Time
Wanna Make Love
Writes of Winter
The Only One
Liquid Mercury
Emerald Eyes
Prison Blues
Blues Anthem (If I Cannot Have Your Love...)

Following the disbandment of Zeppelin, Michael Winner, Jimmy Page's near-neighbour, convinced him to produce the soundtrack for Death Wish II. However, it wasn't until Page collaborated with Paul Rodgers, the former vocalist for Free and Bad Company, that he began to discover a new musical path for himself. 

The Firm became a source of salvation for Page, who was "shattered" at the time, but the band's second album, 1986's Mean Business, didn't find much success on the charts. Two years later they'd disbanded, and Page was ready to release his first and only solo album, Outrider

Featuring guest vocalists – including Robert Plant – and Jason Bonham on drums, Outrider was a respectable but underwhelming collection that failed to make a significant impact on the charts. 

"There was talk of making another album, but I felt the whole Zeppelin thing was pulling Jimmy back into that," said singer John Miles, who sang on Wasting My Time and Wanna Make Love. "The demand for a reunion was just ridiculous. So any plans we had just went by the wayside."

Page and Plant finally reunited for the Unledded shows in 1994. 

Lightning bolt page divider

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Lightning bolt page divider

Other albums released in June 1988

  • Britny Fox - Britny Fox
  • Sur la Mer - The Moody Blues
  • Small World - Huey Lewis and the News
  • In Battle There Is No Law - Bolt Thrower
  • Ain't Complaining - Status Quo
  • Survive - Nuclear Assault
  • Open All Night - The Georgia Satellites
  • Instinct - Iggy Pop
  • Chicago 19 - Chicago
  • Destiny - Saxon
  • Roll with It - Steve Winwood
  • Power Metal - Pantera
  • Reg Strikes Back - Elton John
  • Eternal Nightmare - Vio-lence
  • Outside the Gate - Killing Joke
  • In God We Trust - Stryper
  • Dimension Hatröss - Voivod
  • Dream of Life - Patti Smith
  • Y Kant Tori Read - Y Kant Tori Read


What they said...

"Maybe it was just too much to expect a Zoso for the Nineties on Page’s first solo excursion. But Outrider is as much a victim of underachievement as of overexpectation. As a guitar record, Outrider proves Page is still the sultan of slash, the kaiser of krunch. But where he once held the hammer of the gods, he now sounds a bit dazed and confused." (Rolling Stone)

"The almost punkishly unpolished, devil-may-care spirit of Outrider bodes better for Page’s integrity (if not necessarily the preservation of his talent) than the dull corporate rock of his last group, the late and unlamented Firm. If Page is going to burn out musically, this album gives evidence that he’s prepared to burn out on his own terms." (Los Angeles Times)

"The single LP finished product has a bit of a hurried and unpolished sound, which Page himself referred to as “demo quality”. However, there is a certain charm to many of the pieces on the album which are more sound-oriented than composition-oriented, as Page heavily returns to the rock-infused blues which launched Led Zeppelin nearly two decades earlier." (Classic Rock Review)


What you said...

Evan Sanders: This week's album is another reason I enjoy this group, as it's another one that I should have known about and bought when it was released, and it somehow slipped under my radar. Listening to it now is mostly a pleasant surprise. 

Things start questionably with two standard 80s songs, with Page's guitar staying in the background behind John Miles' vocals. Then it picks up with the instrumentals and the second bluesy side with Chris Farlowe on vocals. Robert Plant's collaboration for The Only One feels like a song that could have made it onto Presence, the under-the-radar Led Zeppelin album. 

6/10, which I would have raised to 7/10 if we can discard the first two songs.

Bill Griffin: Much better than I remembered it being and, for most of it, I could see how it led (no pun intended) to Coverdale/Page. All in all, a pretty good album. Better, I think, than much of The Firm's two albums which came off to me as enjoyable but stiff.

John Davidson: Sadly another half hearted effort from a post-Zep Jimmy Page. If he had simply embraced the nostalgia and made a Zep style album with a new set of supporting artists it might have been better than this strange melange of 80s production and 60s blues. It's not awful but it's not inspired and from one of my favourite artists that's difficult to enjoy.

Gary Claydon: Outrider is an 'OK' album. Problem is, in comparison to what we know Jimmy Page was capable of, it comes across as a 'Whole Lotta Guff'.

Unfair? Yeah but the album struggles to rise much above average. Jimmy Page's guitar is fine throughout but the vocals - from journeymen John Miles and Chris Farlowe - fail to elevate any of the vocal tracks. Miles is 'ok' but Farlowe is too weak. The instrumental tracks, of which there are three, are more interesting, without scaling any great heights.

I've never believed that Page was cut out for a true solo career, certainly not like his old mate Robert Plant was. Jimmy Page was always better suited to a band structure, having somebody to bounce off. He certainly needed a top-notch vocalist and a decent lyricist to work with.

It's telling that by far the most interesting thing here is the Page/Plant collaboration The Only One. Much more sure-footed and cohesive than any of the other tracks it also says much more about where Plant was, musically, at the time than it does Page, who was still struggling to find any post-Zep direction.

The track that contains both the best and the worst bits of Outrider, though, is Prison Blues. Page's crunching riffs and meaty soloing hark back to former glories but Farlowe's contribution threatens to pull the rug from under it. His vocal is just too weak while the totally risible lyrics sound as if he'd just completed the remedial section of a 'Blues Lyrics For Dummies' course - and failed it. Shame, 'cos in the right hands (say, I dunno, one Robert Plant?) Prison Blues could have been a belter of a track.

Just before recording started for Outrider, Jimmy Page's home was burgled and among the stolen property were demo tapes he was working on. It's unclear what or how much material was lost but maybe, just maybe, some of it could have helped make Outrider a better album.

One interesting footnote. The track Writes Of Winter earned Page a Grammy nomination for 'Best Rock Performance', something which never even occurred during his Zeppelin heyday. It didn't win but I reckon even Jimmy Page was bemused by the whole thing.

Chris Elliott: Another bargain bin disappointment. It's fine in the same way all his post Led Zep stuff is fine: You play it once and forget it. This play makes it two, and it will gather dust again. Remove the history and it's a competent blues rock album.

Phil Wise: Great album!

Dave Hinsley: Not great, not terrible.

Alex Hayes: I've still got Outrider on vinyl. I bought the album from the much missed Power Cuts Records in Manchester, during a massive heatwave in 1992. At the same time, I also managed to pick up albums by The Firm and Robert Plant, all for a wickedly cheap price. What a great record shop that was.

To be honest though, I think the last time that I actually sat down and listened to Outrider was later the same year. I've never been too keen on it. I think the faintest praise that I can muster for this album is that if Jimmy Page and Paul Rodgers had kept The Firm together for a third album, it may well have sounded a lot like Outrider. Like both of those Firm albums (particularly Mean Business), this is a thoroughly uninspired collection of songs. Not necessarily bad or unlistenable, just mediocre.

There's no shortage of talent on display here. Page collaborates with three great singers across Outrider. Even the likes of John Miles and Chris Farlowe struggle to elevate this material above the mundane however. Nowhere is this better illustrated than with The Only One, the sole track on the album with Robert Plant guesting, and one that deeply disappointed me upon first listen. It really hasn't improved with age either. I still consider it one of the poorest tracks ever put together by the Page/Plant song writing partnership. It's so far below the standard already set by the pair in Led Zeppelin, a standard that it was never likely to match, in truth.

Page is clearly still in his post-Zeppelin rut here. Robert Plant's solo albums of that period are much more enjoyable (Shaken 'N' Stirred excepted). I'm afraid this one is a 5/10 for me, right down the middle. Not outright bad, but not particularly memorable either.

Paul Jenkins: Thought this album was ok at the time and listened to it a lot when it was first released. I prefer it now and whilst it may not stand up against Zeppelin or indeed some of Robert Plant's solo albums it's solid if unspectacular. Would rate it 6/10 however with the stand out tracks being Wasting My Time, The Only One and Hummingbird.

Adam McCann: For me, this is still Page stuck in a rut and unsure of his place in a post-Zep world. Chris Farlowe does a great vocal performance, but it's not enough to save this album from the bargain bin of history.

Jacob Tannehill: 7/10 - I was too young at Zeppelin's peak, so I looked forward to this coming out. Page trying very hard I feel to be as relevant as he can in an era where everyone wanted to stand out. Songs were there. Wasting My Time was a super cool tune, Blues Anthem (If I Cannot Have Your Love) is a great ballad. The production ruins it – super muddy. Unfortunately, anything he does gets compared to Led Zeppelin, so it never will be as good. Probably why he never put out a lot of solo work.

Clive Boorman: Not Coverdale/Page awful but not great either.

Tom Herrin: Chris Farlowe damn near sinks it, but John Miles turns in a workman like performance. The instrumentals are interesting and Bob shows up for The Only One. Good first effort, pity that was it. 6/10.

Greg Schwepe: So, with Led Zeppelin being my favourite group of all time, how did I never buy this until I found a used CD at a local bookstore just a few years ago? I mean, since Zeppelin disbanded, I’d bought anything Zep related when Outrider was released: all Robert Plant’s solo albums, The Firm’s debut, liked it, but was underwhelmed, didn’t even buy the follow up until just a few years ago. And at my wedding, we even played the Honeydrippers Sea of Love as our “first dance” song!

I was probably not expecting anything that exciting when I finally popped this into the CD player a few years ago. At that time I had finally bought Mean Business (underwhelming again, but way better than I thought) and Page and Plant’s Walking Into Clarksdale (once again, underwhelming but good).

When the opening riff of Wasting My Time hit my speakers, I thought, “There’s the fire and excitement that was missing from The Firm and (some of) the Page and Plant material.”

There was that distinctive Page tone, phrasing and style. Made me wish I had bought this back when it was initially released. Vocalist John Miles has a little Plant wail, but also a bloozy edge to him. And then you get to The Only One and then you get the Golden God himself, Robert Plant.

A few instrumentals find their way onto this album; Writes of Winter, Liquid Mercury, and Emerald Eyes. All nice adds.

Basically what I found was a solo album that I found interesting enough to play again and again. Nothing here obviously that will outshine anything from his Zeppelin days, but not a bad effort. Unlike some stuff you get and after one play “Meh…not that exciting.” This led me to exclaim “Gee Jimmy, why didn’t you put anything else out like this?” Great rock groove, bluesy at times, just a decent record. If Jimmy puts out another solo album, I won’t wait years to listen to it.

Jon Schubert: I feel I'm in the minority, but I really liked this when it came out and still do to this day. Page has done very little since Led Zeppelin, and I thin this is the best. Better than Coverdale/Page.

Mike Canoe: I had zero interest in this album when it came out and was admittedly bummed to see the thumbnail on Monday morning. Happily, my musical tastes in general and tolerance for this kind of blues in particular have expanded over the past 35 years. While I don't think it's a great album, it's an enjoyable listen.

Jimmy Page certainly seems like he's having fun, which couldn't be said about his trepidatious playing on the Firm's debut album from a few years earlier. Jason Bonham on drums is a smart, if obvious, choice. I can't say any of the three bassists really stand out, but given how Tony Franklin dominated the first Firm album, I was a little surprised he didn't stand out more.

As the singers go, John Miles and Chris Farlowe have the stereotypical blues belter voices that used to get on my nerves but they both won me over with each successive listen. Robert Plant's singing on The Only One (subliminal messaging there?) is, of course, enjoyable and seems to mesh with where he was at that time in his post-Zeppelin career.

As an example of how far I've come as a music listener, my current favourite is the bluesy and aptly named Prison Blues. As someone who used to skip over the trad blues numbers on Led Zeppelin albums, this is a big step for me, even if Prison Blues it has the silliest dirty lyrics since The Lemon Song.

As it turns out, Outrider turned out to be a bit of an outlier in Page's discography, but it's far from a bad album.


Final score: 6.08 (78 votes cast, total score 475)

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